Tory think-tank supremo, Dean Godson certainly thinks so. Part of his reason for doubting the wisdom of the Government’s anti-jihadist strategy is ideological: Godson thinks that the initiative simply amounts to channeling money to those NGOs who know how to work the system, rather than how to produce results. To him, it is reminiscent of the “corporatist strategy of picking winners among big enterprises in the 1970s”.
My concerns with the Fund, however, are that it is premised upon the old and, one would hope by now, discredited practice of picking community leaders, or self-selected groups: who are deputised to act as mediators of the state. This is colonial politics, with the capacity to do damage to community cohesion. It ignores our plural identities, and encourages people to identify and be identified primarily in terms of their religious or ethnicity.
Some of the products of the Fund’s work appear to be simply absurd:
Kensington & Chelsea Council has turned to the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre to deliver a “parental empowerment programme” that aims “to foster modern, inclusive and Islamically sound relationships between parents and children. Parenting techniques are imparted and discussed from an Islamic and wider social perspective by a trained Muslim NHS psychotherapist.”
Why is it the duty of a council to “foster Islamically sound relationships between parents and children”? Who defines what is “Islamically sound”? How does picking a Muslim psychotherapist – apparently on sectarian grounds – help to prevent violent extremism?
However, what concerns both me and Godson the most, is that money is being given to groups which are, in fact, extremist groups. Money apparently is going to the Cordoba Foundation, which is a Muslim Brotherhood front. We saw last month how the Cordoba Foundation used cash from Tower Hamlets to put on a showcase event with Hizb ut Tahrir, and the former Al Muhajiroun “legal observer”, Makbool Javaid.
As Godson observes:
It’s as if the Government responded to a violent insurgency from the neo-Nazi terrorists of Combat 18 by turning to Nick Griffin of the BNP, on the ground that he enjoys nationalist “cred” with alienated skinheads. After all, Mr Griffin is non-violent and believes that whites should participate in the political process. Perhaps he might stop bombs from going off. But what price would he exact for it – and what kind of society would we then be living in?
My greatest fear, to be frank, is that the view that we should be cultivating “soft” Muslim Brotherhood Islamists – like Ramadan or Al Tikriti – as a bulwark against jihadism. This strategy may be pursued consciously: as is it was by Bob Lambert at the Metropolitan Police. Alternatively, we may be pursuing it by default: by creating structures which empower and fund groups like the Cordoba Foundation, who have the skills and nouse to fill in the right forms, and whose extreme sectarian nature is disguised by their ability to create myriad front organisations.
Have a look at the Cordoba Foundation’s journal: Arches Quarterly.
As you’d expect from a journal produced by a Muslim Brotherhood front group, it consists of various rambling defences of Islamist politics, articles praising Qutb, and so on.
What is most interesting, however is the advert at the back from something the Cordoba Foundation is running, called the “Muslim Media Empowerment Project”:
The Muslim Media Empowerment Project (joint initiative of The Cordoba Foundation and Tower Hamlets council) is offering a series of free professional media courses to young Muslims in Tower Hamlets. Individuals trained through these courses will be expected to help local organisations and Mosques by offering voluntary media guidance and liaison
Is a Muslim Brotherhood group being funded to provide “practical training on how to react and proactively engage with the media” and to practice radio, press and TV interviews in front of a camera with microphone analysis and professional feedback”, being paid for with money from a fund designed to combat extremism?
Shoudn’t the Cordoba Foundation have its funding withdrawn immediately?