Denis M. MacEoin (born 1949, Belfast, Northern Ireland) was a "Senior Editor", from 2009-2010, at Middle East Quarterly a publication of the conservative American think tank Middle East Forum. MacEoin is also a Fellow at Middle East Forum. A former lecturer in Islamic studies, his academic specialisations are Shi‘ism, Shaykhism, Bábism, and the Bahá'í Faith, on all of which he has written extensively. MacEoin is also a novelist, writing under the pen names Daniel Easterman and Jonathan Aycliffe. MacEoin and his wife Beth, a homoeopath and health writer, have been married since 1975 and live in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Background and education
MacEoin studied English Language and Literature at the University of Dublin (Trinity College) and Persian, Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He carried out research for his PhD degree at King's College, Cambridge. His PhD dissertation dealt with two heterodox movements in 19th-century Iranian Shi‘ism: Shaykhism and Bábism. From 1979–80, he taught English, Islamic Civilization, and Arabic-English translation at Mohammed V University in Fez, Morocco, resigning from the University shorthly after commencing employment there. MacEoin claims the resignation was due to disputes over contract changes, working environment and payment for his services as a Lecturer. In 1986, he was made Honorary Fellow in the Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies at Durham University. He was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University from 2005–2008.
An advocate of alternative medicine since the 1960s (he was chairman of the UK Natural Medicines Society during the 1980s and 1990s), he has in more recent years taken a serious interest in the sociology and politics of medicine, and in the relations between CAM and conventional therapy. He has lectured to medical students on these topics. For many years, until its demise in 2003, he was chairman, then president of the Natural Medicines Society, a UK charity for the general public.
MacEoin is a pro-Israel campaigner (he first visited the country in 1968), who says he has "very negative feelings" about Islam. He writes a blog entitled 'A Liberal Defence of Israel'. He is currently on the board of a pro-Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs, and he is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the US Gatestone Institute.
MacEoin has published extensively on Islamic topics, contributing to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Islam in the Modern World, the Encyclopædia Iranica, the Penguin Handbook of Religions, journals, festschrifts, and books, and has himself written a number of academic books.
- Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism. UK: British Academic Press and Centre of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge. 1994. ISBN 1-85043-654-1.
- The Hijacking of British Islam. London: Policy Exchange. 2007. ISBN 978-1-906097-10-3. (now discredited publication, removed from Policy Exchange website due to allegations of forgery)
- The Messiah of Shiraz: Studies in Early and Middle Babism. Leiden: Brill. 2008. ISBN 978-90-04-17035-3.
- Dear Gary, Why You're Wrong about Israel. US: Library of Middle Eastern Democracy. 2013. ISBN 978-0957482500.
Controversy over "The Hijacking of British Islam"
In October 2007, The Hijacking of British Islam: How extremist literature is subverting Britain's mosques, was published. The report—written by Denis MacEoin and drawn up by the Policy Exchange thinktank— claimed that "extremist literature calling for the execution of gays and the oppression of women" was found at 25 of the 100 Islamic religious institutions that Policy Exchange's Muslim research teams claimed to have visited in 2006 and 2007.
Allegations of forgery
On 12 December 2007, BBC's Newsnight presented material which the programme suggested showed that some of the receipts purporting to prove the sale of extremist material had been forged, and that some of the literature had come from bookshops purportedly unconnected to the mosques named in the report. The BBC's Richard Watson also stated that "There is the worrying fact, not addressed by Policy Exchange, that the hand-writing on this receipt is very similar – to my eye it looks identical – to the hand-writing on another receipt, said to have been obtained from a mosque in Leyton, 10 miles away. A registered forensic document examiner concluded that there was “strong evidence” that the two receipts were written by the same person."
Similar allegations were made by The Guardian 's Seumas Milne. Milne's report stated that "BBC's Newsnight programme . . . revealed that a forensic examination of five receipts provided by Policy Exchange for the material had found them to be either faked, written by the same person, and/or were not issued by the mosques in question. A sixth receipt was also regarded as unreliable."'
Policy Exchange argued there was still evidence to link each of the institutions to extremist literature and that "The receipts are not ... mentioned in the report and the report’s findings do not rely upon their existence". As a result of the BBC Newsnight investigation, both Policy Exchange and MacEoin were sued for defamation by the Board of Trustees of the North London Central Mosque Trust (NLCM) concerning the allegations made in MacEoin's report against the Finsbury Park Mosque. The case was dismissed, dismissed on appeal, and in October 2010 the North London Central Mosque discontinued its appeal and paid a substantial contribution to Policy Exchange’s legal costs. However, NLCM reports that the following was published on the Policy Exchange website: "Policy Exchange has never sought to suggest that the literature cited in the Report was sold or distributed at the Mosque with the knowledge or consent of the Mosque’s trustees or staff."
Since 1986, McEoin has pursued a principal career as a novelist, having so far written twenty-three novels, several of which are best-sellers. He uses the pen-names Daniel Easterman (international thrillers), and Jonathan Aycliffe (ghost stories).
As Daniel Easterman
Books written as Easterman include The Seventh Sanctuary, The Ninth Buddha, The Judas Testament, Incarnation, Brotherhood of the Tomb, K, The Final Judgement, Midnight Comes at Noon, Night of the Seventh Darkness, The Sword, and Maroc.
A collection of his journalism was published under the Easterman name by HarperCollins in 1992 under the title New Jerusalems: Islam, the Rushdie Affair, and Religious Fundamentalism.
As Jonathan Aycliffe
- Naomi's Room (1991)
- Whisper's In The Dark (1992)
- The Vanishment (1994)
- The Matrix (1994)
- The Lost (1996)
- A Shadow On The Wall (2000)
- The Talisman (2001)
- A Garden Lost In Time (2004)
- The Silence Of Ghosts (2013)
A dramatized version of The Matrix was broadcast by BBC Radio Scotland in 2009 and again on BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2013. Film options exist for a number of Aycliffe novels. An eleventh novel, set in the West of Ireland, is nearing completion.
- "Biography of Denis MacEoin". Middle East Forum.
- "Denis MacEoin". The Fellowship Scheme. Royal Literary Fund. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Milne, Seumas (20 December 2007). "Cameron must rein in these neo-con attack dogs". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "'Agenda of hate in British mosques'". Islamophobia Watch. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "BBC Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds to Policy Exchange criticism of investigation". BBC News. 13 December 2007.
- richard_watsons_comment_on_the_policy_exchange_row| bbc.co.uk| 2007/12
- http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/news/news.cgi?id=1603 dead link
- Policy Exchange admits NLCM clear of any wrong-doing
- The Writers Directory 2008, Volume 2 (ed. Michelle Kazensky). Thomson Gale: 2007 (pg. 1238).
- Biography – From Newcastle University
- Daniel Easterman – a checklist
- News and commentary from Islamophobia-watch.com
- BBC's Newsnight report on allegations of forgery against Denis MacEoin and Policy Exchange