Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph spots another mess – another case of a government body tangling itself up with an Islamist group, either cluelessly or…not. Oxfordshire County Council has hired a group called Street UK to “mentor” people.
The contract is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s response to Operation Bullfinch, which saw seven men convicted of 59 sex crimes against children and sentenced to a total of 95 years in prison. Five were of Pakistani origin and two were North African.
The trouble is, Street UK is an Islamist group.
…the council has engaged Street UK, which it describes as a “national youth charity,” for a “pilot mentoring programme” in Oxfordshire’s Muslim communities to “work closely with those at risk of perpetrating child sexual exploitation and divert them away from such activity.” Street UK is in fact a group which had its government grant cancelled in 2011 after paying for the publication of a booklet by Salafi Manhaj, which issues regular fatwas enforcing a Salafist, or ultra-literal and conservative, view of Islam.
What’s the thinking here? That Salafists will be really good at this “mentoring” thing because they hate women and girls so fiercely?
Street UK’s website published advice on clothing and music from anti-Semitic and extremist Salafi clerics. Its founder, Abdul Haqq Baker, an ultra-conservative Salafist, was chairman of Brixton Mosque, attended by Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacharias Moussaoui, 9/11’s “twentieth hijacker”. He says he tried to warn the authorities about them and opposes violence.
“This form of Salafism is strongly opposed to terrorism but promotes an extreme and separatist view of Islam,” said Haras Rafiq, director of Quilliam, an anti-extremism think tank. “They are not the right people to be working with potential abusers – or anyone else.” Despite this, Oxfordshire is far from the only public authority to employ the group. The Sunday Telegraph has established that Street UK has secured work to prevent child abuse from at least three other local safeguarding boards: Staffordshire, North Yorkshire and the east London borough of Havering.
See, terrorism isn’t the only problem. Opposition to terrorism is necessary but not sufficient. Misogynist puritans who oppose violence are not the right people to be mentoring anyone.
However, it is not clear where the money paid to the group has gone. Street UK does not appear to be a charity and has no connection to the charity of the same name, which deals with financial services. It was a company, but published its last accounts in 2010 and has now been dissolved. Its website is no longer operational.
Uh oh…could all these government bodies have been confused into paying a lot of money to one Street UK simply because it thought it was a different Street UK? Could the wrong Street UK have named itself that in order to create such a confusion?
I’m guessing they could have.