Want a strategy that will help with Muslim alienation? Stop giving money to Ed Husain

ed-husain

Maybe this is an effect of age, but I find myself increasingly thinking that Peter Hitchens has got a point about law and order. Not, I hasten to add, that I buy the Hitch’s entire bill of goods, with its emphasis on capital and corporal punishment. But I think he has a point in the more general sense, that if a few basic things were working reasonably well – a police service that did what it was supposed to, a criminal justice system that did what it was supposed to, and more solidarity at community level – then we could get rid of a lot of the accoutrements of the surveillance society. But the whole trajectory under New Labour – and there is zero evidence that the Tories will change this – is of an unwillingness to sort out those basics, a project that would take a lot of time and energy for little immediate reward, while responding to screaming tabloid headlines with dopey authoritarian initiatives.

And so it is that putting people like David Blunkett, John Reid and Wacky Jacqui Smith in charge of the Home Office has led to Britain sleepwalking into a sort of liberal Stasiland. On the one hand they’ll pass something decent like the Human Rights Act, then the Mail and the Express go buck mad when dodgy characters avail of it – which might have been expected, because your prosperous suburbanite is unlikely to need the Human Rights Act. And so, as the Human Rights Act is introduced with one hand, with the other you get the culture of Asbos, CCTV, ID cards, enormous DNA databases, fingerprinting of children and all the rest of it.

In the current climate, it’s not surprising that Muslims are getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. A lot of this has to do with the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings, when it became clear that there was very little intelligence on angry young Muslims, a handful of whom might be prepared to blow themselves up along with whomever else happened to be in the vicinity. A sensible approach might have said that examining the causes of Muslim disaffection might be in order. Actually, since Mohammad Sidique Khan left behind his suicide video, we have a fair idea what he was angry about – Iraq and Palestine. But this falls foul of New Labour’s insistence that radicalisation of young Muslims has nothing whatsoever to do with British foreign policy, but results from “preachers of hate” and the occasional mosque bookshop stocking works by Sayyid Qutb.

As luck would have it, there was a ready-made mould for the new Preventing Violent Extremism (Prevent for short) initiative to be poured into. This was the patronage system operated for decades by Labour councils in inner-city areas. Rather than try and lift Asians in Sparkbrook or West Indians in Brixton out of poverty, or deal with the long-range effects of structural discrimination, it was much easier to hand out grants to anyone who could plausibly claim to be a community leader, and it didn’t hurt that these people would then drum up votes for Labour, in many cases becoming Labour councillors. And this is what Prevent has largely become in practice – a politically corrupt use of the grants system to set up an enormous domestic spying operation.

Much of the outline of this was already known, but Saturday’s Guardian usefully gathered a lot of the information into one place, and it makes for uncomfortable reading:

The government programme aimed at preventing Muslims from being lured into violent extremism is being used to gather intelligence about innocent people who are not suspected of involvement in terrorism, the Guardian has learned.

The information the authorities are trying to find out includes political and religious views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Other documents reveal that the intelligence and information can be stored until the people concerned reach the age of 100…

The government and police have repeatedly denied that the £140m programme is a cover for spying on Muslims in Britain. But sources directly involved in running Prevent schemes say it involves gathering intelligence about the thoughts and beliefs of Muslims who are not involved in criminal activity.

Instances around the country include:

  • In the Midlands, funding for a mental health project to help Muslims was linked to information about individuals being passed to the authorities.
  • In a college in northern England, a student who attended a meeting about Gaza was reported by one lecturer as a potential extremist. He was found not to be.
  • A nine-year-old schoolboy in east London, who was referred to the authorities after allegedly showing signs of extremism – the youngest case known in Britain. He was “deprogrammed” according to a source with knowledge of the case.
  • Within the last month, one new youth project in London alleged it was being pressured by the Metropolitan police to provide names and details of Muslim youngsters, as a condition of funding. None of the young Muslims have any known terrorist history.
  • In one London borough, those working with youngsters were told to add information to databases they hold to highlight which youths were Muslim. They were also asked to provide information, to be shared with the police, about which streets and areas Muslim youngsters could be found on.
  • In Birmingham the programme manager for Prevent is in fact a senior counter- terrorism police officer. Paul Marriott has been seconded to work in the equalities division of Britain’s biggest council.
  • In Blackburn, at least 80 people were reported to the authorities for showing signs of extremism. They were referred to the Channel project, part of Prevent.
  • A youth project manager alleges his refusal to provide intelligence led to the police spreading false rumours and trying to smear him and his organisation.
  • One manager of a project in London said : “I think part of the point of the [Prevent] programme is to spy and intelligence gather. I won’t do that.” In another London borough wardens on council estates were told to inform on people not whom they suspected of crimes, but whom they suspected could be susceptible to radicalisation. One source, who has been involved in Whitehall discussions on counter-terrorism, said: “There is no doubt Prevent is in part about gathering intelligence on people’s thoughts and beliefs. No doubt.” He added that the authorities feared “they’d be lynched” if they admitted Prevent included spying.

It would surely be more sensible and cost-effective to have confidence-building measures aimed at communities experiencing alienation, instead of alienating them further with this sort of “enemy within” stuff. What’s more, the less alienated the communities are, the more likely it is that you’ll get decent intelligence on the tiny minority of headbins who might fancy blowing themselves up. But apparently that is beyond the imagination of the Home Office.

However, one man is rather keen on all this snooping:

Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation, said it was the morally right thing to do, and that waiting until people had fallen prey to extremism and were drawn into terrorism was too late…

Husain said of Prevent: “It is gathering intelligence on people not committing terrorist offences. If it is to prevent people getting killed and committing terrorism, it is good and it is right.”…

Husain said gathering intelligence outweighed civil liberty concerns that prying into the political and religious beliefs of people was a dangerous move towards a police state: “That’s the name of the game. It’s not about doing the right thing by Islamists or by liberal do-gooders, it’s about creating a society where liberal do-gooders survive freely.”

Can it be coincidental that, under the auspices of Prevent, some £700,000 of taxpayers’ money has been handed over to the Quilliam Foundation? I suggest not.

One may hope that, in their current zeal for small government, the Tories might have something more sensible in mind. But no, their plans are even more draconian:

The Conservatives are seriously considering adopting a new policy called Preventing Extremism.

Among those who would be considered extreme under those plans are those who advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries; those promoting Sharia law; and those who believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world.

This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military and those who fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Now, the Tories have been flaying the government for some time on the question of the non-violent Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Whilst having a rush of blood to the head, Mr Tony Blair promised to ban the Hizb, but the government backed away from this on the grounds that, while the Hizb say some objectionable things and they aren’t very popular, there was zero evidence of them being involved in violent activity or incitement of same. The Tories are adamant that they will ban the Hizb nonetheless. But it’s worth pondering for a moment just how far-reaching those Tory proposals are. Someone who writes an article or a blog post advocating Sharia law could be blacklisted; so could someone who states that the Palestinians have a right to resist occupation (and note here that we’re not talking about blowing up civilians, but about directly resisting the IDF); and you have to love that “fail to condemn” bit, which summons up images of the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade in Catch-22.

Here’s the kicker:

Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation, who has advised both Labour and the Conservatives on extremism… (emphasis added)

You can find much more on Prevent from this report [pdf] from the Institute of Race Relations, which goes into some detail about how a programme supposedly aimed at stopping radicalisation is in fact increasing Muslim alienation. It also mentions the influence Ed and his mates are having on the Prevent programme.

Inayat Bunglawala puts it well:

In normal circumstances you would have expected British Muslims to wholeheartedly rally behind the stated goals of the Prevent agenda, i.e., to reduce the risk from terrorism and to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism.

In practice, however, under the guise of the Prevent program, ministers at the communities and local department (CLG), including Ruth Kelly and her successor Hazel Blears, attempted to engage in a rather ambitious bit of social engineering and began promoting and funding outfits which had little or no support among UK Muslims, including the Sufi Muslim Council and the Quilliam Foundation, while trying to marginalize far larger and more representative bodies such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Oddly enough, the views of the government and these new outfits concerning the “war on terror” were largely indistinguishable…

According to The Guardian, the Quilliam Foundation has received £700,000 in Home Office Prevent funding to date. It is an eye-opening figure given that the Quilliam Foundation was only established in April 2008 by two former Hizb ut-Tahrir activists Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz.

The Quilliam Foundation has earned notoriety among UK Muslims by consistently being seen to smear and attempting to undermine leading Islamic figures and mainstream organizations by labeling them as ‘Islamists’.

And also adding to British Muslim concerns, the Quilliam Foundation has gained the vocal support of a whole gallery of influential neo-conservatives and Zionists including Nick Cohen, Michael Gove, Charles Moore, and Martin Bright. Indeed, the latter, Martin Bright, was the author of a notorious article whose title referred to the holy Qur’an as a ‘great con trick’…

(Ed’s popularity with the Decents is a good spot. He’s also been feted by the neocon Scoop Jackson Society, and hailed as an heroic figure by the Alliance for Workers Liberty. You can go a long way by telling people what they want to hear.)

Many British Muslims have understandably come to view the Quilliam Foundation as constituting a government-backed attempt to destabilize leading Islamic organizations in the UK. An essential and necessary first step to help rebuild relations with British Muslims and increase trust must be for the Home Office to publicly make crystal clear that the government does not in any way condone spying on individuals who are not suspected of involvement in unlawful activities. A second essential step must be to loudly distance itself from the actions and views of the Quilliam Foundation and to immediately cease funding its mischief-making against Islamic institutions.

Well said that man. The two cabinet ministers responsible for Prevent, Alan Johnson and John Denham, are relatively sensible characters who have made some of the right noises in recent months, certainly in comparison to the Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears double act that preceded them. It remains to be seen whether or not they are willing to follow through on those noises. Ceasing to shower enormous amounts of public money on Ed Husain would be a good start.

More thoughts on this from Liam, who is wondering whether now would be a good time to get rid of those Wolfe Tones CDs.

30 Comments

  1. Chris Brooke said,

    October 19, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I love Liam’s description of The Wind That Shook The Barley, “which features a lot of violent extremists failing to condemn the deaths of British soldiers”.

  2. robert said,

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Yes the analogy between Irish republicanism and Muslim radicals in Europe today is striking. Anyone who’s seen the film Gangs of New York will know that Irish Catholics were regarded as dangerous aliens just as Europe’s Muslim minority is today. Eventually Europe’s Muslims will achieve enough economic and political power to put a stop to this nonsense, just as Irish Americans did.

    I rewrote a few of the old ballads last year when the Gaza murders were taking place and fired it across the Internet: doubtless the powers that be have me on the database…

    FOR PALESTINE

    I met with Sheikh Ishmael and he took me by the hand
    And said “How is wounded Palestine and how does she stand?”
    She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
    They are killing women and little children there for wearing of the green
    True, tormented by the tyrant some have turned towards the dark
    Like Samson sacrifice their frail bodies to the tribal gods of blood
    Which serves the foeman well before the window of the world
    And sanctifies the missiles from Confederate Yankistan

    Then since yet we’re branded there with Zion’s cruel blue
    Sure Palestine’s sons will ne’er forget to Liberty prove true
    You may build walls, cut down the olive grove and cast the branches on the sod
    But they will take root and flourish there though underfoot are trod
    When law can stop the blades of grass from growing as they grow
    And when the leaves in summertime their verdure dare not show
    Then we will change the colour that we wear in the shibeen But till that day, please Allah, we’ll live and die still wearing of the green

    But if at last our colour should be torn from Palestine’s heart
    Her sons with shame and sorrow from the wounded land will part
    I’ve heard tell of Outremer Europa, the land beyond the sea
    Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom’s day
    Oh Palestine! Must we leave you, driven by a tyrant’s hand?
    Must we seek a mother’s blessing from a strange and distant land?
    Where the cruel star of Zion no more shall be seen
    And where our Diaspora will yet serve Palestine, still
    wearing of the green

    FOR ISRAEL

    What has made that fearful sound
    What on the threshold stands?
    It never yet crossed Negev Desert because
    Uncle Sam and the sky are friends
    But this is not the old sea
    Nor this the old sea shore
    What gave that roar of mockery
    That roar in the sea’s roar?

    The ghost of Yasmin’s children
    Is beating at the door

    The Sheikhs have gone to China
    In time the Mandarins may pay them heed
    For oil is thicker than blood methinks
    And dollars know no higher price
    Shakes that money maker
    That equal opportune arms dealer
    Ninety cents upon the dollar
    As he transfers the funds offshore

    The ghost of Yasmin’s children
    Is beating at the door

    The Zionites fight free speech on campus
    And all must pay them heed
    For histories are there to prove
    That none of like inheritance
    Suffered such a grievous wound as they
    Yet moral capital may erode in time
    Like shifting sands before the sea
    Who remembers the Armenians
    Among those that seek Palestine to slay?

    The ghost of Yasmin’s children
    Is beating at the door

    Jihadist and Crusader
    Abase themselves before
    The Bronze Age God of Battles
    The old songs sung once more
    A Heimat for Yahweh’s Herrenvolk
    A Caliphate cleansed of kaffirite doubt
    No god but the Market
    In the heart of Rational Man
    He plays both ends against the middle
    As he transfers the funds offshore

    The ghosts of Yasmin’s children
    Of Rachel’s murdered children
    Of Yasmin’s slaughtered children
    Are beating at the door

  3. organic cheeseboard said,

    October 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    just as a note – though i’m broadly with you on this one, Ed Husain did break Decent cover over Gaza which I respect him for, even if he does seem to fairly depresingly tell people what they want to hear a lot of the time. It’s also pretty interesting that his book describes a process of radicalisation in which foreign policy (especially over Palestine) plays a really important part – yet his ‘supporters’ ignore that completely while praising the book. not sure how that works.

    the rebuttals to this stuff are pretty laughable, just see HP Sauce’s response if you can bear it.

    Oh yeah:

    those who believe in […] armed resistance, anywhere in the world.

    The word ‘Georgia’ springs to mind here. and which party’s leader travelled over there last summer to support ‘armed resistance’? er… the tories. fail.

  4. robert said,

    October 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Not to mention the Green rebellion in Iran earlier this year, which had virtually the entire establishment behind it. At let’s not mention the UK playing host to Beresovsky even when he was calling for the otherthrow of the Putin government. You don’t have to be a fan of either Dinner Jacker or Putin to see there’s a wee bit of hypocrisy going on.

  5. Mark Victorystooge said,

    October 19, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I like your parodies of well-known Irish songs and poems.

  6. Bill Burns said,

    October 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Actually, it looks like the Tories are going back to their pre-1688, seventeenth century roots. Non-resistance! Passive obedience! Can the adoption of an official “restore the stuarts” program be far behind?

  7. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 19, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Restore the Stuarts? It might be one way to head off the SNP…

  8. Fellow Traveller said,

    October 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    If the government makes those promoting sharia law criminals it will have to arrest the Archbishop of Canterbury. An opportunity for a new English saint in the guise of Sir Thomas More?

  9. belle le triste said,

    October 19, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    while the tories dream, brown acts

  10. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 19, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Sweet Christmas, it’s Franz Herzog von Bayern. The Orange Order have been saying that this tinkering with the Act of Settlement was a Papist plot… were they onto something all along?

  11. robert said,

    October 19, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Yay! We’re spared Charles aka Bigears aka the tampon… Long live the Jacobite Restoration!

  12. Phil said,

    October 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Irish Catholics were regarded as dangerous aliens

    Here too, let me assure you. Counter-terrorism has been enmeshed with immigration policy since before it was called counter-terrorism – the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1939 included provisions for the deportation to Ireland of suspected Republican trouble-makers. Before that, immigrants (or ‘aliens’) were being labelled as potentially seditious as early as the Aliens Restriction Act 1914 (wartime legislation which was reviewed in 1919 and, um, expanded – with roving Bolshevists in mind rather than Boche fifth-columnists).

    It’s those (recent) immigrants, you see – can’t trust ’em…

  13. Garibaldy said,

    October 19, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    The damn Frenchies were surely treated as aliens during the Napoleonic Wars, no?

  14. Ramzi Nohra said,

    October 20, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Especially in Hartlepool, Garibaldy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_Hangers

  15. Garibaldy said,

    October 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Great stuff.

  16. Fellow Traveller said,

    October 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I, for one, welcome our new overlord, King Zog I.

    Kneel before Zog.

  17. Buratino said,

    October 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I remember reading Mark Steel’s account of the Hartlepool incident and for some reason feeling awful sorry for the poor oul monkey. There must be a wee Carla Lane in me itching to get out. Typical British justice. 🙂

  18. skidmarx said,

    October 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Someone from Hartlepool once suggested to me that it indicated that people from Hartlepool were relatively well travelled and recognised the closeness of monkeys to their human cousins.

  19. Lobby Ludd said,

    October 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    “Someone from Hartlepool once suggested to me that it indicated that people from Hartlepool were relatively well travelled and recognised the closeness of monkeys to their human cousins.”

    That person from Hartlepool was talking bollocks, though.

  20. robert said,

    October 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Didn’t Hartlepool elect Hangus the Monkey as their mayor a while back?

  21. Buratino said,

    October 20, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Worse, Robert. They elected Peter Mandelson.

  22. Ramzi Nohra said,

    October 21, 2009 at 8:20 am

    They elected Hangus the monkey as mayor.

    You should have seen (then local MP) Mandelson’s face on election night. It was a look that said “I gave this ignorant northern proletarian scum increased democracy and this is what they do with it”.

    Anyway, Hangus did a bang up job and got re-elected in a landslide.

  23. Ger Francis said,

    October 21, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Good discussion about the Prevent agenda on the Islam Channel’s Media and Politics programme with Salma Yaqoob, Arun Kundnani, Vikram Dodd, Daud Abdullah and Jonathan Githens-Mazer:

  24. Garibaldy said,

    October 23, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Good to see that the Neil Ferguson line that Islamists are actually Islamo-bolsheviks (the evidence of the Afghan War of the 1980s not withstanding) is alive and well

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/23/prevent-muslim-extremism-quilliam-foundation

  25. dsquared said,

    October 23, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I feel terrible introducing something as vulgar as the subject of money to this high-minded discussion, but it is a fact that (according to the Companies House website) the Quilliam Foundation’s first set of accounts were due on 20 September and have not yet been filed.

  26. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 23, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Ooo. Once they are filed, it might be possibly to see just exactly how dependent on the Home Office and DCLG Ed is.

  27. Robert said,

    October 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I’m quite sure that Muslims are well aware that Quilliam is a government front.

  28. ejh said,

    October 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    It’s actually H’Angus, I believe. He used to be the mascot at Victoria Park when I used to go and see them while a student in Newcastle. This is more than the aforementioned Peter Mandelson did while he was an MP – though he did, for a while, claim to support the local side, which claim failed to survive an amusing encounter at the Marina with some local journos who asked him to name the left-back.

  29. October 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

    […] there are clearly problems with the Quilliam Foundation, which is linked to the self-publicising, Ed Husain; who has made a career out of a nuanced form of islamophobia, seeking to displace mainstream […]

  30. John said,

    November 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Has anyone seen the latest piece of authoritarianism from Ed Husain and the Quilliam Foundation!? They are using Britain’s repressive libel laws to sue Craig Murray for writing on his blog (look there for all the details) that they hadn’t filed their accounts! And it was true – at the time of posting, they hadn’t! I think this piece of lawfare by a 100% government-funded organisation needs to be highlighted.


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