The City Mayor of Leicester has announced an independent review into the recent unrest in the city and his choice of Chair, Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor in Hate Studies at the University of Leicester, has drawn immediate and justified criticism.
Sir Peter Soulsby said:
“Dr Allen and his colleagues have a wealth of experience in conducting research into hate crime, and also have a thorough knowledge of our city and the community cohesion we have enjoyed here for many decades.
“There are many theories circulating as to what led to the recent disorder – the like of which has never been seen here before. It’s important that we get to the facts as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we can all take whatever action is necessary to ensure we never see it again.”
Dr Allen says the aim of his review is not to apportion blame but instead “provide a meaningful starting point, from which we can all work towards rebuilding the good relations that have been a defining feature of Leicester for the past few decades”.
Now, what is so controversial about the choice of Dr Allen?
He is not an unbiased actor.
He wrote an op-ed in the The Conversation on September 28 2022 where he seemed to apportion blame pretty unevenly. Well-known Islamist agitators were front and centre of the communal clashes, for which we do have the unwitting Guardian, New York Times and Channel Four to thank. Yet Dr Allen, who has made an academic reputation for himself as some sort of Islamophobia expert writes:
Some will assume this to be Islamist extremism. Despite there being no evidence to support such an assumption, research shows that a key trope of Islamophobia is the conflation of all things Islam with extremism. The mere involvement of Muslims will be evidence enough for some to jump to such a conclusion.
However, it is necessary – given the slogans chanted in Leicester and wider concerns dating back to 2019 – to also examine the extent to which Hindu nationalist ideologies or “Hindutva” is causing tensions outside of India’s borders.
Despite this, local media has begun to distance the city’s established Hindu communities from blame. Instead it cites wide claims that Hindu nationalism has been imported into the city by recent migrants from India.
The reaction from Hindu community organisations has been swift. They say they have no confidence in a review chaired by Dr Allen and about 15 organisations have announced a boycott. They are also incensed with Labour politicians like Soulsby and other Labour councillors who have met with and participated in events organised by the dodgiest of Islamist activists directly involved in stirring tension in Leicester.
The right response to a Labour council that has legitimised and aided the Islamist agitators who have been causing trouble in Leicester.
The Labour party doesn't care at all. It just looks away. pic.twitter.com/lpz8d7FXik
— habibi (@habibi_uk) October 28, 2022
They have a point.
“How is this review independent when conclusive opinions are already being peddled by those commissioning and those leading this review? The review process is now already muddied before it’s even started. We the undersigned are left with no further option than to boycott the process,” they added.
The Hindu organisations, however, reaffirmed their commitment to an independent review of Leicester violence, marked by integrity and transparency. The Conservative politicians of Leicester have added their support to complaints of bias made by the Hindu community organisations. Other observers have also noted Dr Allen’s unsuitability.
It's a grave error to appoint Dr Chris Allen to review communal violence in Leicester. He writing shows his conclusions are already pre-judged.
In short he blames British Hindus and suggests reports of Muslim involvement are "Islamophobic". https://t.co/XzcAcooqrL pic.twitter.com/5FjemTvZTE
— Nick Timothy (@NJ_Timothy) October 27, 2022
Dr Chris Allen has been friendly with key islamist agitators of the Leicester unrest.
Riaz Khan is one of the Leicester troublemakers. He's also a ridiculous 9/11 truther.
Here he is in friendly conversation with Chris Allen. "9/11 was a set-up!", he says.
Mr Allen is a merry truther too.
— habibi (@habibi_uk) October 30, 2022
Here at HP we have had 2 decades of experience documenting the British jihadi ecosystem and have a deep familiarity with some of the names and organisations. We have invaluable resources like Habibi and Wasiq Wasiq. For the media that failed so badly in reporting Leicester, a simple google search would have brought up distinctly unpalatable information about the persons they legitimised as bonafide ‘activists’, including connections to ISIS and Taliban support, let alone 9/11 and 7/7 trutherism.
The Henry Jackson Society held the launch yesterday of a report into Leicester by Charlotte Littlewood. On the Panel were the author, Fiyaz Mughal and Ravi Lakhani. That in itself is already a more diverse panel than anything Labour have managed thus far. The report suggests that community cohesion was in decay months before the events in September and has not found credible evidence of ‘hindutva’ organisation in Leicester. Watch the discussion and draw conclusions for yourself. The HJS has been attacked as an “islamophobic” organisation.
Update 1: The fallout from Leicester continues with Labour’s local politicians, especially Mayor Peter Soulsby, facing harsh criticism for their inept and less than impartial handling of community tensions. The National Secular Society has written to Suella Braverman asking the Home Office to oversee any inquiry of the communal clashes. From the NSS webpage :
Soulsby’s credibility on the issue has also been tarnished by his association with Islamists Muhammed Adil Shahzad and Majid Freeman (pictured, left).
Shahzad is a cleric who was involved in the protests at Batley Grammar School in March, publicly naming the teacher who was the subject of death threats. He has also used the derogatory term ‘coconut’ to describe Muslim MPs who backed the teacher. Soulsby joined Shahzad as a speaker at an event last month which prohibited women from attending.
Freeman has been active in spreading conspiracy theories concerning 9/11 and the London 7/7 terrorist attacks as well as disinformation regarding the events in Leicester. Soulsby described a meeting between Freeman and himself where they discussed the events in Leicester as “very productive”.
Update 2: The HJS full report is ready for downloading here.