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OPINION: ‘Honour abuse’ stems from a patriarchal mindset in some Asians. 

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Abuse

There are two definitions of the word ‘honour’. To possess or to hold high esteem or respect for someone or something. Or, to do something which is morally right. ‘Honour’ abuse is none of these.

Thus, juxtaposing honour and abuse is a fallacy. And yet, among the startling revelations about the state of domestic abuse as a whole in Britain, a leading think tank has found that too many British doctors are staying silent when presented with victims of ‘honour’ abuse, be they men, women or children, simply to shield themselves from the damning slur of racist. It is almost ironic – to save their honour, health professionals are ignoring crimes perpetuated in the name of honour.

Why is that? Because those victims more often than not belong to ‘closed communities’ , the term used for communities with a specific cultural tendency to keep domestic comings and goings – especially if those comings and goings include unlawful, abusive activity – behind closed doors. And more than this, when the sanctity of such privacy is disturbed, these communities are known for the severe backlash against the whistleblower. 

One of these communities is the Asian community of Britain. 

The truth is that the British Asian community  truly is, to a tee,  a closed community when it comes to these types of issues. Of course many, if not most, have advanced out of the old mindset; but certain parts of the Asian community are still stuck there and the reason is the very same for which eighty years ago, white women in England were being hauled off to jail by men in police suits, simply for demanding that they, as half of the country’s population, be given the right to vote for the people who would govern them; a devastatingly patriarchal mindset. What may come as more shocking is that many of the flag bearers of this mindset are women who exist only to maintain and advance the status quo. Because that is all they have ever known and all they know to survive.

And so it stands that the biggest victims are, and always have been, women.

Young girls are told as soon as they hit puberty, or even before, that their main goal in life is to marry a suitable husband after which the raison d’etre is to serve him and his family, without complaint. 

They are told this, not so much in words but by actions, as they watch their mother’s subservience to their fathers and other male and even female relatives, even in the face of emotional or physical abuse. 

A beautiful and damning illustration of this mindset, and its increasing awareness within the Asian community, is the short film  starring Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, who plays a young bride to be.

During her pre-wedding beautifying ceremony, singers are called to entertain the guests, at which point they start to sing their traditional song known as ‘prayer of the bride’. Khan’s future as a bride is broadcast in their song with such prayers as May my faith be to submit completely to my husband, never complain about the looks or character of my husband, I should feel blessed that it was just a threat, not a slap, If slapped I should be thankful it was not a shoe, Cursing my fate is what I should do, As rebelling is not what good women do, At every swear word teach me how to smile.

At which point Khan in anger and frustration commands them to stop their atrocious prayers and begins to sing the prayers, made up by herself ‘To love my husband should be my conviction, Not worship, slavery or total submission, You have created a man my lord, Now teach me to make him a human my lord, When his lapses cause darkness in our house, I plunge him in hellfire and it lights up our house– all to the horror of the elder ladies present who were ostensibly enjoying the first song.

The reality is that culture and religion have always brewed the most deadliest of poisons, for while religion is based on the spiritual sphere of life –always a personal choice, although wielded often as a control mechanism-culture always seeks to dominate the weak and further the powerful to aid in its natural expansionism. There is no honour, however, in inflicting pain on one in a weaker position than yourself, and balking when it is reported on. There is no honour in failing to admit your mistakes and save a life, save lives and generations from the toxicity of outdated, useless tradition.

But the truth is, a moral compass is exactly that; something which points to the human decency and rightness of something, ignoring all else, unbothered by any accusations to silence. That is something that our society, in its increasing liberalism, lacks as it grows further in selfishness and in its own sense of honour. The blocks that many health and social professionals stumble over is that being opposed to letting human suffering go on does not equal racism or prejudice of a culture, community or religious meaning; it equals 

This doesn’t mean that one should ascribe to the white knight in shining armour either- there  is a need to understand that there are sensitive ways to tackle domestic strife. Breaking down the proverbial door to a household leads to humiliation and backlash for both parties involved. 

And most of all, what too many in the Asian community do not understand is that honour is in acceptance of differences, new viewpoints, admitting to one’s mistakes no matter your age, standing or gender, and being open to brief public ridicule amid community circles for permanent private peace & justice. It is not in your sense of standing in community or society if that sense of standing is built on the silent oppression, however slight, of others, especially those in your own home. It is not in the perception of others; it is in the reality of those you come back home to when you return from your glorified pulpits.

Abuse is not honour. To change the perception people have of us as Asians, first we must change ourselves, and reassess our notions of ‘honour’. 

That’s the honourable thing to do.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Media

Is Andrew Tate misunderstood? 

Talk TV’s Piers Morgan recently interviewed Andrew Tate but was he able to defend his views?

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Andrew Tate

Over the summer, Andrew Tate’s online presence and subsequent removal became the internet’s topic of discussion because of the controversial things he had said about women, rape, masculinity and achieving success, to name a few. 

Since being banned from platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, there has been an outcry from Tate and his supporters, arguing against  ‘cancel culture’, on the basis that many of his viral clips were in fact taken out of context to misrepresent his messages. 

Tate recently sat down for an interview with Piers Morgan to discuss internet climate, virality, and how ‘soundbites’ of his videos and podcasts have been circulated and used without context to present him and his views as far more extreme than they perhaps are. 

Introducing him as the “most famous man you’ve probably never heard of”, Morgan highlights that Tate’s audience is primarily young men, and given that the internet is so accessible, the risk of misinformation is incredibly high, especially to younger and vulnerable audiences who digest information without much thought to its validity or legitimacy. Thus, the two debate and eventually agree on the fact that it is perhaps Tate’s poor choice, or as Morgan argues, misunderstanding of words, that conveys far harsher messages than Tate perhaps means. Tate also admits if he had the opportunity to say things again, with the knowledge of the fame he would experience, he’d ‘say them differently perhaps.’   

For example, Tate elaborates that his clip saying that women are handed by father to husband as “property” during a marriage ceremony, should actually be understood as simply relaying traditional male roles from Christianity or Islam, which is nothing new. Additionally, addressing his understanding of “authority” Tate posits that in a marriage contract, a man is expected to protect his wife, giving him the “authority” to do have a say in her choices. Morgan argued that this suggests that a woman would therefore have no autonomy, to which Tate disagrees, saying that this does not mean a woman is not able to still make her own choices.

Morgan then questions Tate’s views that clinical depression is not a real mental illness, with Tate confirming he still believes that with a positive mindset, going to the gym and getting a ‘six-pack’, any feelings of lowness can be combatted. Tate then points out the injustice of his views being criticised when there is worse, suggestive and more dangerous content on the internet, citing the negative influence of Lil Nas X’s music video ‘Call me by Your Name’ in which he sexually dances on a Satan figure, or rap music that promotes knife crime.

The crux of this interview is about taking accountability. And, Tate’s opinions on women, mental health and success do not change. He understands that it is very easy for his words to be misconstrued and interpreted incorrectly by audiences who don’t always get the full context, but only to an extent. It still stands that Tate’s view on many topics is misguided and dangerous. Because even if his opinions are elaborated on, the small clips of his volatile speeches and opinions still reach vulnerable minds, and therefore, the satisfaction in simply acknowledging that fact, is not enough. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Can the UK be trusted to support women’s rights in Saudi Arabia?

The UK has been found to be providing aid with ambiguous motives. The term “women’s rights” was cast aside when describing the purpose of the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF), suggesting that the UK has either opted for silence on the matter or is supporting the discrimination of women.

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The UK is a nation that traditionally champions women’s rights, but sometimes money and politics seem to get in the way. This time, the UK has been found to be providing aid with ambiguous motives. The term “women’s rights” was cast aside when describing the purpose of the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF), suggesting that the UK has either opted for silence on the matter or is supporting the discrimination of women.

The GSF addresses various concerns in the gulf region including security, cyber, innovation and leadership and seeks to alleviate problems in the area by encouraging developments in tech and education. The role of women in these endeavours has been obscured, except for events on a small scale like the International Women’s Day Celebrations, Leadership Expos and Exhibitions for artists. The GSF has refused to be transparent regarding organisations to which funding is directly provided and the outcomes achieved through it. It is highly likely that the funding has been allocated to government organisations which are responsible for human rights abuses and oppression in their strict measures against dissent in Saudi Arabia.

Recently, two female Saudi activists were sentenced to prison over their undaunted tweets and social media presence. Broadly perceived as a tool inciting rebellion in Saudi society, Twitter users have often been subjected to severe consequences as a stern warning to the population. Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani was sentenced to 45 years in prison for tweeting in favour of women’s rights, a risky attempt to break through the social structure of the country. And Salma al-Shehab, another activist was given a 34-year sentence for her bold statements, including a demand to release other journalists and activists. The nature of trials for these activists, which normally take place away from the limelight, remains a concern for many human rights institutions Over the years however, the Saudi Kingdom has revised its constitution and allowed women to adopt greater roles in society. This includes the ability to drive, relaxed dress code and more roles in the workforce. Whether or not these changes have made a significant difference to the lives of women in Saudi is debatable.

But Britain’s participation in the GSF is problematic precisely because of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s suspicious lack of transparency around why women’s rights is no longer a featured purpose of the fund. In its endeavour to what appears to be not wanting to rock the boat with Saudi Arabia, is the UK compromising and selling out its own long-held principles? How can the UK be expected to be taken seriously when it calls out other regimes on their human rights abuses?  It seems that maybe Britain can look the other way when the price is right.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Business

Hijab-Wearing Muslim Women Face Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil.

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muslim woman in workplace

Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil. Their Hijab is a barrier towards their participation in a western society, not because of any barrier the head covering presents, but because of the discrimination and prejudice surrounding it.

A new report from a group of researchers at the University of Oxford, Utrecht, and Berlin revealed that Muslim women in the Netherlands and Germany are less likely to get hired for high customer-contact jobs if they wear the Hijab. The field experiment also included Spain, where they found less discrimination compared to the other two countries.

In an interview with Analyst News, senior University of Oxford researcher, and co-author of the paper, Mariña Fernández Reino said that the funding and reason for publishing this paper comes from a push from the European commission “to assess and measure discrimination against ethnic minorities.”

The paper reports that the average callback rate for native women in the Netherlands who did not wear the Hijab in their application photo, was around 70%. But for women who did wear the Hijab in their photos the callback rate was only 35%.

For a country like the Netherlands, known as one of the more accommodating nations towards religious minorities, these statistics are concerning. This shows that employers take Hijabi women at face-value, in a country that is normally known for its progressive practices towards people of all backgrounds.

The ongoing politicisation of visible Muslim women has prejudiced people — customers and employees alike — against those that choose to wear the veil. The Netherlands, despite its otherwise progressive stance on religious freedom, has policies in place that discriminate against Muslim women, such as the burqa ban. But the discriminatory practices that have been proven to exist in employment fields further ostracize Muslim women who wear the Hijab from participating in society.

Germany had a similar, albeit, less staggering, difference than the Netherlands: 53% of native German unveiled applicants received a callback for their job applications, whereas the veiled applicants received callbacks at a rate of around 25%.

Khola Hübsch, a German journalist known as the “face of Muslim women” in Germany tells Analyst News that, “In Germany we had public discussions on the hijab for years.”

In these discussions, however, she points out that Hijabi Muslim women were never included themselves. This meant many prejudices were perpetuated through one-sided dialogue. She says, “As a consequence, we had hijab-bans for teachers and public servants.”

Although these bans were later rescinded, they left their impact, ostracising Hijabi women in society — and thus, the workplace.

Spain which was described in the paper as a country with “high competition for jobs in a context of high unemployment” had a 25% average callback rate for non-Hijabi native Spanish women compared to 15.8% for Hijabi applicants.

Reino says that in addition to competition and unemployment, the lack of discussion surrounding the Hijab on a political level in Spain as compared to Germany and the Netherlands could be a reason it didn’t matter much in employers’ decision for callbacks.

The study further looked at the difference in discrimination in callback rates between non-Hijabi Muslim women and Hijabi Muslim women, to see at what extent employers consider the veil as a barrier to a job.

For high-contact jobs, such as front desk reception, the average callback rates among non-Hijabi Muslim women were 42%, 52%, and 14% for the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. These rates are still less compared to the native majority callback rates, perhaps showcasing a general discrimination towards Muslim women.

But for Hijabi women, the callback rates for these jobs were 18% for both the Netherlands and Germany, and 10% for Spain, showing an even greater disparity.

Reino tells Analyst News the logic they put behind the numbers is that human resource officers during the hiring process consider that, “women that wear a Hijab will be seen and contacted by customers.”

Due to negative societal beliefs surrounding the Hijab in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, she says, “customers might discriminate against employees, and thus businesses, so having public Hijabi employees might be considered bad for business.”

Reino says, “The main take of all this discrimination study is that what happens in the labour market reflects what happens in society.”

To change the inequality and discrimination in hiring practices, the change must start at a societal level. The larger anti-Islam narrative in the West must be studied and addressed.

To do that, Hübsch says “It is important to give those a public voice who are affected. Hijab-wearing women must be involved in the debate.”

Both Reino and Hübsch say that in addition to training employers to remove their prejudices, educational work to debunk the myths surrounding Islam and the Hijab must also be implemented.

The change in the labour market will have to be in tandem with the change in society.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Crime

“Log kya kahenge?”: Is colonialism to blame for the rise in honour killings and honour culture in the South Asian community?

Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.

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Honor Killing

“Log kya kahenge?” or “What will people say?” in Urdu and Hindi is a common enough phrase heard by many South Asians.  No doubt Sania Khan, a Pakistani American may also have had to hear this too many times before she was murdered by her ex-husband whilst going through a divorce. Khan, 29 left her bad marriage as she felt unsafe with her husband due to his long-standing mental health issues. She shared her experience on TikTok recalling how “going through a divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes”. However, on 18th July 2022 her ex-husband shot her in the head then shot himself.  Sadly, Sania Khan was pronounced dead at the scene.

But why has there been a rise in honour killings in the South Asian community and why is this toxic honour “culture” so important?  Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.  Analyst News spoke to psychoanalyst Shukriya Mahat about how honour is all about abiding by family rules. “Honour is the highest level of integrity you have.  When you are born into a family you have to abide by a certain set of rules and principles that come with that family, so you end up carrying a name of a family, you are not yourself.” That is exactly how the families of honour victims Sania Khan, Qandeel Baloch and Shafilea Ahmed viewed their daughters. For some South Asian families they are more than willing to kill one of their own when they do not abide by these “rules” to preserve their family’s honour.

“For women in the South Asian community, they gain respectability if they get married as their name becomes attached to a male,” says Neha Gill, executive director of Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based human rights organisation working to end gender-based violence. It offers services to predominantly South Asian women facing intimate partner abuse. Gill told Analyst News that divorced women still carry the stigma of unrespectability within the community – they begin to symbolise sexual impurity, leading to their shaming and shunning.  The definition of what a “respectable woman” is, continues to be used today, because the community is obsessed with creating a woman who is the “marriageable type”.

Gill goes on to say, “Women like Sania Khan are not trusted to make their own decision of leaving a marriage or not” because, she believes, they are not trusted to uphold their family’s honour. “Many women are expected to ‘compromise’ in their marriage, and this can mean many women are expected to tolerate abusive behaviours solely to preserve honour.  That is why we find when abuse victims leave their marriage, that is when the most homicides occur as the abuser loses power and control over their honour,” she explains.

According to the Sri Lankan author and activist Kumari Jayawaradena, the idea of “respectability” is a throwback to colonial times when missionaries who settled in India and Sri Lanka claimed they were bringing “salvation and the light of true faith”.  By trying to convert the native populations, the Christians created female missionaries in schools with the aim of providing  “good Christian wives and mothers” for male converts to uphold the principles set out in the Bible. A family’s honour was tied to whether their daughter was ‘sexually pure’. Thus rules for what a ‘respectable’ woman was, were rooted in fundamentalist Biblical ideas of abstinence before marriage and sexual purity.  But Gill opines that colonialism probably made an already deeply patriarchal society even worse and compounded women’s low status.  Indeed when missionaries were first placed in schools in India and Sri Lanka during British rule it was difficult to persuade parents to send their daughters to school as ‘reading and writing were not considered to be traits of a female’.

Gill explains how the culture is steeped in patriarchy. From the beginning of someone’s life “we praise a woman if she gives birth to a boy but then wishes them to receive a boy ‘next time’ if they give birth to a baby girl.”  Unfortunately this attitude still exists today.   A recent study found that there would be 6.8 million fewer female births recorded across India by 2030 because of sex selective abortions, where a baby is more likely to be aborted if it’s female. This cultural preference exists and is perpetuated through the generations, as a boy means he’s more likely to earn and become a breadwinner and girls are just seen as a “burden from day one” because someone needs to provide for them.  And if you’re unlucky enough to have a girl, then the onus is to ensure she’s of a “marriageable type” so she can be married off as soon as she’s of age.

But why are these blatant discriminatory practices perpetuated today?  Psychoanalyst Mahat believes that the patriarchal system continues to be upheld by the older generation which “instils these rules because for many of their generation, honour is much more important than life.” The problem then becomes that the community is stuck in a constant cycle of successive generations being taught that these backward-looking, paternalistic standards are the cultural norm.

Is there any way to stop this vicious cycle, change attitudes and restore women’s status? Shukriya Mahat feels one way to cut through is education.  She suggests that by simply teaching younger generations that there is no shame in getting a divorce if marriage does not work out and setting better examples for them to follow would be a huge breakthrough. “However, re-educating South Asian adults can be the hardest challenge when they have been taught all their life to abide by these rules,” she says. But it will be women who have suffered at the hands of their partners, who will likely have the courage and agency needed to change the cultural mindset into one which truly values the fairer sex.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Religion

Hijab wearing Costco employee files complaint alleging harassment and discrimination

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discirmination

A Muslim woman in the US has filed a complaint against wholesaler, Costco, alleging workplace discrimination and harassment.

Wafa Aziz, 44, who had worked at two stores in Livonia in the state of Michigan, claimed managers were prejudiced against her for being visibly Muslim since she joined in November 2018.

“They view me differently,” she said. “They see what I wear on the outside but they don’t view me as a human being.”

Aziz, who is of Arab-descent and wears the hijab, said she was subject to rumours from her manager, who filed a false document to discipline her and prevented her from progressing to higher paying roles. She also claimed to have overheard managers saying her employment was to fill in “minority numbers”.

“We are living in America, where we have laws that protect citizens from this type of discrimination, but it’s still going on,” Aziz said. “At a corporation like Costco, that should not be OK…They should be held accountable for that.”

Still an employee of the corporation, the 44 year old said she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. But the mother of two, including a daughter who has scoliosis, will not quit.

“Why would I and why should I? Why should I have to leave because someone is trying to push me out because I’m simply different [from] them? Because they think me wearing my hijab is going to obstruct me from performing my job duties?” she said.

Islamophobia in the US has seen an uptick. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre in March this year revealed 78% of adults believe Muslims face discrimination, compared to 68% who believe Jews do, and 44% who believe Evangelical Christians are subject to mistreatment.

In May, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said there had been an increase of 9% in civil rights complaints it had received since 2020.

Just last month, US President Joe Biden condemned the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “These hateful attacks have no place in America.” he wrote in a tweet.

But discrimination against hijab-wearing American women is twofold. In 2019, a woman working at a detention centre in Delaware, Wilmington, was prevented from wearing her hijab on the grounds that religious clothing was “unsafe” at the facility that houses inmates. At the time, the agency worker, Madinah Brown’s attorney described the case as a “clear example of religious discrimination.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

The Problem with Andrew Tate

Andrew Tate is slowly becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons. Here’s why he’s not a good role model.

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Amongst young people especially, Andrew Tate is slowly becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons. With disturbing opinions on such topics as women, rape, masculinity and the attainment of success, Tate has been banned from Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube with other social media platforms following suit. Perhaps more disturbing is his appeal to young men thriving off the validity he gives to their feelings of isolation due to what they perceive to be a corrupted women’s society.

Who is he?

A former kickboxer, Tate first rose to prominence in 2016 following an appearance on reality TV show, Big Brother. This short-lived venture resulted in his removal from screen after a video emerged of him beating a woman with a belt. Despite his claims that the female involved was consensually participating, the behaviour seen correlates with the messages that have made him go viral. 

Views on Women

According to Tate, female victims of rape “bear some responsibility” for putting themselves in vulnerable positions, and suggests that if a woman makes an accusation of cheating,  it would be fair to “bang out the machete, boom her in the face and grip her by the neck”. Additionally, in expressing that men hold a degree of authority in male-female relationships, Tate equates the responsibility of marriage to that of owning a pet, saying, “you can’t be responsible for a dog if it doesn’t obey you”. He justifies this with the claim that women are “actually happy serving men” over “working some career”.

Even if it’s fame that’s driving him, it’s hard to understand how he and evidently, so many other men, genuinely believe such derogatory views are acceptable. But this issue speaks to a larger one concerning healthy online spaces for men.

An idol to young men

In advocating toxic masculinity and lavish living with his self-proclaimed pyramid scheme and get-rich-quick, online programme ‘Hustler’s University’, Tate has won the hearts of young men by validating their feelings of incompetence when interacting with women. Many of his followers are part of the ‘incel’ movement, which believes women and feminism are the root cause of all their problems.

A disturbing, yet unsurprising amount of support comes from British-Muslim men, many of whom have taken to TikTok to share Tate’s views and express how he upholds Islamic requirements for women. One look at the masses of YouTube videos of Muslim men discussing the corrupted behaviours of westernised Muslim women and how they are no longer dedicated to family, marital and modest life can explain this link.

Tate has also expressed his respect for Islam, admiring the false notion that women are seen as the ‘property’ of a man with the purpose of serving him. Many members of the Islamic community have taken to social media to highlight the real teachings about women in Islam and also to point out the hypocrisy of Muslim men idolising a figure who indulges in behaviours considered vices in Islam – excess money, premarital sex and fame.

He is also known for his links to controversial figures belonging to the far-right, such as Tommy Robinson and Alex Jones, which enables further exposure to a whole new audience already susceptible to extremist views.

This begs the question then, as to how deeply Tate has ingrained what is frankly, criminal thought into the minds of his followers, and what will it take to undo this damage in a world where internet content is virtually permanent?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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