“Most damning…is the realisation that Islamophobia – the very issue that the APPG was set up to consider – was completely removed from the frame within which all of the participants – commentators, iENGAGE and Parliamentarians – operated within. Islamophobia was lost. All overlooked or sidelined any focus on Islamophobia, some in preference of pursuing their own individual, organisational, political or other agendas, causes and campaigns. In truth, since its launch in November 2010 the APPG on Islamophobia has been little more than a sideshow: an unhelpful, unwanted and unnecessary distraction from giving Islamophobia the rightful, timely and necessary attention it so desperately needs. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the credibility of the APPG has been damaged.”
The above is a direct quote from the independent report that I was asked to compile for the All Party ParliamentaryGroup (APPG) on Islamophobia on behalf of its Co-Chairs (Simon Hughes, Jack Straw and Sir Peter Bottomley).
Following the decision last night by the members of the APPG to end iENGAGE’s stay as Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, I am making available the report available. You can download a version by clicking here.
To try and ensure that there is no misunderstanding about the reasons for producing the report, its remit or how it was pulled together, I’m reproducing the foreword from the report below:
Towards the end of June 2011, I was approached by Simon Hughes MP on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the APPG. Part of this approach was to request that I produce a report which gives my “objective view” on the unfolding situation surrounding the APPG and its Secretariat. As part of this, I was also asked to consider “what criteria a group should meet if it is to be the secretariat of an organisation” and “how [the APPG] should move forward in the future”. It was agreed at the time that were I to take up this request, any ensuing report would be a “public document”.
This report is my response to this request: to set out my “objective view” of the unfolding events.
The report was researched and written in an extremely short time-frame, given the demands of the APPG and my own work-load. The entire process was undertaken in less than a week. As a result, I was only able to draw upon resources and information that were available in the public spaces or that were supplied to me by the APPG. Having stated this, I do not believe that this was entirely detrimental as the unfolding series of events had largely been played out in public spaces, in particular the media, internet and ‘blogosphere’.
However, it is possible that some gaps will exist and I duly acknowledge this from the outset.
There is also some anecdotal evidence – both personal and other – of ‘cloak and daggers’ activity having occurred, both in the run-up to the formation of the APPG and indeed since. I have tried – where possible – to refrain from conjecture and speculation and focus only on those issues that can be evidenced and identified in the public spaces albeit with the explicit understanding that other events have occurred ‘behind closed doors’.
On this point and indeed having written the report, I realise the complex and contentious nature of the issues and events that I have been asked to consider. Having researched Islamophobia and various associated issues for more than a decade now, I am fully aware of the consequences and backlashes that can – and probably will – ensue as a result of some of my findings and analyses. In spite of this, I took up the challenge as I remain firmly committed to encouraging informed and balanced discussion and debate about Islamophobia. There need is very real. I therefore support the APPG in the hope that it will be able to navigate the discussions and debates in such a way that it is able to bring about the change that is needed.
It is essential however that I maintain my independence and autonomy. I am non-partisan and non-party political and have received no remuneration whatsoever from the APPG, any organisation or indeed any other source for undertaking this task either financially or in kind. I stress this to pre-empt future criticisms.
I reiterate therefore that the findings of this report reflect my own opinions and analyses without prejudice or favour.