SHAFAQNA – Dr Marcus Papadopoulos is the Publisher and Editor of Politics First magazine and an expert on Russia. He earned his BA, in Law and Modern History, from London Guildhall University, his MA, in Modern History, from Royal Holloway, University of London, and his PhD, in Russian history, from Royal Holloway, University of London. The title of his doctoral thesis was: “British official perceptions of the Red Army, 1934-1945” and is available at the British Library.
SHAFAQNA – Britain over the past decade has grappled with radicalism – might it be religiously or politically motivated. How would you define radicalism and how do you feel has it impacted Society?
Radicalism is bringing about change in society through changing the foundation of society itself. There have been many cases in history of successful political and social radicalism, such as the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution. Sadly, in contemporary times, the word radicalism has been tainted because of religious radicalism, principally in the Middle East and North Africa but also in the UK. And that religious radicalism centres on Wahhabism, the official ideology of Saudi Arabia and a most terrible threat to mankind and civilisation. Whichever country Saudi Arabia has extensive business ties with and investment in, this country is vulnerable to Wahhabism infecting its society. Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically the Muslim and Croat entity, is a prime example of that. However, Britain, through its long-standing and extensive political, economic and military relations with Saudi Arabia, is also paying the price for its closeness to the Saudis, as Wahhabist mosques and schools in the UK are a crucial component in the current terrorist threat to British security. Many British Muslims have been radicalised by Wahhabism, which calls on non-Muslims to be enslaved, converted or killed.
SHAFAQNA – As a media professional would you say that mainstream has changed the way it reports on news in reaction to Terrorism?
Categorically, no. Mainstream media in the UK – both broadcast and print – is part of the British establishment and therefore supports the aims and objectives of UK foreign policy (it should be said that the UK does not actually have a foreign policy of its own; rather, its foreign policy is that of the United States’). It follows, therefore, that the British media does not highlight how the UK has a long history of supporting Islamic fundamentalist/Wahhabist groups in support of US/UK geostrategic objectives – Afghanistan in the 1980s, during the Bosnian civil-war, in Libya in 2011 and during the current conflict in Syria. Further to that, British media does not discuss how Saudi Arabia is the number one exporter of religious extremism and terrorism to the world, and how successive UK governments have brought the Wahhabist terrorist threat to British towns and cities because of their close ties to Saudi Arabia.
SHAFAQNA – How in your mind – if at all, could journalists and other media professional help mediate tensions in view of rampant sectarianism?
First of all, British journalists need to instigate a thorough and vigorous discussion of UK foreign policy and of the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. If both of those do not occur, then UK media has no role to play in tackling religious fanaticism in Britain. It is as simple and as straight forward as that. Who helped to train and finance Osama bin Laden against the Soviets? Who helped to bring the Mujahideen from Afghanistan to Bosnia to fight in the civil-war there? How did ISIS first emerge in Iraq and then subsequently in Syria? Who helped to destabilise Libya and Syria, by supporting Wahhabist groups there, and thereby cause the refugee crisis and increase the Wahhabist terrorist threat to the world? Those are some of the fundamental questions which British journalists need to ask. Sadly, of course, those journalists will do nothing of the sort.
SHAFAQNA – How do you understand the press’ role in the face of radicalism? Do you think that journalism today has a greater role to play in bringing objective coverage – and thus help maintain the integrity of the press without playing into radicalism?
There is, indeed, a crucial role for UK media to play in countering Wahhabism in the UK. But as I said above, mainstream media in the UK is part of the British establishment and so British mainstream journalists will not play a role in highlighting the root causes of religious extremism and terrorism.
SHAFAQNA – How would you answer those who have critiqued mainstream and accused media outlets of playing the public fear to promote readership?
Well, those have long-been the tactics of editors in the UK. And playing on public fears to increase readership is far from confined to the discussions over religious extremism and terrorism; for instance, certain breeds of dogs have been demonised in the UK by editors because a person has been attacked and killed by one of these dogs, even though the numbers of people killed by, for example, Stafford Bull Terriers, is absolutely negligible – indeed, nearly 100 per cent of all killings in the UK each year are carried out by human beings! Being reckless and self-serving are the hallmarks of British mainstream media. Readership, which ultimately results in financial profits, comes well before morality for the UK press.
SHAFAQNA – How do you envision the role media will play in combating intolerance and radicalism in all its forms?
Unless the power of the British establishment is reduced, then mainstream media in the UK has no constructive and meaningful role to play in combating the scourge of Wahhabism in Britain and in the world in general.
SHAFAQNA – Would you say that our vision of society has become too binary to be objective?
Politicians and journalists in the UK need to firstly put the well-being of the British people before their personal bank accounts. So many Conservative MPs play down or try to discredit the Wahhabist threat emanating from Saudi Arabia because they have business ties with the Saudis and earn handsomely from these. It is the case that the Conservative Party is in the pockets of Saudi Arabia.
Now, if the day comes when politicians and journalists do put the well-being of the British people first, the next stage will be to rebuild UK society. There are so many challenges that the average Briton is facing in their day-to-day life – from poverty to terrorism and so on. We need to dispense with the tyranny of political correctness and engage in a candid, respectful, deep and intelligent discussion about the ills in British society and how these can be remedied.
SHAFAQNA – What do think is the root-cause of terrorism, and do you think that politicians and other parties have played Terror to further their own agenda?
Islamic scholars across the world need to deeply reflect on the fact that people are committing shocking and heinous acts in the name of Islam and that these men (and also women) claim they are acting in accordance with the Quran. It is high time that Muslim scholars and ordinary Muslims, alike, engage in an open and candid discussion without the fear of being accused of blasphemy. I have long-held the opinion that allegations of blasphemy in the Islamic world is what political correctness is in the Western world – both stifle essential discussions which are aimed at furthering justice and peace for all of humanity.
However, despite there being serious problems in the Muslim world, the global threat from religious extremism and terrorism is only on a massive scale today because of US/UK foreign policy; namely, by supporting Islamic fundamentalist groups in various countries to achieve geostrategic objectives (Afghanistan in the 1980s, Bosnia, Libya and Syria); by invading and/or bombing countries in order to secure unfettered access to their oil (Iraq and Libya); and by maintaining a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia, which is the heart and soul of religious extremism and terrorism in the world. In short, the US and the UK have made the terrorist threat what it is today because of their incessant lust for ever more wealth and power – and this is at the expense of the security and safety of their own peoples, not to mention the hundreds of millions of other peoples in the world.
SHAFAQNA – What about those so-called Muslim clerics who have issued fatwas (Islamic ruling) how we should handle their rhetoric and how do we differentiate in between them and real Islam?
These so-called Muslim clerics must not be allowed to preach at any mosque or religious school in the UK; they must be publicly and unequivocally denounced by the Muslim community; their writings must be unequivocally condemned by the Muslim community and banned from mosques and religious schools; and they must be investigated by the police with the aim of the state being to charge them, prosecute them and imprison them for lengthy periods. There must be no tolerance shown towards these so-called clerics. They are part of the extremist and terrorist cancer in the UK.