An Islamic society wants to host a university event where–gasp!–men and women are seated separately. Suddenly this minor event is major news in the UK.
People who apparently never planned to attend the event in the first place have decided they must publicly protest “gender apartheid,” an intolerable affront to their sensibilities. There is no evidence men and women who planned to attend the event complained, yet the controversy has become the subject of a national debate of such importance, Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed in on the matter.
Cameron made it clear he disapproves of “gender segregation,” which he said is, “not the right approach.” He added that the practice is never appropriate on British university campuses, even if separate seating is voluntary.
The event gained the national spotlight through the efforts of Student Rights, a group affiliated with the Henry Jackson Society. In other words, the “controversy” has its roots in the incestuous Islamphobia network operating on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Henry Jackson Society is a British neoconservative think tank and political action committee with ties to prominent US neoconservatives. The group also enjoys support from two of Prime Minister David Cameron’s closest advisers. In 2011, the Henry Jackson Society merged with the Center for Social Cohesion (CSC). From the start, the CSC was also affiliated with high profile anti-Muslim activists, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq and Mark Steyn.
The CSC was criticized for its “relentless Islamophobia” by the Guardian’s David Shariatmadari. Shariatmadari argued the group has, “spread poison and whipped up anti-Muslim paranoia at every turn,” a strategy that has apparently continued since the merger with the Henry Jackson Society.
The Henry Jackson Society’s international patrons include prominent US neocons, including Robert Kagan, William Kristol, R. James Woolsey, Jr., Max Boot, Dore Gold, and “Prince of Darkness,” Richard Perle. The group was formerly affiliated with the now defunct think tank, Just Journalism, which was devoted to smearing critics of Israel, and has since sponsored the Friends of Israel Initiative.
The Friends of Israel Initiative is a neoconservative Israel lobby group founded in 2010 by former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and a number of other right-wing luminaries, mostly from Spain, Italy, and the UK:
July 19th, 2010 | by Jim Lobe
The Friends of Israel Initiative says it ‘aims to create a network linking private and public figures who agree with the idea of an Israel fully anchored in the West’. This network will not have to be built from scratch; rather Friends of Israel will be able to integrate itself into extremist networks already well established in UK politics….
….This notion of a Western civilisation weakened by liberal guilt is commonly held on the right and is propagated by Britain’s Islamophobic think-tanks. It is a perception apparently impervious to the reality of growing Islamophobia on Europe’s streets and a proliferation of anti-Muslim legislation. For Anzar and those like him, this repression is part of protecting Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian roots’ and Israel is seen as being on the frontline in this imagined war.
The “gender segregation” campaign in the UK is reminiscent of the manufactured “Ground Zero mosque” controversy a few years back in the US. Once again, a minor (non-)event has been transformed into a national debate by the usual suspects. The purpose is to generate another round of anti-Muslim hysteria.
As Associate Director at the Henry Jackson Society, Douglas Murray, has openly stated, “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”
Gender Segregation debate: Dr. Nazreen Nawaz VS Maryam Namazie: