The Hijacking of British Islam

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On 29 October 2007 the right wing think-tank Policy Exchange released a report entitled The Hijacking of British Islam: How extremist literature is subverting Britain's mosques. The report’s release was timed to coincide with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s state visit to the UK. It claimed to unveil the presence of pamphlets, books and leaflets in mosques and Islamic centres in the UK which promote Muslim separatism and hatred of non-Muslims.

The research was conducted during 2006 and 2007 by “four Muslim research teams [who] travelled to towns and cities across the UK”. The researchers then passed approximately 80 books and pamphlets to Denis MacEoin, who along with a team of “independent experts” analysed their content.[1]

The report claimed to find extremist literature at 25 percent of the institutions visited, and stated that these were “among the best-funded and most dynamic institutions in Muslim Britain”. According to the report most of the literature was published and distributed by agencies linked to the Saudi Arabian government.[2]

On 12 December 2007 BBC Newsnight ran a 17-minute report by Richard Watson suggesting that the report was based on fraudulent evidence. In October, hoping for an exclusive, Policy Exchange had given Newsnight receipts to corroborate that the literature was procured from the particular institutions identified in the report. Following suspicions over the authenticity of five of the receipts the BBC conducted an investigation which included consulting a forensic scientist.

They found that[3]:

1. In all five cases the mosques involved said the receipts did not belong to them.

2. The expert analysis showed that all five had been printed on an inkjet printer - suggesting they were created on a PC.

3. The analysis found "strong evidence" that two of the receipts were written by the same person.

4. The analysis found that one of the receipts had been written out while resting on another receipt said to be from a mosque 40 miles away.

Policy Exchange’s research director, Dean Godson accused Newsnight’s editor of “appalling stewardship” of the programme and “disastrous editorial misjudgement” [4] . Policy Exchange said in a press release that they would “discuss legal action against the BBC”. [5]


  1. Hijacking of British Islam
  2. Hijacking of British Islam
  3. Newsnight editor Peter Barron Blog entry 13 Dec 2007, 10:28 AM
  4. Newsnight editor Peter Barron Blog entry 13 Dec 2007, 10:28 AM
  5. Press release posted on Policy Exchange’s [1] accessed 14 December 2007