Raheem Kassam

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Raheem Kassam
Raheem Kassam by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Kassam speaking at the 2018 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland
Born (1986-08-01) 1 August 1986 (age 34)
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Westminster
Political partyBrexit Party (2019–present)
UK Independence Party (2014–2015, 2016–2019)
Conservative Party (former)

Raheem Kassam (born 1 August 1986)[1] is a far-right[2][3][4] British political activist, former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London, and former chief adviser to former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage.[5] Kassam formerly ran in the party's November 2016 leadership election before dropping out of the race on 31 October 2016.[6] He was most recently the global editor-in-chief of Human Events.

Early life and education[edit]

Kassam was born in Hammersmith Hospital, London. His parents were Tanzanian immigrants of Indian origin from Hillingdon, Greater London.[1] He was raised an Ismaili Muslim, but wrote in 2016 that he had not been a practising Muslim for over a decade. Kassam is an atheist, stating that Christopher Hitchens' rejection of religious faith ("religions are versions of the same untruth") inspired him.[7] Kassam was educated at Bishopshalt School, a state comprehensive school in Uxbridge and St Helen's College, Hillingdon, and then studied Politics at the University of Westminster.[8]

Kassam worked for the defunct American financial services firm Lehman Brothers before his career in politics[9]

Career[edit]

Kassam was a national executive board member of youth movement Conservative Future and director of campus anti-extremism group Student Rights, and campaigned against the London School of Economics for accepting money from Gaddafi's Libya;[8] the university's director Howard Davies would later resign when new revelations revealed the extent of the institution's relationship with the Gaddafi regime.[10] In a 2011 interview, Kassam named his idols as Michael Gove, Margaret Thatcher and Barry Goldwater, and spoke of his admiration for the United States' free markets.[8] He has called his alma mater a "hotbed of radical Islam", citing the fact that Jihadi John was at his campus as evidence.[11]

In 2011, Kassam was employed as campaigns director at Neoconservative foreign policy think-tank, the Henry Jackson Society.[12]

Kassam managed electoral campaigns in the UK and U.S., and was Executive Editor of The Commentator blogging platform, but left the organisation after falling out with the founding editor, Robin Shepherd, who described Kassam as "a danger to British democracy, and the rule of law".[13][1] He has been a member of conservative think tanks such as the Bow Group, the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, the Gatestone Institute and the Middle East Forum, and was involved in an attempted foundation of the UK version of the Tea Party movement.[14] Kassam was a supporter of the controversial Young Britons' Foundation, described by its founder as a "conservative madrasa" which later shut down due to allegations of misconduct against director Mark Clarke[15][16][17]. He and James Delingpole set up the London edition of the American far-right news outlet Breitbart News.[1] Kassam left Breitbart in May 2018.[18]

In 2018, Kassam joined the Institut des sciences sociales, économiques et politiques (Institute of Social, Economic and Political Sciences), founded by politicians in the far-right[19] National Front Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Thibaut Monnier, in Lyon, France.[20]

In March 2019, Kassam and lawyer Will Chamberlain purchased Human Events, a conservative American digital-only publication, from Salem Media Group for $300,000.[21][22] Kassam became Global editor-in-chief of Human Events when it was re-launched on May 1.[23] It announced that he was leaving the outlet on 8 August.[24]

In July 2019, the Australian Labor Party called for Kassam to be banned from entering Australia, Shadow Home Affairs Minister Senator Kristina Keneally said ""We should not allow career bigots — a person who spreads hate speech about Muslims, about women, about gay and lesbian people — to enter our country with the express intent of undermining equity and equality."[25]

In October 2019, Kassam began co-hosting War Room: Impeachment, a daily radio show and podcast with Steve Bannon, to nudge the White House and its allies into taking a more focused and aggressive posture to counteract the Impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.[26]

Political Views[edit]

Describing himself as a nationalist[27], Raheem's politics has frequently been described as far-right by mainstream commentators and sources[28][29][30]. Raheem Kassam has also been described by media and academic sources as a figure in the alt-right[31][32][33]. When running for leader in 2016, Kassam supported the repeal of a ban on former members of White nationalist parties, the National Front and British National Party from joining UKIP[34]

Kassam has described Islam as a "fascistic and totalitarian ideology"[35], described the Quran as 'fundamentally evil'[36] and stated that "we are war with Shari'a"[37] and has supported curbing Muslim immigration to the United Kingdom[38]

Kassam's political and media strategies have been floated on U.S far-right "shock and awful" tactics which seen him openly advise UKIP leader Nigel Farage to make controversial remarks against HIV patients in 2015[39][40]. Kassam has been a persistent critic of Labour Party Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, accusing him of turning the city into a "Shithole"[41] and accusing him of having links to terrorism and extremism.[42][43]

UK Independence Party[edit]

Following his period with the Conservative Party, Kassam became a UK Independence Party voter in late 2013, joined the party early in the following year, and soon became Nigel Farage's senior adviser.[1]

Leadership candidate[edit]

After the resignation of Diane James as UKIP leader in October 2016, Kassam launched a campaign to become the new leader. On announcing his bid, he stated that he wanted to "stop infighting within UKIP", "address the deep cultural and social divides in this country", and "to become the real opposition and put this feckless Labour Party to bed."[44][45] His campaign slogan was "Make UKIP great again".[46][47] In an interview with Evan Davis on the BBC's Newsnight, Kassam announced his intentions to resolve UKIP's "existential crisis" and pledged to increase UKIP's membership to 100,000.[48]

Kassam's activity on social media has attracted negative attention. In June 2016 he posted a tweet (later deleted) suggesting First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon should have her "mouth taped shut. And her legs, so she can't reproduce".[49] After being criticised by the Scottish National Party MP Stewart McDonald on Twitter, Kassam replied that he would not be lectured to by a "National Socialist party".[50] He later apologised.[51][52] He has tweeted in the past that Suzanne Evans, a candidate in the second 2016 UKIP leadership election, should "fuck off for good",[53] and questioned whether Labour MP Angela Eagle attended a "special needs class".[1][50][51]

After Evans said on The Andrew Marr Show that her "far right" and "toxic" rival would take the party away from the interests of ordinary people, Kassam questioned Evans' leadership capabilities and asserted that she had made "smears" against him.[49][53] Farage repudiated Evans' comments about Kassam shortly afterwards.[54][55]

At the launch of his leadership campaign, Kassam called for a national referendum on the right of women in the UK to wear the niqāb, claimed then-U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump does not hold anti-Muslim opinions, and cast doubt on the multiple claims of sexual assault made against Trump.[52] He also labelled his movement as Faragist and quipped that he was the "Faragest of the Faragists".[56][57] Kassam gained the personal support of Arron Banks, the principal funder of UKIP.[58]

Kassam "suspended", or withdrew, from the leadership contest on 31 October 2016, a few hours before nominations closed.[6][59] Having concluded that he had only a slight chance of winning, citing insufficient funds, he criticised the media attention he received and was critical of what he claimed was media intimidation of his parents.[60] He also questioned the fairness of a UKIP ballot.[61] "When Times journalists show up at my elderly parents' house, intimidating them, I draw the line," he said.[62]

In December 2016, Kassam admitted to editing his own Wikipedia page, a practice which is in violation of Wikipedia rules.[63]

Later developments[edit]

In his October 2016 Newsnight interview, Kassam suggested that Donald Trump would be a better President of the United States than Hillary Clinton.[48] A few days after the result of the American presidential election was announced, Kassam accompanied Farage when the former UKIP-leader was the first British politician to meet President-elect Trump, at Trump Tower.[64]

In January 2018, Kassam received media coverage for stating during a Sky News interview that London had become "a shithole" under Mayor Sadiq Khan, intentionally mirroring similar alleged comments U.S. President Trump made on immigration shortly before.[65][66][67]

Publications[edit]

On 14 August 2017, Kassam published his book No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You with Nigel Farage writing the foreword to the book.[68] On 19 April 2018, Kassam self-published Enoch Was Right: 'Rivers of Blood' 50 Years On, in which he argues that politician Enoch Powell's anti-immigration Rivers of Blood speech has been realised.[69]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ McGowan, Michael (2019-07-31). "Labor wants Australia to refuse visa for 'career bigot' Raheem Kassam". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
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  7. ^ Kassam, Raheem (16 December 2011). "Thank you, Mr. Hitchens". The Commentator.
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  67. ^ Jonathan, Robert (January 14, 2018). "London Is A 'S***hole,' Breitbart London Editor Raheem Kassam Claims [Video]". Inquisitr. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  68. ^ Kassam, Raheem (2017). No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 9781621576808.
  69. ^ Kassam, Raheem (2018). Enoch Was Right: 'Rivers of Blood' 50 Years On. Self-published. ISBN 978-1980818823.

External links[edit]