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This is not to minimise the trauma to individual Muslims from vile baiting, being spat at, called names or having a garment ripped off. But the danger of talking up Islamophobia in such an alarmist way is that it risks creating a siege mentality among Muslims. Day in, day out, Mend feeds Muslims a relentless diet of news and dramatised videos of Islamophobic attacks (not always accurate) as if to emphasise: “You do know your fellow non-Muslim citizens hate you, don’t you?” Its leader Sufyan Ismail has himself told Muslims that “society hates us.”

Still, Mend seems to have persuaded several MPs from all parties and some police forces that it is an appropriate organisation to advise on how to tackle Islamophobia. In Manchester, it has partnered with the police and the council on a joint “Ending Islamophobia Action Plan” which includes advising schools on how to “identify the difference between free speech and cyber-hate”; it has provided research to Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, about policing Muslim communities; in Cardiff it has trained the British Transport Police on Islamophobia; in Leeds they’ve trained NHS staff on Islamophobia; in London Mend says it is an official partner of the Electoral Commission; it claims to be the only Muslim group to have given oral evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture and practices of the press; and across the country it has held events with police and crime commissioners. Mend representatives even sit on the odd local authority committee advising them how to implement the government’s counter-terrorism Prevent programme, aimed at preventing vulnerable individuals from being drawn into Islamist and far-right extremism. This, despite Mend campaigning for Prevent’s abolition as part of “state-sponsored Islamophobia”.

These well-intentioned politicians and public servants have been less than curious about the rebranding of iEngage to Mend. Some Mend staff and volunteers have promoted ideas that meet the government’s definition of extremism contained in its Counter-Extremism Strategy: support for organisations proscribed as terrorist, anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and visceral attacks on fellow Muslims who have dared to suggest that Mend has not always practised the anti-hate principles it preaches. Some of the organisations Mend lists as its “strategic partners” are regarded by the Home Office Extremism Analysis Unit as being “extremist”. For example, Cage, the Islamist group that has campaigned to free convicted terrorists, famously described Jihadi John as a “beautiful young man”, and defended the right of a British jihadi to carry out a suicide bombing on a jail in Syria in which many are said to have been killed in order to free prisoners. Indeed, Sufyan Ismail says he has “personally donated to Cage over the years, and I continue to do so. Let’s get that on the record, and I don’t know how many people have donated as much as I have, but it’s not a small amount.” Like Cage, Mend wants “counter-terrorism legislation which is unnecessary abolished”.

In the immediate future Ismail says he wants Mend to focus on schools by hiring “schools content officers”, presumably to try to persuade schools to present Islam the way he views his faith. And if Ofsted does indeed launch an inquiry into the rise of the hijab among primary school girls, we can expect hostilities to resume. Mosques in Manchester, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Bolton have advised parents not to allow their daughters to be questioned by school inspectors.
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amcdonald
May 17th, 2018
7:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad`s comment is a perfect example of unreasoning.

Anon
May 13th, 2018
7:05 PM
Why does the government not support the more liberal British Muslims in this noble cause?

Iftikhar Ahmad
May 5th, 2018
7:05 PM
Hijab Why is it that we always have these conversations about girls? I never read articles about what boys should or should not wear. I have never read articles about what boys should be allowed to do, only girls. Maybe that is more the issue. Why? It would only be a good idea if you planned to make the families feel so unwelcome that they end up removing their children to be educated at home. But don't then be surprised at the number of home educated Muslim children rising. Maybe that's the overall agenda to make Muslims as outcasts? Muslim girls who wear the hijab to primary school will be asked why they wear it by inspectors. The reasons given will then be recorded in school reports, amid concerns girls are being forced to wear the headscarf by their parents. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, announced the move on Sunday. This is none of Ofsted's business. In fact it is discrimination. Ofsted should be instructed to back off. Can you please focus on the primary children/girls who are dressed like grown women with short skirts and such which would be deemed as sexualisation of girls. And is this about sexualisition Ms Spielamn or Fundamentalism? I think your a little confused and need to make up your mind because I would say its about Islamophobia. Imagine being questioned about why you dress the way your parents tell you at 8 years of age!? What do you say? “Sorry, I’ll tell them they are wrong”? Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? The problem is, before they start the quizzing, they're making public exactly what the girls should get prepared to reply (by their family) to be allowed to keep the hijab. With all the time to rehearse. Any child asked by an inspector why she’s covering her hair should reply.. 'its a free country I can wear what I effing want''!! We do not need inspectors chasing Muslims just because we hate them. Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? What is the role of the Government can any of the hijab haters answer This? Or do we need another PREVENT policy to target certain group of people? I bet all the readers who have kids have forced their kids to go to sleep, brush their teeth, wake them out of bed, eat dinner etc, wear a helmet whilst riding bike and so on...So what is wrong with telling your kid to cover the head to if one wants to. There is nothing wrong with this as long as its achieved peacefully and through education. Of course they are forced or at least required to wear hijabs by parents because it is the parents who bring up children according to their tradition, religion or both. Freedom of religion is imperial . One can choose what to believe in an practise it , it' not the government' job to dictate what you should eat, how you should dress ,when you should pray ..it only has the power to coerce it' civilians but it should just focusing on providing services and infrastructure and education and so on. So they need to send inspectors instead of assuming that it's the parents brainwashing the kids. Interesting. Maybe they expect to find some 7 years old girls who will give them a detailed report of all the faiths they thoroughly researched before choosing Islam because it's the one they believe provides the answers to all their existential and philosophical questions. Parents are free to teach their children what they want as long as it' not harming them physically or mentally. Its called education not force. I guess every parent has the right to educate their child into doing something which they believe is good (as long as its not a crime etc). It's the parents that they should be questioning, not the children. No good asking the girls. If they are made to wear it, they will be made to say they aren’t, since that’s what the Inspectors want to hear. Everybody knows who the Inspectors spoke to. How nice of them. Huge swathes of children in Birmingham leave school without 5 GCSE but that doesn't seem to concern Ofsted too much. In fact they label schools Outstanding when they cannot even get half their pupils to this benchmark! We, as parents want to raise our girls. It is our responsibility, no one else's , even Ofsted. Ofsted should be looking at the reasons why children &young people are suffering an epidemic of mental illness, clue: it’s not because they lack resilience. Instead they are joining in with the rights obsession over what women and girl wear and bashing Muslims

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