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Mend proclaims an exemplary ambition to “enhance civic engagement” by Muslims and to “foster social cohesion and community resilience to all forms of extremism”. There is no suggestion that Mend orchestrated the flood of poison against the Chief Inspector of Schools or Neena Lall, head teacher of St Stephen’s primary school. However, Mend activists were busy on the ground and their boss Sufyan Ismail has boasted privately that Lall “felt the wrath of the local Mend group and the parents”. I have yet to see Mend publicly condemn the cruder manifestations of this wrath, inflamed by unwarranted claims from them and fellow activists that Islamophobia had motivated Lall’s decision to ban the hijab for 4-7-year olds.

Ismail is a wealthy 42-year-old entrepreneur from Blackburn who travels in a chauffeur-driven Bentley. Common to all his companies is the letter E, which he says stands for “ethical” because “at the heart of our operations” is a “core value . . . integrity.” One subsidiary was OneE Tax Ltd, which was involved in what he describes as “tax planning” rather than “tax avoidance”, which went into voluntary liquidation shortly after launching Mend.

Since 2010, Ismail has been trying to persuade politicians to engage with organisations like Mend because, he says, its values are representative of his fellow British Muslims. In November that year he briefly succeeded after an organisation he created called “iEngage” was appointed secretariat to the newly-launched All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia (APPG). However, reports emerged of iEngage defending Islamists regarded by the government as extremists. According to the Community Security Trust, which protects British Jews from anti-Semitism, iEngage displayed a “troubling attitude to anti-Semitism”. In July 2011, MPs voted 60-2 to remove iEngage from the APPG.

Three years later Ismail rebranded iEngage as Mend. Again its main focus was tackling Islamophobia. While Islamophobic incidents recorded by the police have been growing, Mend’s claims are alarmist. A 2014 Mend prayer urged British Muslims to “make sure that the threat of Islamophobia doesn’t reach a state where neighbours start murdering one another, such as what we saw in Bosnia, or even in the Central African Republic today”. In January this year Mend’s Head of Policy, Isobel Ingham-Barrow, said she was “sorry to say” that when it came to Islamophobia, “we may already be close” to creating the same “conditions” that led to the extermination of more than six million Jews and other minorities in Nazi Germany.

The notion that Islamophobia here is inching towards genocide on the scale of Bosnia, let alone the Holocaust, is patently absurd. Mend presents statistics for anti-Muslim hate crime by adding religiously-inspired attacks against Muslims to racially-inspired attacks, whether or not the perpetrator knew the victim was a Muslim — despite the Metropolitan Police warning that “the two figures should not be summed”. Anecdotally, the actual instances of Islamophobic hate crime — as distinct from those reported to the police — would appear to be growing. However, the police do not consider the reality is anything like as bleak as Mend suggests. “Sometimes the outside world internationally can look in and think, ‘Goodness me; there is all that hate crime’,” says the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. “‘Have they got gangs of armed thugs going around with shaved heads attacking people?’ No, we haven’t. We have a base level of two or three crimes per borough per day online and off, the vast majority of which are at the less serious end of the spectrum, and I do not believe the problem is getting worse. But I am not complacent about that.”
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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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