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12 December 2007

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Comments

Yunus Yakoub Islam

Well done, Newnight! There were concerns about this report from inside the academic community, who immediately asked why such reports get to be called 'research' when they have been nowhere near peer review publications, the standard test for academic validity.

But it can blow both ways. There were also concerns about the GLA's media report - although in terms of spin rather than actually dishonesty, although given it simply confirmed research already done by Poole, I wondered why they bothered. The resulting muddle simply failed to convince the nay sayers all the more.

Osama

I'm sure there's more to come on this. So much else doesn't make sense. At North London Mosque they said the literature was free but that there is an expectation in these scenarios to make a donation. That is simply not true for any free stuff I've seen in mosques. Policy Exchange insisted on giving money for this extremist literature, then say they demanded a receipt.

Then there's there claim of being led by mosque attendees to leaflets that have been "sanctioned by the mosque". Where in the country do mosques have approved lists of pamphlets? It seems to bear no relation to reality.

Gabriele

thanks for this update. It seems that what a simple academic analysis of the methodology used suggested, the forensic evidence confirmed. I am very happy that for the first time journalists start to question their main sources of information.
Now I wonder whether the University of Newcastle will start an investigation and in case open a disciplinary action against whom abused his own academic position for writing such a report. Here, indeed, is not a case of freedom of speech, but of academic fraud.
Gabriele

Freeborn

Trustees on Policy Exchange board are predominantly Telegraph people including editor,Charles Moore,writers,Alice Thomson and Richard Ehrman.

More revealing is the report's writer,Denis MacEion who has links to the Israeli Lobby,LFI and writes stuff for the Think Israel site.

Whether MacEion is held responsible for the academic fraud of which he appears to be guilty is an open question since his original post at Newcastle as Professor in Islamic studies was abolished through the withdrawal of Saudi funding in 1986.The Saudis reportedly disapproved of MacEion's teaching emphasis on Sufism.

He has been at Durham and serves merely as a Fellow at Newcastle now.

Not mentioned at all in the furore on Newsnight were his authorship of the report,his Israeli connections,the possibility his conclusions may have been biased by his treatment at Newcastle by his Saudi sponsors or the laudable conclusion his report actually arrived at.

What was it?

Well lest we forget he suggests that given Saudi sponsorship of the dangerously sectarian material we might now completely reassess the pros and cons of our relationship with the Saudis.

Seems a good idea.And what a pity the arms deals were not properly investigated by Newsnight or that their critical stance now on Saudi extremism wasn't aired when the King was feted by New Labour and HRH recently.

Korda

I watched the Newsnight report and my conclusion was that one of the Policy Exchange researchers probably forged some receipts as a way of cutting corners but probably DID get the books from the Mosques.

The problem with the (much bigger) accusation - that Policy Exchange misrepresented moderate mosques as being extremist is that everyone knows what a genuinely moderate mosque would do in that situation - sue the accuser for libel.

Have any of the 'moderate' mosques involved issued a writ? If not, why not? Those of us who know the scene spotted one or two, ahem, well known faces on that Newsnight report, portraying themselves as agrieved innocents. They certainly wouldn't want their track records being examined in court!

Abdur Rahman

Salaams Osama,

If your belt and braces come undone, doesn't that leave your underpants flapping in the breeze? That's what I would take this expression to mean!

Nice one!

Abdur Rahman

joe90

Come clean Korda
you are in fact a 'researcher for the charity PE, aren't you?

Using proper standards of evidence accpetable to the academic community I can prove it, without cuttuing corners.

...the Policy Exchange researchers probably forged some receipts as a way of cutting corners...
- ha ha ha ha ha aka Stalinist methodology

...everyone knows what a genuinely moderate mosque would do in that situation - sue the accuser for libel.
- I suppose this is you cutting corners again Korda, as evidence seems to be in short supply - genuine examples from the real world would be dandy indeedy.

...portraying themselves as agrieved innocents. They certainly wouldn't want their track records being examined in court!
- Unlike say, the liars and forgers at Policy Exchange - those noble standard bearers of, er, standards of academic scholarship.

all the best everyone!

sunniva

These are very serious allegations and Policy Exchange needs to respond to them. But did you notice that the offending books were still on sale? The camera even panned over the titles. Moreover the interviewees in the mosques appeared totally unconcerned that they were still stocking these offending books even two months after the report. They also admitted free-lancers loosely affiliated to the mosque also sell books there. Anyone in a large complex organisation will be aware that various versions of stationary may be in circulation unknown even to the senior figures of that organisation.

jungle

"I watched the Newsnight report and my conclusion was that one of the Policy Exchange researchers probably forged some receipts as a way of cutting corners but probably DID get the books from the Mosques."

Would that include the books allegedly obtained from the mosque which did not have a bookshop?

I'm sorry but if a piece of research has been done in this shoddy a manner then it is worthless. Just because you happen to think that the results are likely to be true does not change that fact. Of course, someone could do it again, and maybe they would find some substance to these allegations.

To answer your basic claim, that the findings were actually proved true and the receipts irrelevant and besides the main point: then why did they bother to fabricate them? If they felt they didn't need such receipts to prove their case, fabricating them would seem like insanity. Clearly at some point they felt that the receipts were so critical to their case that they forged a whole pile of them. Now they are claiming they are meaningless. Which is it?

Also the whole premise of the study was flawed in any case. They apparently found hate literature in mosques. What they failed to do was compare this with the amount of comparable hate literature that might be found in bookshops in churches, synagogues or indeed non-religious bookshops.

Osama

Precisely Jungle: "To answer your basic claim, that the findings were actually proved true and the receipts irrelevant and besides the main point: then why did they bother to fabricate them? If they felt they didn't need such receipts to prove their case, fabricating them would seem like insanity. Clearly at some point they felt that the receipts were so critical to their case that they forged a whole pile of them. Now they are claiming they are meaningless. Which is it?"

Abdur Rahman, you are absolutely correct, it was late at night and I badly missed that one. Corrected now.

Here's another bit of fun about Dean Godson - he was sacked from the Daily Telegraph for being too pro-Israeli! A bit like being booted out of the Sun for liking Page 3:

In an interview with the British left-of-center Guardian daily, Martin Newland, editor of the conservative The Daily Telegraph, revealed that he fired editorialists Dean Godson and Barbara Amiel for being too pro-Israel. "It's OK to be pro-Israel but not unbelievably pro-Likud Israel," he said.
http://www.meforum.org/article/743

joe90

sinniva parrots the claim -
Anyone in a large complex organisation will be aware that various versions of stationary may be in circulation unknown even to the senior figures of that organisation.

- Yes, just like the case made for the existence of Iraqi WMD. How can anyone, in their right mind, be sure?

sunniva

I share everyone's suspicion that the most likely explanation is that the Policy exchange researchers fabricated 5 (some reports say 6) receipts out of a total of 25 (some say 26) handed over by Policy Exchange to Newsnight in October as part of their evidence. However Newsnight could not find fault with the majority, which it seems to accept were genuine. Does anyone dispute this? Obviously Policy Exchange would not have handed the receipts over if they thought they were dodgy. Policy Exchange must have believed them to be genuine, as indeed, the bulk of them appear to be.

However, I retain an element of scepticism. It is not categoric proof that those ink-jet printed receipts were not procured in the locations the researchers claimed they procured them in, as they could still have been issued by freelancers operating in the mosques selling books and generating their own 'fake' stationary. In many organisations, especially where there are affiliates, it is quite common to find some folk with their own variant of the stationary. These would typically be printed using an ink-jet printer for a short run.

However, I agree the business of getting a receipt is a pretty bizarre way of proving you bought a book in a certain place, especially as Osama, says, receipts are not normally issued. I would have thought some kind of hidden camera would have been a more indisputable method of proving you'd bought a book in a certain place.

Whilst I agree that this raises a serious question about the report's methodologies, it doesn't detract from its central conclusions that this material was found in certain mosques. Newsnight itself revealed it is still there (after two months, and huge furore). Is anyone disputing this?

Kamal Nuruddeen

The Newsnight expose vindicates those who criticised the Policy Exchange and its motives at the time. See our earlier post at ummahpulse.com:

http://ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=255&Itemid=85

Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention Osama.

Kamal

Ali aba

Denis MacEoin is member of Hasbara a pro Israeli advocacy group. He is an expert on Sufism, Shism and Shaykism???. his funding for Arabic and Islamic studies at Necastle Uni was withdrawn by the Saudies.

So why are we surprised that target of his hate was mainly the Saudies and Wahabism,

sunniva

'Anyone in a large complex organisation will be aware that various versions of stationary may be in circulation unknown even to the senior figures of that organisation'.

- 'Yes, just like the case made for the existence of Iraqi WMD. How can anyone, in their right mind, be sure?'

Exactly Joe. We can be no more sure that these 'dodgy' receipts were not procured in the locations the researchers said they got them in than we could be sure of evidence of WMD in Iraq. Surely your own sceptical conclusion on WMD shows the dangers of acting on evidence which is not categoric and conclusive, but merely strongly suggestive.

However, 20 out of 25 receipts were apparently accepted as valid by the Newsnight team.

Plus, what is not in dispute (?) is that the Newsnight team did film the offending titles on location on the shelves at these mosques (or some of them) some two months after this report's furore.

Anyone want to dispute that?

joe90

Exactly Joe. We can be no more sure that these 'dodgy' receipts were not procured in the locations the researchers said they got them in than we could be sure of evidence of WMD in Iraq.
- says sunniva, the dedicated fanatic.

Hence the quality of the research sunniva pal. That is what research is for - or don't you know about the reasons why research is done?

For brainwashed fanatics like you to go about undermining the very research you are claiming as definitive and truthful is just so funny!

I mean,
I always thought that was what research was for, to clear matters up!


And I wouldn't make the case for Policy Exchange, by equating the quality of its research with that of Blair and his dodgy dossier's on Iraqi WMD - it only compounds the hilarity.

And if the research was of such high quality sunniva, why do you need to justify it by reference to outside evidence of alleged tv film evidence of some books lying on some shelf on some Mosque somewhere?

Goebbels would be impressed, unlike the rest of us sunniva -
- we needed evidence, there was none, so we invented it!

This is the sort of quality of evidence presented at Stalinist show trials - and by the same types of persons!

Abu Sinan

It is clear that this was a fit up. They drew their conclusions before the report was done and then gathered all information that supported their original conclusion.

When they didnt have the evidence they faked it or manufactured it. I am an engineer and if any paper were submitted that was turned out in such a manner it would automatically be scrapped.

If the people behind the paper would sink to such levels then nothing put forward in the report can be held up as uncontaminated.

Besides, I really fail to see what the issue is? I do not doubt that there are some extremist materials being sold/given in mosques. I have seen such items sold in mosques in Europe, the USA and the Middle East/North Africa.

I have also seen the same materials sold at Borders(in UK as well)/Barnes and Nobles here in the USA, as well as Amazon and stores in Europe. The same locations sell Christian radical materials, Jewish radical materials and the like.

Freedom of speech and ideas is important. When you ban something you actually make it much more inticing to many people. Things need to be open and available for debate.

I was raised Christian and I saw all sorts of materials in various churches that, now that I am older, I would say were very extremist. Materials attacking Jews (Judaism), abortionists, Catholics, Muslims, pushing a world view that was very extremists in it's ideology.

We have organisations here in the USA, run and funded by right wing Christians, that actively support Jewish groups that propose ethnic cleansing as a settlement for the Palestinian/Israeli issue.

This, of course, is all based on the extremist view of Christianity which is very popular today here in the USA. This group thinks they must support the Jews in Israel in order to start a world war in which the Messiah will come, kill all non believers (Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and in some cases, Mormons, Catholics and other Christian sects).

Those who do not convert to their version of Christianity will be slain and perish in hell, including all Jews in Israel. This is a belief system followed by a large segment of Christians in the USA, and unfortunately, they are the loudest and most vocal. Nevermind they count many important Americans amoungst their ranks.

I have NO problem investigating extremism, but lets stick to facts, not invented proof, and lets take an honest and open look at ALL extremists, including ones in the USA who control the world only super power.

Qaisar

Well done news night,I am sure more people will read about Islam themselves and see what the facts actually are and decide for themselves--rather than reading so called research when words are taken and presented out of context or basing their views on peoples personal interpretations rather than unanimous accepted interpretations by those who know.I can see the reverse happen of what the intent behind this research was i.e more people learning about/converting to Islam and an end to terrorism .

Fair and Balanced Fox

http://www.opendemocracy.net/people-migrationeurope/article_1193.jsp

Check out the above article. It is written by Anthony Browne. He is the 'Director' of Policy Exchange.

It is good to see that someone who is running a 'think-tank' keeps him independent and open minded about controversial topics so that his organisation can provide a 'fair and balanced' insight into important social issues of the day, don't you think ??

A Home Secretary has referred to his views as 'bordering on fascism', although it is interesting that he is alleged to have only ever voted Labour, whereas the rest of the Policy Exchange appear quite strongly aligned to the Conservative Party.

Osama

Laurence, that's a fantstic post, thanks for sharing.

Korda: The problem with the (much bigger) accusation - that Policy Exchange misrepresented moderate mosques as being extremist is that everyone knows what a genuinely moderate mosque would do in that situation - sue the accuser for libel.

Have any of the 'moderate' mosques involved issued a writ? If not, why not?

The problem may well be one of resources. Despite appearances, most mosques do not have pots of cash to be paying their utility bills let alone waging legal battles.

That said, I hear that one of the mosques is seriously pursuing this, and there will be news in the next day or so.

aineliva

Joe90 writes "I mean,
I always thought that was what research was for, to clear matters up!"

In all the time I've been reading this blog, Joe, little of your research has cleared anything up, more clouded the issue.

aineliva

Abu Sinan, your comment outlining Christian Fundamentalist thinking in the US: agreed this group of people are indeed extremists, and more worrying, the biggest supporters of Bush.

And what a contradiction that they believe that by inducing war the Messiah will return and all "believers" will be "raptured" to Heaven, leaving of course, the rest of us in the mess they created on earth.

Now that is some spin on Christian beliefs. But then the "God is on our side" brigades, wherever they are are not on the side of humanity. No, they can only exist by creating "other" so they can have an "enemy" and a fight.

What would be wonderful would be if they were sued on the basis that they are transgressing the very basis of their country's constitution, - that all humanity is created equal - treason perhaps?

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