Tell MAMA

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Tell MAMA is a project of Faith Matters.

Launch of Tell MAMA

The project was launched in February 2012 with funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.The minister Eric Pickles attended the launch of Tell Mama in February 2012:

The Secretary today spoke at the launch of the MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) project. Developed by Faith Matters, the project will collate and analyse anti-Muslim incidents in England and provide a mechanism to offer support to victims. This project will contribute to the improvement of our own evidence and understanding of Anti-Muslim Attacks, and build confidence in the Muslim community that action is being taken.[1]

Also at the launch was the CST:

CST today attended the launch meeting of Tell MAMA - Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks, a new project from Faith Matters which will record anti-Muslim hate crime. The keynote speaker was the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP, whose department is funding the project as part of its integration strategy which was published today.
The government's integration strategy singles out CST as the best model for community-based hate crime recording and victim support, and several of the speakers at today's launch praised CST's work in this area.
Tell MAMA is one of several different organisations, from a wide range of communities, that CST has advised on hate crime recording or other matters of community security over many years, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. Hate crime is a blight on many communities and where possible, CST will always help others who are trying to tackle this problem.[2]

First annual report

CST is proud to have helped Tell MAMA to establish and professionalise itself. BBC News carries a good summary of the report. This includes CST's public support:
CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes.
It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive.
We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better."
Tell MAMA is launching a phone app for the reporting of hate crimes and the group has thanked CST for its help in this regard also... CST wishes Tell MAMA every success for the future.[3]

Relationship between CST and Tell Mama

In 2016 CST accused critics of its relationship with Tell MAMA of racism.

CST’s relationship with Tell MAMA is no secret. We advised its Director, Fiyaz Mughal, before and after he set it up and CST’s former Chief Executive, Richard Benson, is now one of its two co-chairs.
We are proud of this cooperation with Tell MAMA, which means that Muslim victims of hate crime benefit indirectly from CST’s experience tackling antisemitism.
It is also a positive example of Muslims and Jews working together to reduce prejudice rather than being divided by it.
Some people, though, seem to dislike this approach to anti-racism. One of them is Muhammad Dilwar Hussain (better known as Dilly Hussain) of the Islamist blog, 5 Pillars. Hussain is angry because Fiyaz Mughal criticised the use of the racially-loaded phrases “Uncle Tom” and “House Muslim” by another Muslim journalist, Channel 4’s Assed Baig.
As part of his public criticism of Fiyaz Mughal, Hussain has tweeted that Tell MAMA is, in his words, “run by Zionists who support murder of children” and that it supposedly has “militant Zionist patrons and trustees”...
Yesterday Hussain’s 5 Pillars blog posted an article that was even more specific, saying “Tell MAMA’s co-chair is the pro-Israeli Richard Benson.” (This link is to the Google cache version; the original appears to have been taken down). The article was taken from another Islamist blog called Coolness of Hind.
To be clear, CST is a British organisation that works to combat antisemitism and anti-Jewish terrorism in the UK. We work across the religious and political spectrum of the Jewish community. We do not advocate or lobby on behalf of Israel, nor do we require that CST staff have any particular political views about Israel. Most British Jews do feel a fundamental, emotional connection to Israel while having widely varying views about its politics.
Richard Benson’s leadership of Tell MAMA draws on his experience in communal security and combating hate crime. The idea that this work makes him a “militant Zionist” or a “hardcore Zionist” makes no sense.
This is not the first time that Tell MAMA has been attacked for working with CST. The Muslim lobbying group MEND did so previously. Their Chief Executive at the time, Sufyan Ismail, also swapped the word “Zionist” for “Jewish”, warning a Muslim audience in Greater Manchester not to work with Tell MAMA because they had a “pro-Zionist pretty much heading it”.[4]

People

Leadership

Patrons

Former patrons

Advisory council - Circa September 2015

In August 2015 Tell Mama stated it was 'currently in the process of reconstituting' its National Advisory Group. It stated:

We are... keen that women play an active role in the National Advisory Group for Tell MAMA and that their voices, their ideas and their social activism be heard. With this in mind, we have 5 spaces on the National Advisory Group for Tell MAMA which need to be filled and we are keen on getting applications, particularly from Muslim women. However, if you can show experience in hate crime work or social activism in this area, we would like to hear from you.[7]
  • Paul Giannasi OBE Head of the Cross Government Hate Crime Programme, works in the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom. Since 2007 he has lead the cross-government Hate Crime Programme; UK National Point of Contact to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on hate crime; 30 years experience as a police officer and is a member of the National Police Chief’s Council’s Hate Crime Group. He manages True Vision (www.reportit.org.uk) on behalf of the police and is the author of the 2014 Police Hate Crime Manual which offers guidance to all UK police officers and partners.
  • Mohammed Amin Former Chair of Conservative Muslim Forum. Amin argues we should discard the term “Islamophobia” and tolerate negative beliefs and attitudes about Islam that are not motivated by hatred. In a November 2018 opinion piece published by Tell Mama, titled “Countering hatred requires precise vocabulary”, Amin argued “the word “Islamophobia” should never be used except when debating the meaning of the word.” He added: “At its most fundamental, I do not care very much what other people think about Islam.”
  • Sayed Yousif al-Khoei is a Director at the Al-Khoei Foundation in London, an international Islamic organisation with General Consultative status at the Economic and Social Council at the UN; member of the Religious Education Council, Faith Forum for London, the Chaplaincy Council at the Ministry of Justice and a founding trustee of several Muslim organisations, including FAIR (Forum Against Islamophia); the National Council for the Welfare of Muslim Prisoners; Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB)
  • Dr Tariq Abbasi MBE. An investment Banker, technical analyst by profession with a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. From 1989 to 2015 he was the Trustee/Director of the Greenwich Islamic Centre; He is also a founder member of Armed Forces Muslim Forum (AFMF).
  • Dr. Imam Mamadou Bocoum - currently a consultant at Faith Matters and Tell Mama.
  • Muhbeen Hussain Founding member and Chief Executive of the British Muslim Youth (BMY). Has worked with the British Home Office.
  • Amjid Khazir Director of Media Cultured
  • Tehmina Kazi Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, freelance consultant for English PEN’s Faith and Free Speech in Schools project; trustee of Hope Not Hate, an Inclusive Mosque Initiative committee member, was a judge for the Accord Coalition‘s Inclusive Schools Award, 2014.
  • Vidhya Ramalingam co-Founder and Director of Moonshot CVE; previously Senior Research Fellow on Migration and Communities at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and Senior Fellow on Far-Right Extremism and Intolerance at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) in London, where she set up and ran the programme on far-right extremism. In 2014, with support from the European Commission, she launched The Far-Right Extremism in Europe Initiative – www.thefreeinitiative.com; Research Associate of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA) at Oxford University. She is also a Fellow of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies.
  • Dr Chris Allen Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham; previously a member on the Cross Government Working Group on anti-Muslim hatred.
  • Dr Musharraf Hussain has been the Chief Editor of a national community magazine – ‘the Invitation’ and he was one of the founding trustees for the Muslim Hands charity. He has worked with the Department for International Development (DFiD) and Unicef. He was also the Headteacher for the Al-Karam school in Retford. He is currently the Chief Imam and Chief Executive officer for the Karimia Institute in Nottingham.
  • Iqbal Bhana OBE, DL has worked as an Advisor with some of the major national public bodies including the Commission for Racial Equality, The Equality and Human Rights Commission the Local Government Association, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), National Policing Improvement Agency and the Ministry of Justice. Iqbal was appointed by the Home Secretary to the Stephen Lawrence Steering Group as an Independent Advisor to advice on and monitor the implementation of the Macpherson Report following the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Iqbal was subsequently appointed by the Home Secretary to Chair the Racist Incident Task Group. Iqbal is currently the Independent Deputy Chair of the Government’s cross-departmental Hate Crime Advisory Group and, an Independent Member of the Government’s Anti Muslim Hate Crime Advisory Group. In March 2014 Iqbal was appointed by the Victims Commissioner as an Independent Advisor to Victims Advisory Group.
  • Nathan Lean Director of Research for Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative
  • Suzanne Fernandes has been part of the Feltham Young Offenders Community Chaplaincy as a youth mentor from 2007-2014 and has been commissioned to start up a new project with the Darren Deslandes Foundation in Croydon, which was launched July 2015. Suzanne stood as a London Candidate for the Christian Party and Christian Peoples Alliance for the European Elections.
  • Dr Imran Awan Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. Independent expert on the UK Governments Cross Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred based in the Department for Communities and Local Government.
  • Mark Wilson - has over 8 years’ worth of experience in working in criminal justice, with 2 spent in Leicestershire Police and over 6 and a half years spent in Victim Support.
  • Kim Sadique Senior Lecturer in Community and Criminal Justice at De Montfort University, Leicester.
  • Dr Irene Zempi Lecturer in Criminology at Nottingham Trent University. Co-author of the book Islamophobia, Victimisation and the Veil (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).[8]

Allies

The Board of Deputies of British Jews

Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies have called Tell Mama “[s]ome of the best allies we have in the struggle against antisemitism”.

In April 2017, the Board tweeted that Fiyaz Mughal had “briefed our Board's Defence and Interfaith Relations Division on challenges facing Jews”.


Policy Exchange

Some establishment Islamophobes clearly consider Tell Mama an ally, and its work profoundly unthreatening.

“Organisations like Tell Mama and activists like Fiyaz Mughal have done sterling work to shine a light on the soft underbelly of [anti-Muslim] bigotry,” argued a 2019 report for Tory think tank Policy Exchange.

The same report insists politicians

“stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy … The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to ‘Islamophobia’.”

In March 2020, Labour suspended one of the report’s authors, former Commission for Racial Equality Chair Trevor Phillips, for Islamophobia.


  • David Hirsh: “Give money to Tell Mama / @TellMamaUK / And tell people how great they are. / And love them. / And support them.”

Supporting organisations

On the launch of the Tell Mama website a number of organisations were listed as 'supporting':

Neighbourhood Watch | Victim Support | Muslim Youth Helpline | Nexmo | Association of British Muslims | National Association of Muslim Police | Central London Mosque | Federation of Muslim Organisations | Hope Not Hate | Surrey Police UK | Association of Muslim Police | Scottish Police Muslim Association[9]

Views and Positions

David Cameron

In an October 2013 article, Tell Mama poured scorn on the previous Labour government and lavished praise on David Cameron, urging progressives to support him.

They wrote:

“What the Prime Minister needs right now, is people who believe in pluralism, equality and fairness in our society and communities to stand with him; to support his vision of a country where hate should be challenged through existing systems and structures and where every community has a role and a part to play in that future. We say to the Prime Minister, this is a vision that draws all people towards a modern, stronger and more competitive Britain. Thank you!”


Muslims and Islamophobia

In July 2017, the group attacked “those who promote a view that Islam or #Muslims are under threat” and tweeted “Enough of the victim narrative”. (Katie Hopkins shared and praised the tweet, saying she was “sick of the Muslim mafia playing victim”.) The group seem to have echoed this sentiment in tweets posted in November 2017, which they deleted and formally apologised for.

“Recent statements and behaviour by Mughal and Tell MAMA suggest that they may become more openly hostile towards the Muslim communities and Muslim organisations they claim to defend,” CAGE concluded in 2019, “in an apparent effort to cosy up to power and establish themselves as the “legitimate authority” on Muslims.”


State and nation

Tell MAMA routinely promote a nationalist ideology that whitewashes the racism and coercive violence of British imperial history and valorises loyalty to the state. They encourage pride in the monarchy and portray Muslims and minorities as especially praiseworthy by dint of their patriotic service, particularly as soldiers or police.

In November 2019, Tell Mama tweeted: “On #ArmisticeDay we should not lose sight of the enourmous [sic] contributions of Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities who fought and laboured for the British Empire for the ideals of freedom.” They added: “More than 1 million Indian soldiers fought for the British Empire in WW1, including 400,000 Muslims. / We remember the sacrifices of so many who fought for the ideals of freedom. / #RemembranceSunday”.

In February 2020, the group shared a 1916 Daily Sketch front page on the Indian cavalrymen of the Deccan Horse who made the first charge in the Battle of the Somme. They commented: “Here they are before they were wiped out in the charge. / When we asked, they came to our defence. #Commonwealth”. The group repeat variations of this slogan when recalling the Empire’s conscription of colonial troops. In May 2017, the group tweeted: “So next time someone says – what did Muslims ever do for the UK? Tell them they stood in trenches with fellow soldiers & did their duty.”

In May 2019, Tell MAMA tweeted a picture of the Queen and other royals, commenting: “Our Royal family. We should all be so proud.”


Labour “anti-Semitism” and the Israel lobby

Tell Mama have endorsed the Israel lobby’s unsubstantiated allegations of Labour anti-Semitism, portrayed its institutions as reliable representatives of British Jews, and taken their claims uncritically. In contrast, they have sometimes dismissed Muslim fears about rampant Islamophobia in the face of stronger evidence.

In an April 2018 post, they wrote:

“We understand that members of key organisations representing Jewish communities are meeting with the leader of the opposition, the Rt Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP. We truly hope that the concerns of these organisations that represent the majority of Jewish communities are heard and that a way is found to tackle antisemitism which is infiltrating and sitting in parts of the political left”.

It is “patently obvious to us,” they add, that “anti-racist organisations have dropped any real consideration of antisemitism as racism ... This is how toxic antisemitism has entered parts of the left in our country.”

Members of Tell Mama attended Israel lobby group the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s “Enough Is Enough” rally against Corbyn and Labour in March 2018. They explained their decision:

“The fact is this. Where many members of a community feel the need to rally and demonstrate on an issue of key concern, we should be there. This is particularly the case when it involves something of central concern such as antisemitism. This is why the Tell MAMA staff and team attended the Enough is Enough rally and why we felt the need to stand in solidarity.”

By contrast, they have a record of dismissing Muslim fears as a “victim narrative” that “Islam or #Muslims are under threat”.


Israel-Palestine

Tell MAMA have portrayed Israel-Palestine as a symmetrical conflict rather than a violent colonial occupation with the suffering largely on one side. In July 2017 they commented that there is “enormous fear within a population which feels embattled” in Israel, “just as the Palestinians feel”.

In the same post, they use inflammatory terms assigning blame to describe killings by Palestinians, and equivocal terms assigning no blame to describe killings by Israelis. Palestinian killings are “murder” and “terrorism”; Israel’s are “killings ... under circumstances that leave questions for their families which are not addressed” and their victims “young people whose lives have been cut short in violent circumstances”.

The same post blames Palestinian violence for raised tensions at the Al Haram Al Sharif, and cites questionable CST statistics to tie Middle East tensions to violence against Jews.


Contact

Web: Internet Archive holdings of tellmamauk.org

Notes

  1. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and The Rt Hon Lord Pickles Communities together not apart. Published 21 February 2012.
  2. CST Tell MAMA - Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks launched today. 21 Feb 2012.
  3. CST Tell MAMA first annual report. 11 March 2013.
  4. CST When “militant Zionist” just means “Jew” CST, 12 Apr 2016.
  5. Tell Mama Patrons of the Programme. Accessed 10 April 2020.
  6. Tell Mama Leadership and Patrons. Retrieved fromthe Internet ARchive of 4 March 2017 on 10 April 2020.
  7. Tell Mama, Call for National Advisory Group Members for Tell MAMA August 24, 2015. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 25 August 2015 on 22 April 2020.
  8. Tell Mama Advisory Council (England). Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 13 September 2015 on 22 April 2020.
  9. Tell Mama Supporting Organisations. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 8 June 2012 on 11 Arpil 2020.