Policy Exchange Report on Extremist Literature in British Mosques Fabricated Evidence
by Sheila Musaji
Policy Exchange’s recent report entitled “The Hijacking of British Islam” on extremism in British mosques received a lot of publicity although the recent information that it seems evidence was fabricated. This would seem to cast some doubt on the credibility of the Policy Exchange.
Martin Hodgson points out that evidence was fabricated: ”... BBC2’s Newsnight said examination of receipts provided by the researchers to verify their purchases showed some had been written by the same person - even though they purported to come from different mosques. Several receipts also misspelled the names or addresses of the mosques where the books were supposedly sold.”
It is a shame that the conclusions of this report will be widely touted, and any apology or articles discussing the problems with the report will be marginalized. This trend of the original story making the front page headlines, but when they are found not guilty or innocent, that goes somewhere on the back pages in small print is still a common occurrence. It is also a shame that the Policy Exchange wasted an opportunity to accomplish what might have been a project that could have benefited the Muslim community as well as the broader British community. If they had worked with the Muslim community to honestly analyze the contents of mosque libraries and bookstores, perhaps any genuinely extremist materials might have been removed to a reference section on extremist materials reserved for scholarly study. Or, there might have been a dialogue about what constitutes extremist literature and how to handle this literature. (As a person who believes in free speech, I would not want to see any books burned or banned, any more than I would want my public library to remove Das Capital or Mein Kampf. They do have genuine, useful study purposes.) Engaging in dishonest practices simply undermines the Policy Exchange’s entire report.
A question of receipts, Brian Whitaker http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/dec/13/aquestionofreceipts
Islam, Muslims, and an Anthropologist, Prof. Marranci http://marranci.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/policy-exchange-hijacks-professional-research/
Newsnight rips apart Policy Exchange report, Osama Saeed http://www.osamasaeed.org/osama/2007/12/newsnight-rips.html
Policy Exchange vs Free Speech, Richard Bartholomew http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2007/12/13/policy-exchange-vs-free-speech/