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The Islamist who wanted to come in from the cold

This is a cross post by Ali Suburbanite from The Spittoon

A few days ago, Shahid Malik MP issued a statement in the Guardian in support of the Prevent initiative. Malik is careful to take pains to explain clearly the Prevent agenda; what it is and what it is not.

It is important to set the record straight: Prevent is not about spying on innocent people. Nor is Prevent about criminalising free speech. Recent comments have claimed that the focus of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Contest, is nonviolent extremism. This is not the case.

Contest is a counter-terrorism strategy that is freely available online, and which we would urge people to read before entering a debate without all the facts. The primary purpose of Prevent, one part of that strategy, is to protect the public by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism. We would be astonished to find anyone who would disagree with the importance of this work. We know, and have set out publicly in Contest, that we face a real and sustained threat from al-Qaida and al-Qaida-influenced groups. Pretending the threat does not exist would be a failure of the most basic duty of government, which is to protect the public.

Halfway through the middle of the article, Malik introduces Inayat Bunglawala to our attention. Bunglawala obliges Malik with an effusive comment about the advantages of the “Prevent” strand of the government’s security strategy:

As Inayat Bungawala – a frequent contributor to Cif – has said, “it should be self-evident to all that Britain needs to have an effective and successful Prevent strategy in place to safeguard all our communities.” Law enforcement work alone will not protect vulnerable individuals from radicalisers, resolve grievances that are manipulated to recruit vulnerable individuals, or support communities to actively speak out and condemn violent extremism.

This is a curiously anodyne statement on the benefits of Prevent coming from Bunglawala when, only a few months ago and on the pages of CiF, no less, he was pouring scorn on the very same Prevent, suggesting that it had

“quickly lost the trust of UK Muslims and became widely discredited and ridiculed among UK Muslims as the “provoke” agenda.

The large amount of money – £45m over a three-year period – set aside for funding “preventing violent terrorism” initiatives among British Muslims also caused disquiet among some non-Muslim faith communities who believe the funds should be more evenly distributed.”

The question is, why exactly is Bunglawala specifically quoted in Malik’s statement now, giving a glowing endorsement of the Prevent strategy which Bunglawala regarded as having:

“brought relations between the government and British Muslims to an all-time low.”

Bungles took special care to damn Prevent when it was under the portfolio of Hazel Blears. He reserved his ire for Paul Richards, who worked for Blears’ office and his connection with the UK Jewish community. There must be a reason why Bungles took the effort to insinuate a causative relation between Richard’s support for Prevent and the fact that he wrote for the Jewish Chronicle. I wonder if the readers of The Spittoon could speculate on what that causative relationship might be?

“Richards’s approach – to deliberately blur the distinction between peaceful Muslims engaged in legitimate, democratic political work and violent groups inspired by al-Qaida – was one actively promoted by neoconservative thinktanks like Policy Exchange and the inappropriately-named Centre for Social Cohesion. Expect more attacks on Denham and Malik if they continue along their new course.”

Perhaps this is what makes Bunglawala so attractive to Shahid Malik now. After all, back in October 2008, Malik spoke at the Global Peace and Unity Conference. Here is part of Malik’s very own “I have a dream” speech, in which he spoke of his desire to see an ‘entirely Muslim’ British Parliament:

Now that Bunglawala has been endorsed by the likes of John Denham and Shahid Malik, expect to see a complete about-turn in Inayat Bunglawala’s opinions on Prevent. The new Inayat Bunglawala will come forth espousing wonders of Prevent. And the heavy hitters from John Denham’s office will be willing to forget all the articles and blogs spewed by the self-styled ‘grassroots Muslim representative’ who has spent so much time and energy discrediting Prevent.