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 where he is also a Fellow. 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 shortly 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, assisting with academic writing at Newcastle University from 2005–2008,
MacEoin is a pro-Israel campaigner (he first visited the country in 1968). He writes a blog entitled 'A Liberal Defence of Israel', and is chairman of North East Friends of Israel.
His current work is largely connected to radical Islam and to broader Islamic issues. He has written on radical literature found in UK mosques, on shari'a law versus unitary British law, on Muslim schools, and on dozens of related subjects: Qatar, Pakistan, anti-semitism in Islam, human rights in the Islamic world, the destruction of the Middle Eastern heritage by Islamic State, the destruction of sites in Mecca and Medina by the Saudi government, acid attacks on women in Iran, the Baha'i minority in Iran, integration, deradicalization, the rationale behind suicide bombing, and much else.
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.
BBC Newsnight Investigation
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."
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 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. UK: Library of Middle Eastern Democracy. 2013. ISBN 978-0957482500.
- Music, Chess and Other Sins. London: Civitas. 2009. ISBN 978-1906837068. (Report on radicalism in about 80 schools in the UK)
Since 1986, McEoin has pursued a career as a novelist, having written 26 novels. He uses the pen names Daniel Easterman (international thrillers) and Jonathan Aycliffe (ghost stories).
As Daniel Easterman
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Books written as Easterman include The Last Assassin, 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 dramatised 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 due for publication.[when?]
- "Biography of Denis MacEoin". Middle East Forum.
- "Denis MacEoin". The Fellowship Scheme. Royal Literary Fund. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- "Denis MacEoin". Gatestone Institute. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- "'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
- Milne, Seumas (20 December 2007). "Cameron must rein in these neo-con attack dogs". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/news/news.cgi?id=1603 dead link
- Policy Exchange admits NLCM clear of any wrongdoing
- Kazensky, Michelle, ed. (2007). The Writers Directory 2008, Volume 2 (Thomson Gale). p. 1238.
- Collection of articles from Islamophobia-Watch.com concerning MacEoin
- BBC's Newsnight report on Policy Exchange