The tranche of information provided by the Guardian and CAGE regarding the black propaganda network constituted of Home Office propaganda unit RICU, PR companies and ostensibly “independent” civil society organisations has certainly gotten the ball rolling. Information now, I suspect, will begin to percolate through various mediums and quarters exposing willing and unknowing partners in a distinctly totalitarian project.
In the past I have written extensively about Shaista Gohir’s Muslim Women’s Network (MWNUK), her links to PREVENT, her timely media interventions which propped the neoconservative government narrative against the Muslim minority, her positive association with sectarian neoconservative enablers Khalid Mahmood and her involvement with the persecutory, imperial globalised CVE agenda. The funding granted to her organisation from government after her public antics only served to represent the sour icing on a distinctly rotten cake.
MWNUK and Breaththrough Media Connection
In a recent article authored by Yasmin Khatun Dewan, another link to the PREVENT policy of social perdition through controlled government messaging is potentially exposed. Dewan writes,
“My brush with Breakthrough Media came in February, though pressure on me to be involved in the government-led narrative came earlier.
The hashtag #AndMuslim was first used in March by a few mainly Muslim women involved in a grassroots campaign led by the northern-based Muslim Women’s Network, detailing how they are so many other things alongside being a “Muslim”. But a month before its use on social media, it was Breakthrough Media who contacted me regarding the campaign, calling it a “project for the Muslim Women’s Network” and asking if I might be able to join as a “contributor”. They told me I was found via the British Bangladeshi Power & Inspiration 100List.
“Our campaign aim is to profile Muslim women role models [who] will show the diversity of Muslim women across the UK and aim to challenge stereotypes,” Breakthrough Media said.
What’s wrong with that? A request without hidden agenda, you would assume as part of a “grassroots” women’s organisation – but this campaign is little different to the ones documented in Cage’s report.”
Some context here is required to understand the narrative that organically grew and which subsequently was the subject of campaign to detract from the original message.
Restructuring the Importance of Muslim Identity
In January this year, David Cameron, keen to paint anything and everything related to Muslims with the brush of “extremism” and terrorism, suggested one of the reasons young Muslim men were vulnerable to radicalisation was the “traditional submissiveness of Muslim women”. Social media reacted to mock the PM’s shocking statements, and used the hashtag #traditionallysubmissive to send the message that “Muslim women are not a problem that needs solving”. This gave the notion of a strong Muslim identity.
MWNUK executive director Faeeza Vaid then Tweeted suggesting that, though the campaign was great idea, the hashtag wasn’t. She then stated that “wev been working on our similar campaign #AndMuslim”.
Gohir then Tweeted a photo message, which effectively propagated her feminist agenda and the fact that she was a Muslim. She further Tweeted a message which practically regurgitated Dewan’s reproduction of Breakthrough Media’s blurb for their campaign. A day later, Vaid explained the thinking behind the alternate hashtag thusly,
“The aim of this campaign is to represent British Muslim women as diverse, passionate, and independent citizens of their local communities and across society at large. We all carry multiple identities – and this campaign says clearly that we’re British, Muslim AND SO MUCH MORE.”
In short, a comparatively passive, multifaceted hashtag which effectively diluted and downplayed the Muslim identity was encouraged over the hashtag which grew in response to Cameron’s “extremism” rhetoric. It should be noted here that, according to neocons, a strong Muslim identity is something which is to be discouraged. As Trevor Phillips explained in his spin-fest documentary, What British Muslims Really Think, for neocons, the problem lay with the label “British Muslims” because it became “all about religion”. “SO MUCH MORE” is an effort to play down and eventually erode the religious dimension of Muslims.
In addition to Gohir and MWNUK’s CVE repertoire, and given Dewan’s article, Vaid’s admission they have been working on a “campaign”, and the similar language used in deploying their #AndMuslim campaign, MWNUK and Gohir have very likely actively partook in secretive, grossly unethical cold war-style propaganda warfare using the Home Office’s PR company of choice to directly attack the notion of a strong Muslim identity. And this at a time of increasing anti-Muslim hate and abject political Islamophobia.
It is for the Muslim minority to take stock of and remain vigilante of such alleged interlocutors for oppression.