On Tuesday 11th October, the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Cordoba Foundation (TCF) co-hosted the authors of the recent SpinWatch report on the spread of Islamophobia in the UK. The event took place in the House of Parliament and was sponsored by Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, and chaired by the former foreign affairs editor for the Guardian, Victoria Brittain.
The report entitled ‘Cold War on British Muslims: An Examination of Policy Exchange and Centre of Social Cohesion‘ was presented by the co-authors Professor David Miller, Tom Griffin and Tom Mills, who briefly described their findings and their analyses. They were joined on the panel by Dr Robert Lambert, former head of the Muslim Contact Unit and co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) at the University of Exeter and a part time lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews.
Dr Daud Abdullah, Director of MEMO, opened the event and discussed the importance of the report highlighting the part played by the two institutions in vilifying the Muslim community over the last decade. ‘Being a Muslim in Britain and Europe today has a price – Islamophobia’. Dr Abdullah criticised the government and right wing organisations’ ‘double speak’; ‘on one hand we are told to participate and when we do, we are told we are infiltrators!’ He suggested that both the domestic and foreign policies of the incumbent coalition government bear the trademarks of the dominant neo-con elements led by Michael Gove, a former chair of Policy Exchange and now Secretary of State for Education. Throughout the period under review they have played a ‘very divisive’, he asserted.
Dr Robert Lambert suggested that both the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) and Policy Exchange (PE) were at the forefront of criticising Muslims. The CSC which has been subsumed into the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is, according to Lambert, of lesser interest as it is less influential. On the other hand, he said the PE is more influential in shaping policy at government level. (Prof David Miller disagreed later, citing the latest Prevent strategy had cited the CSC as one of its main sources of information). Lambert concluded by raising concerns about the counter-subversive tactics fuelling government policy and policing in the UK; “Increasingly I see some of these most loyal and effective Muslims reclassified as extremists – the advice comes from Policy Exchange and the evidence for it is extremely thin.”
The SpinWatch authors where then given the platform to discuss their research findings. Prof David Miller set the scene by describing the role of think tanks and suggested they were really lobbyists pushing their own agendas and thus should be susceptible to the same scrutiny as other organisations and governmental bodies. CSC has implied that Islamist terrorism was only part of a broader ideological challenge facing the West. Douglas Murray, the neo-con director of CSC and now associate director of HJS, said in 2006 “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”. According to Miller “he wasn’t talking about Islamists or extremists…he was talking about Muslims.”
Tom Griffin – explained that the use of the term ‘cold war’ was a reference to the tactics used in the 1980s against communist organizations. He argued evidence showed that the same tactics were now being used to monitor Islamic societies with their ‘counter subversion’ policies. For example, the Centre for Social Cohesion published a report entitled ‘The A-Z of British Muslim organisations’, in which Interpal (a British charity working in Palestine) was targeted using Israeli counter subversion evidence. The biased and Islamophobic agenda is apparent when looking at their work on the BNP, and although they acknowledge the anti-Muslim rhetoric seeping through the BNP, it ignores the ideologies that influence the BNP. Griffin finished off by challenging the CSC to research the English Defence League (EDL), who have cited the same sources as those that Douglas Murray bases his speeches on.
The final author of the research, Tom Mills analysed Policy Exchange in more detail. He explained that the neo con suggestion that “in some ways since the 1960s a confidence in Western civilisation has been undermined and that is what gave rise to anti-Western feeling and how Islamism came about” is what is used by the likes of Michael Gove and his right wing colleagues to push forward their counter subversion policies. However, a more interesting feature of his presentation that caused a stir was the funding of these think tanks.
The report, sponsored by The Cordoba Foundation, details the funders of both the CSC and the Policy Exchange, with Mills highlighting groups such as the Peter Cruddas Foundation and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust. The latter in turn also funds for a variety of pro-Israel and right wing think tanks, including Civitas, Israel-Diaspora Trust and the Anglo-Israel Association.
Anas Altikriti, the CEO and founder of the Cordoba Foundation closed the event by reiterating that the overriding narrative in today’s climate was being guided by the above mentioned groups, who were clearly influencing official policy. He reiterated his support for SpinWatch and the EMRC, whom TCF are proud donors of, and suggested that more work was needed to highlight the inconsistencies and double standards in policy and decision making.
Suffice to say that ‘The Cold War on British Muslims’ report will be used as a key reference point in months and years to come; the anti-Islam and pro-Israel propagators will certainly not be given free rein to continue to influence policy without challenge, and organisations such as the Middle East Monitor, The Cordoba Foundation, European Muslim Research Centre and SpinWatch will maintain a watchful eye.
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) condemns the recent attack on a church in Egypt, which has led to sectarian clashes leaving 24 people dead. This attack, though a work of a mischievous minority, is threatening to overshadow the collaborative efforts of all communities in setting a new path towards democracy in Egypt.
Commenting on this, Anas Altikriti, CEO of TCF said ‘People should not be drawn into the trap of sectarian division which will threaten to derail the process of Egypt’s new journey and which will be used by the ruling military council to stifle freedom of expression’.
Egypt and Egyptians are renowned for their indelible and organic sense of tolerance, compassion and social solidarity, and it is incumbent upon religious leaders in Egypt and beyond to exemplify and echo these characteristics through their respective endeavours for mutual understanding and religious tolerance.
Thus there is a need for responsibility to be taken towards initiatives that emphasise that breeding such violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate. Collectively we need to ensure that our youth are given accurate information about other traditions, religions and cultures. We need to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—
To more effectively address critical issues of religious freedom in Egypt, TCF calls for an organised grass roots response mechanism to be initiated that can address real social concerns whilst condemning all forms of discrimination, intolerance and oppression against ethnic and religious minorities. There is a need to speak out whenever and wherever abuse occurs, whether it be against one’s own religion or government or someone else’s, that is the oppressor or the victim. It is only with this type of attitude that the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community is possible.
There is no question that crimes committed against Copts in Egypt must be condemned as strongly by all Muslims, as much as are crimes committed against Muslims. Failure to do so will demonstrate intolerable hypocrisy, which Egypt and the new Arab world can ill-afford.
The Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Osama Al Nujaifi, is set to visit Britain next week as part of an official visit. During his visit, Al Nujaifi will be meeting with Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague and other officials to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and challenges facing the region.
Al Nujaifi will be focussing on Iraq’s political reconstruction which will highlight the ‘Al Nujaifi Initiative’, which aims to bridge gaps between the different political voices in the Iraqi Parliament. The initiative aims to explore ways to strengthening a reconciled national partnership, and addressing Iraq’s relationship with its neighbours. Mr Al Nujaifi stresses the importance of such initiatives especially in the light of recent internal geopolitical conflicts in Iraq.
He will also be speaking at Chatham House about the future of Iraq and meeting with members of the British press.
In addition to official engagements, Mr Al Nujaifi will be visiting Oxford University, and speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) about Iraq’s role in the recent changes that are sweeping the region. During his trip, he will be meeting numerous members of the Media and members of the Iraqi community in London.
The Cordoba Foundation will be handling his media and public relations service during his visit.
- To arrange interviews or for media coverage regarding the speaker’s visit, please contact Maryam Wissam, Media Officer on 07583 830080 or email@example.com
- For further information about the speaker’s visit, please contact Amjad Saleem, Head of Communications on 020 8991 3370 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) expresses its sadness at the untimely death of Shaykh Maymun Zarzur, the Imam at the Muslim Welfare House in North London after morning prayers on Friday 2nd September. Although the case is still being investigated by the police, it is believed that the Imam was killed in his office by a member of the community who was seeking Shaykh Zarzur’s counsel.
Commenting, CEO Anas Altikriti said: “Shaykh Zarzur was a much loved community leader and will be sorely missed. His tremendous efforts throughout the community despite his physical disability were renowoned and recognised by all those who came in touch with him. Faith leaders like the Shaykh are often the unsung heroes (and victims) who are at the front line on a daily basis dealing with complex issues”.
The Cordoba Foundation welcomes the calm and collected response to this tragic incident on the part of all concerned; the Muslim Welfare House administration and the local Muslim community. Their response in working together from the very first moment with the police investigation and the local authorities, and the manner in which the local council and MP Jeremy Corbyn responded and reacted to this incident is truly exemplary.
Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the family, friends, and community of Shaykh Maymun Zarzur
On the joyous occasion of the completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan and the advent of Eid-ul-Fitr, The Cordoba Foundation takes this opportunity to wish you Eid Mubarak. May you enjoy peace, happiness and tranquility with your loved ones, friends and family during these blessed days.
On 8th of August, an article published in the Daily Mailslurred Dr Joel Hayward, the Dean of the Royal Air Force College in Britain and co-Director of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies. This article sought to cast aspersions on his personal beliefs and opinions, in an effort to question his ability to discharge his duties as the Dean of the Royal Air Force College.
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) has enjoyed working with Dr Hayward, especially in the production of a very important piece of work, “Qur’anic Concepts of the Ethics of Warfare: Challenging the Claims of Islamic Aggressiveness” as part of our Occasional Papers series. We strongly reject all claims that the article made as highly erroneous, irresponsible and entirely improper.
Anas Altikriti, CEO of TCF said “Dr Hayward is a respected academic and scholar who plays not only an important part in training future pilots with the RAF, but also in helping to improve the understanding of Islam and filling gaps. His work on “The Qur’anic Concepts of the Ethics of Warfare” was not only timely but addressed a number of key perceptions about Islam and Warfare. In it he clearly distinguishes between sound Islamic teachings about Jihad, warfare, relationship with non-Muslims and the misrepresentation by extremists with the fringes of the Muslim community”.
It is with regret that TCF perceives this amateurish and deeply personal attack on the character of Dr Hayward as nothing more than cheap and simple attempt to cast doubt on his competence and standing in the community. It also marks a worrying trend of castigating public figures who display their religiosity and voice their opinions on morals and ethics.
Notes to editors.
- The full article by Dr Joel Hayward on the “Qur’anic Concepts of the Ethics of Warfare: Challenging the Claims of Islamic Aggressiveness” can be accessed from here
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) welcomes the publishing today of a crucial report by Spinwatch which examines two of the most key right-wing think-tanks involved in the debate on Islam, multiculturalism and extremism which are thought to have influenced the former Labour and the present Coalition Governments’ Prevent strategies (old and new); namely the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange.
The report which was completed before the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, argues that right-wing think-tanks such as these, have understated the rise of Islamophobia on the far-right and in some cases have condoned the rise of groups such as the English Defence League because of their own links to the so-called ‘counter-jihad movement’. The report also warns that the policies that these think-tanks are promoting is likely to stigmatise and even criminalise politically active Muslims, as well as liberals and leftists, thereby risking the undermining of traditional freedoms enjoyed by churches, schools, universities and public libraries.
The report’s co-author, Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University said: “The policies advocated by the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange detailed in the report inevitably mean the curtailment of civil liberties and the narroming of political debate. The consequences for British Muslims though will be even more severe”.
Anas Altikriti, Chief Executive of TCF stated that “this report comes out at an extremely timely moment, where the entire world and specifically European Societies are still reeling in the aftermath of the Norwegian terrorist masscre.”
TCF believes it is no longer acceptable to regard certain establishments beyond reproach, simply because of their considerable links with and influence upon government and policy makers, especially when they have been at the heart of a wide range of radical and often harmful policies concerning multiculturalism, Muslims and extremism in the UK.
“Not only should the government’s relationship with the media establishments be examined and reformed, but also its relationship with certain ideological establishments and think-tanks whose impact on policy is considerable and undeniable” added Altikriti.
Notes for the Editor:
- The full report can be downloaded here
- For a further copy of the report, enquiries or to arrange interviews with the report authors, please contact Amjad Saleem, Head of Communications on 020 8991 3370 or write to:email@example.com
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
شهر رمضان الذي أنزل فيه القرآن هدى للناس وبينات من الهدى والفرقان
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Faith and Humanity
As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum (Peace and Blessings be Upon You)
As the Holy Month of Ramadan once again blesses us with its presence we at The Cordoba Foundation would like to congratulate you on the advent of this Holy Month.
We are all travellers on the same journey, struggling to seek God’s pleasure. Ramadan is an opportunity for us to remember the many lessons to be learnt and taught on this journey.
A wise man once said, ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and happiness.’
Within this space, there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: “...and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart.” Such is the meaning of profound spirituality. Hence within this space everyone is asked to take up a dialogue of intimacy and sincerity with The Most-High. Within this space we marry the purpose of our existence with the purpose of our subsistence. Man is asked to acquire a force of being and doing rather than to undergo a despotic relentlessness of a life reduced to mere instinct. We are thus responsible for the actions we take.
At the heart of our consumer society, where materialism and individualism drive our daily lives, the Blessed Month of Ramadan reinforces our personal effort and commitment, invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, reminds us of silence, restraint and remembrance, and inculcates the importance of detail, precision, rigour and discipline of practice.
The Blessed Month of Ramadan is a feast of the faith of fraternal atmosphere that is shared with all brothers and sisters, to portray the humility and compassion of the Prophet (saw) towards the downtrodden and distressed, irrespective of culture and creed. This year in particular as millions are suffering in East Africa due to famine; millions of people are affected by war and natural disaster and countless of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet in times of economic hardship, let us realize the prophetic vision of a just world by reflecting it in our mindset, etiquette, and actions, so that we become 21st century ambassadors of the Prophet (saw): advocating justice, compassion and love for the whole of humanity.
Ramadan Mubarak and many happy and blessed returns
Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation
On the 18th of July, Nelson Mandela will be celebrating his 93rd birthday and in recognition of his courage and commitment to the cause of freedom and justice, this day has been recognised as Mandela Day, to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better.
In recognition of this, The Cordoba Foundation urges people to take action to inspire the change they wish to see in this world.
In setting the ethical framework of ‘service to one’s fellow human being’, the Mandela Day campaign message is about building a global movement for good.
In this day and age of great sorrow and strife, Mandela Day reminds us that individuals armed with moral power based on ethical principles can take responsibility to change the world to a better place, one small step at a time.
We are also reminded that there are a great many challenges ahead as Nelson Mandela famously said:
‘I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended’
Tell us of what you have done today to inspire and serve humanity and we will share this with the world.