This is a guest post by Shiraz Maher, and is cross posted from his Standpoint blog
The government has announced it will be conducting a major review into ‘Prevent’, one of the pillars of its overall counter-terrorism strategy known as ‘Contest’. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will be setting up a Committee to examine:
[…] the effectiveness of the ‘Prevent’ programme to date, and its likely effectiveness in the future, with particular reference to the following questions:
- Is the Prevent programme the right way of addressing the problem of violent extremism, or are there better ways of doing it?
- How robust is the Government’s analysis of the factors which lead people to become involved in violent extremism? Is the ‘Prevent’ programme appropriately targeted to address the most important of those factors?
- How appropriate, and how effective, is the Government’s strategy for engaging with communities? Has the Government been speaking to the right people? Has its programme reached those at whom it is-or should be-aimed?
- Is the necessary advice and expertise available to local authorities on how to implement and evaluate the programme?
- Are the objectives of the ‘Prevent’ agenda being communicated effectively to those at whom it is aimed?
- Is the Government seeking, and obtaining, appropriate advice on how to achieve the goals of the ‘Prevent’ programme?
- How effectively has the Government evaluated the effectiveness of the programme and the value for money which is being obtained from it? Have reactions to the programme been adequately gauged?
- Is there adequate differentiation between what should be achieved through the Prevent programme and the priorities that concern related, but distinct, policy frameworks such as cohesion and integration?
Establishing a committee to audit the effectiveness of Prevent is something I had proposed in my pamphlet for Policy Exchange earlier this year. This review is long overdue because, so far, the government has largely failed to keep tabs on exactly where Prevent money is going. To that end, the committee is inviting written submissions from the public relating to any of the points above.
Inayat Bunglawala has already taken the initiative. Earlier today he emailed fellow comrades on the Islamic Society of Britain and Young Muslims Yahoo mailing group saying:
From: inayat bunglawala
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2009 10:55:23
Subject: [ISB_and_YM] ENGAGE – Inquiry to assess PREVENT strategy
I would urge all of you to contribute submissions to this inquiry. You will know of how the millions in PVE has been spent (or wasted eg on the Quilliam Foundation) in your localities. Do write in with your own views. Don’t remain silent!
It seems to me as though Inayat Bunglawala is encouraging his fellow travellers to make critical submissions about the Quilliam Foundation. If this is the case, it would invariably skew the Committee’s findings based on the sectarian viewpoint from which he is coming.
Bunglawala is a former spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, a group influenced by the Islamist Jamaat-e Islami in Pakistan. Indeed, Bunglawala’s current outfit, a lobby group called ENGAGE, launched a predictable attack on my Policy Exchange report for promoting ‘apolitical Islam’. The unspoken corollary, of course, is that Bunglawala must therefore support ‘political Islam’.
There has already been a massive pushback against political Islamists in parts of Westminster. Ruth Kelly initiated this work at DCLG, which was later carried forward by her successor Hazel Blears. However, there is a real danger that Islamist groups and their sympathisers might see this committee as a way of reviving their fortunes with the government.
But, while Bunglawala has raised the topic of wasted PVE money let’s not forget that his wife, Tahmina Saleem, works with Redbridge Council as:
[…] a consultant Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Project Manager.
The Spittoon, a new blog largely written by secular Muslims, revealed that when the Redbridge Faith Forum (of which Saleem is a member) released a report last month her husband’s outfit, ENGAGE, used it to attack the Quilliam Foundation. They wrote:
The already microscopically minuscule credibility of the Quilliam Foundation has suffered yet another hugely embarrassing setback with the publication of a new report from the Redbridge Faith Forum.
ENGAGE didn’t tell its readers about the relationship between Inayat Bunglawala and Tahmina Saleem. It also failed to mention that the report which delivered this supposedly ‘hugely embarrassing setback’ was:
[…] only able to interview 9 Muslim leaders.
Did someone say: minuscule credibility?
On the one hand Inayat Bunglawala cries foul, claiming the Quilliam Foundation has no legitimacy because it receives government funding while using reports produced by a council employing his wife as a ‘consultant PVE project manager’ to back up his point. Putting the obvious questions of impartiality aside, his hypocrisy is staggering. After all, I presume his wife does not offer her ‘consultancy’ to Redbridge Council for free?
Despite all that, Bunglawala really wants all of us to write-in to the Committee detailing examples of government wastage through PVE.
Let’s do it!