In a recent column for Middle East Eye, Dilly Hussain (Deputy Editor of 5Pillars) wrote that Tell MAMA’s mission of providing a service for British Muslims to report hate crimes will soon be obsolete now that the Home Office has required all police forces in the United Kingdom to record anti-Muslim hate crimes on par with anti-Semitic ones.
He goes on to suggest that Tell MAMA, which has tackled anti-Muslim prejudice for over three years, has links with Islamophobes and shares the Quilliam Foundation’s narrow assumption that Islamist ideology is solely responsible for radicalisation. We have not been shy to criticise Quilliam in the past and we will not be in the future.
These accusations are based on shoddy, surface-level research intended to misinform readers.
Dilly should do his homework and look at Tell MAMA’s work in 2014 and 2015. Anyone who does will find that his accusations are untrue. We work hard to ensure that Islamophobia remains on the policy agenda and we helped bring about important changes.
We are not reliant on government funding. A number of charitable trusts have recognised the quality of our work and provide us with the funds to deliver our services. Dilly’s assumption that public agencies should not fund work countering the measurable rise of Islamophobia is naïve.
Tell MAMA stands up for Muslims in the UK facing hatred, racism, and prejudice. Our work on quantifying Islamophobia and bringing it into public debates is necessary and unrivalled.
We will not become obsolete any time soon.
Tell MAMA has no working links with the Quilliam Foundation
Dilly’s poorly researched column imitates the most facile examples of tabloid journalism. It is a gross inaccuracy to suggest that we ‘announced’ the findings of our 2013/2014 report at a Quilliam Foundation event. The official launch took place at Teesside University on 4 July 2014. Our director Fiyaz Mughal attended the Quilliam event as part of a wider tour that happened at nine different locations to promote the findings of this report.
To give an example of how this ‘Dilly-logic’ works, here is a recent photo from his Facebook page where he shared a platform with Tell MAMA’s Outreach Officer, Rehman Anwer. Based on his logic, Dilly must support Tell MAMA because he shared a platform with us. The more interesting question is why Dilly shares a platform with us one day, and smears us on another?
In fact, we shared a platform critical of Prevent with Moazzam Begg at a conference in June 2015. Our director Fiyaz also sat on a panel organised by iERA at Dilly’s invitation.
That does not mean Tell MAMA endorses their views, but shows that we are keen to engage and debate with the breadth of the British public to address Islamophobia.
Dilly takes a single event out of context as convenient ammunition to falsely accuse us of working with the Quilliam Foundation. We certainly do not.
We have voiced our differences of opinion with organisations that have suggested a top-down, highly centralised Prevent implementation. We have criticised this in a report to the London Assembly, calling for implementation to take community concerns seriously.
Before the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill passed, we posted an infographic that informed Muslims about the changes it would make and criticised the government’s approach. You can find it on the Stop the CTS Bill Website. We published this infographic before Dilly even addressed the bill on 5Pillars.
One of our staff members wrote recently that the Home Office had a ‘narrow’ definition of extremism based on a mythical set of ‘British values’ and consequently, ‘the outlook for democratic participation and accountability in counter-terrorism is grim’.
Eschewing an honest evaluation of our work for an accusation of guilt by association, Dilly suggests that we are linked to Quilliam and Islamophobes. This is a duplicitous smear.
If his accusation is true, why do we continue to have numerous Muslims on our advisory board, including community leaders, Imams, and academics?
Now coming onto the issue of Tehmina Kazi, she has clarified that she was part of the Arbitration Bill process and this included many other prominent Muslim women. This took place in 2011, well before Tell MAMA was even founded, which was in March 2012.
Dilly’s article picks facts at his convenience and ignores counterpoints to suit his agenda. In fact, 5Pillars has used Tell MAMA cases or data in thirteen different articles.
Dilly seems happy to cite us when it drives web traffic to 5Pillars and disparage us when expedient for his online brand.
Tell MAMA puts Islamophobia on the agenda and works across government and civil society to counter hate
Hate crime policing demands partnerships with faith communities. Dilly seems to think that the recent Home Office announcement to record Islamophobic hate crimes under a unique crime flag will render Tell MAMA obsolete. Once again, Dilly did not do his due diligence.
Tell MAMA has played a crucial role in putting Islamophobia and anti-Muslim incidents on the policy agenda. Our data has been cited frequently in reports to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia. FOSIS used our information to design infographics for Islamophobia Awareness Month 2015. From 2012 to 2015, Tell MAMA research documented a national rise in Islamophobia.
We used this data to push the government to require all police forces to record anti-Muslim incidents. While we commend Mend (then iENGAGE) for getting 10 Police and Crime Commissioners to pledge to record anti-Muslim hate crimes, we focused our efforts on lobbying the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Home Office to require all police forces to record anti-Muslim crimes.
Our lobbying capacity led to this ‘positive step forward’. Tell MAMA has representatives on hate crime panels across the country and advises police forces on how to address the nuances of Islamophobia.
It should be no surprise that the National Police Chiefs’ Council shares hate crime data with us. We have an important role to play in conducting crime analysis in a forthcoming report on Metropolitan Police data, disseminating figures about anti-Muslim hate crime, and sharing the experiences of victims.
With this shared data, we provide the police with monthly bulletins on trends and analyse their data to help improve hate crime policing. On top of that, we got the government to pressure Twitter and Facebook to take hate incidents more seriously. Sharing our reports on Islamophobia in schools has also put the issue on the agenda.
Tell MAMA will not be obsolete until hate and bigotry disappear
Third party reporting centres—bodies Dilly suggests will be obsolete now—were part of an important recommendation of the 1999 Macpherson report into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.
Third party reporting centres are a conduit between victims and the police. As one such reporting centre, this is what Tell MAMA does day in, day out.
These policies will not make Tell MAMA obsolete. Other Muslim organisations, including the organisation Mend whose 2012 report Dilly cites calls for PCCs to include third party reporting centres as part of their strategies (see page 8).
Most importantly, we serve victims. The data we record informs the UK public about the rise of hate crime and ensures that Islamophobia is on the policy agenda.
If Islamophobia disappears in the future, we will be more than happy to be rendered obsolete. Until then, our important work will continue to support victims and inform the public, the police and policy makers about anti-Muslim hate