Whitehall’s battle over British Islam

Yesterday’s Guardian featured a very significant interview by Seamus Milne with Detective Inspector Bob Lambert, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Muslim Contact Unit:

Lambert also highlights the importance of Islamic activists’
cooperation with the anti-war movement and radical MPs such as Jeremy
Corbyn and George Galloway in offering Muslim youth a way to channel
their political grievances into peaceful political action. This isn’t
about "political correctness or deference to Islamist thinking," he
insists, "it’s a genuine issue of London’s safety". Groups now promoted
by the government, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, may have their
role, but from the perspective of countering terrorism they have
"neither religious nor political credibility. Let’s be clear who it is
that can keep London safe in the runup to the Olympic games".

such a challenge to official orthodoxy there has been opposition to the
Muslim Contact Unit’s approach in both the police and government – and
reportedly pressure for it to be wound down or disbanded. Its work has
been singled out for attack by Dean Godson, research director of Policy
Exchange, the Tory-linked thinktank whose recent research on extremist
literature in British mosques was found to have been based on faked
material. The unit has, Godson argued, been suffering from "ideological
Stockholm syndrome". (Guardian)

It seems it all comes back to Policy Exchange v Conflicts Forum yet again. (One of Lambert’s contacts, Dr Azzam Tamimi, is on the latter’s advisory board.)

The Muslim Contact Unit was the outfit which the GLA’s Atma Singh refused to co-operate with before becoming a key source for Martin Bright’s attack on Ken Livingstone.

David Miller has some interesting background on Lambert:

One of the more interesting speakers at the conference was also happy to waive the Chatham House rule. Bob
Lambert is at the liberal end of the Special Branch, in its eight person Muslim Contact Unit. He promotes the idea of partnership working with muslim community organisations. He explicitly counterposes this to repressive policing and attacking the muslim community in politics, the press such as the assault unleashed by Jack Straw’s remarks about the veil  or the ‘terror experts’ who suggest that universities are a hotbed of muslim ‘radicalisation’.   

This means he is seen by some in government and the press – including some ‘left’ journalists such as those supporting the Euston Manifesto  – as an appeaser of radical Islam. Lambert noted that he wasn’t bothered by the Chatham House rule since he had previously been the victim such rules when the existence of his unit
was disclosed – he said – by a leak from the Foreign Office to the press. (Spinwatch)

The latter point is particularly interesting given that leaks formed a crucial source for Martin Bright’s attack on the Foreign Office’s Engaging With the Islamic World Group, in the Policy Exchange pamphlet that he published with the help of Dean Godson.






2 responses to “Whitehall’s battle over British Islam”

  1. Tony avatar

    “the Tory-linked thinktank whose recent research on extremist literature in British mosques was found to have been based on faked material”
    I think you need to make a correction there. Some of the receipts have been said to be suspicious – but the material on sale has not been disputed, even by the mosque leaders who happily admit to its sale from shops attached to mosques and Islamic centres.

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    I think Seamus Milne’s description is accurate.
    Those receipts are the evidence that Policy Exchange bought what they say they bought, and thus crucial to the whole report, especially as several of the Mosques certainly do dispute its claims.
    See Richard Watson’s report here:
    The situation with the Masjid as-Tawhid in East London is particularly interesting.
    According to Watson, the researchers originally got a receipt from the bookshop, which showed it be separate from the neighbouring Mosque.
    They then produced a second receipt, printed on an inkjet printer, which linked the bookshop to the Mosque, but which was written in the same handwriting as a receipt from another mosque ten miles away.

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