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More on the ‘prison radicalisation report’

More on the ‘prison radicalisation report’

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday April 20 2016

In yesterday’s front page article, The Times claimed that a Ministry of Justice report had uncovered evidence of “chaplains at several jails encourag[ing] prisoners to raise funds for Islamic charities with links to international terrorism.”

We questioned the veracity of the ‘evidence’ given the frequency with which certain Muslim charities are hit with such allegations quite devoid of facts or investigation of the motives behind the accusations.

The Times today reveals that the claim relates to “prisoners in at least four jails [who] were encouraged by chaplains to participate in sponsored fundraising activities for “inappropriate” causes.”

The “inappropriate” causes, the newspaper explains, “included an organisation with links to Interpal, a UK charity that is allowed to operate in the UK but is banned in the United States and Israel for its alleged role in the funding of Hamas terrorism, which it denies.”

The paper goes on to reference the Government’s review on the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK and segments of the published summary findings in which Interpal was named “as part of a complex and secretive network of Islamist organisations that play an important role in the UK support structure of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The article further suggests that the MoJ report highlights the prisoner fundraising initiatives as illustrative of “the failure by Noms [National Offender Management System] to implement a robust strategy to confront Islamist radicalisation.”

The article, like those that have preceded it, is tendentious in the extreme.

The Times draws no attention to the three Charity Commission investigations into Interpal all of which cleared the British Muslim charity of any wrongdoing.

The Times also fails to highlight that accusations levelled by Israel against another British Muslim charity, Islamic Relief, were found to be entirely without basis. Islamic Relief commissioned an independent review after Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused it of funnelling funds to “Hamas-controlled organisations”. The outcome of the review found “absolutely no evidence” to support the Israeli minister’s allegations but none of this is mentioned in The Times article to cast aspersions over possible motives for tarnishing Islamic charities in this way.

Furthermore, The Times ignores an early day motion which was proposed in 2013 and signed by 38 MPs calling on the UK to urge the US to rescind its “unfounded designation” of Interpal on the Specially Designated Nationals list after a “US district court in New York saw no evidence that Interpal funded Hamas-supporting charities.”

The citing from the Government’s Muslim Brotherhood review is further evidence of biased reporting with no effort undertaken to examine the report’s claims. As Peter Oborne observed, the Muslim Brotherhood review was highly selective in its portrayal of Interpal with its co-author, Charles Farr, “fail[ing] to mention the crucial fact the Charity Commission cleared the charity of wrongdoing, links to terrorism and misuse of funds (though it did say it needed to be more rigorous dealing with local partners in the Middle East).”

Oborne argued, “Crucially Mr Farr also failed to notice the relevant point that bigotry towards Muslims in the United States means that there are grounds for believing that the US classification is politically motivated.”

Again, none of this appears in The Times today although the article by-line shows the news story to have been written by the paper’s “chief investigative reporter”, Andrew Norfolk.

The MoJ report is still awaited but from coverage in The Times that has trailed it so far, it looks to bear all the hallmarks of another attempt to witch-hunt Muslims working in the public sector and level allegations that fail to stand up to proper scrutiny.


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