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”.
In the previous piece, we saw how despite an ostensible opposition furnished against PREVENT, the likes of Fiyaz Mughal has no qualms with the Muslim-demonizing policy of PREVENT aside from its “brand” being damaged. It is therefore even more of a concern that Mughal is increasingly operating Tell MAMA as vehicle to establish neocon government-compliant “norms” for Muslims. Further, there are indications which suggest that Mughal is using Tell MAMA as a screen to protect those who are advocating the securitisation of the Muslim minority through the rhetoric of Islamophobia and racism.
Blind MAMA and “House Muslims” Spin
In a piece published on its website September last year, Tell MAMA moved beyond its remit to judge what are acceptable labels used by Muslims, ironically, chastising the “moral guardians of the internet”. I say ironically because firstly, Mughal, as already highlighted, perpetuates the CVE (Countering Violent Extremi) agenda that is all about labels (Islamism, extremism etc.), and secondly, the piece was published in favour of someone who hyperventilates litanies of “extremist”, “Islamist” and “regressive-Left” at any given opportunity (see below).
On the 8th of March, Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee’s countering extremism inquiry. Written in an interestingly critical style, it certainly hit all the high notes from the perspective of the Muslim community.
For instance, it drew attention to the current Counter Extremism Strategy as having disproportionately focussed on the Muslim community “leading to claims that it renders Muslims a ‘suspect community’.” It highlights the problem of Home Office holding disproportionate power in defining “extremism” and that the definition should be the “product of scholarly debate”. Even the label “Islamism” comes in for criticism, noting it leads to McCarythism and alienation of partners that can “support the fight against violent extremism”.
A superficial reading certainly makes for a promising one.
But then we recall that this is a submission by Faith Matters, whose head is Fiyaz Mughal. If anything, this submission only further exposes his hypocrisy, political opportunism and the complete discrediting of his pet project Tell MAMA.
The neocon propaganda machine is at full tilt as the government reveals its ultimate legislative weapon to excise active Muslim political activists from civil society under the dissent-suppressing counter-extremism discourse. Andrew Gilligan has already taken a swipe at Muslim organisations through his trademark blend of Muslim “extremists”, spin and lies. Even Peter Oborne could not help but notice that his article contained “a number of unsubstantiated claims” and “a number of factual errors”.
Elsewhere, David Cameron apparently likes Muslims. Well *some* Muslims would be more accurate. In what must be the most sterile PR stunt ever, he has lent his approval to a head-scarf wearing Muslim contestant of the TV show, the Great British Bake Off. One can understand why:
- Is her politics reflective of a Muslim who needs to prove her “Britishness”? Check.
- Does the Muslim belong to a gender group which needs to be saved from Islam? Check.
- Does the show have the word “British” as part of its title? Check.
- Are the general public supporting her? Check.
It sure is a safe bet. Previously, in Eid messages, Cameron has spoken of the “good Muslims” who fought for “our freedoms” off the back of the brutal colonialism of the Muslim world. Later, in his Birmingham speech, he would go onto proclaim that he was going to “actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices.” These voices incidentally belong to “progressive Muslims” who also happen to be primed by key neoconservative officials and who support their key policies, from the discourse on Muslims and global democracy-spreading to Trident. Such promotion and support is key to maintaining the neoconservative assumptions around the Muslim context. The fundamental impediment is garnering legitimacy from the mainstream Muslim community.
Continuing the theme which sees a resurgence of organisations calling for “engagement” and which use and abuse particular scholars in an effort to try and create themselves some space in the already crowded but lucrative counter-extremism industry, is the youth-focussed organisation, British Muslim Youth (BMY).
The Not So Forgotten “forgotten voice”
BMY seems to have been a local organisation which dealt with the Rotherham child abuse scandal and subsequently rebranded and nationalised. Its “CEO”, Muhbeen Hussain comes from a family connected to local politics: his uncle is Mahroof Hussain, Labour councillor for Rotherham. He and his relative and BMY press officer, Vakas Hussain, are leading the charge to revive the “forgotten” voice of Muslim youth in the context of radicalisation.