Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Al-Arefe & al-Habib vs Geller & Spencer: more Hope not Hate hypocrisy

Hope not Hate are currently running a campaign to deny entry to the UK to a pair of anti-Islam activists from the US, and are urging their supporters to write to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding that the couple - Pam Geller and Robert Spencer - be denied a visa.
Pam Geller and Robert Spencer:
HnH seek to deny them a visa

In addition to this front page campaign, there are 7 postings outlining the words and deeds of the pair, and all demanding that they not be permitted to enter the UK, allegedly to address an EDL rally.

Meanwhile, on the 20th June, HnH featured a single paragraph article on Saudi preacher Mohammed Al Arefe. The article, posted by Nick Lowles, paraphrases an Huffington Post article on Al Arefe described by Lowles as 'a really good piece'. Al Arefe's arrival in the UK follows that of another Islamic militant, Sheikh Yasser al-Habib, who was imprisoned in 2003 for inciting sectarianism. Al Habib has not even been mentioned by Hope not Hate.

We make no defence of Geller and Spencer: their views seem to us to be inflammatory and alarmist, sprinkled with absurd conspiracy theories and based on the worst possible misreading of Islam. They are true right wing nutcases in the American style. However, Al-Arefe and Al-Habib are simply the other side of the coin, doing their best to spread the worst of Islam, bringing sectarian strife wherever they appear and trying hard to fit the stereotype that Geller and Spencer seek to create.

Mohammed Al-Arefe - seeks to stir
up sectarian strife but HnH don't care
Our interest is solely this. Why do Geller & Spencer warrant a front page banner campaign and 7 news articles rehashing their past statements and actions and launching a petition to deny them visas to enter the UK, while Al-Habib doesn't feature at all, and Al-Arefe gets a single paragraph?

It seems to us that we either have freedom of speech in this country or we don't. If we do, then the answer to all of these visits is to take on what they say not by the use of violence and the UAF - which appears to be HnH's answer to most things - but by logical argument and reasoned thought. If - as Hope not Hate clearly wish - we do not, then the answer is to deny entry visas to all of these people on the grounds that they are divisive and not conducive to the public good.

Sheikh Yasser al-Habib - imprisoned
for stirring up sectarian strife, but no trouble for
Hope not Hate
What is truly hypocritical is to go after Geller & Spencer with a full-blown campaign, while ignoring Al-Habib and barely mentioning Al-Arefe - a man who even Lowles concedes as one whose presence will "negatively impact the peaceful co-existance (sic) amongst the Muslim community".

At least the Huffington post attempted to answer this conundrum, quoting Labour MP Khalid These preachers are purely here to promote themselves and create divisions where none need to exist. Neither Al Arefe or Al Habib should be allowed to do this, and the Home Office must take action on this issue. This is just another branch of hatred."

Why then does Hope not Hate stick to such a hypocritical line? We can only assume that their opposition to certain types of hate is superficial at best: while Geller and Spencer's approach is decidedly right wing Republican and opposed to the Democrats and therefore Labour, Al Arefe and Al Habib's visits are likely to have no political dimension which is electorally significant. Is there a better indication that Hope not Hate are betraying the very principles they are supposed to uphold?

Lowles in his brief article on al-Arefe says, "While many people look just at the extremism on the right wing, it is important to also monitor those who deliberately stoke sectarian tensions within the Muslim communities too". Let's just not look too hard, eh, Nick? After all, Labour votes and your position are at stake.


  1. "Geller and Spencer: their views seem to us to be inflammatory and alarmist, ... However, Al-Arefe and Al-Habib are simply the other side of the coin,..."

    Equals? Are you serious? When have Geller and Spencer incited violence and forced you to wear a condom wherever you go out?

    1. You are free to agree or disagree, that is the beauty of freedom of speech. I did not however say they were equal in anything except their spreading of alarmist and inflammatory views.