London – CAGE today releases a disturbing report based on a year-long investigation, that reveals the inner details of the covert Government propaganda programme, recently reported by the Guardian.
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CAGE’s report “We are Completely Independent” published today reveals:
- How the Home Office has misled the British public, pushing state-sponsored propaganda at or about Muslims using seemingly independent groups and projects which include:◦ Anti-Tribalism Movement: Somalia: time to go home and Return to Somalia
◦ Armed Forces Muslim Association: Faith on the Frontline
◦ Don’t go to Syria, only give to registered charities: Syria Needs Your Help and Change the Picture
◦ Families Against Stress and Trauma: Families Matter
◦ Upstanding Neighbourhoods: KIKIT Pathwayz and Open Your Eyes: ISIS Lies
◦ Quilliam Foundation: #NotAnotherBrother
◦ Federation of Muslim Organisations: Ummah Sonic
◦ Faith Associates: Imams Online
- The government’s use of the Official Secrets Act to protect a PR company, Breakthrough Media, and conceal its role in producing state-sponsored propaganda
The report also explores in-depth:
- Breakthrough Media, the PR company at the heart of the government’s PREVENT propaganda programme directed at Muslim communities
- The role of the secretive propaganda unit, Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), within the Home Office in directing the conversation within the Muslim community while it claims otherwise.
- Clear evidence of specific instances where Muslim organisations including charities have been controlled and manipulated by the Home Office to convey a state-scripted narrative on ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’.
Over the past five years, a secretive Home Office department called RICU, the Research, Information and Communications Unit, has been cultivating a network of ‘grassroots’ Muslim voices to promote ‘counter-narratives’ to combat the appeal of ‘extremist narratives’ among Britain’s young people. All of this is taking place with no public debate or oversight.
The covert nature of the ‘counter-narrative’ programme and the pretence that these messages come from independent, representative or ‘grass roots’ community organisations is deeply misleading and unbecoming of a government that claims to uphold transparency.
Further, the allegation that the PR company delivering a number of these counter-narratives is protected under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), is of great concern. If so, the use of the OSA to protect a propaganda programme would be a gross misuse of governmental power and authority. CAGE would never reveal anything believed to be risk to operational security in the UK.
Rather than engaging in genuine debate and consultations as to the causes of political motivated violence and ‘radicalisation’ – which demands a revision of the securitised response – the propaganda campaign has sought to impose a narrow ideological framework on these issues within the Muslim community.
This framework feeds into the controversial and failing PREVENT strategy, which is founded on a premise that maintains the state-sanctioned status quo and perpetuates the idea that the Muslim community is a suspect one.
See all our PREVENT related work here
Ben Hayes, report author, said:
“We should be under no illusion as to what is going on here. When the government starts using community groups and NGO’s to disseminate government propaganda to hoodwink the public into believing they are authentic, ‘grass roots’ campaigns, it damages everyone in civil society”.
“Democracy requires clear lines between the security state and the police on the one hand, and civil society, public and social services on the other.
“Having railed against ‘sock-puppet’ NGOs and introduced a ban on charities in receipt of public money lobbying government, it is time for an honest conversation about the impact, legitimacy and effectiveness of the government’s own secret propaganda programmes”.
Asim Qureshi, Research Director and report author, said:
“RICU is using ‘grassroots’ organisations as mouthpieces for a PREVENT-sanctioned
agenda, which justifies a securitised approach to all aspects of Muslim life.”
“There is also evidence to suggest that the Government is using the Official Secrets Act to hide its relationship with the role of Breakthrough Media, the PR company driving the propaganda. This suggests an abuse of power and a contempt for open society.”
“The findings of this report should be a cause of concern to the British public. It confirms the hidden hand of those who wish to manufacture consent for the expansion of the security state.”
“We are calling for greater scrutiny of RICU work, to include an independent audit to assess the ethics and cost of the whole programme.”
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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)