There have been a number of commendable efforts in recent years to try and monitor anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK with Islamophobia Watch and ENGAGE as well as others doing sterling work in trying to keep track of these incidents and trying to bring them to wider notice. A major failing has been that of a number of police forces around the country which still astonishingly fail to properly record and publish details of hate crimes based on religiously-aggravated factors. If these attacks are not properly logged by the police then how can they draw up plans to tackle this social blight?
Anti-Muslim bigotry has been openly stirred up by large sections of our mainstream press – see the testimony I gave to the Leveson Inquiry for a number of examples – and indeed a number of our politicians. Witness David Cameron’s shameful speech in Munich in February 2011 in which he openly derided multiculturalism much to the delight of the English Defence League who recognised and appreciated the speech as an endorsement of their own aggressive position towards UK Muslims.
Last year, Spinwatch published a must-read report entitled “The Cold War on British Muslims“. The report looked at some high-profile think tanks, including Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion and how “they have implicitly rejected counter-terrorism policies based on public safety, advocating instead a much broader campaign of political counter-subversion” with their efforts seeming to be designed to “stigmatise and even criminalise politically active Muslims”.
And who are the main funders of these think tanks? From the Spinwatch press release:
“The Cold War on British Muslims also reveals for the first time the network of individuals and foundations that are bankrolling both think-tanks. Donors identified in the report include the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation in the United States, and hardline Zionists like Lord Kalms and the late Cyril Stein in the UK. It reveals that both think-tanks share major donors with a number of controversial organisations including the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, the Israel-Diaspora Trust (an organisation founded by the late Rabbi Sidney Brichto, a passionate supporter of Israel and scourge of its critics inside and outside the UK Jewish community) and the Anglo-Israel Association (founded in 1949 by the Christian Zionist Sir Wyndham Deedes).”
So, those fomenting anti-Muslim bigotry are well-funded and well-organised with extensive links to some senior figures in government as well as the mainstream media.
Readers will recall the hysterical campaigns to ban Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Zakir Naik and the Palestinian activist Shaykh Raed Salah from the UK. Who helped to incite the media in those cases whose reporting was dripping with anti-Muslim venom? Last September, the Guardian published an important news article which shed light on those who were exerting influence on the government behind the scenes. The Guardian found that the Jewish organisation, the Community Security Trust, had been involved in efforts to get Shaykh Raed Salah banned from the UK.
The CST also helps fund and provide trained Jewish guards outside Jewish schools and synagogues. This might seem commendable but you can well imagine what would happen if Muslims did the same. You would see front pages decrying the existence of “Islamic vigilantes” faster than you could say “Richard Desmond.”And can you imagine if other faith communities all decided to have a similar guards. It would be madness. We are supposed to be one country and the duty to protect places of worship and public institutions such as schools is that of the police. What we should be encouraging is better cooperation between all faith communities and the police. Not funding the creation of more quangos that are unable to investigate hate crimes in the first place – which after all is the job of the police – and whose only contribution appears to be to provide the government with a fig-leaf to say that they are ‘doing something’ to combat anti-Muslim bigotry when in reality they are doing nothing of the sort.
Anyway, it was not exactly an encouraging sign when news emerged that the CST attended the launch of the “Tell MAMA” initiative and were described by Faith Matters as “trailblazers” in the area of combating hate crimes! And how likely is it that “Tell MAMA” will point to the role played by shadowy funders of right-wing think tanks in inciting anti-Muslim bigotry? Well, we’ll see…but I can’t really imagine their friends at the CST being too pleased if they were to do so, do you?
This is the perennial dilemma that some Muslim organisations face. You simply cannot be politically independent if you are economically dependent on the government for your source of funding. Many Muslim organisations have recognised this and have been careful to establish a firm base in their own community so that they do not become trapped by the government in this manner. Still, it demonstrates a growing problem that I have seen for some time now. A number of Muslim organisations have now sadly got themselves in the position of having key personnel in various posts like Chief Executive or National Coordinator etc and whose salaries are paid by the government in the form of grants or PREVENT-related funding. These personnel then are involved in busily promoting and trying to make more palatable to their memberships other government-funded initiatives. It is a tawdry circle.
It is vital for both the purpose of transparency and better governance that memberships of Muslim organisations require their executive members to fully declare all their sources of income to help avoid these types of conflicts of interest.