Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.
The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:
NYPD drops intelligence unit detested by Islamists
A year to the day after the Boston bombings, the New York Police Department announced the end of a program designed to protect the city from violent jihad. The Demographics Unit, which angered Islamists by gathering intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods and the radicalism therein, has been disbanded. Reflecting Commissioner Bill Bratton's softer approach, the NYPD will strive to amass comparable data through outreach. Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the "critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys" — whatever that means.
Promises that more focused intelligence work will continue are less than reassuring. The New York Post recalls that Bratton "once backed a similar 'mapping' program as Los Angeles' top cop, only to later scrap the idea under political pressure." Given this record of caving, one fears that ongoing objections to what remains could prompt more PC-sodden adjustments. Some also ask if the city will now cease to defend its legal right to conduct proactive surveillance, which is challenged in lawsuits. Finally, the mere perception that New York is letting its guard down could entice jihadists to try their luck, a scenario noted by former police official Paul Browne. If the worst comes to pass, de Blasio and Bratton will have difficult questions to answer.
Left: Islamist Linda Sarsour, a vocal opponent of NYPD surveillance, was among the community "advocates" who were granted a preview of the policy shift a week before the public rollout. Right: David Cameron wants to know what the Brotherhood has been up to in the UK.
British government investigates Muslim Brotherhood
Amid concerns that London is a haven for Islamists in exile, Prime Minister David Cameron has launched a probe of the Muslim Brotherhood and its activities. Led by the ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assisted by MI5 and MI6, the inquiry aims to "understand what this organization is, what it stands for, what its beliefs are in terms of the path of extremism and violent extremism, what its connections are with other groups, what its presence is here in the United Kingdom." Key Brotherhood figures who escaped the crackdown in Egypt reportedly fled to London and operate out of a flat above a kebab shop. The Brotherhood's senior leader in the UK denied claims that they will relocate to Austria and warned that banning the entity could fuel terrorism.
Months after the Foreign Office stated that "membership or links to the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK are not considered, in themselves, proof of extremism," Cameron's decision to research the group and recalibrate policy is a refreshing move not likely to be matched in Washington. "Coming to live in the UK is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those we believe are seeking to subvert our shared values and represent a threat to our society," the Home Office explained. Based on the Brotherhood's dark history, one hopes that its London sojourn is nearing an end.
UK readies Islamic loans for students
The British government is pitching a new student loan program for those who adhere to Islam's prohibition on interest. The London Telegraph describes how "students would apply for taxpayer-backed loans but repay them into a mutual-style fund that would be ring-fenced to provide future finance to other students with the same religious beliefs." The proposed system, which would be open to all but supervised by Shari'a experts, has drawn mixed responses from Muslims, including criticism that the repayment scheme, mimicking conventional loan rates, involves interest in disguise. (See this article for a quick overview of Islamic banking principles.)
Cameron and company are in a headlong rush to promote Shari'a finance in Britain. One year ago, a government task force was charged with attracting Muslim investors. Last October, Cameron welcomed the World Islamic Economic Forum to England, the first non-Muslim nation to host the event. Proclaiming that "I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world," he discussed plans for the government to issue a Shari'a-compliant bond and for the London Stock Exchange to introduce an Islamic index. Shari'a is not creeping into Britain's financial sector; it is galloping.
Left: Shari'a-compliant mortgages, like those offered by the Islamic Bank of Britain, are now eligible for the government's mortgage guarantee program. Right: Volkert van der Graaf, the killer of anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn, will soon be walking the streets again.
Bad timing: Fortuyn's assassin set for release amid anti-Wilders hysteria
Dutch MP Geert Wilders' declarations that his country requires "fewer Moroccans" and that he will "arrange that" could have been expressed more carefully, as Daniel Pipes argues, but the backlash — public denunciations, abandonment by party members, endless police complaints, and comparisons to Hitler — has been over the top. "The political climate in the Netherlands surrounding Wilders now resembles the demonization of [Pim] Fortuyn in the months leading up to his assassination," H. Numan writes, referencing the populist whom Volkert van der Graaf murdered to eliminate a "growing danger," specifically to Muslims, before the 2002 election. Regarding Wilders, one actor tweeted: "Volkert, where are you when your country needs you?"
Having served two-thirds of his sentence, van der Graaf is to be released on May 2, three weeks ahead of European elections that prominently feature Wilders, Fortuyn's political heir. Officials insist that van der Graaf is unlikely to reoffend and will have restrictions placed on him, though there has been no word of any order to stay away from Wilders. What could possibly go wrong?
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.