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Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Malia Bouattia, Lauren Booth, Sahar Al Faifi and More Pull Out of BLF Over Counter-Extremism Funding

by in Identity on 21st June, 2019

Over the last week individuals who were scheduled to take part in the Bradford Literature Festival have announced their withdrawal from the event after it came to light that the festival’s funding comes directly from the Home Office’s Counter-Extremism program ‘Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT)’ fund, which comes under the 2015 Counter Extremism Strategy. Whilst it cannot be labeled as a PREVENT initiative it is heavily linked to the government’s approaches to counter terrorism. All participants who have withdrawn support and participation have issued statements which can be read below, they go into specific reasons to why the fund is problematic. Often PREVENT and PREVENT related strategy have been criticised for being inherently being Islamophobic in both nature and approach. It has also been criticised due to the focus and scrutiny placed on young children.

Bradford Literature Festival issued a statement which included the benefits they have seen of the funding and expressing the door is open to work with all the individuals in the future.

“The funding has allowed us to do important work with women’s community groups. This has been hugely valued by the groups themselves, and has received appreciative feedback from participants and community leaders.

As a South Asian, Muslim-led organisation, BLF is entirely conscious of the opinion some parts of the Muslim community hold about the BSBT programme – and whilst we acknowledge and value the perspective and opinion, it isn’t one, on this matter, that we share. We regret that the support offered by BSBT to these specific projects has led to a number of speakers withdrawing from the festival programme.

BLF offers a platform for a broad spectrum of opinions, and encourages healthy debate on issues of our time. Our door is always open to working with these speakers in the future and we wish them well.

There has been widespread support and understanding of the decision and sends a message out to us all that values and principles should always come first. We’ve also been able to take key lessons away.”

  1. Research: When partnering or working with an organisation do your due diligence
  2. Check out the list to find out the other organisations that have received funding from the BSBT programme
  3. Raise it with the organiser and request clarification
  4. Research PREVENT and Counter-Terrorism Strategy
  5. And remember principles over pocket!

Participants who have pulled out so far: 

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Sahar Al Faifi

Malia Bouattia

Lola Olufemi

Hussein Kesvani

Lauren Booth

Charlie Brinkhurst

Dilly Hussain

Paula Akpan

Each have offered statements in relation to their withdrawal.

Selina Bakkar

Selina Bakkar

Co-founder of Amaliah amongst many other roles. Selina is passionate about empowering those around her and just trying to be a better person. She loves looking after plants and a good cuppa because motherhood and running is not for the faint hearted. She is also Co-founder to Aishah and Eesa and currently a one digit mother, Alhamdulilah. You will find her in the local charity shop, garden centre or park with her kids. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at [email protected]