The next Greater Manchester Diversity Researchers’ Forum meeting has been arranged for Wednesday 19/10/11 2:30pm – 4:00pm. We are pleased to confirm that Joanna Gilmore from the University of Manchester will be delivering a presentation on her PhD research into Criminalising Dissent in the ‘War on Terror’
Please see below for the abstract. The venue is room C2.17, 2nd Floor, C Block, Ellen Wilkinson Building, The University of Manchester. Please note the venue is a different room to where the forum meetings have been held previously. Please click on the following link for the university’s site map: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/maps/campusmap.pdf
Please confirm your attendance for the meeting on 19/10/11 as soon as possible as this would help with the seating arrangements. If you would like any further information then please contact Nasreen Mansoor.
ABSTRACT: Criminalising Dissent in the ‘War on Terror’
On 27th December 2008, Israeli forces launched ‘Operation Cast Lead’, a three-week military incursion on the Gaza Strip resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Palestinians and the injury of thousands more. This attack by the world’s fourth largest military power on a largely defenceless civilian population triggered a wave of protests, vigils and occupations throughout the world and in the UK culminated in the largest demonstration in support of the Palestinian people in British history.
The police responded to these protests with violent policing on a scale that had not been seen in the UK for over a decade. While pro-Palestinian protesters in Egypt, Jordan and Syria were beaten back with batons and tear gas, protesters in London were greeted at the Israeli Embassy by scores of riot police fully equipped with dogs, horses, batons and long shields. Immediately following the demonstrations, the police launched ‘Operation Ute’ and images of ‘wanted’ protesters were printed on the front pages of local and national newspapers accompanied by sensationalist headlines warning of a ‘violent Islamic backlash’ from ‘Muslim fanatics’.
This paper presents some of the findings of an extensive ethnographic study of the protests and their aftermath, arguing that the state’s response to the Gaza war protests was fuelled by a continuous cycle of moral panic constructing Muslims as an inherently ‘suspect’ community and pervasive ‘threat’ to the West and legitimized by an establishment political discourse which presents the engagement of Muslims within broad political movements as illegitimate. Whilst those Muslim groups who support government practices are labeled as ‘moderate’ and rewarded with significant financial gain, those who criticize it are isolated as ‘extremist’ and subject to intrusive levels of state surveillance and criminalization. In an attempt to depoliticize Muslims and restrict radical dissent, Muslims are constructed as dangerous ‘outsiders’, to be excluded from political engagement other than that which is proscribed by the state.