May 11, 2015 Abdul Haqq

A Response to Andrew Gilligan

Andrew Gilligan’s usual lack of attention to detail and his failure to conduct anything close to what can be considered research is what many have come to expect from this ‘senior’ journalist.  His recent article attempted to join dots where there were actually none. [1]

His first attempt related to one of STREET’s publications; ‘A warning against extremism’, which was a book translated by Salafi Manhaj. It was chosen due to its comprehensive discussion on extremism by an internationally recognised Islamic scholar.[2] It has since made available on the STREET website for reference.

Gilligan’s efforts to effectively tar STREET with the same brush as Salafi Manhaj due to this particular publication are as feeble as they are spurious; the reason being that the other Salafi Manhaj publications referred to by him are actually in contrast to some of STREET’s most successful programmes, like football. Gilligan quotes a Salafi Manhaj publication on the sport, intimating that STREET also holds similar positions to those highlighted. In fact, for more than 3 years, STREET’s football activity registered an average of 90-100 participants each week. Among the reasons for the activity’s success was its religious and civic underpinning – participants were taught how to contextualise and combine religious and civic duties as young British citizens.  Gilligan’s remaining allegations and poor research attempts – insofar as they relate to an affiliation or subscription to Salafi Manhaj publications – do not warrant any further discussion in view of the above.

His reference to STREET quoting an anti-semitic preacher on an issue of clothing and music is symptomatic of his desperation to give weight to the initial import of what remains a poorly constructed article and although I have previously highlighted my position regarding some of the views of the speaker in question, the simple fact remains that quoting from an individual does not automatically render someone an advocate or supporter of absolutely everything s/he says.

Referring now to one of the interviewees in Gilligan’s salacious report – Haris Rafiq – it is interesting to note the latter’s comments regarding STREET. He is correct in highlighting the organisation’s firm opposition of terrorism. It also opposes extremism in all its forms. I take issue, however, with his observation that we should not be working with anyone when our track record has been clear for international and national agencies and governments to see. STREET did not achieve its award winning status for no reason. In fact, it was not so long ago that Rafiq ran an organisation called the Sufi Muslim Council and, in order to obtain some legitimacy, claimed to represent the ‘silent majority’ of Muslims in Britain. Unfortunately the ensuing silence from that purported majority was apparently deafening enough for him to realise the illegitimacy of his claim. His organisation subsequently disappeared. He has since joined the Quiliiam Foundation.

Gilligan’s claim that STREET has links to the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal is as derisible as it is spurious and as the founder and co-director of STREET, I would certainly like to see any concrete evidence to support this. If it is Gilligan’s method of joining imaginary dots by referring to my co-director, Alyas Karmani’s work in Bradford, it is seriously flawed and I suggest he rethink his approach before writing and revealing an inherently biased perspective.  He will subsequently be taken more seriously in other respected journalistic and academic circles. Unfortunately, his obsession with so-called Islamists goes back many years and was addressed by Mehdi Hasan in 2010.[3] Hasan’s article effectively addressed and highlighted the extent of Gilligan’s unhealthy preoccupation with Muslims but the question is whether he will desist from writing inaccurate and poorly researched articles?  It is unlikely as some obsessions require treatment; poor old Andrew Gilligan – why not begin again?[4]

 

 

[1] Child sex scandal council hires ‘mentors’ linked to hard-liners, The Telegraph, 22nd February 2015: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11427391/Child-sex-scandal-council-hires-mentors-linked-to-hard-liners.html

[2] Shaykh Saalih Abdul Azeez Aali Shaykh

[3] Mehdi Hasan: ‘The Truth about Andrew Gilligan’, Newstatesman, 22nd November 2010: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2010/11/andrew-gilligan-islamism-press

[4] There has been a play on the words of a traditional children’s song: Michael Finnigan: http://www.kidsongs.com/lyrics/michael-finnegan.html

 

A new Chief Minister and his cabinet free quote at website were sworn in today, after their party did well in the state elections here earlier in December.
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