Far-right leader Tommy Robinson has just published a book about the Quran, called ‘Why Muslims kill for Islam’. Why is Amazon openly hosting this ignorant hatred?
I consider myself to be a loyal Amazon customer, and I was chuffed to bits when I saw their 2016 Christmas ad showing an interfaith encounter between an Imam and Vicar exchanging gifts. It was a reminder that, despite appearances, we all have so much more in common – and these are values that I live by.
So it comes as a cruel slap in the face to learn that the same company is openly promoting and selling hate material that emboldens the far-right, and gives credence to their crass Islamophobia. This material is Tommy Robinson’s latest book, which labels me, my family and millions of other peaceful ordinary Muslims as killers, liars, and rapists. It really is that simple.
“A semi-literate felon who has never studied Islam, can’t read Arabic, and never spent time in the Middle East wrote a book on ‘Islam.'”
A semi-literate felon who has never studied Islam, can't read Arabic, and never spent time in the Middle East wrote a book on "Islam." pic.twitter.com/gRjg0a7vPS
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) July 24, 2017
So it is probable that Robinson had significant help from others to write this book, most likely the book’s ‘Co-author’ Peter McLoughlin who, due to his extreme far-right content, has recently been banned from twitter.
It’s no coincidence that McLoughlin isn’t a novice to Amazon, he has already been selling his controversial book ‘Easy Meat’ on there since 2016. This book argues that at the heart of one of the world’s largest religions, Islam, is a motivation to rape everyone. It argues that criminals who sexually exploited young girls in the North of England were doing so because they were motivated by ‘Islamic teachings’ (whatever that means), and not because they were criminal lowlifes bolstered by a mentality and culture of toxic masculinity. Incidentally, it’s irrelevant to McLoughlin that they weren’t even religious.
Such simple answers for complex issues are a hallmark of Islamophobic and xenophobic fallacious myths. In Robinson’s new book (real name Lennon) McLoughlin argues that the Quran is ‘encrypted’ (like WhatsApp… but I guess in Arabic/modern language form?) and that only he (and Robinson) can unlock it for you or ‘decrypt it’ (with their non-existent years of Islamic scholarship I presume?).
McLoughlin also argues that Muslims employ deception in everything they do, or ‘Taqiyya’ – a misappropriated Arabic term used by far-right Islamophobes and anti-Islam experts to sound as though they have intellectual clout. The use of this word ‘Taqiyya’ has become a popular Islamophobic mind-poison, rendering every single Muslim on this planet as suspicious in their intent. Put simply, using this perspective, Muslims can never be trusted.
It’s reminiscent of the sort of anti-Semitic propaganda and fabricated libel that ordinary Jews in Europe faced for centuries. These smears purported to describe a Jewish plan for global domination, a lie that would not die until the Jewish population in Europe were decimated. Similarly, McLoughlin pushes the idea that Muslims have a global plan of domination through their religion, that they represent a fifth column who want to destroy Western civilisation from within, and that they will kill everyone for it. McLoughlin is not alone, the list of ‘authors’ selling their hateful theories on Amazon is growing. This includes Raheem Kassam’s upcoming fear mongering book ‘No Go Zones’ (endorsed by UK “politician” Nigel Farage), which claims Muslims are a growing serious cultural and political threat who want to impose ‘Sharia Law’ in Western countries.
So why is Amazon openly hosting this content? Business conglomerates will always push for what makes them money, but at what point do principles come before profit?
What is clear is that the mainstreaming of this sort of Islamophobic hate has been insidiously gaining ground, with little resistance. October 2016 saw the relatively quiet launch of Conservative Review TV (CRTV), an online video subscription network that claims to be an alternative to the ‘mainstream media’. Users are able to tune in to their favourite Alt Right personalities and stream video content that discusses extreme anti-Muslim propaganda, such as ‘Muslim Rapefugees – coming to America?’. The channel features shows that host the opinions of well-known Islamophobes such as Brigette Gabriel, Robert Spencer (who is banned from entering the UK) and (once again) far-right leader Tommy Robinson, to name a few.
These are self-styled Islam ‘experts’ who are essentially using fear of Islam as a marketing tool to promote themselves as leaders.
Subscribers can stream this content directly onto any device, even onto their TV whilst having dinner. When Baroness Warsi said in 2011 that ‘Islamophobia had passed the dinner table test’, she probably didn’t have this development in mind, but she was spot on. It’s certainly worrying how this new channel, with content so obviously full of hate, is available from none other than AmazonfireTV, (as well as other mainstream online TV providers AppleTV and SamsungSmartTV). It’s a dark development when the mainstreaming of this blatant fear-mongering is openly hosted by household names. It begs the question: was this vile content even checked before they gave the green light for this partnership?
Recently there’s been much noise over the hosting of extremist content by social media companies, with threats of fines and sanctions, but it’s clear they are not the only channels for hate.
Company responsibility to ethically manage the content it hosts should also extend to a mainstream market place like Amazon.
Rather than condoning this content, an online tech giant such as Amazon should do the work it takes to be a responsible and morally sound company and filter their products for extremist content. They too should come under pressure from Governments and concerned citizens to either remove this content, or to simply decline hosting such material altogether. Ultimately it is the responsibility of these conglomerates to stop being a conduit for hate and to stop funding its growth.
Because the sad truth is that for a growing number of people who are increasingly exposed to this Islamophobic and far-right content a form of deep indoctrination is taking place, which provides moral oxygen for real world violence. These audiences are being exploited for profit, they are being pushed products that promote moral panics, which churn out financial rewards for people like Robinson – who doesn’t even use his real name, but instead a deceptive alter ego. Yet his book would brand me a liar – just for being Muslim.
Changes should be made to how easily available and normalised this content is, especially as new developments in digital access press ahead, meaning hateful theories spread widely and quickly. Ironically, McLoughlin calls Muslims liars and yet his book is peddling the biggest lie itself – that billions of Muslims across the globe are all latent killers. Right now, Amazon and the authors of ‘Why Muslims kill’ don’t care about the effects of this anti-Muslim material on our society; clearly this is about exploiting people’s fears and anxieties for financial gain.
Amazon should particularly be held to account for sharing in the profits of a book that clearly comes from a position of animosity towards Muslims – and also validating its ‘number 1 bestseller’ status, which gives it an air of credibility. Let’s not allow companies to continue supporting the livelihoods of career Islamophobes, who depend on dehumanising, xenophobic narratives about all Muslims as liars and secret jihadist extremists.
In the past Amazon faced mounting criticism for selling Holocaust denial books, which Jewish groups argued were giving a platform to anti-Semites and were facilitating the spread of hate speech. This, in turn, would indisputably nurture prejudice and hate crimes towards Jews. Finally, in March 2017, Amazon stopped selling the books. This was long overdue and Amazon should now show consistency with removing other extremist content.
Let’s stand up to extremism and hatred in all its forms.
We can challenge it, or flag it online rather than passively watch as it spreads its poison. Otherwise, the very basis of our democracy and fundamental ‘British Values’, which our society is built on, is at stake.
By Mariam Hakim – follow her on Twitter
Note: This article has been edited on 03/08/17 at 10am EDT, adding sentences to further elaborate points.
Article edited on 03/08/17 at 11:40am EDT, to amend for better spacing.