The British government is covertly funding Muslim media as part of its counter terror strategy

Total surveillance
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

A report published by Middle East Eye on 15 August revealed that a media outlet for young Muslims is in fact “a covert British government counterterrorism programme”:

Transparency

Security officials have admitted that the news platform This is Woke is part of the government’s counter-terror strategy. It was created by a media company for the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a department of the Home Office. However, OSCT has refused to disclose its reasons for this initiative, citing national security concerns.

Members of the Muslim community have taken to Twitter to criticise the Home Office’s lack of transparency. And many believe it will create further distrust of the authorities among British Muslims.

The problem runs deeper

From discussions online, it quickly became clear that this is not the only covertly-funded government initiative within the Muslim community. A company called Team JGO which created Super Sisters Mag, also appears to have received Home Office funding. Needless to say, the revelations have caused considerable distress among Muslims:

Academic Yahya Birt has described these attempts to create government-funded Muslim grassroots organisations as “astroturfing“. Instead of supporting initiatives organically started by Muslims themselves, the state is keen to infiltrate Muslim spaces, often covertly, for its own security agenda.

Birt says in his article: “Opaque government manipulation of British Muslim community life has become pervasive”. The targeting of Muslim communities as potential sites of terror is informed by, and further feeds into, anti-Muslim paranoia.

Ultimately, the revelations about Woke display bad faith and a blatant disregard from the Home Office for the freedom and privacy of British Muslims. But apart from bad faith, it’s bad politics, as this incident will only widen the rift between British authorities and already heavily-surveilled Muslim communities in the UK.

Featured image via Flickr/ nolifebeforecoffee

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