Choosing our friends wisely: Criteria for engagement with Muslim groups

Shiraz Maher and Martyn Frampton have written a study for Policy Exchange which sets out the criteria for state engagement with Muslim groups. It has a foreword by Ruth Kelly, and is well worth reading.

Here are its recommendations:

1. The recasting of Preventing Violent Extremism to Preventing Extremism.

2. The creation of a short, sharp, independent inquiry to examine where funds have been allocated, and to what end, under PVE.

3. The new criteria for engagement should be adopted across government and the public sector, creating a consistent and coherent framework across institutional lines.

4. The PVE strategy should be simplified and made more transparent.

5. Single group funding should be the exception rather than the rule. Where it is awarded, funding allocation should be clearly explained.

6. All Prevent-related activity must be subjected to rigorous ‘Equality Impact Assessments’, which consider the activity by their impact on society as a whole.

7. Members of Parliament must be put into the heart of the decision-making process for Prevent and given oversight positions which allow them to adequately audit its delivery.

8. Government must create a cross-departmental Select Committee with responsibility for auditing, accounting and overseeing the Prevent strategy.

9. The Department for Communities and Local Government must establish an in-house Due Diligence Unit which will develop an open source central information resource on the array of different groups operating around the country.

10. The government must promote and incentivise good behaviour – and disincentivise bad behaviour.

Here are the proposed criteria for engagement:

1. Government must not engage with organisations or individuals thatsupport or condone the deliberate targeting of civilians (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) anywhere in the world.

2. Government must not engage with individuals or organisations that call for, or condone, attacks on British soldiers and their allies anywhere in the world or against any forces acting under a UN mandate.

3. Government must not engage with people or groups that call for or condone the destruction of UN member states.

4. Government must not engage with people or organisations that give a platform to, deny, or are apologists for crimes against humanity, including genocide.

5. Government must not engage with groups or individuals who support or condone terrorism anywhere in the world.

6. Government must not engage with groups or individuals that present a threat to rights and freedoms protected by the ECHR and discriminate or advocate discrimination on the basis of religion, religious sect, race, sexual orientation or gender in any aspect of public life or public policy.

7. Government must not engage with organisations that oppose Armed Forces’ recruitment because they selectively oppose wars that the state, under the authority of the democratically elected parliament, is currently fighting. Where decisions are made to engage with a group:

8. Government should only engage with organisations that declare any and all sources of foreign funding.

9. Government should only fund incorporated associations.

The Government should read this study in full, and give close consideration to implementing its findings.

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