This morning we learned that politicians are deserting the “counter-extremism” group Student Rights (SR) following its ridiculous university campus extremism report last month, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
One MP, Lib Dem Tom Brake, has already resigned as an advisor for the organization, whose recent study was criticized by student leaders as a “witch hunt”, while another, Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick, is considering following suit.
Brake has already been replaced by Ghaffar Hussain, of the Quilliam Foundation, a group which “challenges extremism” by accepting government money and slagging off Muslims on Newsnight.
Splashed over the front pages of The Times last month, (a paper which loves a bit of Islamophobic scaremongering first thing in the morning) the SR report alleged that gender segregation is rampant in university Islamic society events. It apparently did an “in-depth” analysis of this issue, with 180 events logged in the period March 2012 to March 2013 for evidence of segregation.
Maybe SR will soon do an “in-depth” report that will … shock, horror … catalogue 213 incidents of Muslims hating on Israel.
Students Rights seems to exist solely to talk up the threat of “Islamic extremism” at British universities. Apart from the gender segregation issue it claims that dangerous radicals are getting platforms in universities to poison impressionable young minds. Who are we talking about here? Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula? Carlos the Jackel? No … er.. we’re talking about that cuddly Hamza Tzortis from IERA.
SR is fronted by the very unimpressive Raheem Kassam who describes himself as coming “from a Muslim family.” He regularly stutters his way through media interviews to, for example, defend Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and denounce Islamic extremism … yawn.
Anyway, I tried to find out where SR gets its funding from because that usually indicates what line an organization will take. After all, it seems to be very prolific, it has a professionally-run website, it gets on the media a lot. So it must have some dosh coming in from somewhere.
But quite frankly this information is hard to pin down. It’s not on the website although we do know its parent organization is the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) which is similarly opaque about its funding. But needless to say the HJS has similar right-wing, pro-Israel, pro-neo con and anti Islamic extremism views.
So after a fruitless search I just asked Raheem Kassam but he didn’t bother replying. So I thought I would harass him a little bit on Twitter instead.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Where does Student Rights get its funding from please in the interests of transparency? Why are you not answering me do you have something to hide?
RK: We all know that you do work for Press TV which is funded by the terrorist state Iran.
Me: Yes Press TV is funded by Iran and everyone knows that so they can make a judgment for good or bad. Now who funds Student Rights, is it Israel?
RK: None are Israeli.
Me: So who funds Student Rights? Answer a direct question please. If you don’t reveal this information a huge question mark will hang over your organization.
RK: It’s not legal or moral to publicize their names. I don’t take a salary from Student Rights.
Me: That sounds like a convenient excuse. I answer all your questions directly and you answer none of mine. This is an unequal relationship.
So I’m still none the wiser. The facts are that SR is pro-Israel, pro-neo-con, anti-Islamic extremism and will not reveal the source of its funding. Yet despite this politicians and the media are willing to associate with it and promote it without mentioning this backstory.
I say they shouldn’t be given the time of day until they come clean.