UK: Mosque extremism study 'fabricated'

A rightwing thinktank which claimed to have uncovered extremist literature on sale at dozens of British mosques was last night accused of basing a report on fabricated evidence.

The report by Policy Exchange alleged that books condoning violent jihad and encouraging hatred of Christians, Jews and gays were being sold in a quarter of the 100 mosques visited.

But BBC2's Newsnight said examination of receipts provided by the researchers to verify their purchases showed some had been written by the same person - even though they purported to come from different mosques.

Several receipts also misspelled the names or addresses of the mosques where the books were supposedly sold.

The report, the Hijacking of British Islam, was based on the work of four teams of two researchers each who visited 100 mosques. They claimed to have found the controversial material in bookshops attached to 25 mosques, including one at Regent's Park, London, and others in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Oxford and High Wycombe.

Published on the eve of a state visit by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the report prompted front page news stories. Tory leader David Cameron pledged to raise the revelations with King Abdullah, because much of the literature was said to have been sourced from Saudi Arabia.

According to the report, one book, which said that there can be "no brotherhood" between Muslims and non-Muslims, was bought at the Leyton mosque in east London.

But the address on a receipt provided by the researchers was found to be that of an unrelated bookshop next door.

A spokesman for the mosque, Dr Usama Hasan, said: "It has nothing to do with us. It is totally inaccurate and misleading information. It is completely false. In fact, we are considering taking legal action over this because it has the potential to damage the good name of our mosque."

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Policy Exchange produced a report that was given a lot of publicity, and Newsnight deserve credit for exposing the incredibly shoddy and dubious methodology that Policy Exchange have resorted to. It would seem that Policy Exchange had already decided what they wanted to say about mosques and just went out to find or should I say invent the evidence to justify their prejudices."

Policy Exchange's research director, Dean Godson, insisted it stood by the report "100%". He said the thinktank had checked its evidence thoroughly and the allegations did not challenge the substance of the study - that such extremist literature was being widely sold.

"We are standing by our report and the Muslim researchers that helped compile it," he added.

The researchers were unavailable for comment because they were all on a religious retreat in Mauritania, Policy Exchange told Newsnight.

Source: Guardian (English)  h/t Islamophobia Watch (English)

Newsnight available here

See also: UK: Study of extremist literature in British mosques


Anonymous said...

lie lie lie till they believe you.
even jerks small minded Muslims might believe they are them selves are dangerous to others. how pathetic

Anonymous said...

The debate surrounding Policy Exchange's controversial report goes far beyond a few suspicious reciepts right to the dubious intentions, malicious motives and audacious approach of a so-called research body for pushing their agenda by all means fair and foul. Rather than blaming Newsnight of sidetracking, Dean Godson should come up with verifiable proofs to establish why this and other Policy Exchange reports should be considered neutral and objective and how it is helpful for community cohesion?

Godson's underlying motives are clear from his article is The Times: "During the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers. For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence."

What Godson didn't mention is that Encounter, is an Anglo-American magazine co-founded by Irving Kristol. Not until 1967 would it be revealed that Encounter and its parent organization, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, were funded by the CIA as part of the programme of covert action that has become known as the cultural cold war. In fact there is reason to believe that Cold War methods of psychological warfare are already shaping the debate about Islam and the war on terror in Britain. Dean Godson himself may be one the most successful practitioners. Certainly, he comes from a family with long experience of what the CIA calls ‘covert action’.

Dean Godson has a long history with neoconservatism, starting out as assistant to John Lehman, a signatory to the Project for a New American Century and Conrad Black. Bringing the ideas of neo-conservatism to the UK, Godson has compared Britain's 'late-imperial defeatism' with America's 'self-confident liberal interventionism.'

Of all books, Dean Godson's favourite is the one by his brother Roy, Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards, Counter-Intelligence and Covert Operations, which among other thing looks at how to spread disinformation through the media.

There are good reasons to be concerned about Dean Godson’s role to influence public and private perceptions about Muslims in Britain. He has made no secret of his own advocacy of ‘political warfare.’ It is clear from the historical precedents that he cites, and the methodology that his brother describes, that deception and covert manipulation are an integral part of ‘political warfare.’

Journalism influenced by this covert action approach clearly invites scepticism. There is likely to be a hidden agenda, in line with Roy Godson’s injunction that: “to be effective, covert propaganda must be co-ordinated with overall policy. It serves little purpose to dabble in the trade unless there are important strategic goals to be achieved.” There are also likely to be unverifiable claims that should be treated with caution.

Godson has worked as chief editorial writer at The Telegraph and Special Assistant to Conrad Black. Does this indicate a tendency to be in company of those working with fake receipts?

Lastly, imagine writing a monograph on Islam in Australia: Democratic bipartisanship in action including interviews with prominent players in law enforcement and politics but without interviewing a single Muslim, and launching the monograph thousands of miles away in London with none other than Dean Godson!

If anyone has ever wondered who would be more appropriate to talk about "community" and "cohesion" none could better disqualify himself from such a responsibility than Godson exemplifying an exact opposite of those terms.