The so-called anti-hate organisation “HOPE not hate” has given the pro-Prevent campaigner Sara Khan a platform to demonise prominent British Muslim activists and organisations, including 5Pillars.
Writing in HOPE not hate’s report, 2017 State of Hate, Khan takes aim at Imam Shakeel Begg of Lewisham Mosque, Moazzam Begg, Abdur-Raheem Green, Shaikh Haitham al-Haddad, as well as Hizb ut-Tahrir, MEND, CAGE, Barelvis, Islam21c and 5Pillars for promoting “Salafi-Islamist” propaganda.
Khan’s article is written within the context of combating violent extremism and accuses its targets of normalising and creating an environment where violent ideologues are able to recruit impressionable individuals. She also accuses them of hindering the development of a tolerant and inclusive Britain.
Government-backed Sara Khan and her “We Will Inspire” organisation are at the forefront of promoting the government’s controversial Prevent counter terror strategy, which all the major mainstream Muslim organisations have condemned as a massive monitoring, spying and profiling exercise on the Muslim community. It is unclear whether HOPE not hate also supports the strategy.
In the section which targets the 5Pillars and Islam21c websites, Khan writes: “The British Salafi-Islamist ideology pushes victimhood grievance propaganda which is often anti-Western, advocates belief in establishing and supporting a caliphate governed by sharia law and promotes intolerance (and sometimes excommunication) towards other Muslim beliefs and practices outside the folds of Salafism and Islamism.
“Salafi-Islamists in conflating their modern ideological beliefs with classical Islam and in an attempt to shut down debate, label anyone who criticises the former as Islamophobes, including Muslims.”
HOPE not hate says it exists to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate, to combine first class research with community organising and grassroots actions to defeat hate groups at elections and to build community resilience against extremism.
It was created in 2004 by Nick Lowles, a former editor of anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, from which it split in late 2011, and is backed by various politicians and celebrities, and has been backed by several trade unions.
Its trustees include Tehmina Kazi, who is the former director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. Its funders include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, George Soros’s “Open Society Foundations” and the Cadbury Foundation. In the past it has also received government funding.
All the Muslim activists and organisations targeted by Sara Khan and HOPE not Hate oppose violent extremism, British foreign policy, state and media Islamophobia and attempts by the British establishment to redefine what normative Islam is according to a secular-liberal reformist agenda.