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  1. #1
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    Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam (OP)


    Salaam

    Event: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Recent events from the Middle East have placed the Muslim community in Britain in the public eye once more with their every word and action coming under microscopic scrutiny by the media and politicians. This is only the latest chapter in an ideological attack that has been ongoing for significantly longer.

    Whereas the attacks on Islamic concepts of war, political governance and the unity of Muslim lands are nothing new, they have now increased on an unprecedented scale in the wake of the rise of ISIS and its declaration of a Caliphate. The matter is not about supporting or opposing the version of a Caliphate as demonstrated by ISIS but rather the criminalisation of Islamic political thought and ideology. The concepts of jihad, shariah and khilafah are not the exclusive possession of ISIS but core Islamic doctrines subscribed to by almost one third's of the world's population. It is telling that the government's treatment of ISIS is similar to its treatment of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb-ut Tahrir, and the Taliban, despite the enormous differences of belief and methodology between the groups.

    The Islamophobic nature of the criminalisation of those who believe in fighting in Syria against Assad is underlined by the lack of concern for British Jews who fight in the Israeli Occupation Forces, particularly at times where they are engaged in war crimes and other atrocities, such as the recent attack on Gaza.

    On the flips side, Muslims who wish to aid their brothers and sisters through the provision of humanitarian aid via aid convoys are having their homes raided, being harassed by the security services and are effectively being accused of engaging in terrorism. Charities are having their bank accounts closed without explanation and are coming under investigation by the Charity Commission simply for being involved in crisis zones like Gaza and Syria. Witch-hunts such as the Trojan Horse hoax and the mass hysteria over issues of the niqab, halal food and conservative Muslim values demonstrate that the criminalisation is spreading beyond Middle Eastern politics. Individuals and organisations within the Muslim community who have been speaking out against these policies are now under attack. They have had their organisation, business and bank accounts arbitrarily closed. Even their children's bank accounts have been closed. They are maligned in the media as terrorist sympathisers, extremists and jihadists. Some have even been imprisoned.

    The common element across all these cases is that those targeted cared for the oppressed and for those who are suffering. They have been criminalised because they cared.

    Join CAGE at this series of events around the country to unite the Muslim communities against this criminalisation of our faith, our beliefs, our mosques and organisations, and our leaders. The following regional events will take place with the large conference taking place on 20 September at the Waterlily in London.

    Sunday 14 September - 6pm

    Pakistani Community Centre, Park Hall, London Road, Reading RG1 2PA

    Jamal Harwood
    Dr Adnan Siddiqui
    Dr Uthman Lateef
    Anas al-Tikriti
    Taji Mustafa
    Wednesday 17 September - 7pm
    East Pearl Banqueting Centre, Longsight, Manchester
    Ibrahim Hewitt
    Abdullah Andalusi
    Jahangir Mohammed

    Friday 19 September - 6.30pm

    Muslim Student House (the Daar), Moseley, Birmingham

    Dr Uthman Lateef
    Ismail Adam Patel
    Abdullah Andalusi
    Dr Abdul Wahid
    Fahad Ansari

    http://www.cageuk.org/event/it-crime-care

  2. #101
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

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    Salaam

    Another update

    EXCLUSIVE: CAGE LEAKS COMPREHENSIVE PREVENT COUNTER-TERRORISM TRAINING MATERIAL IN THE INTEREST OF TRANSPARENCY


    London – The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far.

    growing list of senior public figures have spoken out against PREVENT and over 300 professors, academics, experts and community figures have signed a letter against PREVENT.

    CAGE has made the material available at http://www.preventresources.com/

    The material includes:

    • A full script of the workshop session
.
    • Full video clips that accompany sessions
.
    • Software programs produced by a private sector company educating obligations under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
.
    • A software program produced by the Police to teach Channel’s significance
.


    Freedom of Information requests to gain access to the workshop material have been repeatedly blocked by the Home Office, which prefers to keep the material secret* and away from public scrutiny even though some 360,000 public sector workers have already been trained using the information in these manuals.

    Ibrahim Mohamoud, Communications Officer, said:

    “CAGE has decided to make this information available to the public as a necessary step to allow academics, researchers, campaigners, journalists and students to research and analyse PREVENT training.”


    “The assumption that public sector workers can be trained in a few hours on a complex issue such as understanding the pathways to politically motivated violence is naive and dangerous. As CAGE predicted more than a year ago, implementation of PREVENT is leading to over reporting and several high profile cases of overreach.”


    “PREVENT only adds to the alienation being fed by anti Muslim attacks by politicians and right wing commentators. We call for a return to the rule of law, the implementation of principles of innocent until proven guilty and adherence to due process.”


    “CAGE repeats its call to abolish PREVENT. The safeguarding of civil liberties in an open, fair and equal justice system is the best means to protect all of us against politically motivated violence. The antidote to violence is a return to a legal order that does not target sections of society as a threat because of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”


    http://www.cageuk.org/press-release/exclusive-cage-leaks-comprehensive-prevent-counter-terrorism-training-material-interes

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  4. #102
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    PREVENT INTERROGATES CHILDREN WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT: CAGE

    London - Children across the UK are being interrogated at school on their personal beliefs and religious practice without the consent of their parents or guardians, according to CAGE’s latest case study based briefing paper ‘Consent Denied’.

    The briefing paper presents four case studies that are indicative of a wider problem in which parents and guardians are kept in the dark when their children are questioned by PREVENT - only to find out after the fact, and only should their children wish to tell them.

    Although PREVENT claims that consent is required, in reality this only comes into play if CHANNEL becomes involved.

    This antagonistic and securitised approach threatens and alienates Muslims, especially parents and young people. Moreover, it is further evidence that PREVENT will push unpopular views underground, where they will go unchallenged.


    Ibrahim Mohamoud, Communications Officer, said:

    “In its broad definitions of extremism and lack of complexity, the PREVENT duty forces educators to view their students through a securitised lens, as opposed to developing positive teacher-pupil relationships based on mutual trust where difficult ideas and issues can be discussed freely and safely.”

    “Our case studies show that children are being taken away from mandatory school hours to be questioned on matters misconstrued as markers of ‘extremism’. By alienating parents, turning teachers into informants, and antagonising students, PREVENT is a divisive policy that does an injustice to the education system.”

    “PREVENT is flawed since it is presented as a safeguarding measure, which implies that should parents choose not to give consent, this could be construed as supporting ‘extremism’. This mechanism forces individuals to comply with a strategy that in its broad threat to freedom of expression and thought, stands to divide society.”

    http://www.cageuk.org/press-release/prevent-interrogates-children-without-parental-consent-cage

  5. #103
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    The pathetic Blair strikes again.

    Dr Abdul Wahid replies to Blair’s comment : Many millions of Muslims ‘fundamentally incompatible with the modern world’

    Tony Blair’s latest contribution to ‘solving’ the world’s problems came in a Sunday Times interview in which he said that “many millions” of Muslims hold a viewpoint that is “fundamentally incompatible with the modern world”.

    Blair would clearly like to see those millions of Muslims ‘converted’ to his ideals -by force if necessary.

    But one must ask; what is the modern world he talks about? It is a world where secular liberal values and capitalist systems have dominated, rarely challenged, for decades.

    It is world based upon the dominance of big business and capital, which sees people as consumers – or workers to receive mere ‘trickles’, whilst trillions are hoarded by a few; where migrants are seen as scapegoats for the global economic crisis created by capitalism.

    It is a world in which people in the West have governments that serve those corporate interests – even taking whole nations to war on the basis of lies in order to serve those interests; whilst in the East they have to endure governments who serve themselves and their colonial masters at the expense of the people.

    It is a world that thinks it is better to sustain kings, dictators and false democracies than to have a righteously guided Khaleefah who looks after the affairs of people like a shepherd cares for a flock – according to the ahkam of the Deen of Islam.

    It is a world based upon division along colonial lines instead of unity along Islamic lines; a world, whichaccepts the occupation of Palestine, Kashmir and elsewhere, despite the injustice and human misery.

    It is a world that insists that people live as lonely individuals who are free to express themselves in ways that harm themselves and society, rather than live as families, communities and cohesive societies.

    It is the world of your ideology Mr. Blair – and I suspect over a billion Muslims, and even millions of non-Muslims, are happy to be incompatible with such a world-which is incompatible with human beings, and so in need of change.

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/current-affairs/dr-abdul-wahid-replies-to-blairs-comment-many-millions-of-muslims-fundamentally-incompatible-with-the-modern-world

  6. #104
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    Teachers back motion calling for Prevent strategy to be scrapped

    NUT rejects government anti-radicalisation scheme, saying it causes ‘suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staffroom’

    Teachers have voted overwhelmingly to reject the government’s Prevent strategy, designed to tackle extremism, over concerns that it causes “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staffroom”.

    At the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Brighton, a motion was backed calling for Prevent to be scrapped, after a succession of speakers ridiculed its effectiveness and attacked the poor support offered to schools to implement it.

    Since last summer, Prevent has obliged teachers to refer to police pupils they suspect of engaging in some sort of terrorist activity or radical behaviour. The duty has been largely considered a failure by teaching leaders, partly because about 90% of referrals end without action being taken.

    Speakers at the conference said that while schools and teachers did have a role in safeguarding and protecting pupils from exposure to extremism, in practice Prevent was ineffective and even counter-productive.

    Gary Kaye, a delegate from North Yorkshire, said the Prevent training given to many teachers was “crude and often involves loads of stereotypes”.

    “I’m sure I’m not the only person in this conference hall today who has been given a sheet of A3 paper with a line that shows Isis on one side and the EDL on the other, as if the modern world of extremist political belief could be explained in such exact terms,” he said.

    Kaye called for the government to withdraw the Prevent duty from schools and colleges “and stop education professionals being the secret service of the public sector”, to loud applause.

    Lisa Tunnell, a teacher from Chesterfield, described one young Muslim student’s experience under Prevent. She said: “He talked about a French teacher who threatened to call the police because he used the word terrorism when being asked to explain an airport security sign.”

    Tunnell said that the Prevent programme disproportionately targeted Muslim students and so damaged relationships with local school communities.

    Alex Kenny, an NUT executive member who moved the motion, said teachers were receiving Prevent training “of very varied content, provided by a multiplicity of organisations, without accreditation or regulation”.

    “It’s leading to a situation where teachers are finding it more difficult to seize opportunities to discuss important issues,” Kenny said.

    “When that happens, we are in danger of abandoning young people to the dark places they can find elsewhere, on the internet and elsewhere, without any hope of any mediation by us.”

    After the motion was carried, Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary, said: “Evidence shows that grooming by extremist groups happens mainly on social media sites, not on school premises.

    “Schools’ best contribution to countering any behaviour that could be a problem is by encouraging discussion. Some aspects of Prevent inhibit this and it is for this reason that we need a review of the strategy to find the right, and best way to protect children and young people.

    “The NUT is calling on the government to involve the profession in developing alternative strategies to safeguard children and identify risks posed to young people.”

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/news-watch/teachers-back-motion-calling-for-prevent-strategy-to-be-scrapped

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  8. #105
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    Prevent: A story of community resentment

    I was heartened to see the vote at the British National Union of Teachers conference at Easter for the withdrawal of the "Prevent programme" in schools.

    I recently chaired a meeting of Waltham Forest Faith Communities Forum and was told of yet another example of Islamophobic graffiti on the outside of one of our mosques.

    Here in Walthamstow, where I am a vicar, we have excellent relationships between our diverse religious communities, and it is painful to us when any of our faith buildings are subject to hate crime.

    We stand together in solidarity when any of our communities are under attack. That is why I spoke recently at a local meeting to register my opposition to the government's Prevent strategy.

    Mass opposition

    Opposition to Prevent has grown since it became a statutory duty of the public sector in February 2015.

    Several hundred professors and academics have signed statements expressing concern; opposition includes the National Union of Students, the National Union of Teachers, the University and College Union, the Muslim Council of Britain, and other Muslim and anti-racist organisations.

    Most important of all is the growing opposition within the Muslim community itself.

    The majority of Muslims in my community see Prevent as placing their families under suspicion. Nothing could be more damaging or divisive.

    This is not a misapprehension on their part. The Prevent narrative, despite disclaimers, implies that every Muslim has the potential to be a violent extremist and that our mosque communities are potential seedbeds for radicalisation.

    In my own borough the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM) has declared a boycott of Prevent and issued a strong statement, condemning Prevent as racist.

    This follows the racial profiling of Muslim primary schoolchildren under the BRIT project, which had the effect of stigmatising nine-year-old Muslim children as prone to violent extremism.

    This has been compounded by press coverage of young people referred under the provisions of Prevent for expressing perfectly legitimate political or religious views. Some parents in my own community now warn their children not to discuss current affairs and political issues in class.

    Suspect communities

    The WFCOM statement and the opposition to Prevent in the Muslim community should be treated seriously. Long gone are the days when we should be claiming to know better than the victims of racism as to what does or does not constitute prejudice and discrimination; nor should we take cover behind unrepresentative "think-tanks" that are themselves part of a Prevent industry.

    Community resentment towards Prevent must also be seen in a wider context. Muslims in my community are subject to Islamophobia from the media and on the streets.

    A local family was refused permission to fly to the United States on a visit to Disneyland with no explanation.

    We regularly see headlines equating Muslims with terror, child abuse and "extremism". We are witnessing a rise in Islamophobia and hate-crime, particularly against Muslim women.

    In 2015, the Metropolitan Police recorded a 70 percent increase in Islamophobic hate crime in London, the figure being at 270 percent in some boroughs such as Waltham Forest.

    Prevent cannot claim to be unjustly connected to these developments. It rests upon a barely concealed narrative of "a suspect community".

    It shares this narrative with more open expressions of Islamophobia in the media and political circles in Britain, Europe and North America.

    Much of this narrative echoes the demonisation levelled against Jews a century ago. It is a narrative of suspicion and hostility that extends not only to Muslims but to refugees and migrants seeking safety from war and economic deprivation.

    Mass hysteria

    Prevent has gained support or acquiescence from many genuine professionals who are rightly concerned with safeguarding our young people.

    Many are horrified by open Islamophobia, let alone hate crimes, and would not hesitate to confront it.

    But this is precisely where Prevent is so damaging and divisive. All of us want to see action to prevent young people absconding to Syria or being drawn into violence.

    However, safeguarding procedures and legal provisions exist for the protection of our youth, and the evidence is that Prevent is not only counterproductive but also serves to alienate those with whom we need to engage if we are to protect them.

    More recently, Prevent shows ominous signs of becoming a vehicle for suppressing free speech and dissent in the public domain.

    Meetings held on campuses to campaign against Islamophobia or Prevent are asked to provide a "neutral" chairman or an "opposing" view on the platform.

    If this were to be applied to climate change or Black History Month meetings on Malcolm X or establishment political speakers, there would be uproar.

    But "Muslim" now equates with "extremist" and such demands point to an Islamophobic culture that is taking a perturbing currency.

    The attempt to suppress dissent has also extended to demonising opponents of Prevent in sections of the press - often laced with racialised slurs of the worst type.

    Muslim organisations such as Muslim Engagement and Development, CAGE, and Prevent Watch have suffered media hysteria. This hysteria has also extended to the National Union of Students and the National Union of Teachers - both organisations have taken admirably principled positions on the issue.

    This raises serious concerns for democratic debate, especially when the British government's counter-extremism bill is seeking to remove the distinction between "extremism" and "violent extremism".

    Prevent has been branded by authoritative establishment figures as toxic and counterproductive. It has sown division and suspicion and has helped to fuel prejudice against the most disadvantaged and discriminated.

    It has become a vehicle for undermining the very principle of free expression and criticism. It gives rise to Islamophobia in communities such as Walthamstow. We should demand its repeal before any more damage is done.

    http://www.cageuk.org/article/prevent-story-community-resentment

  9. #106
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update.

    Trevor Phillips’ convenient lies about Islam and Muslims

    Trevor Phillips’ latest attack on Muslims who have not embraced liberal values is not the first and probably will not be the last. His latest intervention in The Sunday Times, which will also be part of Channel 4’s current affairs documentary on the 13th April 2016 – ‘What British Muslims Really Think,’ is yet another ‘muscular liberal’ attempt to fuel hatred and suspicion because Muslims will not lie down and believe what they are told by the dominant liberal elite.

    He said that for a long time, he thought Europe’s Muslims would abandon ‘their ancestral ways’ and assimilate – and then went on to selectively use data from a poll of just 1000 Muslims in the UK to show Muslims have beliefs and values that don’t agree with liberal dogma, which for Phillips was a bad thing. He then stretched his argument beyond credibility to link these views to the usual accusations made against Islam and Muslims saying ‘hundreds of young people are being seduced to join Islamist fanatics abroad, thousands of young girls are shipped off to have their genitals mutilated, and many more are pressured into marriages they do not want.’

    Trevor Phillips and his ilk should have realised by now that they do not undermine Islam and Muslims every time they attack Islam, rather they, once again, expose the weakness in liberalism by highlighting it cannot tolerate different views and needs to impose a muscular approach in every facet of the Muslim’s life.

    Negative stereotypes are repeated every time a politician or commentator wants to push their agenda to bully Muslims; to promote ‘liberal Muslims’ (who Phillips is concerned may become extinct) and a religious ‘reformation’ to distort Islam and make it conform to their worldview; and justify ‘counter-extremism’ and forced assimilation policies. Harking back to the medieval church, we have seen forced conversion to a narrowly defined set of views –in the modern world, that is called fascism.

    Britain has a long-standing record of bullying minorities into submission, Asians, Blacks, (as Trevor Philips well knows) and now Muslims. The bitter pill for liberals to swallow is that Britain doesn’t know how to integrate Muslims. Such a failure does not lie at the doorstep of the Muslim community; rather the finger should be pointed at the secular creed that is inherently divisive.

    Yes, adultery and homosexuality are prohibited in Islam. Liberals can beat the Muslim community with these accusations, but should remember that these are core beliefs Muslims are convinced of and hold dearly. These core values have been in the Muslim community since the first set of Muslims arrived in the UK and will continue to be so as long as Muslims reside here. The Islamic creed, and culture is not like the secular creed and culture, where values evolve and change as time progresses, with no benchmark of what is good or bad. It was not that long ago that Phillips staunchly backed multi-culturalism – an idea he now attacks.

    Phillips highlights the fact Muslims have not been intellectually convinced of the correctness of liberal values, yet, he does not reflect on this failure. People look at the Panama Papers revelations and see the economic injustice that sets the few above everyone else. They see that the fruits of a ‘free society’ include a hyper-sexualised society and family breakdown. They look at the spiritual vacuum at the heart of society and realise (with some pity) why people have to worship at the altar of deceased celebrities in order to get some temporary spiritual fulfilment – and that no one actually seems any happier.

    Are liberals prepared to debate and attempt to convince the Muslim community of the superiority of their values, or is it convenient to hide behind sensational headlines and alarmist interpretations of polls?

    Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain is ready to debate with anyone regarding the correctness of the Islamic belief and values over the decadent liberal ones. If liberals truly believe in their values, are they prepared for a rational and open debate and to outline why Muslims should consider liberal values?

    Muslims should realise that these attacks will continue so long as the west continues its rhetoric of radicalisation and terrorism. In such times we draw upon the Quran which narrates several stories where believers were being ridiculed and oppressed for being steadfast on the Deen. We too should be steadfast and that shows the best way to live with dignity as a human being, not merely as a consumer; in families and communities, not as atomised lonely individuals; as slaves of Allah, not as slaves of their desires; as part of an Ummah, yet good to their neighbours; to speak good words or be silent, not to be free to insult. If we rely on Allah, He (swt) fulfils His light to be a shining example to others who live in Trevor Phillips’ liberal darkness.

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/current-affairs/trevor-phillips-convenient-lies-about-islam-and-muslims

  10. #107
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    What mosques and madrassas can expect if regulated by Ofsted

    Activist Kasim Javed sets out what mosques and madrassas can expect if Ofsted regulations become mandatory.

    As the Government consider its proposed system for registering and inspecting out-of-school education settings, which will disproportionately target Mosques and Madrassas, it is worth pondering on what this will look like.

    We already know that the “out-of-school settings” is a politically correct attempt to cover up the reality and intent of the policy which is to identify “Islamic extremism” from within the Muslim community. Something that MP’s in a recent parliamentary debate implied when raising concerns about why Christian out-of-school settings will be pointlessly dragged into this legislation. The Christian and Jewish communities have also made the point that they should not be scapegoated for a problem that concerns Muslims and Islamic “extremism”.

    We also know that the proposals are an extension of Prevent and clearly framed within the context of the “radicalisation” debate which can be seen in the “Call for evidence” document that the Government published for the consultation period back in December 2015.

    In addition to this, we have witnessed from the Trojan Horse hoax how Ofsted degraded schools simply for accommodating Islamic rituals such as calling the Adhaan, Segregation of boys and girls, teaching Islam as a superior value system, upholding the Islamic views on homosexuality, and criticising actions of the illegitimate state of Israel and British foreign policy. All of which the mainstream Muslim community doesn’t have any problem with irrespective of their Islamic persuasion.

    Moreover, we have seen the national criticism against Prevent and even calls to repeal the legislation from all sectors of society, including the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Union of Students (NUS), intellectuals and academics, doctors and health professionals, social workers, and of course the Muslim community in general such as some stand-alone Council of Mosques and the northern coalition of mosques who strongly rejected Prevent in the consultation response to the out-of-schools legislation.

    The main reason why the country has rightly so expressed unequivocal rejection of the Government’s Prevent strategy is because it is in reality an insidious attempt to liberalise normative beliefs, values and practises of Islam as well as to systematically impose political loyalties to Britain. Hence, anyone that opposes the idea of “British values” (a euphuism for secular liberal values) or opposes democracy, believes in the supremacy of Islamic law or criticises British foreign policy such as it’s support for the illegal state of Israel or it’s carnage in Syria or its relationship with dictators such as the dictatorial monarchy of the Saudi regime e.t.c are all susceptible in failing to meet the so called preventative anti-terror measures.

    Prevent has also been criticised for it’s neo-McCarthyite like approach suppressing the proclamation of alternative ideologies and closing down debate and discussion, but the most worrying of course is the insanity of spying on children as young as 3 in case they become terrorists. We know this from lots of case studies that have come to the surface of the media including;

    • Teachers’ extremist fears over boy, 10, after he complains about lack of prayer room
    • 12-Year-old suspected of being vulnerable to radicalisation in a row over Halal Chicken
    • Schoolboy Reported to Prevent After Palestinian Kids Appeal
    • Muslim boy interrogated at school for saying ‘eco-terrorist’
    • Four-year-old who ‘mispronounced the word cucumber’ threatened with counter-terrorism measures
    • Fury after Primary pupils are asked to complete radicalisation-seeking surveys
    • Three-year-old child from London placed in Government Anti-Extremism programme


    So what can Mosques and Madrassas expect if the Government push through Ofsted style inspections?

    Such proposals will radically alter the political landscape of then Muslim community for generations to come. Mosques and Madrassas will be pressurised to secularise their curriculums so that they are compatible with Western liberal values.

    There will be countless cases of innocent Muslim children and teachers who are accused of being extreme. Imams will be forced to conceal the normative Islamic values and beliefs on issues such as segregation, homosexuality, extolling the virtues of the Shari’ah and the superiority of Islamic values, discussing the history and legacy of the Islamic Caliphate, as well as the de-politicisation of the Islamic Aqeedah.

    If mosques and madrassas are registered, it will lead to the beginning of the end of traditional Islamic ideas that most Muslims in this country were taught and the race to reform Islam in accordance with British secular liberal values would gain momentum.

    What should we do? Irrespective of the proposed legislations, Mosques and Madrassas should have a plan to Keep Mosques Independent. This doesn’t simply mean to be independent from state bureaucracy, but to have a vision that is predicated on the preservation of the Islamic identify and propagation of the Islamic Da’wah to both Muslims and the wider society.

    The Keep Mosques Independent campaign is working with Mosques and Madrassas around the country in order to develop Islamic culturing programs such as parenting schemes, mentoring programs, non-Muslim exhibitions, media training on answering difficult questions as well as developing standards for self-regulation which is transparent and accountable to the community it serves. Email [email protected] to find out more on how you can keep your Mosque independent.

    http://5pillarsuk.com/2016/03/16/what-mosques-and-madrassas-can-expect-if-regulated-by-ofsted/
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  11. #108
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    The criminalization of Islam from the British perspective has been there since the mid 1800s. However, the British have generally viewed 'deviant' populations as criminals and have put them into corners as "suspect communities". This happened with the Irish during the 1970s and the Prevention of Terrorism Acts legislation actually put "Irish" into its legislative papers to grant police extra-powers, which unfortunately ended up stigmatizing the Irish as "terrorists" across the UK.

    There are pretty interesting articles by Sara Silvestri on the issue of Muslim suspect communities in the United Kingdom.
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  12. #109
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    EXCLUSIVE: CAGE reveals groups and ‘products’ involved in covert Government propaganda programme

    London – CAGE today releases a disturbing report based on a year-long investigation, that reveals the inner details of the covert Government propaganda programme, recently reported by the Guardian.

    CAGE’s report “We are Completely Independent” published today reveals:

    – How the Home Office has misled the British public, pushing state-sponsored propaganda at or about Muslims using seemingly independent groups and projects which include:

    • ◦ Anti-tribalism Movement: Somalia: time to go home and Return to Somalia
    • ◦ Armed Forces Muslim Association: Faith on the Frontline
    • ◦ Don’t go to Syria, only give to registered charities: Syria Needs Your Help and Change the Picture
    • ◦ Families Against Stress and Trauma: Families Matter
    • ◦ Upstanding Neighbourhoods: KIKIT Pathwayz and Open Your Eyes: ISIS Lies
    • ◦ Quilliam Foundation: #NotAnotherBrother
    • ◦ Federation of Muslim Organisations: Ummah Sonic
    • ◦ Faith Associates: Imams Online


    – The government’s use of the Official Secrets Act to protect a PR company, Breakthrough Media, and conceal its role in producing state-sponsored propaganda

    The report also explores in-depth:


    • – Breakthrough Media, the PR company at the heart of the government’s PREVENT propaganda programme directed at Muslim communities
    • – The role of the secretive propaganda unit, Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), within the Home Office in directing the conversation within the Muslim community while it claims otherwise.
    • – Clear evidence of specific instances where Muslim organisations including charities have been controlled and manipulated by the Home Office to convey a state-scripted narrative on ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’.


    Over the past five years, a secretive Home Office department called RICU, the Research, Information and Communications Unit, has been cultivating a network of ‘grassroots’ Muslim voices to promote ‘counter-narratives’ to combat the appeal of ‘extremist narratives’ among Britain’s young people. All of this is taking place with no public debate or oversight.

    The covert nature of the ‘counter-narrative’ programme and the pretence that these messages come from independent, representative or ‘grass roots’ community organisations is deeply misleading and unbecoming of a government that claims to uphold transparency.

    Further, the allegation that the PR company delivering a number of these counter-narratives is protected under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), is of great concern. If so, the use of the OSA to protect a propaganda programme would be a gross misuse of governmental power and authority. CAGE would never reveal anything believed to be risk to operational security in the UK.

    Rather than engaging in genuine debate and consultations as to the causes of political motivated violence and ‘radicalisation’ – which demands a revision of the securitised response – the propaganda campaign has sought to impose a narrow ideological framework on these issues within the Muslim community.

    This framework feeds into the controversial and failing PREVENT strategy, which is founded on a premise that maintains the state-sanctioned status quo and perpetuates the idea that the Muslim community is a suspect one.

    Ben Hayes, report author, said:


    “We should be under no illusion as to what is going on here. When the government starts using community groups and NGO’s to disseminate government propaganda to hoodwink the public into believing they are authentic, ‘grass roots’ campaigns, it damages everyone in civil society”.

    “Democracy requires clear lines between the security state and the police on the one hand, and civil society, public and social services on the other.

    “Having railed against ‘sock-puppet’ NGOs and introduced a ban on charities in receipt of public money lobbying government, it is time for an honest conversation about the impact, legitimacy and effectiveness of the government’s own secret propaganda programmes”.

    Asim Qureshi, Research Director and report author, said:


    “RICU is using ‘grassroots’ organisations as mouthpieces for a PREVENT sanctioned agenda, which justifies a securitised approach to all aspects of Muslim life.”

    “There is also evidence to suggest that the Government is using the Official Secrets Act to hide its relationship with the role of Breakthrough Media, the PR company driving the propaganda. This suggests an abuse of power and a contempt for open society.”

    “The findings of this report should be a cause of concern to the British public. It confirms the hidden hand of those who wish to manufacture consent for the expansion of the security state.”

    “We are calling for greater scrutiny of RICU work, to include an independent audit to assess the ethics and cost of the whole programme.”

    http://www.cageuk.org/press-release/exclusive-cage-reveals-groups-and-products-involved-in-covert-government-propaganda-programme/

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    If you can read this please remember me in your duas :P

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    A piece of paper found in the pocket of a Syrian martyr, saying: "For the sake of Allah, if you have bread and rice, please send it to my children." What is love?


  15. #111
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update, interesting comment piece.

    PETER HITCHENS: Think extremism's a crime? You'll change your mind when they come for YOU


    As an extremist, I am very worried about the planned Extremism Bill, which our Prime Minister is about to ram through Parliament.

    So should you be. You are probably extremists, too, or will soon become extremists.
    You may well remember when many opinions now viewed as despicable and more or less criminal were freely expressed – often by the same people and media who now condemn them.

    I certainly do. Much of the conservative patriotic Christianity which my parents’ generation saw as normal has now been driven underground, and those who express it – especially in the public sector – face discipline or the sack, and are sometimes prosecuted.

    Many of the current establishment’s attacks on Labour aren’t disagreements among free people in a free society. They are demands for abject recantations expressed by people who clearly think such views should not be allowed.
    And the expression ‘extremism’ doesn’t mean anything objective or measurable. It just means a view that is out of favour with the current government and establishment.

    What’s more, new and startling evidence from France (barely noticed here) suggests strongly that all these ‘anti-extremist’ strategies are wholly useless anyway for their main stated purpose.
    It’s not the robed and bearded Islamist zealots we need to fear at all. An undercover French journalist, who infiltrated a jihadi cell in Paris, described those he found there as ‘fast-food Islamists’ who knew nothing of their supposed religion.

    ‘I never saw any Islam in this affair,’ the reporter told Canal+ TV. The cell members had ‘no will to improve the world’ but were ‘lost, frustrated, suicidal, easily manipulated youths’.
    This is what I have been pointing out for many months. Track the backgrounds of the perpetrators of these crimes, here and abroad, and you do not find fanatical Wahhabi hard men, trained in the arts of death.
    You find, almost invariably, low-life drifters in a haze of dope, on the borders of mental illness (and sometimes beyond it), capable of murder because they have fried their brains for so long that they no longer know right from wrong, or fantasy from reality. Some of these commit crimes which they then justify with a political purpose; many just commit crimes.

    This is where we should be looking – and what we should be discouraging by enforcing our criminal laws properly.
    Yet, instead, we waste our time and destroy our freedom by futile attempts to control what people think.

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    The Home Office, Breakthrough and PREVENT by Moazzam Begg


  17. #113
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update. Stasi land is coming!

    CAGE’s response to Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill

    The Conservative government took the opportunity at the annual state opening of parliament to announce a raft of new measures, amongst them a new Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill. The Queen mentioned in her speech that “legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration”. Further background notes were published by the government which provide the basic framework of this bill. It provides grim reading as the government outlines a series of regressive measures playing on people’s fears and concerns about terrorism. As an extension of the failed PREVENT strategy, this Bill will further exacerbate the chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It is also worth noting the fundamental, overarching criticism, that while ideology is a factor in political violence, it is not a root cause. The perception of an unethical foreign policy and domestic disenfranchisement seem to play a more prominent role. Consequently, basing an entire piece of legislation on ideology is wholly misguided.

    The entire rationale for the counter extremism strategy of this and previous governments is captured by Professor Brian Klug in his response to David Cameron’s previous speeches on extremism,

    “Certainly, there ought to be a “shared national identity that is open to everyone”. But the colour of that identity, under the skin, is white. Anyone who, regardless of their features or complexion or extraction, is willing to become white – white in the sense of thinking like us, doing religion like us, basically being like us – is welcome; what is more, we celebrate their difference. When you scrape away the surface inclusiveness in the speech, this is the meaning of “muscular liberalism.”

    (Klug B, Fawlty Logic, ReOrient, 2015, p.74)

    Responses to the bill

    This Bill gives law enforcement agencies new powers to protect vulnerable people – including children – from those who seek to brainwash them with extremism propaganda so we build a stronger society around our shared liberal values of tolerance and respect.

    It will include:

    Stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public.


    This limb of the proposed legislation is based upon the notion that there is a causal link based upon empirical evidence between violence and certain beliefs and ideas that are being perpetuated within certain sections of society. There is no evidence for this at all. It is obvious that the idea of “policing thought and belief systems” is the hallmark of dictatorships. It is an Orwellian concept and an attack on basic rights which ought not to be undermined without an overwhelming transparent case.

    Powers to intervene in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart.

    This can be construed as state interference in the private religious sphere. The political rhetoric continues to focus on Islamic places of learning and Mr David Cameron has already precluded Christian Sunday schools from this proposed intervention. This serves to reinforce the Muslims-as-suspect-community paradigm. If there are education settings involved in inciting hatred and violence there are already adequate powers in place to deal with this.

    A new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.

    This is an attempt to curtail freedom of association, movement and expression through the backdoor, again all on the basis of “extremism”. Furthermore, through civil proceedings, the government will lessen the burden upon itself to establish a convincing case against those it targets.

    This is yet another example of the infection of secret evidence spreading within the legal system. The civil orders regime will allow secret evidence and thereby destroy yet another safeguard against unfairness and undermine the principles of natural justice.

    Closing loopholes so that Ofcom can continue to protect consumers who watch internet-streamed television content from outside the EU on Freeview.

    As covered in our piece (The ongoing extremes of David Cameron) the amalgamation of the “extremism” discourse into the broadcast sphere through Ofcom is tantamount to censorship and echoes the IRA broadcast ban which was counter-productive and ridiculous.

    Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration.

    The original remit of counter-extremism has been increased to “promote community integration”. There is a fear here that people will be societally castigated and therefore discriminated against if they enforce their right to cultural, religious and linguistic preservation as enshrined in international human rights treaties and implicit in the pluralistic notion of an open democracy.

    There is already sufficient laws around ‘hate’ speech and the DBS already exist for adults working with children. The government has failed to demonstrate how these laws are not sufficient and why new laws are required.

    The purpose of the Bill is to:

    Provide stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public.

    The main benefits of these clauses would be:

    To enable the Government and law enforcement agencies to protect the public against the most dangerous extremists.


    This “benefit” demonstrates that despite the government spending several months, the proposals remain incoherent. We have yet to witness a viable definition of extremism, and we are now being introduced with a subcategory of “the most dangerous extremists”. How will “most dangerous extremists” be determined?

    To ensure the Government and law enforcement agencies have a full range of powers to deal with extremism.

    This will help deliver on the manifesto pledge to tackle all forms of extremism, so our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended.

    The main elements of the clauses are…

    The Government will consider the need for further legislative measures following Louise Casey’s review into integration in those communities most separated from the mainstream.


    “Our values” and “our way of life” is the language of alienation, designed to marginalise particular communities. The government is perpetuating the very same “us vs them” narrative it denounces in its PREVENT strategy. This is a dangerous step towards ostracising whole communities for simply adhering to differing beliefs and conceptions which may be at odds with mainstream society. It is therefore a further example of erosion of civil liberties and the targeting of vulnerable minority groups.

    http://www.cageuk.org/article/cages-response-to-counter-extremism-and-safeguarding-bill/

  18. #114
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    Cameron’s ‘counter-extremism’ strategy – another nail in democracy’s coffin

    Prime Minister David Cameron has outlined proposed new ‘counter-extremism’ laws in the Queen’s Speech, at the state opening of parliament. He has, once again, talked about ‘the introduction of a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity’ and banning ‘extremists’ from working with children. He might use this muscular rhetoric to portray himself as the defender of democracy. And whether these laws are passed or not, he has managed yet again to demonise Islam – radicalising ‘middle England’ against Muslims with these proposal. But in reality, he has put another nail in democracy’s coffin. There are several factors that illustrate this.

    Firstly, not defining ‘extremism’ precisely gives the government a free hand to use such laws against any person or any organisation that can be made to fit into the vague and broad definition of ‘extremist’. This would not be new (existing anti-terrorism laws and counter-extremism policies have already been used against Walter Wolfgang for heckling Jack Straw, and anti-fracking protestors) but it would extend state powers such that it will be even easier to suppress dissenting political and ideological views – even those expressed solely in terms of rational argument. By doing this, Cameron and Putin don’t differ in principle, only in degrees of totalitarianism.

    Secondly, he is not simply using a security policy to silence political opinions, but to interfere, clamp down and even redefine religious orthodoxy – forcing believers to conform to today’s liberal capitalist norms. The endless focus on relations between men and women, Muslims not integrating enough and any manner of issues that are unrelated to violent actions proves again and again that this is nothing but an attempt at a forced conversion to liberal values where argument has failed to convince.

    Thirdly, there remains no pretence that this is about ‘extremism’ or a strand of opinion amongst Muslims. There is a systematic attempt to bully orthodox practicing believers in a manner that would be called persecution if the subject of the bullying were any other community. The draconian plans to intervene in ’unregulated education settings’ (Muslim religious instruction Madrassas for children) is a clear example of this.

    For those who hold different values or dissenting views and are attempting to persuade others, a confident answer would not be to ban them but to win the argument – unless of course they cannot win the argument, in which case the strong-arm tactics of the despot become the norm.

    They are in a lose-lose situation. If they persist with these plans they will expose the weakness of democracy. If they desist, and leave Muslims to adhere to their own beliefs and bring about the Islamic system in the Muslim world, they surely will see that humanity will have a far better model of governance than democracy can ever give to people.

    Our message is clear. We will continue to advocate that Muslims embrace Islam completely in their lives. This means a Muslim world coming out of darkness and chaos into justice and security for all its citizens under Islam. And it means Muslims in the west exemplifying the noble Islamic values and inviting others to look at them. As for Cameron and his anti-extremism rhetoric, this is no different to the rhetoric of the Quraysh. They too initiated measures like Prevent and the silencing of Muslims. They failed miserably and Islam was implemented throughout the Arab peninsula. Cameron and democracy are upon the same trajectory as the Quraysh.

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/current-affairs/camerons-counter-extremism-strategy-another-nail-in-democracys-coffin

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Perceptive comment.

    A Few Thoughts on Extremism and Interruptions in Debate

    On Sunday morning I took part in the BBC programme ‘The Big Questions’. The two subjects were the government’s worrying plans to pass laws restricting ‘extremism’; and the growing clamour for the removal of all remaining laws against abortion. I made a few fairly brief but (I hope) pithy contributions . My friend and (often) adversary Douglas Murray makes a very interesting point at just after 30 minutes into the programme. After admitting the problem is pretty insoluble, he says:

    ‘This government … doesn’t particularly have the confidence to say Britain and British values , British institutions … we’re basically trying to make it liberal values, that Britain will be about liberal values, about gay marriage…

    I… think this is a big mistake… It’s all very well saying make people liberals but doesn’t mean …that you make them… British or with any other sense of identity

    ….Because the British government has decided that the best thing we can do is to make should make people vaguely liberal then it means that the qualificatiions for extremism are effectively conservative ideas…’


    I think this is a very smart observation, though I would go further. I think the government intended from the start that liberal, PC ideas would be the ones that were to be reinforced by law and culture. It’s moved from crude multiculturalism to exaggerated neoconservative concern about Islam for precisely that reason.

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/05/a-few-thoughts-on-extremism-and-interruptions-in-debate.html#comments
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    “Certainly, there ought to be a “shared national identity that is open to everyone”. But the colour of that identity, under the skin, is white. Anyone who, regardless of their features or complexion or extraction, is willing to become white – white in the sense of thinking like us, doing religion like us, basically being like us – is welcome; what is more, we celebrate their difference. When you scrape away the surface inclusiveness in the speech, this is the meaning of “muscular liberalism.”

    I believe this statement to be untrue as the mainstream modern culture in Britain today is not "white" but Jewish Zionist. "White" culture fell apart with the introduction and conquest of Christianity, the worship of a Jewish man as God. If Christianity never existed Britain today would still be "The old way" as the religion is so old and diverse it hasn't got a name. The Christians called them heathens. The fatal flaw of Christians and Liberal Leftists is that they try to assimilate different cultures and races to be like them but this is unrealistic and prone to backfire on them badly. People are different racially and culturally and they cannot become one. The cultural engineering going on in Britain will fail, the melting pot of races and cultures they are trying to achieve is against God, otherwise we would have all been the same for epochs.

    Some non North Europeans from Africa and Asia etc. Who might seem assimilated are really just sycophants trying to fit in rather than being hard wired that way.

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Maybe the Conservative Party should change it's name to suit their politics. The Totalitarian Melting Pot Party. As genuine conservatives would only allow North European Germanic peoples to immigrate to Britain.

  23. #118
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Quote Originally Posted by Bhabha View Post
    The criminalization of Islam from the British perspective has been there since the mid 1800s. However, the British have generally viewed 'deviant' populations as criminals and have put them into corners as "suspect communities". This happened with the Irish during the 1970s and the Prevention of Terrorism Acts legislation actually put "Irish" into its legislative papers to grant police extra-powers, which unfortunately ended up stigmatizing the Irish as "terrorists" across the UK.

    There are pretty interesting articles by Sara Silvestri on the issue of Muslim suspect communities in the United Kingdom.
    Its safe to say that the UK is well on its way to becoming a secular theocracy.

    Interestingly some secular people see the dangers.

    Michael Portillo, discussing the plight of the Christian B&B owners sued over their double bed policy, has expressed concern at the dangers posed by a “secular theocracy”.

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Secular theocracy with the template of a "white" and "Christian" body that has been naturalized since European expansion into the Americas.
    Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    ต( ິᵒ̴̶̷̤ ﻌ ᵒ̴̶̷̤ )ິ ♬


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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update.

    Inside Ricu, the shadowy propaganda unit inspired by the cold war

    The shadowy Whitehall unit at the heart of the British government’s covert strategic communications campaign was inspired by a clandestine cold war propaganda programme.

    But while the cold war offensive targeted communism, trade unionists and newspapers in developing countries, the current operations are aimed at Muslims, both in Britain and the Middle East.

    The British-based element of the campaign is part of the Prevent counter-radicalisation programme and is run by the Home Office’s Research, Information and Communications Unit, or Ricu.

    Ricu officials dislike the word propaganda: they prefer the term strategic communications. The extraordinary ambitions of these communications are set out in Ricu documents seen by the Guardian. “Strategic communications aims to effect behavioural and attitudinal change,” says one paper.

    For almost two years Ricu’s focus has been on Islamic State, whose own online propaganda has proven powerful. Isis is calculated to be posting an average of 18 messages a day, many of them showing not violence, but flowers, forests and flowing streams, to emphasise the natural beauty of the territory under its control. To counter this, Ricu says privately that it is working “at an industrial scale and pace”.

    While it does produce some government-branded communications, the key to its counter-radicalisation messages is that they are disseminated through “discreet campaigns supported by Ricu without any acknowledgment of UK government support”.

    It uses YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as well as more traditional propaganda methods, such as feeding stories to newspapers, including the Guardian, and leafleting.

    Under the umbrella of Prevent


    Ricu is based in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), in the Home Office’s Westminster HQ. Charles Farr, a former MI6 officer and head of the OSCT, set up the unit shortly after arriving at the Home Office in 2007.

    Ricu was modelled on the Information Research Department (IRD), a propaganda unit established in 1948 by the Attlee government. The IRD’s exploits included hoodwinking journalists and academics and targeting trade unionists, before it was shut down in 1977.

    Farr told MPs that the new unit had two functions: advising officials “from a brigade commander in Helmand province through to a chief constable in Yorkshire” on the language they should use to describe terrorism and the government’s response; and challenging the propaganda of al-Qaida and others.

    Some of the unit’s funding came from the budget for Prevent, the controversial counter-radicalisation programme. This funding has risen steeply: for 2015-16, the unit’s budget was £17m, more than five times as much as three years earlier.

    Ricu has hired linguists, psychologists and anthropologists as well as counter-terrorism strategists, digital media experts, film-makers and marketing consultants. It has three divisions: a monitoring and coordination team to watch and study digital and traditional media; an insight and analysis team to research audience reactions; and a domestic and international campaigns team to deliver the covert propaganda.

    When the Home Office revised Prevent in June 2011, it declared that Ricu’s impact had been “variable”, and that more effort to “identify credible partners” and develop powerful narratives and “more professional counter-narrative products” was needed.

    The following January, the home secretary, Theresa May, informed the intelligence and security committee that Ricu was “road-testing some quite innovative approaches to counter-ideological messages”.

    By the end of the year, the unit had a new head, Richard Chalk. A former Conservative parliamentary candidate and communications chief, Chalk arrived after working in Baghdad for Bell Pottinger, the British PR firm. That work – some of which remains classified – included “information operations” intended to help undermine the insurgency.

    On his return to the UK he became chief of staff for the then Tory party co-chair, Sayeeda Warsi. The Home Office says he was hired to head Ricu because of his expertise in counter-terrorism strategic communications.

    Under Chalk’s leadership, Ricu began communicating with British Muslims in a manner more reminiscent of counter-insurgency operations than a traditional public information campaign: disseminating messages through the use of subterfuge.

    Delivering the propaganda


    Much of the work is outsourced. Ricu’s favoured contractor is Breakthrough Media Network Ltd, a company operating from an anonymous office block near Waterloo station in central London. Nothing inside, other than a series of locked doors and CCTV cameras, suggests the nature of the company’s work.

    Like Chalk, one of Breakthrough’s two directors, Scott Brown, worked for the Conservatives before joining Bell Pottinger’s information operations team in Baghdad. The other, Robert Elliott, is a former reality TV producer. Both are in their 30s and attended the same school in Essex.

    Working under contract to Ricu, Breakthrough produces masses of digital material – films, Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles, YouTube clips, online radio content and websites. It says these are often “hosted” by Muslim civil society groups.

    One Breakthrough document seen by the Guardian explains that its objective is to “influence online conversations by being embedded within target communities via a network of moderate organisations that are supportive of it’s [sic] goals”.

    While at least one entity Ricu has used to disseminate its messages – Help for Syria – has been designed for a specific counter-radicalisation message by Breakthrough, it usually works with groups that already exist.

    One person familiar with Ricu’s work says that such groups are monitored closely before any approach is made. Sometimes, the source added, they are very small. “It could be just some guy with a blog, but it was always someone HMG [Her Majesty’s government] could work with. It’s not a genuine partnership, however: it’s a manipulative arrangement.”

    Ricu does not fund these groups, instead funding Breakthrough’s work to produce these groups’ communications. Some of the groups with which Breakthrough works on Ricu’s behalf insist they retain editorial control and that Ricu and Breakthrough’s help amplifies their messages.

    Privately, however, Breakthrough says it is providing “Ricu with effective ways of communicating its own messages through credible civil society organisations”.

    Ricu’s briefing notes are even clearer about who is in charge: “Whilst retaining editorial control over all Ricu-produced material, Ricu provides a range of support and expertise to CSOs [civil society organisations] to help them shape campaigns, produce products and mobilise their stakeholders.”

    As of February last year, according to one document, the unit had run 13 national campaigns, producing a total of 950 physical and online products, which had been accessed by audiences more than a million times.

    Chalk is an occasional visitor to Breakthrough’s offices. One source said: “Sometimes he sits in the edit suites, watching the work. It’s not exactly scripted by Ricu, but they’ll make it clear that they want a particular form of words to be used at a particular point in a film.” A Breakthrough source said that as the government was paying for the contract, Ricu was within its rights to visit the edit suite to check the quality of the work.

    Ricu and Breakthrough focus on “Prevent priority areas” in the UK, using keywords and paid-for Google and Facebook adverts to target people whose browsing history suggests they are Muslims. Using so-called “promotion and diversion techniques”, Breakthrough promotes Ricu’s messages to browsers who are searching for terms such as Isis, Khalifa and “What does the Qur’an say about jihad?”.

    Last year, Breakthrough set up a public relations company, Horizon PR, as a joint enterprise with M&C Saatchi. “Horizon was created to support the public relations of civil society groups, voluntary organisations and NGOs [non-governmental organisations] who want to drive positive social change,” a Saatchi spokesman said.

    Horizon has promoted the work of community groups as part of Breakthrough’s contract with Ricu. Journalists contacted by Horizon have not been told that the company was representing the groups as part of the Ricu contract. Breakthrough is understood to say that there was no obligation to disclose the government’s involvement.

    Breakthrough says in one document that it “understands the sensitive nature of Ricu’s work and adheres to the highest standards of security and confidentiality”. Were Ricu’s involvement to be exposed, there would be a negative impact not only on the credibility of the messages, but on “Ricu, Prevent and the Home Office’s reputation”.

    The purpose of this work, Breakthrough makes clear, is to help the British government “promote a reconciled British Muslim identity” while keeping its involvement hidden, as “any content or messaging attributed to the state are highly unlikely to have any credibility among these audiences”.

    To achieve the government’s aim, Ricu is attempting to change the way young British Muslims think and act: time and again the documents talk about “implementing attitudinal and behavioural change communications”; “measurable attitudinal change outcomes”; and “campaigns designed to deliver real attitudinal and behavioural change”.

    ‘They’re not what they seem’


    Breakthrough has contracts with several non-governmental bodies and has been transparent about governmental support for communications campaigns in east Africa. But several sources say its work for Ricu dwarfs its other operations.

    Breakthrough’s relationship with the unit is lucrative. In 2012-13, the firm received £448,286 from its contracts with the OSCT. By 2013-14, this had increased to £5,911,719. In total, the company has earned £11.8m from the OSCT since 2012.

    One person with knowledge of Ricu’s work said some freelancers working with Breakthrough do not appear to know they are engaged in covert propaganda. Several former Breakthrough employees, both freelance and staff, told the Guardian they had not heard of Ricu – a suggestion Breakthrough is understood to contest.

    One former employee said she left after realising she was working on propaganda because she considered the work to be “stupid and reprehensible”.

    Another, a freelance, said she realised the connection after Breakthrough managers repeatedly requested editing changes. “It became obvious that it was being directed from outside the company. It was a slightly more shadowy process. I asked where the money was coming from and they said the Home Office. I was uneasy enough to get out. They are not what they seem.”

    The Home Office refused to answer questions about Ricu’s work and would not permit anyone from the unit to be interviewed. It would not comment on the extent of the home secretary’s oversight of Ricu; nor would it respond to suggestions that its covert support for Muslim organisations risks undermining support from Muslim civil society as a whole.

    It issued a statement, however, saying it was working with communities, civil society groups and individuals to counter the “twisted narrative” of terrorists and extremists.

    “We are proud of the support Ricu has provided to organisations working on the frontline to challenge the warped ideology of groups such as Daesh [Isis], and to protect communities,” the statement said.

    “This work can involve sensitive issues, vulnerable communities and hard-to-reach audiences, and it has been important to build relationships out of the media glare. We respect the bravery of individuals and organisations who choose to speak out against violence and extremism and it is right that we support and protect them.

    “Our guiding principle has to be whether or not any organisation we work with is itself happy to talk publicly about what they do. At the same time we are as open as we can be and have referenced the role of Ricu in publications and in parliament.”

    Unlike Ricu, Breakthrough did provide answers to the Guardian’s questions but said it regarded those answers as confidential and not for publication.

    In a statement, it said: “Breakthrough Media is enormously proud to be able to provide a wide range of community groups with the help and support they need to tell their stories, confront extremism in all its forms and build stronger, safer communities.”

    Officials who are familiar with the work told the Guardian that it was a good and valuable effort. One person involved acknowledged that the work amounted to propaganda but added: “All we’re trying to do is stop people becoming suicide bombers.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/02/inside-ricu-the-shadowy-propaganda-unit-inspired-by-the-cold-war


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