Douglas Murray (author)
This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.Learn how and when to remove this template message)(June 2018) (
Douglas Kear Murray|
Hammersmith, London, England
Associate director of the Henry Jackson Society|
Former director of the Centre for Social Cohesion
St Benedict's School|
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
|Subject||Politics, culture, history|
|Literary movement||Christian atheism, neoconservatism|
Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (2000)|
Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005)
Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry (2011)
The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017)
Douglas Kear Murray is a British author, journalist, and political commentator. He is the founder of the Centre for Social Cohesion and is the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society and associate editor of the British political and cultural magazine The Spectator. Murray writes for a number of publications, including Standpoint, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. He is the author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005), Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry (2011) about the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017).
Murray was born and raised in Hammersmith, London to an English mother, a civil servant, and Scottish Gaelic-speaking father, a school teacher, along with his brother. He would go to his father's ancestral home, the Isle of Lewis, every summer as a boy, where he enjoyed fishing. His paternal grandfather was the schoolmaster of Tong School, where Mary Anne MacLeod, mother of Donald Trump, was educated.
Murray was educated at West Bridgford School and was awarded a musical scholarship at St Benedict's School and later at Eton College, before going on to study English at Magdalen College, Oxford.
At age 19, while in his second year at Oxford University, he published  a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas that was described by Christopher Hitchens as "masterly". After leaving Oxford, Murray wrote a play, Nightfall, about the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2005, he published a defence of neoconservatism — Neoconservatism: Why We Need It — and made a speaking tour promoting the book in the United States. In 2007, he assisted in the writing of Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership by Gen. Dr. Klaus Naumann, Gen. John Shalikashvili, Field Marshal The Lord Inge, Adm. Jacques Lanxade, and Gen. Henk van den Breemen. Upon publication, The Guardian reported its recommendations. His book Bloody Sunday was (jointly) awarded the 2011–2012 Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. In June 2013, his e-book Islamophilia: a Very Metropolitan Malady was published. His book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, in which he documents a series of interviews and government data from a year long project travelling to the many points of entry and residence for recent immigrants to report on the European migrant crisis, was published in May 2017.
Media appearances and journalism
Murray has appeared on a number of British current affairs programmes, including the BBC's Question Time, This Week, HardTalk, the Today programme, The Big Questions, and Daily Politics, in which he presented a piece arguing that multiculturalism, which Murray described as "the idea that Governments should bend over backwards to accommodate immigrants", is neither multiracialism nor pluralism, and that it had failed. Murray has written for The Guardian and Standpoint, and in 2012 he was appointed a contributing editor of The Spectator. He has debated at the Cambridge Union, the Oxford Union, and has participated in several Intelligence Squared and Intelligence Squared US debates.[excessive citations]
From 2002–2003, Murray attended the Saville Inquiry almost daily at both Central Hall in Westminster and the Guildhall in Derry. He recounted his observations as well as a summary of the evidence and the report in detail in his book, Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry. He has since written extensively on the Troubles and has been critical of the British Army's role in Bloody Sunday, the Northern Ireland peace process, and IRA members and sympathisers, such as Sinn Féin and Martin McGuinness.[excessive citations]
On 20 January 2007, Murray debated alongside Daniel Pipes and against Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, Birmingham Councillor for the Respect Party, Salma Yaqoob, in a debate organised by the Mayor and held in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, the motion for which was 'Clash of Civilisations or World Civilisation?'. Both Murray and Pipes rejected Samuel Huntington's theory of clashing civilisations, claiming that there was instead a clash of civilisation and barbarism. During the debate, Murray accused Livingstone of being an apologist for Irish republican extremists and Islamist extremists and criticised his invitation of Sinn Féin leaders, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, to London in 1982 and his invitation of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London in 2005. He was also critical of Yaqoob's ties to Birmingham Central Mosque and to Mohammad Naseem, her involvement in the Justice for Britons in Yemen campaign, and the support of her party for the insurgency of Iraq. He has since been publicly critical of both Livingstone and Yaqoob, and the Respect Party.[excessive citations]
In 2009, Murray received an invitation from the Global Issues Society (GIS) to debate Al-Muhajiroun leader, Anjem Choudary, on sharia law verses British law at Conway Hall on 17 June of that year. Although he and his office were suspicious of the GIS, Murray attended the event. Despite the GIS's assurances that security guards would be hired, Murray claimed that they were members of Al-Muhajiroun, who were enforcing gender segregation. Violence broke out before Murray arrived and he was advised by the police not to enter the hall. Giles Enders, Chairman of the South Place Ethical Society, which runs Conway Hall, announced that he was cancelling the event because of the forced segregation of men and women. After the police arrived, Murray (flanked by his own security guards) confronted Choudary outside the venue to discuss why the debate had been cancelled, surrounded by "thugs" who were shouting abuse at him. He also challenged Choudary with research that his Centre for Social Cohesion had recently published, which showed that one in seven Islamist-related terror convictions in the UK since 1999 were linked to Al-Muhajiroun, and claimed that Choudary's group should be banned, to which Choudary claimed that Murray, the police, and the courts were "liars" and that "Muslims are always innocent". Al-Muhajiroun was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 by the Home Office the following year.
On 19 November 2009, Murray participated in a panel discussion organised by the British Council as part of their Our Shared Europe project at the European Parliament in Brussels, the topic for which was 'Europe and Islam: Whose identity crisis?' He shared a panel hosted by Sajjad Karim MEP with Pál Schmitt (Vice-President of the European Parliament), Daniel Hannan MEP, Chris Allen (academic, writer, and broadcaster on Islamophobia in Europe), and Bashy Quraishy (Chair of the Advisory Council to the European Network Against Racism).
Under the headline Anyone know any Irishman jokes?, Murray wrote an article for The Spectator, querying a council having "to pay thousands of pounds in compensation" to a union official who had been told an Irish joke by a Conservative councillor, writing, "you can reflect on the ramifications for the taxpayer of a society that decides it needs officials to arbitrate on jokes". The compensation sum was not disclosed, as claimed by Murray, and he neglected to say that the councillor had told the joke at a racial discrimination hearing, of which he was chair.
In the New Statesman/Frontline Club debate, held in Kensington Town Hall, London, on 9 April 2011, Murray debated against the motion "This house believes whistle-blowers make the world a safer place" alongside Sir David Richmond and Bob Ayers against Clayton Swisher, Julian Assange, and Mehdi Hasan. He argued that whistle-blowers probably do not understand the full ramifications of revealing state secrets and as they are unelected, they have no right or mandate to do so. He specifically targeted WikiLeaks and suggested that it targetedly releases information to defame Western nations while not doing the same for the human rights abuses of closed societies, such as those of the Russian Government. He also directly challenged Assange over alleged comments that David Leigh and Luke Harding had relayed in their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, published by Guardian Books. The authors claimed Assange, during a discussion with journalists in a London restaurant about whether names of informants should be redacted from Afghan War logs, had said, "Well, they're [Afghans who co-opted with the United States military] informants. So, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it." Assange interjected at this point to say, "We are in the process of suing The Guardian in relation to that comment. Perhaps you would like to join the queue?" The Guardian claimed the following day that they had "not received any notification of such action from WikiLeaks or its lawyers", two months after the publication of the book.
On 22 September 2011, Murray spoke at The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III conference in New York City in protest of Durban III. During his speech, Murray criticised the reception of Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, the demand from the Organisation of African Unity that reparations for the Rwandan Genocide be paid by the United States, and the demand from the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, that the UK and the United States "apologise unreservedly for their crimes against humanity" at the first Durban conference. He described the conferences as "an opportunity for perverted despots to attack the free nations of the world and deflect opinion — worldwide — from their own actions". He also criticised President Mugabe, President Ahmadinejad, and the United Nations.
On 11 September 2012, Murray wrote an article published in The Wall Street Journal, in which he argued against the separation of Hezbollah's "political" and "military" wings. He subsequently wrote several articles campaigning for the proscription of Hezbollah by the UK Government and the European Union. Hezbollah's military wing had already been proscribed by the UK Government in 2008 and was subsequently proscribed by the Council of the European Union in 2013; however, neither has proscribed the organisation's political wing.
On 19 October 2013, Murray's interview with Tommy Robinson was published by The Spectator. He conducted the interview at the request of a friend from the Quilliam Foundation, who was facilitating Robinson's withdrawal from the English Defence League (EDL) at the time. Murray had previously criticised the EDL but has described them as a "secondary problem", the "primary problem" being Islamism.
On 24 August 2014, Murray appeared on Sunday Morning Live. Al-Muhajiroun spokesman, Abu Rumaysah, was also a guest but in accordance with police advice that Murray not be in the proximity of Al-Muhajiroun members following their violence toward him in 2009, Rumaysah was broadcast from a separate studio. At Rumaysah's claim that he would like to go to Syria to join the Islamic State, Murray and Dame Ann Leslie taunted, "Why don't you?" Myriam François-Cerrah and Shiraz Maher also expressed doubts that Rumaysah had the courage of his convictions. While on bail weeks later, Rumaysah left the UK for Syria with his family. Murray expressed concerns that Rumaysah had replaced Mohammed Emwazi in Islamic State execution videos, regretting his and others' tendency to not take such people seriously. He was critical of the Home Office and the border police for allowing Rumaysah to leave the UK.
Murray appeared on many media outlets, such as Sky News, The Big Questions, and Al Jazeera, to comment on the Charlie Hebdo shooting. He argued that the attack was a 'clear and bloody attempt to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws' in the Western world and that the cartoons should have been published by the Western media in order to express solidarity with the victims and to demonstrate that such violent tactics are not effective. He was particularly scathing toward critics who attempted to 'smear the victims as racists' shortly after their deaths without an understanding of French politics or Charlie Hebdo.
In 2016, Murray organised a competition through The Spectator of offensive poems about Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for which a reader donated £1,000 as the top prize. This was in reaction to the Böhmermann affair, in which German satirist, Jan Böhmermann, was prosecuted under the German penal code for such a poem. One of Murray's articles on the affair contributed to his being longlisted for the 2017 Orwell Prize for Journalism five years after his book, Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and The Saville Inquiry, was longlisted for the 2012 Book Prize. He announced the winner of the poetry competition as Boris Johnson, Conservative MP and former Mayor of London, who is one-eighth Turkish. Murray admitted that while better poems were submitted, this award was "entirely anti-meritocratic". He explained in his Spectator article that Johnson was selected because he thought it to be "a wonderful thing that a British political leader has shown that Britain will not bow before the putative Caliph in Ankara". Some concerns were expressed at Johnson's subsequent appointment as Foreign Secretary, his poem cited as an example of bad diplomacy. However, he has refused to apologise, even during his diplomatic visits to Turkey. The same year, Murray made the case for Britain to vote "leave" in the Brexit referendum citing concerns with the Eurozone and immigration.
In January 2017, Murray travelled to Jos in northern Nigeria for four days to report on the violence toward and attempted extirpation of Christians by Boko Haram and Fulani. He was critical of the Nigerian Government, Army, and President Muhammadu Buhari for their "complicity" in attacks on Christian communities and of the UK Government and the Church of England for their "wilful blindness". Murray spoke at a meeting of the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Caroline Cox, on 13 March 2017, to report on the "ethnic and religious cleansing" of northern Nigerian Christians.
On 19 June 2017, Muslim Council of Britain spokesperson, Miqdaad Versi, appeared on Daily Politics with host, Jo Coburn, to discuss the Finsbury Park attack. Miqdaad likenened Murray to Anjem Choudary and accused him of anti-Islamic hate speech, citing his Sunday Politics interview with Coburn three weeks earlier as an example. Later that day, BBC News interviewed the Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh, who accused Murray of being an anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic hate preacher, along with Maajid Nawaz and Katie Hopkins. On 22 June 2017, BBC News aired a formal apology to Murray, following another apology to Nawaz on 20 June. Murray hinted that this was the result of legal action taken by his lawyers against the BBC.[unreliable source?]
In an article titled "Tommy Robinson Drew Attention to ‘Grooming Gangs.’ Britain Has Persecuted Him." published by National Review in May 2018, Murray called for the release of Tommy Robinson following his being sentenced to 13 months imprisonment for live streaming outside Leeds Crown Court. According to Murray, "it is by now abundantly clear that every arm of the British state has been out to get Tommy Robinson from the moment he emerged on the scene in Luton a decade ago."
Views on Islam
Murray is a frequent critic of Islam, and has identified what he sees as, "a creed of Islamic fascism—a malignant fundamentalism, woken from the Dark Ages to assault us here and now". He views relativism, a "uniquely destructive strand of Western thought" as "our problem". Murray has labelled "Islamophobia" a "nonsense term", as "there are a considerable number of reasons to be fearful of some—though certainly not all—aspects and versions of Islam".
In February 2006, Murray expressed his views on Islam and Muslims in Europe, in his talk delivered to the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in the Hague, Netherlands:
Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe – after all – no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. From long before we were first attacked it should have been made plain that people who come into Europe are here under our rules and not theirs. … If some Muslims don't have a mosque to go to, then they'll just have to realise that they aren't owed one.
After refusing Paul Goodman's offer to disown these comments, the Conservative Party frontbench severed formal relations with Murray and his Centre for Social Cohesion. In an article responding to Goodman, published by ConservativeHome on 15 October 2011, Murray wrote:
Paul makes an attack on me based on one speech I gave in the Dutch Parliament many years ago now. The fact that the speech is unpublished (and indeed that the version on the web was de-published at my request some years back) is not mentioned by Paul. Instead he silently points to a web-cached version of that withdrawn speech. The simple fact about it is that the phrases that Goodman complains of are not opinions that I hold. I realised some years ago how poorly expressed the speech in question was, had it removed from the website and forbade further requests to publish it because it does not reflect my opinions.
The things that he [Fiyaz Mughal] quotes — and he well knows this — were said many years ago. I never said that anything should be done that was violent. I said that when mosques taught and preached violence, they should be shut down — now, I stand by that. And I don't stand — as Fiyaz well knows — by the other comments, which were made in a very, very angry time after the 7/7 Bombings and after the murder of Theo van Gogh and when several friends of mine had been chased into hiding and had been attempted to be killed because of their criticisms of Islam. We all say things that we get wrong, that was one such occasion — I don't have any pride in that.
In March 2009, Murray wrote to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith warning that he was planning to instruct his lawyers to issue an international arrest warrant against Ibrahim Mousawi if he entered Britain; the Home Office eventually refused Mousawi a visa. In 2009, Murray was prevented from chairing a debate at the London School of Economics between Alan Sked and Hamza Tzortzis. The move drew strong criticism from conservative press such as The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator.
Murray does not necessarily view all Muslims as being violent Islamists, and has defended the activism of those advocating for reform within Islam. However, in the same essay, he writes that "Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not." 
In December 2015, Murray announced that he could no longer give his readers advance notice of his speaking engagements, citing "security reasons".
Murray is an atheist, having previously been a practising Anglican until his twenties, but has described himself variously as a cultural Christian and a Christian atheist, and believes that Christianity is an important influence on British and European culture. Murray is openly gay.
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