ENGAGE blasts the ‘idiot Cameron’
ENGAGE (aka iENGAGE) is an initiative designed to improve British Muslim representation and participation in British media and politics. There is, quite arguably, a place for such an organisation in today's society to counter some of the more irrational manifestations of prejudice against Muslims, which ought to have no place in an enlightened liberal democracy. Its Project Director is Shenaz Bunglawala, who is also the Vice-Chair of the Europe and International Affairs Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain.
ENGAGE supports the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, which was formed last year
To investigate the forms, manifestations and extent of prejudice and discrimination against Muslims in the UK today. To review the effectiveness of all legislation with a view to improving the rate of success in the prosecution of hate crimes. To review existing mechanisms for the recording of anti-Muslim hate crimes both through police forces across the country and through third party reporting sites with a view to improving data quality and comprehensivity. To investigate and review the role of the media in fostering mutual respect and tolerance and guarding against misrepresentations of Islam and intolerance towards Muslims.The Parliament website confirms that ENGAGE acts as the group’s secretariat, and names Shenaz Bunglawala and its Head of Research.
There has been quite a lot of reasoned opposition (see here, here, here and here) to this APPG appointing ENGAGE as its secretariat, as they are supposed to be responsible for advising members, arranging meetings, organising investigations, writing draft reports, overseeing publications and generally keeping track of its day-to-day activities.
The secretariat for the APPG on Islamophobia would, quite reasonably, need to be beyond reproach as regards racism and anti-Semitism. It needs to be sufficiently independent to perform the necessary functions of a secretariat to the all-party group, for any partiality or association with those forces and groups which give rise to a reasoned and rational ‘Islamophobia’ would undermine the efforts of the APPG and do a disservice to all British Muslims, on whose behalf ENGAGE purports to speak and for whose benefit the APPG exists. All of those associated with an APPG secretariat ought to manifest a civil-service type of political neutrality, and certainly project respect for our elected representatives and maintain certain standards of parliamentary propriety.
Inayat’s Corner is the pulpit of Inayat Bunglawala, the media secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain. (He shares a surname with the Project Director and Head of Research of ENGAGE – is it a family affair?). He has been criticised by the PCC and accused of being racist and anti-Semitic; he rails against ‘Zionist tactics’ and ‘Israeli oppression of the Palestinians’; opposes UK and US foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq; spoke out against the banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir under the new UK anti-terror laws; and seems particularly fond of certain Islamic radicals like Sheikhs Omar Abdel-Rahman and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
He is highly critical of any article about him which he deems to be ‘sloppily and irresponsibly written’, and which is based on ‘completely inadequate research and fact-checking’, and is clearly more than a little sensitive about preserving his good name and reputation.
He is not, however, averse to libeling others. When he is called an ‘extremist’, he instructs Carter-Ruck; when he calls them ‘Islamophobic’, they are mature enough to respect a personal opinion and freedom of expression.
Yet Inayat Bunglawala is of the view that the Prime Minister is an ‘idiot’ for opposing state multiculturalism and speaking out against Islamist extremists.
This cannot be sloppy or irresponsible writing, for Mr Bunglawala eschews shoddy journalism. His thesis must be well-researched and entirely fact-based. Like ENGAGE, he is undoubtedly expert, dispassionate and representative of British Muslims.
“Ah, Dr Cranmer,” Mr Banglawala interjects, “Inayat’s Corner is quite independent of ENGAGE. My sister, Shenaz, directs its activities, while my Corner is simply my opinion, to which I am entitled.”
“Indeed so, Mr Banglawala. Indeed so,” His Grace politely replies. “But is it not a point of interest, at least to Conservatives on the APPG on Islamophobia, that the brother behind the sister who runs its secretariat refers to their leader (in a headline, too) as an ‘idiot’?”
“Ah, Dr Cranmer, you bearded oaf,” snorts Mr Banglawala, “There is no association between ENGAGE and Inayat’s Corner. Indeed, my Corner is simply where I share my love of books, movies and gossip!"
“Quite so, Inayat (if His Grace may). Quite so. But the (i)ENGAGE website is rather elusive on the small matter of who runs it: indeed, it gives no indication that even your sister is behind it. Yet the URL domain name iengage.org.uk is registered to one Inayat Bunglawala. It surely can be no coincidence – ”
“Ah, Dr Cranmer, you islamophobic, bigoted kaffir,” splutters Mr Banglawala, “That is ENGAGE or IENGAGE or whatever it's called, and nothing at all to do with my private Corner where I do my own private thing and express my own private views. I think your Mr Cameron is an idiot: that is my personal opinion, based on rigorous, fact-based research. It is not the opinion of the Secretariat for the APPG on Islamophobia.”
“Ah, Inayat, dear chap,” His Grace intones, “The Internet WHOIS service reveals that iengage is registered to you, and so, clearly, is Inayat’s Corner. So when you refer to the Prime Minister as an ‘idiot’, it is an opinion expressed on behalf also of your sister and ENGAGE, for the three are manifestly one.”
For the sake of Parliament, the wellbeing of British Muslims and the peace and security of the realm, the APPG on Islamophobia must sever all ties with the partisan attack-dog ENGAGE, and appoint a credible, impartial and respectable group to run its affairs. It is not appropriate that a man obsessed with Jews, Zionism and the propagation of an Islamist agenda should be furthering his cause vicariously through his sister.