Michael Gove goes down the ‘scary Muslims’ dog-whistle route


by Sunny
6th April, 2011 at 11:44 am    

Education minister Michael Gove does not usually do this kind of stuff explicitly, so this is very unusual… and dangerous.

There’s some controversy over a proposal to build a mosque in Sandhurst, which wound end up being quite close to the military academy. This is Michael Gove’s constituency. Riazat Butt at the Guardian wrote up a summary of the controversy earlier.

In an interview with BBC London yesterday, Michael Gove says:

because of the way in which it would overlook the royal military academy, (the mosque) would also not be appropriate for all sorts of other reasons.

LabourList have picked this up and have the audio discussion. Mark Ferguson rightly asks:

Either Michael Gove should state why he considers a mosque to be a security concern, or he should state his “other reasons” clearly and openly. To do anything else is iresponsible for a politician with such a high profile.

Exactly. Time to come clean Mr Gove and explain yourself, or this is just plain dog-whistling. hat-tip @jamesmills1984

Video of the interview


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  1. Garamond — on 6th April, 2011 at 12:14 pm  

    There shouldn’t be any new building there which could overlook the barracks, because it could potentially be used for spying on those inside. Agreed?

  2. earwicga — on 6th April, 2011 at 1:49 pm  

    All the idiots have to do is get the building listed.

  3. damon — on 6th April, 2011 at 2:49 pm  

    It already is a listed building.

    However, the old school is one of the borough’s 330 locally listed buildings.

    The list is made up of residential, commercial and public buildings which are either of local architectural or historic significance.

    Although the listed status does not automatically protect these buildings, the council website states “they should be protected and retained whenever possible.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/surrey/hi/people_and_places/religion_and_ethics/newsid_8241000/8241726.stm

    It’s not that close to Sandhurst, so that’s a bit of a red herring.
    It’s been an Islamic centre for years.

  4. doug de vos — on 6th April, 2011 at 3:16 pm  

    Wonderful idea! It could be used as a training mosque for security establishment infiltrators.
    What a shame this building wasn’t taken over as an Irish Centre during the Troubles! Maybe then M I’s 1 to 21 wouldn’t have made so many cock-ups in information gathering.
    ps: I did some work on a mosque in the 80′s in Derby that was funded in part by Saddam Hussein. Don’t know who’s took over the funding since; maybe our erstwhile mate from Libya?

  5. earwicga — on 6th April, 2011 at 5:23 pm  

    Thanks damon, I missed that. I was thinking of an old grammar school here which was supposed to be converted into something that and it was all stopped by getting the building listed. I think there are different gradings of listing a building.

    Doesn’t matter anyway, as you say it’s about something else entirely.

  6. damon — on 6th April, 2011 at 5:39 pm  

    What Gove said is very odd indeed. But supposing the mosque was to look out over the parade ground at Sandhurst? It’s not that close, but if it was closer, and the minarets of the mosque did indeed give a bird’s eye view over the whole of Sandhurst, what then?
    The same as any new building being next to a military site with very high security I would imagine.

    So a mosque attracting hundreds of unknown persons every week that had a vantage point over Sandhurst would probably be a security concern, as would be any other development.

    But would it be more so being a mosque? The answer must be: ‘perhaps’

    Just because you don’t know who might turn up – and Sandhurst would be a good target. The IRA would have loved to have bombed it.
    But still, Gove is a twit for saying that.

  7. AbuF — on 6th April, 2011 at 8:41 pm  

    “The IRA would have loved to have bombed it.”

    You know this, do you?

    Having sat in on all those interminable Army Council meetings, after all.

  8. Don — on 6th April, 2011 at 11:11 pm  

    AbuF,

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Sandhurst would have been a prime IRA target.

  9. Vikrant — on 7th April, 2011 at 2:41 am  

    I literally grew up a few streets from London road in Camberley and as far as i can remember it has always been used as a mosque! This is so very shameful :( .

  10. Refresh — on 7th April, 2011 at 8:38 am  

    I think Michael Gove and the assorted self-serving bigots who now form the regime – and the regime runs across the media and government, and opposition when it suited – should carry on digging a hole for themselves. As long as its understood that this is all a perversion of ‘our values’.

    I just hope that the Libyan rebels, if and when the time comes, remember what the regime really thinks of them.

  11. damon — on 7th April, 2011 at 9:26 am  

    While I agree that it was a stupid thing to say in public, it would be interesting to move this on a little and ask whether there might not indeed be some security concernes for a mosque to be built next to a sensitive establishment. Or any public building, but particularly a mosque.
    Some mosques attract ne’er-do-wells and meatheads.
    Some mosques on occasion have fallen under the influence of radicals. Some of the Salafi ones can be pretty fundamentalist.
    Should it matter that a minaret had a clear view over the parade ground where the Queen often goes to?
    Surely it would have to be taken into consideration on the day of a VIP visit at least.
    ‘Lines of fire’ and all that.
    I read somewhere that this mosque is about 350 meters from Sandhurst. Not that close, but …

  12. damon — on 7th April, 2011 at 11:46 am  

    Btw, I didn’t say that to be particularly provocative.
    This is a discussion board, and I raise that idea in passing. A tower overlooking Sandhurst would be a security concern. If it was the kind that had steps inside it and a little balcony giving a 360 degree view, of course it would. You don’t have to be a fantasist to think that some al-Qaeda types might dream of ‘Day of the Jackal’ like scenarios.
    Or be aware of what a disgruntled US Marine managed with a rifle from a tower at a Texas university in 1966.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman

    It doesn’t mean that Gove wasn’t an idiot for actually saying what he said. Don’t know if it was a ”dog-whistle” though.
    You’d have to ask why would he do that.

  13. earwicga — on 7th April, 2011 at 2:55 pm  

    damon, before moving on, how about you back up this statement:

    Or any public building, but particularly a mosque.

    Without dog-whistle statements.

  14. damon — on 7th April, 2011 at 4:13 pm  

    Well earwicga, who can turn up at a mosque witout causing people to enquire after them and their business? Anyone can.
    Just like you can at pub or a shop or a sports facility.
    If a mosque gave a good vantage point for observing a sensitive site such as Sandhurst, or Buckingham Palace, or Aldershot barracks, then it might be of some concern.
    As could any other building. Even a multi-story carpark. There is a pub across the road from the Islamic centre. If it proposed building a 100 foot tall tower, that might be of concern to Sandhurst too if it overlooked their site.

    But the main difference with a mosque could be .. if would-be terrorists actually saw its potential as a place to launch an attack from …. and this is what Gove might have been thinking about … is how the mosque could be used, as cover. And if the tower really did overlook the ”target” – it could be the actual launch pad for such an attack.

    It all sounds a bit far fetched – but when you see those pictures of al-Qaeda recruits being put through their paces on the assault courses in Pakistan, Afgahanistan and Somalia, it’s precisely this kind of attack which they could be training for.

    But maybe it’s all too far fetched to be of concern.

  15. earwicga — on 7th April, 2011 at 4:19 pm  

    You haven’t answered my question damon. Please read it again.

  16. damon — on 7th April, 2011 at 4:42 pm  

    I thought I had earwicga. If a mosque was in a position to be of strategic use in a terrorist attack, the potential attackers could go to the mosque and mingle in amongst the regular attendees quite easilly.
    They could reconnoiter such a place weeks or months in advance.

    Being such an open place for people to turn up without anyone knowing exactly who people are, if there was an advantage in using such a building, it would be relatively straightforward to do so.

    Abu Hamza could have turned up there without anyone taking much notice (if he wasn’t so well known already).

    In Pakistan, where military facilities have been attacked by all sorts of means, even children suicide bombers, I think they would be concerned about a mosque (open to anyone), beside a high value military base.

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