“Chris Allen’s stupid report”: responses to my report to the APPG on Islamophobia

Following on from the APPG on Islamophobia’s decision to remove iENGAGE from its role as Secretariat on Monday, listed below are links to some of the coverage that has mentioned my report.

Islamophobia Watch refers to “Chris Allen’s stupid report”.

Inayat’s Corner’s states that “the report gave the Islamophobies just what they needed” at the same time noting Bob Pitt’s “very firm response” which was basically him calling me a “fucking idiot”.

Martin Bright in the Jewish Chronicle uses the following quote from the report:

“[i-Engage] rarely seem to differentiate between what might be legitimate criticism, what might be illegitimate criticism, and what might be rather more derogatory or Islamophobic. Without any critical differentiation, [i-Engage] responded in exactly the same way, failing to recognise the difference between legitimate and illegitimate criticism but more crucially the difference between criticism and Islamophobia.”

Another from Bright here.

An article refers to it on the Harry’s Place blog.

As does a similar one on The Spitoon.

And Paul Goodman also references it on Conservative Home.


7 thoughts on ““Chris Allen’s stupid report”: responses to my report to the APPG on Islamophobia

  1. Chris

    I’ve read through the report you wrote which has been used by certain parties as a pretext for getting rid of iEngage. When I read the first sections it came across like an academic report. You also stated that it was not your job to make decisions as this was the job of the parliamentarians concerned.

    I was, therefore, surprised to see that towards the end of the report you appeared to conclude that you believed iEngage was not appropriate as the Secretariat whilst at the same time not having the courage of your convictions to actually state this conclusion directly. Even the title, which I didn’t understand immediately, appeared to be an implicit criticism of iEngage and its original use of the phrase.

    The tone of the document is that the involvement of iEngage has made the whole thing a sideshow and therefore they should be removed. It shows what I presume is your frustration with lack of progress on an issue that is important to you and, I am guessing, a frustration with iEngage and the way it has dealt with this issue over the past couple of years.

    iEngage’s press releases on this have perhaps not always been well judged and perhaps they are not sufficiently transparent to act as a secretariat ideally should. However, frankly, your report seems to entirely overlook one key point… iEngage have effectively been reactive for the whole time because of sustained attacks on them for being ‘extremists’. You suggest that iEngage’s statements that this campaign against them being driven by right wingers, Islamophobes and Zionists was an inappropriate statement to make. Yet iEngage have not been afraid to highlight the hypocrisy of supporters of Israel who label any criticism by Muslims of the Zionist state as being “anti-semitic” or “Islamist” inspired. Look at the list of those who have criticised iEngage according to your own document. How many have not been either right wingers, Islamophobes or Zionists?

    As a result of these attacks on it, iEngage has focused on fighting against these attacks rather than moving the committee forward – yet how could it move anything forward if it was constantly under attack? If a lack of progress on the agenda is a reason to remove iEngage then surely it is also a reason to remove all those MPs who showed more interest in pandering to websites, journalists and the JC than in advancing the committee? I did not see any ‘narrative’ which suggested the orchestrated campaign against iEngage was a negative activity… yet iEngage’s response in terms of its online campaign to garner support was clearly portrayed in your report as being a reason why it was unsuitable for its position.

    You will have known when writing the report that your words would be used to justify the ditching of iEngage. As an academic and intellectual, you are certainly not a stupid person and know full well the likely outcome of what you wrote. To write a report which effectively endorses the removal of iEngage yet appears to lay no blame at the doors of those Parliamentarians who appear to have not even the slightest interest in Islamophobia… I think is ill judged. To write a report which effectively endorses the removal of iEngage yet cannot bring itself to actually use those words is in my eyes as cowardly as those bloggers and posters who fail to use their real names online.

    And for the record, I have no involvement with iEngage or any Muslim group and have not had any such involvement for many years. So my criticism is not personal, it’s based purely on reading your paper, seeing its use by those who want Muslims to remain silent politically and concluding that whether intentionally or not, your report has effectively served to justify the campaign of those against iEngange to demonis Muslims engaging in politics – something that in itself is a significant cause of… yes, Islamophobia.

    1. Hi Joe…thanks for your comments.

      I disagree with some of your comments but I guess that there’s a couple of things I just want to put out there (and don’t expect you to reply):

      – were the ‘attacks’ on iENGAGE Islamophobic? And if so, were the counter attacks by iENGAGE as equally discriminatory/ prejudicial/ bigoted ?

      – is it possible to disentangle the two-way rhetoric and ‘attacks’ that occurred after the formation of the APPG from what went before?

      – if we are to have an open and informed discussion about Islamophobia, should we refrain from being rightfully and legitimately critical because it may lead to certain outcomes or consequences?

      – when are we going to finally move away from everything being seen in black and white frames: with us, against us etc? When can we start exploring the grey?

      As a friend said earlier today:

      “Just saw that you’re being attacked by some for expressing your honest opinion — even while they benefited from your honest opinions in the past when it favoured them. Its a test of your sincerity, my friend :-) Welcome to the vagaries of the organised Muslim lobby sphere :-) You can’t have been too surprised :-)”

      I think he has a point.


  2. Chris

    I just wanted to say that I have the greatest respect for your work in general. I have deliberately not been involved in the “Muslim lobby sphere” myself for many years because of the sort of issues your friend raised. I spoke at an event many years ago and more or less supported the raid by the Police on the mosque in Finsbury Park at which Captain Hook had staged his coup to take over. I was speaking in a personal capacity but one of the organisations I was on the committee of was not happy I had said what I said and someone really laid into me, verbally I mean. I decided at that point I’d rather focus on my life, neigbourhood and family than getting involved with people that could not accept someone they worked with having an alternative opinion. Perhaps moral cowardice on my part.

    You are certainly right about the ‘grey’ area. Couldn’t agree more.

    I simply think that your best option in this situation would, frankly, to have been to tell Simon Hughes to ask someone else to write the report. The situation has indeed become so politicised that in this context, yes, one has to “choose sides”. You clearly made your choice. I think it’s the wrong one and a big error of judgement… but this does not change the fact that you have a huge contribution to the ummah and one which no-one should forget about.

    In any case, as your Neil Harris blog would appear to show you are a Millwall fan you’re clearly prone to errors of judgement in choosing sides so this episode should not be too much of a surprise. COME ON YOU IRONS ;-)

    1. If I’d have known that you were a West Ham fan, I’d have blocked you straight away…!!!

      Just one thing though and then we’ll end it – given my dislike of public spats, trial by blog etc – the reason I agreed to compile the report was that had someone else done it, they would have immediately have been deemed to have been on one side or the other. I don’t believe that I sit in either camp, even though some may be suggesting otherwise now, and I do honestly believe that I presented a report that was objective and stand by that.

      Nore pressing though is the realisation that I do believe West Ham will finish higher up the Championship than Millwall, something that makes me very sad indeed !!!


  3. Salaam Chris,

    Have just read your report and must say I concur with Joe on this. I’ve worked with you before, on the Quest For Sanity, Reflections on 9/11 with the MCB and have thus found your contributions to be invaluable and insightful, yet with this report I fear I am greatly disappointed. Your criticism of iEngage is implicit throughout the document when referring to their rebuttal of the many and varied attacks they have been subjected to. Rather than be cowed down, as no doubt many Muslim organisations are when dealing with parliamentary coercion, their responses have invariably been forthright, which you refer to as “polemic”, a derisory accusation in itself .

    You mention that for the sake of fairness when writing the report you’d not got into contact with the key players. Surely this would have been no stretch for you?! You’ve only recently worked with Inayat’s wife on the Inspire conference, and am sure that Inayat himself would have had no qualms in discussing the theories you posit. Equally am sure that the likes of Bright and his ilk, would have been most forthcoming with their take on this issue. I know that Shenaz too, a dear and close friend and colleague of mine, who has worked tirelessly on this and has decades of experience in this arena, would have been eager to furnish you with relevant back and foreground on this ongoing saga. You have many unanswered questions as you have simply neglected to ask them in the first instance, which surely for a report of this nature is a requirement?

    As Jo says, one cannot sit on the sidelines on this issue, and your unquestioning reportage of the accusations against iEngage weights it in the opposite camp’s favour. Further, in my humble opinion, the fact that the likes of Harry’s Place are singing your praises, “essential reading” according to them, when normally they deride you, speaks volumes. I’d be very interested to know the affiliations and leanings of the 60 members that magically appeared at the APPG on Islamophobia to oust iEngage. Conclusions will no doubt be drawn from this! Like I said, I have the utmost respect for your work, I just wish you’d not been drawn into this quagmire! The issue of Islamophobia is now more relevant than ever in the current climate, yes let’s bring it to the fore, but equally, let’s not throw arrows from the sidelines or be pawns in this game.

    With kind regards and best wishes as ever,

    Zahra Hamid

  4. Hi Zahra…thank you for taking the time to respond. I disagree – as you might expect – with a number of points you raise not least because my methods and justifications are clearly explained in the report. I have nothing more to add or indeed justify on this and can only hope that in a year’s time we’re witnessing positive developments in terms of the impact of the APPG rather worrying who said what and about whom.
    Take care…Chris

  5. One thing…as for praise from certain websites, groups etc I realise that when you say something that someone agrees with, then they publicise and promote you unconditionally. This speaks more of the fickle nature of those who are unmoving and entrenched in their ideas than it does on what I’m actually saying. Chris

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