Thursday, July 31 2014

Review of Gilligan’s ‘Islamic Republic’ C4 documentary about the IFE


  If you thought documentaries couldn’t sink lower than the hatchet job by John Ware for BBC Panorama, ‘Who speaks for British Muslims?’, in 2005, the Dispatches programme aired last night is proof to the contrary. Using spurious evidence, half-truths  and a ragbag of ‘community leaders’ – none of whom merit a byline demonstrating their ‘leadership’ credentials – Gilligan (pictured) outdoes even Ware in proving that documentary-makers with an animus against ‘Islamism’ have nothing but conjecture and pure prejudice on their side. 

Gilligan’s chief claims in ‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’ are that Islamic Forum Europe is quietly and systematically overtaking institutions in Tower Hamlets, from the East London Mosque to Tower Hamlets Council and the local Labour Party association. The targeting of political power and institutions of representative democracy are, Gilligan argues, tactical manoeuvres in an ambitious plan to realise the ‘Islamist’ dream of a socio-political reality anchored in the teachings of Islam.

Who does Gilligan parade in front of our cameras to extemporise and validate his arguments? Well, first up is Paul Richards, former ‘special advisor’ to Hazel Blears. We’ve already exposed the hypocrisy that underlies Richards’ position. Richards seems strangely unaware of the blatant double standards he appears to invoke, decrying the IFE in the programme while in an article for the Jewish Chronicle, lauding the creation of:

New groups [which] were nurtured and supported, such as the Muslim Women’s Advisory Group’.

No prizes for guessing the democratic credentials of this particular invention of Blears and her aide, Richards.

Gilligan also brings on board Houriya Ahmed of Douglas ‘conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board’ Murray’s, misappropriately named, Centre for Social Cohesion.

And no documentary would be complete without at least one representative from organisations that have made it their business to attract government funding for battling ‘Islamism’.

Gilligan relies on Rashad Ali, formerly of the Quilliam Foundation and now housed at CENTRI, the organisation headed by Haras Rafiq, formerly of the Sufi Muslim Council.

The link is an important one given that just a couple of weeks ago questions into the public funding received by Rafiq and the SMC were denied public disclosure. In answer to questions put by Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, Lord MacKenzie, on the SMC’s use of funds, the peer replied:

“There are no plans to place evaluation reports from Community Leadership Fund projects, or reports submitted by the Sufi Muslim Council, in the Library of the House since they contain confidential information which those organisations conducting the projects would not anticipate seeing made public and disclosure at this time could undermine their (and others) co-operation and willingness to continue participating in the programme.”

And then there’s Jim Fitzpatrick, the Minister for Food, Farming and Environment and MP for Poplar and Canning Town. Fitzpatrick made headlines last summer when he reacted with supreme arrogance and complete disregard for his hosts by complaining to the local papers of being asked to be seated separate from his wife at a segregated Muslim wedding. And who should pipe up and support Fitzpatrick’s ridiculous claim that the hand at work was that of IFE and ‘Islamists’ – Paul Richards and Martin ‘The Great Koran Con Trick’ Bright.

It’s difficult to see how one wouldn’t construe from this that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but such a weak response to Gilligan’s charges is not sufficient. That would be as weak as Gilligan’s claim that IFE is taking over the Muslim Council of Britain although out of six office bearers and 18 committees, Gilligan can number only two individuals from IFE ranks among senior MCB postholders.

No, what is important to expose, beyond the utter lack of credibility of the people used by Gilligan to bolster his arguments, is the political mindset that drives the critique of Gilligan and his likeminded cabal.

In attempting to suggest that the IFE, East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre are the bases from which something sinister is taking place in Tower Hamlets, what Gilligan is disingenuously seeking to do is undermine the work of local Muslim groups and institutions to mobilise the local Muslim populations into playing an active role in local community affairs and local politics.

Given that the Labour party candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow is Ms Rushanara Ali, did it perhaps not occur to Gilligan that the rise in Labour party membership may in part be due to Ms Ali’s efforts to mobilise voters to back her and her party in the forthcoming local and general elections? Such common sense theories are unlikely to sway Gilligan and those like him that search for ‘Greens under the bed’ in the vein of rabid McCarthyite Communist –hunters. Martin Bright’s article in the Jewish Chronicle calling for a ‘strategic alliance between British Jews and anti-Islamists in the East End’ is similarly, of this bent.

But back to the claims that ELM/LMC and IFE are planning a gradual takeover of Tower Hamlets.

Last Friday LMC paid host to the renowned American political theorist and philosopher, Michael Sandel. Sandel is one among many contributors to the Guardian’s ‘Citizen Ethics in a Time of Crisis’, publication.

The pamphlet is an attempt to revisit the fundamental questions of social and political order: what is the good life, the common good, and how do we construct the good society?

The programme, organised by London Citizens and hosted by LMC began with the recitation of verses from the Qur’an exhorting justice. Verses from Surah an-Nisa: 135:

‘O you who believe! be ever steadfast in upholding justice, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God's claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!’

And Surah Maedah: 8:

‘O you who believe! be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.’

The reason being that Sandel’s latest publication is ‘Justice: What’s the right thing to do?’ and the London Citizens meeting, attended by Muslims, Christians, Jews, those of no faith, and by people from all over London, representing in one hall a microcosm of the brilliant diversity of London, was to deliberate the work of London Citizens in light of Sandel’s book and his contribution to Citizen Ethics.

It captures precisely the sort of work done in grassroots Muslim communities and in partnership with likeminded organisations: the invigoration of grassroots democracy, reclaiming values like social justice and equality, tolerance and diversity, at a time of populist far right politics and economic failure. Far from engaging in closet subterfuge, what IFE, LMC and ELM are engaged in is the mobilisation of Muslim communities in the East End of London, to play their part in society and be active citizens for the betterment of all. Initiatives which were attested to by Neil Jameson, Executive Director of London Citizens in response to Martin Bright’s allegations of the ELM/LMC and IFE being ‘sectarian’ and ‘extremist’ bodies.

There is a rather more telling comment by Paul Richards that perhaps sheds light on the witch-hunt tactics employed by Gilligan in the Dispatches programme. Writing on ‘Islamism’, Richards said:

Others see the rise of political Islam as a major threat to our democracy; to the UK Jewish community; and to Britain’s interests abroad’.

At a time when Israel is enlisting the help of friendly nations to improve its image abroad after its devastating assault on Gaza and the crippling blockade, and the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Justice Secretary are being heavily lobbied by pro-Israel groups to change the war crimes legislation to protect suspected Israeli war criminals from arrest in the UK, one can see more clearly why the efforts of IFE, ELM/LMC and MCB to politically mobilise British Muslims might upset other quarters in British society.

To repeat the verses of Surah an-Nisa, which instruct Muslims’ efforts to see that the war crimes legislation remains unchanged:

‘O you who believe! be ever steadfast in upholding justice, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God's claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!’









Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 18:33

Comments

 
0 #20 2010-03-05 11:40:21 Hijab Gates MythMuslim 2010-03-15 20:02
The hysterically irrational, rightly live up to their categorisation as Islamophobes.

It is evident even in their own posts.
The author does not bother point out that the design is NOT faith-specific. Comprende?

Headscarves have been an item of female clothing common to many of the prominent communities that have lived in this magnet for immigrants e.g. French Christian Protestant Huguenots, Ashkenazi Jews AND currently Bangladeshi-origin Muslims.
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0 #19 @LibertyPhile Ignorance > distrust > violenceMuslim 2010-03-07 11:12
Potentially : Ignorance leads to distrust, leads to extremism, leads to hate, leads to persecution, leads to violence. Many believe in trying to break that chain, as I am sure that 99% of the world do to, regardless of ideology.

A full, frank & honest debate is to be welcomed, especially without recourse to vulgar hate-speech.
Its spirit is however undermined if agenda-driven polemicists are selective & sensationally take things out context, almost to hysterical levels. We see the absurd scenario of quixotic & divisive Muslim-baiting dressed up as "seeking to inform" & veiled in "freedom of speech/ defending our values" . We have seen this throughout recent history from Goebbels to Milosevic to Bat Ye'or.

We Muslims are more than prepared to debate those who are not unafraid to deal with all uncomfortable issues raised, instead of just acting without a reciprocal spirit & cherry-picking on cheap point-scoring. If you could not be bothered to tackle the points raised by others, why should we Muslims bother too, in just providing you with a relatively uncensored platform?

All that leads to is a "Dialogue of the deaf", a waste of time...
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0 #18 Sidrah Muntaha 2010-03-07 08:27
Well done to those who have already spoken up and expressed concerns about this programme. I would like to add that individuals should carry on complaining to Channel 4, write to their MPs and do whatever they can to combat these attacks on the morale and spirit of the Muslims in the UK. This is not just allegations about IFE. These are accusations fuelled by
hatred towards a minority group that symbolises difference. Muslims are the new 'blacks' and 'jews' who are having to justify their beliefs, lifestyles and political views.

The worst thing we can do to ourselves now is cower against the attacks. We as Muslims, as ethnic minorities in this country and as fellow citizens should hold our head high, and speak up again and again until the wave of prejudice against Muslims and indeed other minority groups is stopped once and for all.
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0 #17 Some Councillors (Peter Gold) could face dismissal for racial incitementAbul Hussain 2010-03-07 00:13
@will

"...vast majority of the residents of all backgrounds in the area do oppose these £2m constructions..."

According to which research again??? im not against the proposed plans. and actually i think general ppl do support these structures because the people proposing them have been voted into the council, so they do have a mandate, its called local democracy.

and about Gilligan 'documentary' (if thats what you want to call it) the biggest load of crap iv seen in a long while, in i clip Gilligan states that Lutfur Rahman is an IFE member??? how bizarre.

That Peter Gold conservative councillor stated that all the Bengalis voted for Lutfur Ali as Assistant chief exec, and went on about a "clique within the council" I think he is breaking the council’s code of conduct with that kind of statement.
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0 #16 \'Hijab gates\', not a myth as some suggestWill 2010-03-05 11:40
Quote from Council "It is not considered that the design of the arches which reflect the symbolism of a head scarf detracts from the role of the arches and the Brick Lane Cultural Trail's aims of promoting the area and the communities who live and work there."

On the extremist 'Islamophobia Watch' website it states that anyone who opposes the Brick Lane Arches is a 'bigot'. Infact the vast majority of the residents of all backgrounds in the area do oppose these £2m constructions and the Council Leader choses to ignore us at his peril.
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0 #15 Muslim @ 2010-03-04 15:24:52LibertyPhile 2010-03-05 08:02
Muslim @ 2010-03-04 15:24:52

Please tell me what I should make of the following statements/views that I quoted?

"our goal is to create the True Believer. To then mobilise believers into an organised force for change who will carry out da’wah, hisbah and jihad. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen”. (The last term meaning “an Islamic social, economic and political order”.)

“merely believing in God is not enough. Muslims have a sacred duty, wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God”.

“we have to accept every aspect of Islam. Political aspect, economical aspect because Islam provides all the solutions. Allah gives us everything, the Sharia covers everything, every aspect of life.”

I do not hate Muslims, or any human beings for that matter, but I think your religion contains a lot of nonsense as indicated in these quotes.

The voting figures that Andrew Gilligan gave were obviously fiddled. Regarding intimidation, what have you got to say about the woman who was "asked" to close her dating agency?
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0 #14 Re: 2010-03-03 09:48:46Muslim 2010-03-04 15:24
"In other words in IFE’s Britain everyone has to convert to Islam whether they like it or not."

Talk about unfounded libel. Such sensationalist hysterical tripe is typical of those who abuse "liberty" to mask thinly-veiled hate of 23% of humanity.

Furthermore, the selective ignorance of fundamental Islamic beliefs is there for all to see. "There is no compulsion in Deen" is a Muslim belief which I am quite sure that the IFE has not rejected. If it has let us have proof, otherwise innocent until proven guilty.

"(4) The allegations of bias, vote rigging, and intimidation, in Tower Hamlets"

Throwaway sensationalist anecdotes without a shred of proof, & furthermore if there were any substance to this smear, surely the relevant authority to deal with it is the police.

As for "Islamist" that is just as facile as "Jewist", which we never seem to hear from the supposedly non-partisan MSM.
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0 #13 LibertyPhile - mouth piece for GilliganJ A 2010-03-04 06:05
This is what I wrote to LibertyPhile's stupid response on the Guardian. In fact a friend was abused with condoscending remarks last night be an extreme secular Bangladeshi at a council meeting!:

-----
@LibertyPhile

You'll find all the vote rigging cases that came up in Tower Hamlets have been to do with some of the corrupt personalities in the TH Labour Party who were mainly the secular Bangladeshis that hate IFE/LMC! You'll fine Respect tried to raise the vote rigging that happened in a number of wards in TH with the council.

The only hidden agenda is that of the Dispatches program which was using hidden cameras etc when it could have easily given the same airtime it gave to Fitzpatrick MP and Cllr. Goulds to explain their stance and what these literature mean and the things that they are being accused of. The very fact that IFE/LMC were not given any airtime to defend themselves on the program shows the whole program was politically motivated by the ambitions and fears for the various individuals in the Labour Party in TH (in particular Fitzpatrick who is running scared from the wedding scandal!). The whole program was a cut and paste job that abuse and took out of context every opportunity they found. This is the very reason they did not give IFE/LMC any chance or opportunity as it gave the Islamophobes that spoke on the program.

Islamophobia is rife within the medai and it is very "enemies within" fear and hate mongering that is used to stir up the right wing. Gilligan and his rag-tag talking heads have become the mouth piece for the BNP and EDL.

I would suggest people read this article which gives more in depth analysis of the people on the Dispatches program:

http://iengage.org.uk/component/content/article/1-news/780-review-of-gilligans-islamic-republic-c4-documentary-about-the-ife
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0 #12 British Society and Muslim Community Iftikhar Ahmad 2010-03-03 17:59
Salaam

It is not Islam and Muslims who are creating problems, actually it is
British society creating problems for the Muslim community.

The Muslim community has been vicitm of (expletive deleted)-bashing in all walks of life by the British society and Establishment for the last 60 years. Now it is
vicitm of terrorism by the British Establishment. Thousands of Muslim
youth are being serched in the streets and hundreds of them are behind the bar without any trial.

State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not suitable for
Muslim children. This is the reason why majority of them leave schools
with low grades.

God has created diverse human beings to live in this tiny global villageas of one family. Creation by its very nature is deverse with different species, different communities, different cultures and languages. These differences represent the beauty and wonder but diversity is sometimes not fully appreciated, resulting in all sorts of clashes. The British society and Establishment must learn to respect and accommodate others, as if in a family.

A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to
become notoriously monolingual Brit. He/she is supposed to be well versed in standard English, Arabic, Urdu and other community languages, to be part of the Britisah society, as well as proud of his/her cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of his/her literature and poetry.
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0 #11 Christian Fundamentalist infiltrationMuslim 2010-03-03 15:37
The Conservative Party is being infiltrated by rightwing Evangelical Christians
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/12400596-16ac-11df-aa09-00144feab49a.html
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0 #10 anon 2010-03-03 14:27
Interesting article, but it might have been better if you had directly addressed the allegations rather than merely attempting to smear Richards, Houriya Ahmed, Rashad Ali, Fitzpatrick, and others.

A good place to start would be the appointment of Lutfur Ali as Assistant Chief Executive.
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0 #9 The allegationsLibertyPhile 2010-03-03 09:48
Andrew Gilligan is well know for his reliable investigative journalism. He played a major part in exposing the government’s misuse of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.

Channel 4 Dispatches produces programmes praised by Muslims such as the investigation of “the strangle-hold that the Zionist lobby has on the British political and media system” last November. Did you attack them then?

You should respond to the allegations and points of the programme rather than just bad mouthing everyone.

(1) The East London Mosque complex includes the HQ of IFE (Islamic Forum of Europe), an Islamist organisation infiltrating British Politics.

There is nothing wrong with “infiltrating” British politics. It’s infiltrating it with a hidden agenda and lying about what you stand for that makes people angry, and justifies the Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

IFE literature says it is “dedicated to changing the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed, from ignorance to Islam”.

The IFE’s training material says “our goal is to create the True Believer. To then mobilise believers into an organised force for change who will carry out da’wah, hisbah and jihad. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen”. (The last term meaning “an Islamic social, economic and political order”.)

Clearly IFE wants to overthrow and destroy the system we have in Britain. It is not reform even but wholesale destruction and replacement with a system based totally on Islam.

If that is what they want they should say so instead of lying or hiding behind weasel words. Saying that they (the IFE) just want to establish religious values is laughable.

A senior IFE man says: “Democracy, if it means that, at the expense of not implementing Sharia, no one will agree to that”.

(2) British people have a right to know what Dr Bari, a former president of the IFE, and now the General Secretary of the MCB, an organisation that claims to be the UK’s largest umbrella group for Muslims, and which has dealings with the British government, stands for.

Lacing his PR statements with liberal words and phrases, such as “contributing to pluralistic Britain”, won’t wash.

(3) People attending a training session were told to keep their membership of IFE secret.

The reading list includes material which says “merely believing in God is not enough. Muslims have a sacred duty, wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God”.

A teacher says “we have to accept every aspect of Islam. Political aspect, economical aspect because Islam provides all the solutions. Allah gives us everything, the Sharia covers everything, every aspect of life.”

In other words in IFE’s Britain everyone has to convert to Islam whether they like it or not.

(4) The allegations of bias, vote rigging, and intimidation, in Tower Hamlets
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0 #8 c4 dispatchesismail assenjee 2010-03-03 06:40
it is alright for jews and christians to influence politics but if muslims do it then it is sinful
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0 #7 c4 dispatchesismail assenjee 2010-03-03 06:37
if dr bilal philips and hussein yee are extremists and fundamentalists then all muslims should be that.
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0 #6 EU AntiSemites Recycling ConspiracyMuslim 2010-03-02 19:40
What a weird world is inhabited by the swivel-eyed jaundiced Islamophobes?

He even mentioned the "Elders" of the mosque - is that as in Zion?

Surely reasonable citizens would say that the participation of Muslims in the political system is a sign of welcome integration, not "infiltration" (by aliens).

If he has any genuine concerns about threatening behaviour, then these should be passed onto the police. Trial by populist media leads to the abuse of paediatricians being mistaken for paedophiles e.g. irresponsible tabloid sensationalism.

The lack of perspective is worrying, as the only way these groups can "take over" Britain is by democratic means, & Britain's electorate is more than 90% non-Muslim. Not forgetting the little matter that the Muslim community is at least as diverse in opionions as the Jews, & is not an undifferentiated monolith.

For the sake of balance, are we going to see Ch4 producing a documentary showing how Jewists are taking over by the disproportionate numbers of their group in positions of influence relative to the general population? No, I thought not...
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