Policy Exchange is no average research centre cum Think Tank. It’s a conservative base that has long been identified as the most vociferous mouthpiece for Neo-Conservativism in the UK, and therefore it comes as no surprise that it got the former Prime Minister, David Cameron to pen the foreword to its recent report on the voices that expressed opposition to the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent.
It also comes as no surprise to see the list of mentions, both individuals and organisations, the report cited, in what has become a tired exercise of copy-pasting, guilt-by-association, labelling and many other traits of reports and articles of this kind.
However, going through the 89 pages of this report, a number of important points emerge which need to be highlighted and which speak of the authors and their collective sponsors, more so than it does on Prevent as a government strategy, which we are told the report aimed to defend.
The first thought that came to mind was how rattled Prevent sponsors must feel to push them to publish what is objectively, quite a poor report even by Policy Exchange’s standards. This, I say in reference to the dismal track record of this set up, which came to prominence on the back of a story (https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/05/policy_exchange_dispute_update.html) in which its researchers literally fabricated evidence to implicate several UK mosques in dispersing extremist material. How it could be seen by governments and politicians as a respectable organisation given that, along with the reports The Cordoba Foundation published, is something that will need to be discussed at a later date and in some length.
Back to the main theme, one would’ve assumed that for Prevent to be defended and this strategy to be upheld, the report would be full of counter- arguments to the ones put forward by its critics, and brimming with data, statistics and anecdotes all pointing to the strategy’s outstanding achievements and amazing successes over the many years since it was introduced.
Yet, the report had little else but citations of what the various critical voices have said, where and sometimes when, before adding a bit of commentary to validate the piece being ‘a report’.
Further, the fact that significant names in the neo-con, right-wing and Islamophobic spheres, including David Cameron and Sir John Jenkins in what is essentially a diatribe rather than any work of added significance to world knowledge is itself quite telling. Have these figures and their backgrounds ran out of ideas?, one could justifiably ask.
But most importantly, the fact that these prominent individuals, all of whom have a long record of claiming to uphold democracy, human rights, freedoms of expression, thought and belief, rather than pose an argument that proves the critics of Prevent wrong from a totally objective perspective, chose to go all out against those critics themselves and what they allege they represent and whom they have met in the past and with whom they might or might not have worked, as well as in my case, dedicate several lines to explain the familial tree and blood relations.
It would be fair to assume that any government policy, let alone a strategy adopted by several successive governments could and indeed should be questioned, analysed and critiqued – and if evidence was present, opposed and fought in every possible way. If every time a voice emerged criticising a law or a government policy, that voice was labelled as disruptive, rebellious and borderline treacherous, there would be no meaning whatsoever to democracy or to personal and public freedoms.
For years, the dozens of organisations, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that have spoken against the strategy, have based their views on real evidence and on empirical data, showing clearly that the phenomenon Prevent claims it aims to tackle, is actually on the sharp rise year by year. Moreover, they have demonstrated that this strategy is having the exact opposite effect it should upon the targeted groups, i.e. the various minority communities impacted by Prevent. Rather than convincing these communities and minority groups to work with the strategy and show them that it is of benefit to them somehow, every single community targeted has suffered and felt that Prevent is simply a form of community surveillance, which brutalises and harasses those it should be befriending and gaining their trust.
The criticism levelled against Prevent is based on real evidence and clearly set out and gathered data. The children affected are real and their names and addresses known to those who are concerned. The businesses shut down are also real and so are the families obliterated, intimidated and terrorised, and the impact on communities, and indeed on British society as a whole is impossible to brush aside. For years, proof has been submitted that this is a failed, harmful and undemocratic policy, and that it must be banished, and with those who sponsored and supported it hanging their heads in shame and banned from ever holding a public role in the future.
What Policy Exchange should have published, is a report outlining the counter to all of that, and demonstrating the achievements and successes of Prevent and how Britain has gained, grown and developed because of it. Not going after the critics, like is the norm with fascist and authoritarian dictators.
This report is poor, pathetic I might even suggest. But the fact remains that it shows a dangerous trend that is gaining momentum in our public debates; you either conform to whatever the government says, or your views will be presented as dangerous, you will be seen as a threat and ultimately treated as an outsider.
Dr Anas Altikriti
CEO & Founder, The Cordoba Foundation
WELCOME to part two of the first edition of Insights this year, focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following Dr Dževada Šuško’s exploration of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 500-year history of peaceful, and often courageous, Jewish-Muslim coexistence; in this issue, Ambassador Vanja Filipovic warns of the dissolution of peace in the Balkans.
The timing of Ambassador Filipovic’s contribution is pertinent and evokes conflicting feelings. Whilst only last week Bosnians celebrated their 30th anniversary of independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a few days earlier the world watched in disbelief the start of a gruesome and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia. For many Bosnians who survived the 1992-1995 aggression by Serb forces, the terrible tragedy in Ukraine now is a grim reminder of their war and suffering.
The raging war in Ukraine serves as a stark reminder that as conflict is waged, so, too must peace be forged through the protection and defence of hard-won national and international agreements – such as those made at the end of the Bosnian war. Such agreements are critical to the existence of necessary values of the rule of law, tangible human rights, and cooperation in a diversely populated democratic nation such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ambassador Filipovic echoes international observers’ disappointment by raising the alarm over threats posed by the breakaway of Serbian and Croatian groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina. By drawing attention to internal and external factors that have contributed to the gradual erosion of shared governance and legal frameworks that have helped sustain peace in the region, the Ambassador forewarns of the dissolution of peace in the Balkans. He concludes that two possible paths remain for Bosnia and Herzegovina: one leading to the benefits of further democratic development and the other ending in segregation, divisiveness, and uncertainty.
Responsibility lies squarely with the international community to unequivocally condemn the deliberate undermining of peace agreements by nationalist secessionist forces, along with all conflict and oppression – no matter where in the world it occurs. History is replete with testaments of the tragic consequences of silence and inaction – whether it be aggression against Ukrainians, Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar, Syrians, Palestinians, or countless others.
The history of human conflict teaches us that war does not happen spontaneously, nor does it occur in isolation. There is always a series of fissures that weaken relations and preclude war, always with regional, and sometimes global consequences. The future peace of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains uncertain; but as Ambassador Filipovic argues – the soul of Europe depends upon it.
The spectacle of the Chinese regime preparing to open the largest winter sports carnival in the world, with its crimes against Uyghur Muslims continuing unabated, is obscene to say the very least.
The political posturing of the US, UK and European governments, should’ve been translated into solid actions by boycotting this sickening advent.
However, if ever we needed further proof, financial interests seem far more valuable than human lives or human principles.
Be on the right side of history, stop watching the Genocide Olympics!
The Cordoba Foundation
Sunday 9th January 2022
French leaders attend Republika Srpska Day celebration, glorifying war criminals and genocide of Bosnian Muslims
*Dr Admir Mulaosmanović
Exactly 30 years ago on 9th January 1992, the integrity, sovereignty, and functionality of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina were ruthlessly attacked by Radovan Karadzic and his clique by declaring the so-called Republika Srpska (RS). Violent and illegal attempts were made to stifle this small state, but the resistance that began at the time lasted for more than 3 years and ended with the signing of the Daytona Peace Treaty.
During that period, Karadzic and his associates committed horrific crimes against Bosniaks (Muslims) and the crime of genocide in an attempt to completely ethnically-cleanse their territory. After the signing of the Dayton Peace Treaty, everything was done to make the few refugees and survivors of the Bosniak population lose their possessions in the RS entity created by the peace treaty and not return to their homes. Moreover, almost half of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was tried in every sense to become Orthodox and exclusively Serbian. All that time, January 9th was celebrated as RS Day, and the creators (Karadzic, Mladic, Krajisnik, Plavsic, and others) who were convicted of war crimes were also celebrated. It will not be a stretch too far to compare this with the celebrations of Hitler, Goebbels and others in Munich in 1975.
The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course, declared the RS Day unconstitutional in 2015, but Dodik did not pay attention to that.
Today there is a celebration in Banja Luka again. Bosniaks will be threatened with slaughter, killing and expulsion. The scenography is well known to us. However, it is worrying that politicians who are also members of the European Parliament are attending the show and celebration. These are the Frenchmen Juvin and Mariani, right-wingers from the Marine Le Pen party.
Regardless of Le Pen and her limited associates, their attendance in this celebration sends a message from the French state. That is why the French state must make a very clear stance on the conduct of its officials: their participation in a celebration that glorifies war criminals, denies genocide of the Bosnian Muslims and finally threatens the emerging chauvinism.
*Dr Admir Mulaosmanović
Former member of the Bosnian Army (4th Knights Brigade) who was severely wounded in action during the 1992 war. Currently a Counselor and Associate Professor at the Council of Ministries, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Cordoba Foundation is saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Robert Dickson Crane, also known as Faruq ‘Abd al Haqq, on Sunday 12th of December 2021.
Professor Crane was a long-term friend and avid supporter of The Cordoba Foundation, for which he seldom turned down an invite to speak or write, and often heaped with praise and commendation. In 2013, he said:
“The Cordoba Foundation, Cultures in Dialogue, is the world’s most sophisticated and successful venture designed to bring together the best of all civilizations and religions in order to universalize their spiritual awareness and plurality of wisdom by interfaith cooperation in pursuing the vision of peace, prosperity, and freedom through the interfaith harmony of transcendent and compassionate justice for everyone.”
About the publications of The Cordoba Foundation, he said this:
“Your MENA Report may get wider readership than the Muslim 500… In my opinion, this [report] is the most insightful monthly publication on Islam and Muslims anywhere, and your journal, Arches, is the same among quarterly journals.”
Crane, was an American thinker, intellect, author and activist. Among his many titles and accreditations, Crane became one of the four co-founders of the first Washington-based foreign-policy think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 1962. He was a key policy advisor to President Richard Nixon from the outset of the Cuban missile crisis all the way through to his victorious election campaign in 1967, thereafter holding several posts within the White House and the Department of State, and later advising President Reagan on matters relating to Islamic movements and the Muslim world.
Crane embraced Islam in 1980 and has ever since been a full-time activist and intellect, serving numerous positions, and became founder of the Muslim American Bar Association. From 1983 to 1986, he was the Director of Da’wa at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he joined the International Institute of Islamic Thought as its Director of Publications, and then helped to found the American Muslim Council, serving as Director of its Legal Division from 1992 to 1994.
In 1994 he founded his Centre for Civilizational Renewal, and in 2012 joined the Qatar Foundation where he was reassigned to be a full professor and Director of a new research centre in the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, entitled the Centre for the Study of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies.
Throughout his distinguished life and career, he authored many books and academic papers, and was renowned for an exceptional mind and incredible drive to continue producing.
Since 2009, Professor Crane has been a strong supporter of The Cordoba Foundation, making contributions to its publications and seminars. His commendations were a source of pride to everyone at the foundation, who will miss him terribly.
15th December 2021
The Cordoba Foundation
I was recently alerted by the Guardian newspaper that my phone number was among the many that were selected for targeting by customers of NSO and its hacking software known as Pegasus. In my case, the client in question appears to be the government of the United Arab Emirates.
While I cannot deny being shocked at the news that my privacy has been violated in such an obscene manner, it comes as little surprise that the source of this criminal breach is an authoritarian undemocratic oppressive regime, which considers freedoms a threat and human rights an abomination.
I will of course be seeking legal counsel and pursuing whatever means for damages, along with many of my relatives and friends who have been similarly targeted, in anticipation that those behind this violation are brought to account.
I call on the Prime Minister, the UK government and the British parliament to stand up to such actions carried out by oppressive authoritarian and brutal regimes against British citizens and to act responsibly and unequivocally in the face of such criminality. There is no question that I will be continuing my long-running campaign to reveal the ugly reality of the UAE regime, and others of such distasteful trends, undeterred by these or other tactics aimed to intimidate and silence.
Dr Anas Altikriti
CEO & Founder
The Cordoba Foundation
22nd July 2021
On Saturday 19th of June, Alaa Al-Siddiq, daughter of UAE political prisoner Mohammed Abdulrazzaq Al-Siddiq, died in a car accident in Oxfordshire.
Regardless of the outcome of the police investigation, Alaa was a true icon of the fight against injustice, and a rising star who was known for her calm, collected and intelligent approach to fighting the freedom of her father and all political prisoners in the UAE.
The Cordoba Foundation wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to Alaa’s family and friends, and especially to her father who has been in prison for 8 years on sham charges and a judicial process unworthy of the name.
Despite her young age, Alaa’s legacy will now shine a bright light on the sacrifices campaigners for justice, freedom and dignity around the world, give every single day. Their endeavour is one of courage and selflessness, and it will inevitably triumph over the darkness of oppression and inhumanity.The Cordoba Foundation
20th June 2021
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) considers the announcement by a number of governments the imposition of sanctions on senior officials in China for gross human rights abuses against its Uyghur Muslim population, a much welcome step.
For years, if not longer, China has been committing heinous crimes and violations including torture and rape against the Uyghurs, in defiance of worldwide condemnation. While many will see this step as a little too late, TCF sees this as a considerable step in the right direction and a firm message sent to China by the governments and nations of the UK, EU, USA and Canada.
In reaction to this news, Aziz Isa Elkun, a prominent Uyghur academic, poet and activist in London, said that for “the past 71 dark years, Uyghurs, who are the rightful owners of the Uyghur Autonomous Region (including East Turkistan, Uyghuristan and Xinjiang), has seen countless massacres committed by the Chinese state. The recent horrific revelation of concentration camps housing over a million Uyghurs in the most inhumane conditions, is a drop in the ocean of the catalogue of atrocities, and which only come to the world’s attention because of the 21st Century’s digital surveillance era.”
While naming a clutch of officials as responsible for some of the crimes committed is a positive measure, it is imperative that the pressure on China is increased so that the atrocities come to an end. China must know that the world is watching, and that the world will not stay silent amid the horrors taking place against the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Meanwhile, it comes as a great disappointment that MPs narrowly voted down, yesterday, a Trade Bill amendment that would have prevented the UK government’s future trade deals with China. Whilst fully appreciating the importance of doing business with world partners, it would be an act of extreme hypocrisy if the UK sent a message that it’s recognition of human rights crimes being committed will not hinder nor halt its pursuit for economic interests.
The Cordoba Foundation was one of the first to highlight the plight of the Uyghurs in the UK, through a range of community, media and campaign efforts. This latest development of sanctions against key Chinese officials is a vindication of the efforts of all concerned about the Uyghurs. However, much more needs to be done to see a lasting solution for the persecuted Uyghur Muslims.
The Cordoba Foundation
Cultures in Dialogue
The Cordoba Foundation has always seen the government’s strategy to counter terrorism and extremism, coined Prevent, as one which was found upon positive objectives, but has been sullied by years of misuse and politicking.
On numerous occasions, The Cordoba Foundation called for a radical review of the entire strategy, after far too many cases where it became evident that Prevent had become an information gathering operation targeting the Muslim community, rather than one which aims to guide affected youngsters, away from extremist ideas and violence.
Joining a number of community organisations in welcoming the announcement of an independent review of Prevent in hope that a radical transformation will be introduced, we shared the utter disappointment, anger even, felt throughout the Muslim community when it was declared that William Shawcross would be appointed to chair the ‘independent’ Review.
With a long legacy of anti-Muslim statements and stands, and with views that are abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of British Muslims, besides his prominent position within the right-wing anti-Muslim Henry-Jackson Society, Shawcross’s appointment will simply confirm that any engagement with Prevent, or the review thereof, would be an exercise in futility.
CEO, Dr Anas Altikriti stated this afternoon that The Cordoba Foundation has therefore ‘arrived at the conclusion that following almost 15 years of failed, indeed counterproductive approach to the issue of counter-extremism, during which Islamophobia has been on a steady rise throughout society and Muslims feel more marginalised and targeted than ever before’, ‘it is time to call for Prevent to be scrapped’.
The Cordoba Foundation hopes that Muslim organisations will see the situation similarly and will assert their respective positions by boycotting this securitised approach to dealing with the Muslims community. It is unbecoming of the government to single out one faith community for such a callous treatment, and hence play a dangerously divisive role and adopt a narrative that is sure to spread fear and hate.
The Cordoba Foundation
28 January 2021