Policy Exchange forced to apologise for report


by Sunny
30th March, 2009 at 3:10 pm    

The right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange has been forced into a humiliating climbdown over its report, ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’, for making allegations in the report that it now admits were unsubstantiated.

In late 2007 Policy Exchange published the report, reported in the right-wing press without any further fact-checking, that around a quarter of Mosques and Muslim centres of the 100 they visited, were carrying ‘hate literature’.

Only BBC Newsnight bothered looking further and found that some of the allegations made in the report were refuted by the very organisations accused of selling hate literature.

See the Newsnight report below:

In response to the Newsnight report (see this update), both Dean Godson (head of its Foreign Policy & Security Unit) and Charles Moore (chair of the board) huffed and puffed – saying the BBC should have focused on the report, despite its false allegations, rather than exposing holes in their own report. Its representatives had even threatened legal action against the BBC.

Charles Moore himself stated:

Policy Exchange bases its work on evidence, and so its evidence must be sound.

And so on 19th December Policy Exchange released a statement standing by their report.

But when Policy Exchange didn’t say more, or alert others to progress with its internal inquiry, two of the groups mentioned in the report launched legal action against Policy Exchange.

I emailed a senior Muslim community worker about the case. He said, off-the-record:

When I met MCHC management recently, I asked them about the legal case. They told me that PE had agreed to change the text of their report and apologise to MCHC on their website, to avoid the full legal action. I’m now told that the mosques report has been removed entirely from the PE website. If this is true, I wouldn’t be surprised, since changing the report and apologising publicly would have been humilation for them, so my guess is that they took the option of quietly removing the report from the website.

Policy Exchange has indeed withdrawn the entire report from its website.

It has also published this humiliating apology:

The Hijacking of British Islam:
Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre

In this report we state that Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre is one of the Centres where extremist literature was found. Policy Exchange accepts the Centre’s assurances that none of the literature cited in the Report has ever been sold or distributed at the Centre with the knowledge or consent of the Centre’s trustees or staff, who condemn the extremist and intolerant views set out in such literature. We are happy to set the record straight.

Charles Moore hasn’t said anything about the controversy recently.

And I look forward to the people on Harry’s Place saying something about this too.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Media,Muslim,Organisations






26 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. pickles

    New blog post: Policy Exchange forced to apologise for report http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4010


  2. Kashmiri Nomad

    Right Wing Think-Tank Quietly Removes Report On British Islamic Extremism After It Was Found To Be “Incorrect” http://bit.ly/3lf9zh #islam


  3. Mir Nazim

    RT @islamwest: Right Wing Think-Tank Removes Report On British Islamic Extremism After Found To Be “Incorrect” http://bit.ly/3lf9zh #islam


  4. C L O S E R » Blog Archive » Closing the week 14

    [...] international Pickled Politics » Policy Exchange forced to apologise for report The Hijacking of British Islam: Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage [...]


  5. pakinamamer

    I came across this while doing some research for my story: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4010 Shame on Policy Exchange for this!




  1. Insert pompus name here — on 30th March, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

    So rather than around 25 mosques and Muslim centres carrying hate literature it’s now around 24?

    Also, you may want to reword this:

    some of the allegations made in the report were refuted by the very organisations accused of selling hate literature.

    Well, they’re not exactly going to admit it are they?

  2. kardinal birkutski — on 30th March, 2009 at 3:46 pm  

    You could also get yourself a dictionary and look up the difference between “refute” and “reject”.

  3. Sunny — on 30th March, 2009 at 3:53 pm  

    wow, what killer comebacks.

    ‘Refute’ is defined as: to prove wrong by argument or evidence : show to be false or erroneous

    Which is what happened. But thanks for your concern for my english anyway.

  4. saeed — on 30th March, 2009 at 4:01 pm  

    Remember sunny according to nick cohen/martin bright/HP Sauce contingent these right wing gruops are the only people opposing islamists!!!!!

  5. Sunny — on 30th March, 2009 at 4:05 pm  

    saeed – come now, just by saying that you’re clearly a Jamaat e Islaami supporter!

  6. Refresh — on 30th March, 2009 at 4:28 pm  

    I do hope they go ahead with the legal action. It would useful if it coincided with Sir Alan Sugar’s case against the Sun.

    HP, Nick Cohen and Martin Bright would all be quite satisfied that regardless of the truth, their objectives were met.

  7. MaidMarian — on 30th March, 2009 at 4:36 pm  

    Sunny – whilst I certainly respect your passion here, the points at 1 and 2 do go a bit beyond nit-picking and the qualifiers are there for all to see in the article. For example:

    ‘Policy Exchange accepts the Centre’s assurances that none of the literature cited in the Report has ever been sold or distributed at the Centre with the knowledge or consent of the Centre’s trustees or staff, who condemn the extremist and intolerant views set out in such literature. ‘

    The words WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT OF THE …STAFF do make a big difference here, because that is not the same thing as a denial. Not even close.

    It’s great that PE have (apparently) withdrawn their report and that clarifications have been made, and made publicly. But these clarifications do not mean that the questions about some political Islam activity all go away.

  8. cjcjc — on 30th March, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

    I’m sure you’ll all be keen to know that toight at 8pm on C4 from the people who brought you “Undercover Mosque” – Dispatches presents “The Trouble with Boris” – yes, that Boris.

    Sounds fun!

  9. Sunny — on 30th March, 2009 at 5:10 pm  

    do make a big difference here, because that is not the same thing as a denial

    The receipts were attributed to those places. They denied they sold that stuff, Policy Exchange stood by its report, initially.

    Threat of legal action forced them to take down the report, but also avoided them explaining how those dodgy receipts came to be included in the first place.

  10. MaidMarian — on 30th March, 2009 at 5:12 pm  

    Sunny (9) – Thank you.

  11. Sunny — on 30th March, 2009 at 5:19 pm  

    You keep me sane, MM :)

  12. billericaydicky — on 30th March, 2009 at 8:36 pm  

    I have personally bought an English edition of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion from the bookshop in the same complex at the East London Mosque and Muslim Centre and if anyone claims I haven’t I will sue them.

  13. blah — on 30th March, 2009 at 10:17 pm  

    billeracydicky
    “I have personally bought an English edition of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion from the bookshop in the same complex at the East London Mosque and Muslim Centre and if anyone claims I haven’t I will sue them.”

    So? You can stroll into any mainstream bookshop and find books and articles about how Muslims are secretly planning to take over Europe- the Eurabia theory -the modern protocols. Why isnt that hate literature reported on?

  14. billericaydicky — on 31st March, 2009 at 7:29 am  

    Blah,
    The more extreme groups, and there are hundreds of them around the world, openly argue for the return of the Caliphate which in reality never existed except in theory before it was formally abolished by Kemal Attaturk in 1923.

    What makes Islamic terrorism different from other forms around the world is that it has no limitation on its aims except the forcing of Islam on the entire population of the planet. Even the Basque ETA would pack it in if the Spanish government would give them their own country.

    Sikhism, or the more extreme forms of it, wants Kalistan but isn’t going to force the Sikh religion on anyone. It has been quite a long time since Tomas de Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition and while Hinduism in its more extreme forms can be quite nasty as reported here but forable conversion is not one of its tenets.

    It is this which makes militant Islam unique amongst religious fringe groups if indeed it can be called fringe anymore. In no way can books exposing the intentions and methods of radical Islam be compared with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The document has been exposed as a forgery many times over but is still published and distributed widely throughout the Arabic speaking world as an authentic document.

    Sorry Blah, you’ll have to better than that.

  15. platinum786 — on 31st March, 2009 at 7:46 am  

    All 25 Mosques should have took combined legal action, they let these guys off way to easily.

  16. munir — on 31st March, 2009 at 7:50 am  

    billericaydicky
    “openly argue for the return of the Caliphate which in reality never existed except in theory before it was formally abolished by Kemal Attaturk in 1923.”

    You are an idiot

    “What makes Islamic terrorism different from other forms around the world is that it has no limitation on its aims except the forcing of Islam on the entire population of the planet. Even the Basque ETA would pack it in if the Spanish government would give them their own country.”

    The main people trying to force their way of lives onto others are Western Christians

    “It is this which makes militant Islam unique amongst religious fringe groups if indeed it can be called fringe anymore. In no way can books exposing the intentions and methods of radical Islam be compared with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The document has been exposed as a forgery many times over but is still published and distributed widely throughout the Arabic speaking world as an authentic document.”

    So there we have it – the Muslims ARE part of a grand conspiracy to take over the world. These books dont suggest “radical islam” is the problem ; they suggest
    Islam and ALL Muslims are. Those who printed the Protocols were equally sure Jews were trying to take over the world.

    Are you suggesting Eurabia isnt a paranoid conspiracy?

  17. munir — on 31st March, 2009 at 7:53 am  

    billeracydicky

    “I have personally bought an English edition of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion from the bookshop in the same complex at the East London Mosque and Muslim Centre and if anyone claims I haven’t I will sue them.”

    Really? Ive been going to those bookshops for years and have never ever seen a copy. The only non-religious books they sell are dictionaries and driving test guides in Bengali.

    Care to name the shop you bought it from Mr-not-a-liar?

  18. Shafiq — on 31st March, 2009 at 10:13 am  

    billericaydicky,

    a) Not the more extreme groups, most Muslims would like the return to the Caliphate. Using the strictest definition of the term Islamism, nearly all Muslims are Islamist. Only a few, are militant Islamists however.

    b) It did exist in reality for at least 50 years after the Prophet’s death and some would argue long after.

    c) The Caliphate isn’t an expansionist monster, any theoretical Caliphate would be formed on existing Muslim territory, and the closest Europe would get to this theoretical Caliphate would be in diplomatic dealings.
    ——————————————————

    As for the PX report, it’s based on lies. No mosque or Islamic bookshop ever gives receipts and if they did sell extremist literature, they would definitely not give out a receipt, even if insisted upon.

    All the Mosques i’ve been to rigorously self-censor to make sure that such accusations can not be made against them.

  19. Random Guy — on 31st March, 2009 at 10:40 am  

    Billericaydicky, focus on the topic at hand please -
    “Policy Exchange forced to eat Humble Pie for publishing LIES”

    Now instead of trying to contextulaise your Worldwide Islamic Threat conspiracy theory to make it even have an iota of credibility, in my estimation you would be better off in using any intellectual faculty in figuring out just why the largest centre-right think tank in the UK is engaged in falsification, lies and perjury.

  20. Bartholomew — on 31st March, 2009 at 6:49 pm  

    So, no suing of the BBC for libel “relentlessly, to trial or capitulation”, then

  21. fug — on 31st March, 2009 at 11:26 pm  

    for the climbdown to be humiliating requires policy exchange to have a sense of humility. which i dont think they do. they are a think tank.

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