Category Archives: Tax Payers

£48,000 Goes to the Muslim Brotherhood

BY ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS

The Tax Payer’s Alliance (TPA) has released figures today on every local authority that has received Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) funding and what organisations have benefited from it.  The PVE fund has so far given out £12 million in tax payer money to projects aimed at preventing radicalisation.

One organisation, the Muslim Welfare House (MWH), has received just under £50,000 in PVE funds over the last two years.  The MWH is a member of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), which represents the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Europe.  The FIOE has very close ties with Holocaust promoter and leading MB scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and his European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) was founded by the FIOE.  This year, the FOIE commissioned Qaradawi to author a report entitled ‘The Nation and Citizenship in Light of the Origins of Islamic Doctrine and the Intentions of Shari’ah’.   On their website, the FIOE claims that it wishes to ensure ‘an accurate introduction of Islam’ in Europe.  That the FIOE consider Qaradawi as the best candidate to represent an accurate picture of Islam is a testament to how the organisation itself sees the religion.

The MB connections with the MWH are strong and up until 2007, of the 5 registered owners of the MWH, 3 were also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the Brotherhood’s main presence in the United Kingdom.  Among them was Mohammed Sawalha, described by IslamOnline’s Arabic site as the “UK head of the Political Committee of the International Muslim Brotherhood organisation”, identified by the BBC as a “fugitive Hamas commander” and signatory to the now infamous Istanbul statement which called for continued support for Hamas and indirectly sanctioned attacks on the Royal Navy in the eastern Mediterranean.  Joining Sawalha at the MWH until 2007 was Abdel Shaheed el-Ashaal, who is referred to by the pro-Brotherhood magazine Islamism Digest as a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and who until 2000 was the company secretary for a company called the Hassan el-Banna [MB founder] Foundation. One of the stated aims of the Foundation was “to give a correct image of the thoughts, ideology and life of Imam Shaheed Hassan el-Banna.”

Since 2007, the MWH has undergone something of a clean-up, with all of its MB connected trustees and owners replaced with ‘clean slates’.  However, its connection with the FIOE means that it continues to carry out the work of the MB in the UK.  Although the MB does not present a direct terrorist threat, it promotes an ideology which helped create modern jihadist terrorism and is fundamentally incompatible with western notions of statehood.  French MB expert and author of ‘The Muslim Brothers in Europe:  Roots and Discourses’, Brigitte Marechal, has written how the MB in Europe continues to promote Islam not simply as a religion, but an all-encompassing framework which “suggests that Islam should be understood as a complete system that concerns state and nation, beliefs and legislation, cult and behaviour, and the social, political and historical.”  This all-encompassing ideology, which MB founder Hasan al-Banna referred to as shumuliyyat al-Islam and 1 of the 10 pillars of the MB project, is one of the driving forces for the jihadist terrorists who are currently trying to enforce sharia in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia and numerous other fronts.  However, the problem with the MB ideology does not lie only in its deep connections with jihadism, but also in its subversive promotion of Islam as an actual alternative system of governance.

The intention of the MB in Europe, and particular in the UK, is not to recruit suicide bombers, but rather to peacefully promote the shumuliyyat al-Islam in the hope that it will gradually initiate a reform of society along Islamist lines.  Using front groups like the MWH and MAB, they disseminate their ideology among British Muslims by organising events and lectures, and have seen some success in creating ‘ummah centric’ mindsets, whereby young Muslims feel a greater affinity with fellow Muslims around the globe than with their non-Muslim next door neighbour.

Those who may still insist that promoting the ‘soft’ Islamists of the MB is the only effective way to counter the violence of al-Qaeda should ask themselves how a band of reactionaries who either deny the existence of the threat, or openly praise bin Laden, could possibly be of any use:

  • The Egyptian MB’s General Guide, Mahdi Akef, only last year refused to label bin Laden a terrorist, instead opting for the more cordial “jihad fighter” who battles against “oppression and corruption.”
  • In 2004, Ahmed al-Rawi, former president of the MAB and president of the FIOE until 2007, signed a declaration supporting jihad in Iraq.
  • Yusuf al-Qaradawi co-signed a letter earlier this year which claims “the events of the 11th of September 2001 were nothing but fabricated drama by some influential forces in America in co-ordination with Israeli Mossad.”
  • Upon the arrest of the recently convicted transatlantic terrorists, former MAB spokesman and Hamas cheerleader Azzam Tamimi (who was given an MWH platform last January) could only offer the pathetic suggestion that the entire episode was invented by the government so as to “smear the image of Islam and the Muslims”.

Of course, there should be no attempts at censoring or criminalising MB members, activists and supporters – giving them the right to speak freely and organise themselves is a price worth paying to preserve our liberal society.  However, this does not mean that people should ignore the detrimental effects that the MB belief system can have on national unity, integration, citizenship and security.  Rather than paying for its promotion, the government should be providing more robust arguments against the politicised Islam of the MB.

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We must separate church and state

In England, our constitution is blighted by an ancient theocratic hangover. Time to sweep it away and bring England into the 21st century!

We’re not Iran, but our constitution does have a theocratic structure. I think this holds us back, impedes us, like an old invisible injury. Like a subtle poison in the blood, it quietly harms us. Most people seem unaware of it. Even Hazel Blears, who recently said that we are a secular democracy.

Yesterday a seminar was held at the UCL Constitution Unit to mark the launch of a book on the issue by Bob Morris. Church and State in 21st Century Britain is a meticulous analysis of the situation. No such study can be entirely neutral, but Morris seems to have no religious agenda; his aim is to point out that establishment is at odds with the principle of religious equality, making it “anomalous to the point of unsustainability”. He is wary of the term “disestablishment” but he does advocate the big reform – ending the monarch’s need to be Anglican.

In his presentation yesterday he said that reform would ideally come from the church itself. Otherwise it is likely to have reform thrust upon it, in a way it cannot control. So it is in its interest to lead the process. He acknowledged that here is little sign of this willingness as yet, but seemed hopeful that a fresh look at the issue might change that.

In the discussion that followed three Anglican representatives spoke. Each offered a slightly different flavour of the old conservative line: that it would be perilous to mess with our ancient constitution, that it might unleash an aggressive secularism. None admitted that there was a problem here that had to be faced.

These speakers confirmed my view that the Church of England looks very nice and liberal from a slight distance but at heart its philosophy is high Tory: tradition is sacred, those who want to tamper with it are dangerously shallow. I know of almost no Anglican who has said anything different, who admits Morris’ basic point that reform is necessary, so that we can have a constitution we can really affirm, and participate in, rather than an alienating relic from the imperial past. One exception is the Oxford theologian George Pattison, who has recently called for a more honest debate within the church (in an article in The Church Times). It is worth noting that Rowan Williams has failed to start the debate; he has allowed the reactionary position to become stronger – a piece of major political cowardice.

Might reform come from elsewhere? Of course the secularist lobbies advocate it, but in a sense this is unhelpful: it makes it seem an atheist cause, and so strenghtens the hand of the Anglicans, who scarify with the prospect of a Dawkinsish tyranny. Ideally it would come from a political movement that was also Christian, led by a new Cromwell figure.

Why is disestablishment not a mainstream liberal cause? It baffles me frankly. Why is it hardly ever mentioned by the columnists of this paper, except as a quick aside? To my mind it is the very essence of liberalism, that church and state should be separate. This is the English revolution that we have never quite had. It is the way to a new sort of political participation, a new sense that we are citizens of a modern state. Other aspects of constitutional change, and other liberal causes such as CCTV, DNA database and ID Cards are pathetically small-fry compared to this.


Curriculum losing out to prayers

THE amount of time spent on prayers and religion means there is less time available for the rest of the curriculum at the North Dublin Muslim School, the school inspection report found.

The report says that external personnel are employed by the school to teach religion. They work in all classrooms for 45 minutes each day, teaching the Koran and Arabic — in other national schools the normal period is 30 minutes a day.

Pupils in middle and senior classes also attend prayers for 20 minutes each day with additional time required for preparation, the report says.

However, the report says all of this eats into the delivery time for the national school curriculum.

The inspectors say it is imperative that the integrity of the school day be maintained and that the suggested minimum timeframe be adhered to for delivery of the six curricular areas as advocated in the Primary School Curriculum.

It notes that some of the teachers absent themselves from class during these times.

They say it is essential that the pupils are supervised at all times by qualified and recognised teaching staff and that class teachers continue to have teaching contact with pupils throughout the school day.

The board has been told it must ensure that pupils are adequately supervised at all times by qualified teachers.

– John Walshe


Muslims angry at school’s sex education plans

Muslims angry at school’s sex education plansBritish Muslims have reacted in anger at plans by a school in London to teach children about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.

Muslim leaders are now calling on the council in Leytonstone, east London, not to prosecute parents for withdrawing their children from the lessons.

A spokesman said that up to 30 parents may face prosecution for withdrawing their children from school, disobeying the teachers in the school, “simply to secure a decent moral upbringing for their children.”

As part of the school’s plans for the lessons, they included a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet retitled Romeo and Julian as well as fairytales and stories changed to show men falling in love with men.

“Rather than filling the heads of impressionable boys and girls with fatuous drivel about gay penguins, schools should be ashamed of the fact that they are sending children out into the world barely able to read, write and add up properly,” said Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics.

He accused teachers of promoting tolerance, but did not tolerate the parents’ views that their children were too young to be taught about gay relationships.

“This isn’t education, its cultural fascism,” said Mr Ahmad.

He added: “ If the local council does decide to go through with a prosecution, it would be in line with the government’s approach to the Muslim community. Muslims who believe homosexuality is a sin would be labelled as extremists.

“Liberal totalitarianism is a growing phenomenon in Britain and the west in general but many people will be shocked that the school can override a parent’s view of what’s appropriate or inappropriate to teach their children.”

He said that the only solution was state-funded Muslim schools with bi-lingual Muslim teachers as role models.


Light sensors cause religious row

A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.

Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights.

The couple’s religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays.

They have now issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination.

They also claim breach of their rights under the Equality Act 2006 and Human Rights Act 1998 and the case is due to be heard at Bournemouth County Court next month.

It has gone further than it should have done, I think they have jumped the gun
Neighbour

The light sensors were installed at Embassy Court in Gervis Road to save money and energy but the couple, who live in Hertfordshire, felt they breached their religious rules.

Dr Coleman and her husband offered to pay for an override switch as a compromise but Embassy Court Management Company rejected this and the couple took legal advice.

They have said they will drop the legal action if an override switch is installed and their legal costs and compensation are paid.

The firm said almost all residents supported the installation of the sensors and taking legal action was the Colemans’ “prerogative”.

Other residents in the block of 35 flats, who could end up having to pay legal costs, are upset.

Neighbours meeting

One of them, who did not wish to be named but attended a management meeting last week with the couple, said: “For some time there has been discussions around here about the lights being on all day, which is crazy.

“Light sensors mean the lights only come on when you require them to be on, which is common sense.

“This couple are observant Jews. They have a religious problem with this.

“It has gone further than it should have done, I think they have jumped the gun.

“They did come to a meeting and put their point of view forward.

“The general view was that despite any differences the matter should be resolved as quickly as we can.

“It just seems to have been blown out of all proportion.”

In a letter to the other residents, the couple said they sought legal help because the sensor lights meant they would never again have full use of their flat.

They also said that their solicitors told them they had a strong claim.


Muslim faith school fails to meet standards

A TEAM of experts will be sent in to monitor the overhaul of a primary school which has been strongly criticised in the most damning inspection report ever issued by the Department of Education.

The unprecedented move follows a litany of shocking revelations contained in an inspection report into the North Dublin Muslim School in Cabra, which is housed in the former School for the Deaf.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe last night said the standards of management, teaching and learning at the school were “unacceptable” and that child protection policies were “inadequate”.

The findings — the most critical of nearly 3,000 inspection reports issued by the department — are set to cause alarm within Ireland‘s 32,000-strong Muslim community.

The report — seen by the Irish Independent — will be officially published tomorrow. It reveals:

  • Taxpayers’ money given to the school in the form of grants since it opened in 2001 is unaccounted for;
  • The quality of teaching of English, Irish and maths is “poor” or “very poor“, with teacher morale “very poor“;
  • Sanitary facilities are “inadequate;
  • The school is in breach of several pieces of legislation;
  • The school refuses to implement the music curriculum.

Separate correspondence, also seen by the Irish Independent, reveals that the school failed to pay around €37,000 it owed to the department.

To recover some of the money, the department withheld payment of the capitation grant in June 2008 and threatened to do so again recently.

Critical

The patron of the school, Imam Yahya Al-Hussein, said the report was too critical and a bit “over the top”.

He said the current board of management, appointed last November, inherited the problems and was trying to solve them. The former board chairperson Shahzad Ahmed was unavailable for comment last night.

The draft inspection report says that no financial accounts are available since the school opened and there is little physical evidence of where state grants have been spent.

The current acting principal (the fourth since it opened) has still not completed the probationary process. All the mainstream teaching staff resigned last June and the board made 12 new appointments. No member of the teaching staff had completed the probationary period at the time of the inspection on November 28 — only four of them are fully qualified within the Irish system.

The report says that the school is unable to provide support for newly qualified teachers or those experiencing professional difficulties.

Several policies that relate to the care, welfare and protection of children have not been drawn up. The school is in breach of the Education Welfare Act (2000) and of the Rules for National Schools.

The report says there are no policies on attendance; child protection; social personal and health education and on the duties of special needs assistants. The Relationships and Sexuality Education programme has not been implemented. There are no plans for assessment; for English as an additional language; for visual arts, physical education; drama and music.

The North Dublin school is one of two schools catering for the Muslim community. Pupil numbers there have fallen significantly since 2006, the report says. However, the report found inconsistencies between class roll books, the attendance book and the register of pupils.

Since 2006 almost 3,000 inspection reports have been published by the department on its website. There are two kinds of reports: single subjects; and Whole School Evaluation (WSE) such as that prepared for the North Dublin Muslim National School.

The inspectors review the quality of school management, school planning and the quality of learning and teaching. There have been a few very critical reports, mainly at post-primary level, but none come anywhere near this one in terms of the directness of the language and the criticism.

It represents a significant step change in the approach taken by the department whose lawyers checked and double checked the report before agreeing to its publication.

– John Walshe Education Editor


Terror law used to stop thousands ‘just to balance racial statistics’

Thousands of people are being stopped and searched by the police under counter-terrorism powers simply to provide a racial balance in official statistics, the government’s official anti-terror law watchdog has revealed.

Lord Carlile said in his annual report that he has got “ample anecdotal evidence”, adding that it was “totally wrong” and an invasion of civil liberties to stop and search people simply to racially balance the statistics.

“I can well understand the concerns of the police that they should be free from allegations of prejudice,” he said. “But it is not a good use of precious resources if they waste them on self-evidently unmerited searches.”

The official reviewer of counter-terrorist legislation said there was little or no evidence that the use of section 44 stop-and-search powers by the police can prevent an act of terrorism.

“Whilst arrests for other crime have followed searches under the section, none of the many thousands of searches has ever resulted in a conviction for a terrorism offence. Its utility has been questioned publicly and privately by senior Metropolitan police staff with wide experience of terrorism policing,” said Carlile.

He added that such searches were stopping between 8,000-10,000 people a month.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the “section 44 stops” allow the police to search anyone in a designated area without suspicion that an offence has occurred. But Carlile is critical of the use of the powers used by the Met police, saying he felt “a sense of frustration” that the force did not limit its section 44 authorisations to some boroughs or parts of boroughs but used them across its entire area.

“I cannot see a justification for the whole of the Greater London area being covered permanently. The intention of the section was not to place London under permanent special search powers.”

None of the many thousands of searches had ever led to a conviction for a terrorist offence, he said. He noted, too, that the damage done to community relations was “undoubtedly considerable”.

Examples of poor, or unnecessary use, of section 44 abounded. “I have evidence of cases where the person stopped is so obviously far from any known terrorism profile that, realistically, there is not the slightest possibility of him/her being a terrorist, and no other feature to justify the stop.”

The Met has announced a review of how it uses section 44 powers. And the home secretary, Alan Johnson, is to issue fresh guidance to the police, warning that counter-terrorism must not be used to stop people taking photographs of on-duty officers.

Carlile uses his annual report to endorse complaints from professional and amateur photographers that counter-terror powers are being used to threaten prosecution if pictures are taken of officers on duty.

He said the power was only intended to cover images likely to be of use to a terrorist: “It is inexcusable for police officers ever to use this provision to interfere with the rights of individuals to take photographs.” The police had to come to terms with the increased scrutiny of their activities by the public, afforded by equipment such as video-enabled mobile phones. “Police officers who use force or threaten force in this context run the real risk of being prosecuted themselves for one or more of several possible criminal and disciplinary offences,” he warned.

He mentioned an incident in which two Austrian tourists were rebuked by officers for photographing Walthamstow bus station, in east London.