‘Stoking Islamophobia and an attack on Muslims’ – Afzal meeting organisers’ verdict on Prevent
Leaflets publicising a Birmingham Central Mosque meeting that led to the downfall of Muhammad Afzal make it clear that organisers believed the Prevent counter-terror programme to be “stoking Islamophobia” and an attack on Muslims.
Chamberlain Files can reveal that flyers for the Stand up to Racism rally on January 21st state that the Prevent agenda is “about collectively punishing Muslims” by creating “an atmosphere of distrust and fear”.
Cllr Afzal withdrew his nomination as Lord Mayor for 2016-17 hours before fellow Labour councillors were due to force him to stand down.
His decision followed widespread criticism over a speech he delivered at the mosque rally, where he was alleged to have called the Prime Minister an Islamophobe, described elements of Prevent as racist and questioned whether 500 UK Muslims had really gone to Syria to join Isis.
He was pictured standing next to a ‘No to Prevent’ banner and said he had not noticed the wording.
In a statement announcing his decision to withdraw from the mayoral nomination Cllr Afzal said he was the victim of malicious and defamatory rumour and innuendo. He had earlier insisted he fully supported the aims of the Prevent programme, which seeks to stamp out extremism in classrooms.
But if Cllr Afzal, who is chair of the Birmingham Central Mosque, had read the leaflet publicising the meeting he could hardly have failed to recognise that the organisers held the Government’s counter-terror programme in utter contempt.
The rally was called to discuss Government consultation into a proposal to allow Ofsted to inspect out of school settings including privately run Islamic madrassas. The move would “openly target Muslims”, according to the leaflet.
The leaflet in full reads:
The new rules to be introduced on out-of-school education settings will impose a system of registration, Ofsted inspection and sanctions that are openly targeting Muslims, although this may well be used against other groupings as well.
It is probable that out-of-school-hours inspections will lead to the closure of madrassas, accompanied by Trojan Horse-type media hoaxes and scares.
It is part of the Prevent agenda, which is in reality about collectively punishing Muslims for the actions of a tiny minority of unrepresentative individuals who commit acts of terror, creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear, alienating the Muslim communities, stifling freedom of speech, diverting blame away from the UK’s disastrous wars, targeting the innocent, helping to further legitimise and stoke Islamophobia and erode human rights and civil liberties.
We want to discuss how people feel about all this and what people are prepared to do about it, and we hope to have representatives from a range of organisations, trade unions, faith groups, civil liberties campaign groups, Arabic schools, mosques and madrassas from the whole West Midlands, councillors, parents and interested members of the public.
A second rally to oppose the extension of Ofsted inspections to madrassas was held at Birmingham Central Mosque last night.
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