Read my previous analysis on the HASC Radicalisation report: Home Affairs Select Committee Radicalisation Report is an Effort to Dissipate Momentum against PREVENT and a Dangerous Script for a Closed Society
The Home Affairs Select Committee report on radicalisation referred to two key organisations which have been close to the establishment and have directly or indirectly supported the lambasted PREVENT social engineering programme targeting the Muslim minority: Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters which runs Tell MAMA, and Inspire, run by Sara Khan and Kalsoom Bashir.
Critiques of PREVENT raised by Faith Matters (FM) are reproduced in the Committee report. A comment piece on FM’s submission to the Committee has been published here on the blog already. I highlighted the fact that Mughal himself engages in the very issues his submission criticises. Pertinently, I revealed that the seemingly two-faced Mughal did in fact support PREVENT but believed the “brand” had become “damaged”. Moreover, the way in which Tell MAMA was being used was a cause for consternation. Far from merely recording anti-Muslim attacks, it was actively controlling Muslim discourse by indirectly defending Quilliam Foundation employees and facilitating attacks on Muslims authored by pro-Israel activists through the subtle construction of Muslim discourse as extremist – a neoconservative strategy to suppress dissent.
Under the cover of purporting to measure anti-Muslim attacks, Mughal’s organisation continues to engage in the very practice of attacking Muslims it disagrees with alongside pro-Israel outfits like Community Security Trust (CST), and gutter papers like the Daily Mail. When the pro-Israel, Mossad-linked organisation CST published a piece in which the political ideology of Zionism was dangerously conflated with anti-Semitism, credible Muslim journalist Dilly Hussain and Mend, an organisation respected in the Muslim community, were attacked, Tell MAMA tellingly Tweeted it out as a “brilliant blog”.
The CST blog labelled my blog “Islamist” too, demonstrating both the uselessness of such a term (they have no clue about my religious beliefs or opinions) and the desperation of the Zionist organisation to smear critical voices. Notably, the FM submission to the Committee criticised the use of the term “Islamist”, stating that it led to McCarthyism. Yet here was Tell MAMA lauding a blog piece which was frivolously designating Muslim bloggers “Islamist”.
Further, the Jewish Chronicle reported in October 2015 that the government consulted CST in formulating the draconian counter-extremism strategy. The widely derided strategy “pleased” CST’s director of communications Mark Gardner, adding a further layer of hypocrisy-laden incoherence on the part of FM/Tell MAMA.
The PREVENT Hypocrisy Continues
Demonstrating further convergence with PREVENT, Tell MAMA has someone deeply embedded in PREVENT on their West Midlands advisory board.
Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal is the regional PREVENT lead for Further and Higher Education. Haroon-Iqbal’s views are slavishly driven by the theoretically flawed counter-extremism rhetoric. In one article published earlier this year, she conflated an incident where a Muslim boy used the internet to seek advice on his sexuality, with “online radicalisation”.
In a puff piece published in the Times, Haroon-Iqbal applied typical Home Office spin to criticisms of PREVENT, dismissing them as “misconceptions and myths”. The piece was shared by the far-right, neoconservative, Islam-hating outlet Clarion Project.
In July, Haroon-Iqbal was a key speaker at counter-extremism symposium, which aimed to “provide the education sector, government ministers, the police, local authorities and criminal justice agencies with a vital opportunity to co-develop a framework whereby such legislation can be viably enacted.” Another key speaker was Rupert Sutton of the hate-financed, neoconservative Henry Jackson Society project Student Rights. Given Donald Trump’s thinking links directly to the ideas promoted by Henry Jackson Society associate director Douglas Murray, did the PREVENT lead’s counter-extremism cheerleading experience a cessation when sharing a platform with Sutton?
Haroon-Iqbal’s blind spot with the Islamophobia industry’s finest extends to Maajid Nawaz. Haroon-Iqbal declared an article which dragged the traditional practice of wearing the veil into the context of terrorism and which imposed Nawaz’s understanding upon women who choose to veil, “excellent” and “spot on”, effectively endorsing the culturalist attack against Islam and Muslims. Again, her PREVENT Muslim-only sensors must have failed to recognise Quilliam’s links to far-right financiers and neocons like Michael Gove.
Also of relevance in the context of Mughal’s deception towards the Muslim minority is Sara Khan’s propaganda script for the Home Office. The book, which seems to have tapped into the Extremism Analysis Unit’s resources, lionises Fiyaz Mughal:
“the larger-than-life Fiyaz is a ball of energy. He is a restless soul irritated by the seeming inability of his fellow civil society activists to push back the Salafi-Islamists.”
Recall again FM’s criticism of the term “Islamist” and its association with McCarthyism such words promote, and compare it with Khan’s assertion here that he is in fact irritated by his fellow activists’ inability to “push back the Salafi-Islamists”, perpetuating the very McCarthyism FM supposedly condemns.
The book also praises another Tell MAMA board member: Tehmina Kazi. Kazi’s connections to Christian Islam-hater Caroline Cox and her discriminatory attacks on the Muslim minority are well-known. She contributed to a booklet seeking to provide evidence supporting the Bill, with other contributors including Sara Khan’s Inspire, and anti-Muslim Shariah Watch founder Anne-Marie Waters, who has since joined Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in the UK branch of the anti-Muslim PEGIDA group. Kazi has also worked with anti-Muslim bigots like Taj Hargey and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Her connections to neoconservatives is evidenced by her fellowship at the European Foundation for Democracy, which has been associated with a transatlantic network of neoconservative activists, and supported in the US context by American donors who “support right-wing and Islamophobic causes, as well as Israel’s illegal settlement project.”
The book, far from exonerating these pro-Israel/neocon-linked pawns, only cements the notion that the likes of Tell MAMA, Inspire, Kazi et al do not have the interests of the Muslim minority. From overtly and covertly supporting discriminatory social engineering agendas like PREVENT to working with and/or supporting known anti-Muslim Islam-haters, the situation continues to raise suspicions in a manner aptly expressed by Malcolm X:
“If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him.”
The Committee report on radicalisation is farcical not only in terms of its conflicting statements and haphazard use of counter-terror jargon, but also in the way in which it treats dubious organisations as authorities on matters which affect the Muslim community.
Whilst pretending to care about Islamophobia, organisations like Tell MAMA, Inspire and their ilk in fact provide succour to political Islamophobia by legitimising and supporting discriminatory counter-extremism policies and practitioners.
With Tell MAMA’s recent cash injection from the Big Lottery Fund (£383,278), I expect the organisation to grow and increase its Muslim-policing activities. However, it is for the Muslim community to realise that they are doing themselves harm if they grant legitimacy to groups like Tell MAMA by reporting Islamophobic incidents to them. There is one place to report anti-Muslim hate crime – the police. We do not need state-paralytic organisations which ingratiate themselves with those dedicated to detrimentally targeting the Muslim minority and deconstructing Islam to act as interlocutors on matters affecting Muslims. That ship sailed a long time ago.