How Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion encourage the Cold War on British Muslims

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In a report published today, Spinwatch examines the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange: two key right-wing think-tanks involved in the debate on Islam and multiculturalism which are thought to have influenced the Coalition Government’s new Prevent strategy.

The report, which was completed before the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, argues that right-wing think-tanks have understated the rise of Islamophobia on the far-right and in some cases condoned the rise of groups such as the English Defence League because of their own links to the “counterjihad movement”.

The Cold War on British Muslims shows how the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange have rejected counter-terrorism policies based on public safety and have instead sought to revive discredited counter-subversion policies from the Cold War era – policies which targeted a generation of trade union leaders and peace activists including future Labour Ministers. The report warns that reviving such policies is likely to stigmatise and even criminalise politically active Muslims, as well as liberals and leftists, and risk undermining the traditional freedoms enjoyed by churches, schools, universities and public libraries.

The Cold War on British Muslims also reveals for the first time the network of individuals and foundations that are bankrolling both think-tanks. Donors identified in the report include the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation in the United States, and hardline Zionists like Lord Kalms and the late Cyril Stein in the UK. It reveals that both think-tanks share major donors with a number of controversial organisations including the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, the Israel-Diaspora Trust (an organisation founded by the late Rabbi Sidney Brichto, a passionate supporter of Israel and scourge of its critics inside and outside the UK Jewish community) and the Anglo-Israel Association (founded in 1949 by the Christian Zionist Sir Wyndham Deedes).

The report’s co-author, Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University, said: “The policies advocated by the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange detailed in the report inevitably mean the curtailment of civil liberties and the narrowing of political debate. The consequences for British Muslims though will be even more serious.”

He added: “The revelations about the think-tanks’ donors arguably calls into question their ability to produce fair and balanced research and certainly underlines the need for greater transparency over the funding of think-tanks.”

Spinwatch press release, 2 August 2011

See also “Far-right racism ‘played down by Tory think tanks'”, Morning Star, 2 August 2011

And “New report sheds light on ‘think tanks’ advising UK government”, Cordoba Foundation press release, 2 August 2011

And “The cold war on British Muslims”, ENGAGE, 2 August 2011

Also “How right wing think-tanks push Islam fear”, Socialist Worker, 2 August 2011

And Robert Lambert, “Counter-terrorism versus counter-subversion”, The Staggers, 2 August 2011

The report can be downloaded from the Spinwatch page on Scribd.