Dr MacEoin clarifies his methodology and the real reasons behind the report

I thank Dr MacEoin for his time and for his kind reply to my criticism and series of questions concerning his Policy Exchange’s report. Dr MacEoin replies below to my questions (I supposed in a very hasty way) :

Oh, this is so silly. The report makes it clear that teams of young Mudslims [sic] visited the mosques and bought or were given the materials that served as the basis for the study. They obtained receipts everywhere they went. With the help of an advisory committee, I organized the material, identifying offensive passages where they occurred. Some were in English, some were translated from Arabic. The offensive passages are now in the public forum, and the report identifies the places whjere [sic] they were found. I don’t doubt this could all be refined, but that wasn’t our purpose. All we did was show that offensive and hate material was available in around a quarter of the premises visited.

All we have had from the Muslim comunity [sic] so far has been excuses, denials, and repudiations, as though this stuff had descended from the stars. No-one has had the guts to say ‘This is dreadful, it represents an extreme form of Islam, we wil [sic] do everything in our power to remove it from mainstream institutions’. All Inayat Bunglawala could do was protest that it was all quite legal. That’s not the point. The point is that telling Muslims to hate all non-Muslims, to avoid contact with them as far as possible, tobelieve [sic] Jews are the cause of all the world’s degradation, and so on and on — this is deeply offensive to the host society and, quite frankly, to all moderate Muslims. If Bunglawala or yourself had reacted to this extremism and vowed to eradicate it, Muslims wouldf [sic] have gone up in the public estimation. As it is, you all seem to think this sort of thing is OK. You bring nothing but shame on yourselves by giving it even tacit approval. The materials are all entirely genuine, they are all available.

I am not, in spite of Irene Lancaster’s praise, the qworld’s [sic] greatest authority on Islam, or anything like it. I wasn’t employed to be. I was someone with the sort of knowledge that enabled me to understand and present the texts. The healthy thing is to forget me and Policy Exchange, and instead look at the texts. Shooting the messenger will get you nowhere.

Of course, I still consider the methodology (young Muslims sent to buy around booklets or pamphlet form people at mosques, and having a receipt for the transaction) of the report severely flawed and unconvincing.

Dr MacEoin, from what has written above, seems that did known, personally, the ‘team of young Muslims (Where they trained researchers? How have been recruited, did they know what the research was about?). Indeed, Dr MacEoin involvement, as he says, was limited to ‘organize[d] the material, identifying offensive passages where they occurred’. So, who really conducted the research and selected the booklet and pamphlet? With which criteria?

The report is not an academic work as Dr MacEoin seems to agree, so it is just a political tool. Certainly, we cannot call it a research.

I am also sorry that Dr MacEoin, as usual, does not read what I write, before expressing comments about my own opinions and views. I ask him, for intellectual honesty (if he has some left) to point the readers where I would say in any of my works that, to quote himself,

As it is, you all seem to think this sort of thing [controversial and radical Islamic material] is OK. You bring nothing but shame on yourselves by giving it even tacit approval. The materials are all entirely genuine, they are all available.

Of course, I do not find the material OK, but not for this reason I am ready to clap my hands to a bad, ideologically driven, work. To disagree with the report does not mean, despite how much Dr MacEoin would like, to agree with distressful and shameful, if not often ridiculous, Islamist rhetoric. At the same time, I want to clearly state that I totally disagree with censorship, something that Dr MacEoin seems to be happy with (just as long as if not applied to Rushdie).

I also wonder whether Dr MacEoin, while writing the report, had still the same feelings toward mainstream Islam (note, Islam, not extremists) that he had in 2005. Indeed in 2005, Dr MacEoin declared that, as far as Islam is concerned, he had

very negative feelings about it, but still try to appreciate those elements that elevate it (such as the finer forms of Sufism, the poetry, the architecture, and the belief in material simplicity over greed).

I also would like to ask a final question to Dr MacEoin: Do you find the Qur’an deeply offensive? Do you think that part of the Qur’an should be removed or edited? I have to notice that some of the material shamed in the report sounds, in some cases, very ‘Quranish’. So, should we ban that Qur’an from mainstream Muslim institutions in the UK?

Indeed, should we use Dr MacEoin’s textual approach, part of the Qur’an, leaving aside the Hadith collection by al-Bukhari and Muslim, is offensive (as the Bible or part of the Talmud would be) to the ‘host’ secular country (apparently still host, according to Dr MacEoin, even for the tens of thousands of Muslims who were born here). So should the Qur’an and the mentioned Hadith collection remain within the mosque?

I, of course, do not believe that a text as text can have any real impact without other important elements (otherwise I would not have decided to study Muslims, and I would have studied Islam). Yet it is clear that Dr MacEoin believes that removing the incriminated literature (I wonder whether the literature may stay at least in a library or if Dr MacEoin would prefer to burn it in a public celebration) will make us much safer.

Coherence would dictate that Dr MacEoin should have added to the list of the incriminated mosques those of them which hold a Qur’an, and the Hadith collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim. He didn’t. I wish to know why he made such an exception.

From what I can read in Dr MacEoin’s comments, his position seems to be, at the end, that even if the report is the result of bad research, which could have been even unethical, the important thing his to impress the reader, the public and the politicians and denounce the evil institutions. This is fine. Yet do not call it an academic research since it has not the same standard of an academic research.

I surely would have not wasted my time with this report, which does not add anything new to what everybody knew before, if it was not presented by Policy Exchange as a superb and highly academic work. Moreover, I suppose that the report does not surprise the UK government, which is, since Baroness Thatcher, one of the best allies of the Saudi regime and is ultimately responsible for the spreading of these publications.

I am sorry to say that the report does not tell us the real and important things, like how this literature has been used, who used it, in which way, and which impact it has on Muslims. The report is just a collection of sentences aimed to impress.

I have also the impression that Dr MacEoin still believes that Muslims live in a cave. Young Muslims, in the majority, do not read books in mosques (and actually, beyond Friday prayer, very few go to the mosques). They surf the Internet, chat and watch satellite television.

Much of the material denounced in the report can be considered soft and even friendly compared to what you can see, read and hear within the virtual sphere. Furthermore, much of the material and books exposed in the report can be found in several internet websites.

Yet Dr MacEoin, or Policy Exchange that paid him, did not tell you this; guess why?

Best wishes


24 thoughts on “Dr MacEoin clarifies his methodology and the real reasons behind the report

Add yours

  1. Dear Usamah,

    I cannot have evidence that may suggest this hypothesis. Yet I have evidence that the report has been planned for shocking the media audience. Read some of the comments of Dr MacEoin and you can see that what they were interested in was just saying that mainstream Islamic institutions were actually radicalizing Muslims. I think that the report served David Cameron, and the meeting he had with the Saudis, to boost a party which remains unconvincing.
    The report is a bad work in all meaning: journalistically inefficient, academically unethical and flawed , politically, even for the extreme-right neo-British Cons, damaging.
    Einstein used to say, “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
    Best wishes and happy eid

  2. Marranci, do you think there is any truth in the claim that the texts were chosen before the researchers were sent out, and that their mission was merely to see if the mosques on their hitlist had any of these texts?

    It would certainly explain how a lot.

  3. What appears to have happened is that Dr MacEion has collaborted some apostate Moslems to conduct the research. If that’s so, then the research is even more dubious. Dr MacEion is an apostate himself of the Baha’i faith – not that that necessarily has any bearing on things – but as the sociologist Dr Eileen Barker of the LSE has suggested on many occasions, apostates have their own axes to grind and you have to evaluate their testimony and their motives for giving it. A research project which uses only apostates to gather evidence is very likely to come up with exactly the conclusion it’s looking for. But that is rather the Policy Exchange’s method, isn’t it?

  4. Seems that Newsnight had some issues with their methodology in the report as well. Good stuff – keep up the good work!

  5. This shouldn’t come as any suprise to those of us who know and appreciate the work that goes into IMAAA blog,
    so here is another of my fave bloggers
    Newsnight rips apart mosque extremism report
    Rolled-up Trousers
    12 Dec 2007

    New Labour ‘dodgy dossiers’ on Iraqi WMD and American civil servants giving lectures to the UN about Iraqi mobile chemical laborotories come to mind.

    All we have to do now, is worry about those 2,000 suicidal bairns which British intelligence and security services insist on allowing to remain at liberty!

  6. ASAK Gabriele,

    How ironic that The Newsnight investigation on BBC2 (12th Dec), exposed the ‘Policy Exchange Report’ as an utter sham and a forgery.

    It totally vindicates your opinions, as oulined in your earlier article, that this was a baseless document and not worth the paper it is written on.

    I hope the national media will pick up on this and correct their mistake.

    It’s forelorn hope. Of course, it isn’t going to happen, as we all know.

    But we can be sure of one thing. Next time there is another baseless document produced by another dubious organisation with alterior motives, it will be front page headlines all over again.

  7. Dear Gabriele, Assalamu Alaikum,

    Just to say that I appreciate your website, opinions and articles and have just added your website to my favourites.

    With regard to the Policy Exchange (PE) and their unique form of “research”, it would have been better and more objective for them had they not made their conclusion before starting their “research”. This would have allowed them to learn from their “research” and to benefit during the process. However, I think that as they pre-formed their conclusions, they have come out even more bigoted and polarized in their views and in reporting their “findings”.

    I would be keen to know if PE finds all religious texts offensive or find a special place for Islamic texts and philosophy?

    My own conclusion is that organisations like the PE have shot themselves in the foot by coming out with such openly biogotted, racist, and dare I use the word, ‘Islamo-phobic’ views and in doing so are villifying themselves to the general public in addition to villifying Islam to their own niche minded supporters.

    You have been instrumental in highlighting the biased reasoning and motives behind PE’s “research”. For that I thank you. I also pray for multitude and strength of such minds and logic as yours to my Lord, Allah.

    I thank you for showing up PE’s poor, bigotted and inadequate so called “research” which has been aptly defended by their admirers such as sunniva.
    The bigotry and tone of sunniva et al is a great ad for PE’s real phobias.

    in bocca lupo


  8. Well obviously sunniva
    was one of these people convinced by New Labour’s various dodgy dossiers on evil Saddam’s WMD programmes – who knows, maybe even sunniva was taken with Colin Powell’s convincing presentation to the UN in February 2003 regarding the presence of Iraq mobile chemical laboratories and the like?
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Addresses the U.N. Security Council
    The Whitehouse
    05 Nov 2003

    The Whitehouse is refered to, by the way, by the boffins who run MediaLens.org as –
    One of the best satirical web sites on the planet.
    Media Lens links

    Although, here is both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice in February and July 2001 categorically denying Saddam had any WMD –
    Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice Tell The Truth About Iraq
    voice-over John Pilger

    Maybe even sinniva
    has been convinced that the Hitlerian attack on Iraq was actually all about democracy building and not about the fact Saddam was 45 minutes away from attacking British interests with all that elusive WMD of his (which the UK sold him in the first place, by the way, such is the UK government’s love of tyrannical monsters…sorry, I meant democracy)

    Maybe even sunniva
    is convinced of the 2,000 fanatical suicidal bairns which British Intelligence claims exist in the UK as I speak – maybe these fanatical chiselers are using Iraqi mobile chemical laboroties to get about in, hence the reason for the lack of any evidence of their actual existence.
    Intelligence, counter-terrorism and trust
    05 Nov 2007

    Has sunniva ever thought about a career in British Intelligence or the British New Labour Party?

  9. Dear Sunniva,

    thank you for this comment. I think that whoever reads it can make up his or her mind about your way of thinking.

    and since you quoted a poet I will quote a scientist:

    “Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish. ”


    Best wishes

  10. You’re just a pretentious prat Gabriele. Just as well you are locked up in the ivory tower with no influence over the real world.

    As the poet said, ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows’.

    Of course you would need an entire metereological department before stepping outside your front door.

  11. Dear Sunniva,

    thank you for your comment.
    Unfortunately I see that according to you research in this filed should not have the same high standard that you may expect for, I would say, cancer research.

    I am sorry that you seems to misunderstand my views. I work in a very multidisciplinary environment and as funding editor of Contemporary Islam, my journal, I have formed and EB which is clearly multidisciplinary.

    The problem is not if you are an anthropologist, scientist, historian, and economist, but if you conduct a serious research, which means to respect the practice within one’s own discipline.

    However, I can tell you that I have a problem to include investigative journalism (what actually Dr MacEoin’s report was) within the list of ‘accademic’ research. Often this kind of research is based on undercover investigations and sensationalism.

    I consider any undercover research (which is not conducted by the state for security reason) unethical. I can grantee that I am not the only one holding such an opinion.

    It is truth that good research require time (my research on Muslim in prison needed four years!), yet only because you have a toothache and you are in pain and you need a solution urgently and your dentist cannot see you, would you ask a plumber to fix it?

    Best wishes

  12. McEoian’s research is perfectly clear: a limited amount of offensive literature was found at some (a very few) of 100 out of 1600 possible mosques in the UK. You draw your own conclusions from that. Clearly if you are on ‘the Islam is total peace side’ you are left with egg on your face, and dodge the issue, complaining of alternative ‘extremism’ wherever you think you find it. If you are of the opposite view, ‘Islam is extremism’ you will find ‘evidence’ of that. If you are a sceptic of either position, as I am, I am mildly heartened by this report. The conclusion I draw from it is that some of 100 out of 1600 mosques have some offensive material, but it does not appear to be prominantly on show; or actively promoted. If I were to give a verdict; it would be ‘must try harder’ but no need for immediate alarm. Concern; engagement; dialogue; but not alarm.

    Gabriele, you are indulging in puerile academic infighting. Your view is that unless you are an anthrologist you cannot possibly undertake meaningful research on Muslims in the UK. Never mind political scientists, historians, economists, or investigative journalists. Oh if all of humanity were of your earnest views! Because policy would come to a complete standstill as the urgent need for information on political matters could never be met until 10 years of detailed phenomenological ‘study’ were engaged in by teams of trained researchers (preferably under the tutelage of G Marranci). Would we be free of all government or fall back on anarchy? Or would peace spontaneously break out while we looked for these answers? Get real!

  13. Just to chime in with Abu Musa’s contribution above,
    here is a messege posted to the JPUK board, many of whose members are of the great Jewish Faith and are as concerned as the rest of the community about western war crimes and western racism –
    Richard Perle at Finchley Synagogue, 18th Nov @ 8pm
    psted by Frank Fisher
    13 Nov 2007

    Dr Death using a place of worship to promote, not just terrorism, but racist war crimes – I expect the British Police to arrest him and the organisers and to close down the Synagogue, but somehow I doubt it. After all, that is how the law is supposed to work ,without fear or favour – but not Hitler’s, Stalin’s or New Labour’s.

    All the best!

  14. Assalamualaikum
    Good point about the double standards when it comes to ‘extremist’ literature. Just read something in a similar vein over on Ummah Pulse but this time about stuff in Judaism.
    They have linked to this blog in the article.
    I see that MacEoin has been trolling all the Muslim blogs trying to pick fights over this shoddy bit of research. I reckon the real agenda of the Policy Exchange is to go thru the Quran with a pair of scissors.

  15. As I have pointed out
    you don’t need to undertake a research project to uncover hate literature and the extremists in our midst who who publish and disseminate it – some of them even breaking the law but seem to be going unpunished.
    Encouragement of Terror, and Double standards
    Craig Murray
    11 Nov 2007

    Now what was that St Matthew had to say about noticing the speck in your neighbour’s eye and missing the timber in your own?

    If Rupert Murdoch and the Policy Exchange Hate Industries were at all Christian at least I’d be able to quote relevent Christian Scripture at them.

    Maybe Christian literature on ‘Just War’ might suffice – I gather the Pope recently sanctioned some US military adventures.

    The British Queen is the constitutional head of the British State, and the Military and also The Church of England, the Established Church – the British Military, then, already have the Christian seal of approval for their actions, whatever they happen to be, from the head of their Church, to whom they all swear allegience!

    Christianity and a liberal democracy in action, are the last descriptions I would use to describe the foreign policy of the British government, or the US one for that matter!

    How many millions of innocent defenceless people has the British government maimed and murdered in Lebanon, Occupied Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 alone?

    all the best!

  16. Dear all,

    here again another self-assertion of how unbiased Dr MacEoin is:
    “For every liberal who chants ‘Islam is a religion of love and peace’, I can find a score of Quranic verses and hadiths that say quite the opposite. Politicians and the public must be educated.” quoted from
    Tsaddik no. 19: Denis MacEoin

    It seems that, for him, the issue, as I expected, is not just the Islamist or Salafi literature found in mosques and Islamic institutions, but the main sources of Islam.
    Yet again, I wonder why he did not write this in his report. Why is he hiding his own ‘truth’ from the public and us “thick skulls”: is not the literature which is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘shameful’, but Islam and its texts?
    Best wishes

  17. I don’t keep up with UK news as much as I should (my wife is from there and her family still lives in London), so I don’t know too much about the new laws being introduced; I live in Canada.

    Although my mention of narrating hadîths can fall under freedom of speech, my mention of reciting the Qur’an had more to do with mere recitation of it. As I’m sure you know, Muslims recite the Qur’an outloud in three of our five daily prayers … . If they take away the physical materials, they’d still have to deal with all the Muslims who’ve memorised the texts.

  18. Dear Rasheed,

    good provocative point! Yet you forget that an increase numbers of new laws introduced in this country (the UK) are reducing freedom of speech to an unbelievable level for one of the the most (former) liberal western democracy!

    Indeed in any “fascistation” of liberal democracy, firstly it is the right to say your own view to be curtailed, followed by curtailing the rights of reading what other’s think.
    I am very pessimistic about the future of real liberal democracy, yet I expect that the real horror will be again a very western one!


  19. Yet it is clear that Dr MacEoin believes that removing the incriminated literature (I wonder whether the literature may stay at least in a library or if Dr MacEoin would prefer to burn it in a public celebration) will make us much safer.

    Regarding the Qur’anic verses and prophetic hadîths, I wonder, if MacEoin gets his wish and these “offensive” texts are removed from Islamic institutions across the UK, what will he do about the thousands who have these texts memorised? Will he call for the ban on reciting the Qur’an or narrating hadiths?

  20. I notice Policy Exchange critcisies what it calls ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’ by amongst others, the Suadi government – but what about the Hijacking of British Judaism by the Israeli government?

    I mean, if it is extremists in our midst that Policy Exchange is really worried about, then the Israelis have been racist war criminal extremists for years, spreading their messege of hate in Britian.

    Here is the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign –
    Israeli Ambassador Visit to Scotland Cancelled in Face of Planned Protests
    17 Nov 2006
    Wednesday’s Press Release by SPSC: Wed Nov 15, 2006
    “The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign deplores the decision of the Newton Mearns Synagogue authorities to invite the Israeli Ambassador to deliver a political speech there on Thursday November 23. In the immediate aftermath of the murderous invasion of Lebanon, and the ongoing massacres in Palestine, this is a desecration of a house of worship: a religious venue is being used by the representative of the state of Israel to propagate his murderous views.

    This isn’t just terrorism we are talking about here, this is something much worse, and the cause of terrorism – War Crimes committed by the West and its client regimes!

    Bringing it home to Brent: Zionists say Theft is Property!
    07 Nov 2007
    Here are some of the delightful locations which had properties available for purchase by visitors to an earlier property fair at Kinloss Suite, Finchley Synagogue, London, 27 October 2007:

    Openly on sale, in Britian, in a place of worship, Palestinian land and property stolen by the racist war criminals of Israel!

    The British Prime Minister is an open advocate and patron of Israeli War Crimes and Israeli Apartheid –
    Challenges Gordon Brown’s Support for JNF & Israeli Apartheid
    12 Oct 2007

    Or how about the extremists at the BBC Radio 4,
    who broadcast daily Christian services, which give succour and support to British troops carrying out war crimes in the Middle East in pirsuit of New Labour and US lies about Iraqi WMD?

    Ever visited Glagow Cathedral, a Christian place of worship – it seems more like a trophy room where the spoils of the British Empire can be viewed openly, in all their gory!

    Or how about the last verse of the ‘British National Anthem’ –
    Lord Grant that Marshall Wade
    May by thy mighty aid
    Victory bring.
    May he sedition crush,
    And like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush,
    God save the King.

    All I can say is –
    Scots Wha Hae
    Scotland’s anthem to national liberation and to the heroes and martyrs who struggle today against tyrants and oppressors everywhere!

    all the best!

    I hope the formatting comes out ok – alas there isn’t an edit facility available on this very worthy blog!

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