The Murdoch Times has returned to demonising Muslims, this time under the by-line of “investigations editor” Dominic Kennedy, who has told readers “The founder of a hardline Islamic lobbying group that has been accused of sowing division and hate has been invited to address civil servants, an investigation by The Times has discovered”.
We are told “Sara Khan, the commissioner for countering extremism, led an outcry, accusing Mend of being a divisive organisation, some of whose staff had engaged in hate. She regarded Mr Ismail as an unsuitable guest”. What we are not told is that Ms Khan’s appointment to that role was opposed by many Muslim organisations, including MEND, which Ismail founded, and also by Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi.
There is previous between the two. And there is more. "He has been invited to speak at an online event organised by the Civil Service Muslim Network, an umbrella group for Muslims in Whitehall, on the topics of Islamophobia and racism. An invitation from a government-recognised diversity body will give credibility to Mend, which has come under fire for its dogged opposition to Britain’s approach to fighting extremism and terrorism”.
No. Just no. MEND is opposed to the PREVENT programme, as are other Muslim groups. And as the BBC has admitted, “the scheme has proved controversial, with claims it demonises and spies on Muslim communities. A UN Human Rights Council report in 2016 said Prevent was ‘inherently flawed’”. The Times article also exaggerates. Significantly.
On it goes: “Mend risked stoking tension … In an incendiary riposte … He caused upset”. Then comes a second source. “David Toube, of the think tank Quilliam”. Quilliam. Yeah, right. Let’s get to the conclusion. Then I’ll describe what actually happened.
“After being contacted by The Times the government said that the event had been scrapped. It added: ‘This invitation should never have been issued’”. Bullshit. The Times was tipped off. Before MEND had a chance to respond, the Cabinet Office had been informed. My information is that Michael “Oiky” Gove, a notorious Islamophobe, may have become involved. The event was not “scrapped”. It was merely moved outside work hours.
Moreover, Dominic Kennedy has gone after MEND before. It was not a success, a Muslim21C piece observing “Every now and then, a servile Islamophobic journalist whips up a hatchet job so embarrassing that even their newspapers seek to bury it in the middle somewhere or behind a subscription-only paywall”. Which is, more or less, still true.
But despite the lack of success, the Murdoch press persists. I’ll just leave that one there.