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So the Home Office have colonised Muslim youth media and Jay Z undermines grassroots activism

19 Aug 2019

Can we rely on rich, black celebrities to put the fight against racism over money? Once more, Jay Z, the hip hop billionaire has signed a deal with the NFL and been criticised for reneging on his Apeshit lyric. Being able to speak about racism at the NFL means he is standing on the shoulders of activist and former baseball player Colin Kaepernick. Yet Kaepernick is still unemployed after the NFL black-balled him for kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with victims of police brutality in the US.

Jay Z’s speech is a disappointing watch and went viral when he thought he had enough clout to declare that we’re “past kneeling”.

I think the discourse machine is broken. Here’s what else went down this week.

The Home Office is invading Muslim ‘grassroots’ media

The Home Office is on an absolute role this week. It was shockingly revealed this week that they’re behind the Muslim social media network This Is Woke, which presents itself as a media company engaging with critical discussions around Muslim identity. In fact, the page is a covert part of Prevent, a British government counterterrorism programme, heavily criticised for underhand and suspicious treatment of Muslims that is a betrayal of trust. There is evidence that Super Sistas Mag is also created by Breakthrough Media for the Home Office. Sabah Ismail was a social media manager at Super Sistas, and wrote a statement on why she resigned this morning. In it, she wrote that she had been used as a “female Muslim puppet”.

“Only in the last few days have I come to realise that the project was initially funded under the PREVENT strategy over 3 years ago, which quite honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach,” she continued.

Last month Bradford Literature Festival was supported by the Building a Stronger Britain Together fund that is part of the Counter Extremism Strategy – a fact that meant Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan aka The Brown Hijabi, withdrew her participation.

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Please read all of these screenshots – sparked by this great article into @thisiswoke being a home office funded platform bound up with counter terrorism and Prevent. It has opened up a new avenue for inquiry into what other seemingly innocuous platforms are actually government funded initiatives targeting Muslims as a problem population of potential criminals and always subjects to be deradicalised and coopted into a depoliticised national identity! • @thebookslamist asked if Breakthrough media are also behind @supersistersmag and we got info from those who have previously worked there that it is and at points has only had one Muslim woman working for them and majority middle aged white men writing content pretending to be “sisters”. This is abhorrent and almost satirical. • Why does this matter? Because not only our public institutions but our media platforms, arts and culture events (see bradford lit fest taking building a stronger Britain together funding this year), civic life and social lives are being targeted at every level because we are Muslim. THIS is what decimates trust. Who and what are we supposed to trust for information or opinion or insight when our identities and experiences are being violently coopted and repackaged to us in the name of “protecting” us? It’s all very well having a review into Prevent but Prevent has already been repackaged and rebranded across the board and it’s logics are at work way beyond the scope of what we thought previously. • At every level of every institution the commonsensical idea that Muslims are all at risk of perpetrating violence has been enshrined in the name of security and is causing the mass surveillance and targeting of us across the board. • This is Orwellian. If you care at all about racism in anyway or free speech or state violence this is URGENT. We are living it NOW. Educate yourselves, read up, reveal, disrupt and let’s listen to those already doing the work, organise to resist. • #prevent #counterterrorism #undercoverpolicing #preventitivepolicingisracism

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Speaking to gal-dem about the civil rights abuses the Home Office is carrying out, Suhaiymah said: “It’s the fact that it is the office for security and counter-terrorism, which is problematic because it means that whatever Muslims are doing, whether that’s arts, culture – it’s being seen as somehow connected to terrorism.” 

She continued: “When you fund things through this counter-terror lense, you take for granted the premise that Muslims by default, are subjects to be deradicalised in all spheres.”

The NUS’s new president, Zamzam Ibrahim is calling for Prevent to be scrapped after observing the impact that the surveillance has on students. Zamzam, the daughter of Somali refugees, has seen students referred to her through Prevent for simply being a part of Palestinian or Islamic societies. The government agreed to a review of Prevent, but have appointed Lord Carlile, a white man who has admitted his bias towards the flagship counter-terrorism strategy. 

British Muslims are being targeted with a violent “Orwelian” campaign, as Mansoor-Khan describes it. The Home Office are employing a narrative of security and protection in order to dehumanise Muslims. “Ultimately we need the repeal and abolition and Prevent and the counter terror apparatus. All it has proven to do again and again is decimate trust of communities in the government because all it does is enshrine this notion that Muslims are inherently violent,” she explained. 

#KnifeFree chicken shop box is a worrying sign

Speaking of thinking minorities are inherently violent, Morley’s Chicken has been identified as a hotspot for young black and Asian Londoners and therefore were picked for the severely misjudged #knifefree campaign from the Home Office

gal-dem spoke with Paul Anderson, the CEO of V.O.Y.A.G.E BAME Youth charity – a London-based organisation born from the recommendations of the Macpherson report. There is a bigger and more “insidious” side to the campaign, he explained. “I think this is very neatly constructed PR noise which is actually taking away from the real conversation, which is ‘how do we deal with young offenders?’”. 

It’s all playing into a hugely damaging “enforcement models” where government bodies are ticking off solutions in order that the public are left feeling that the only way forward is to “lock them up”, Andesron explained. New knife crime powers could target children as young as 12, entering vulnerable people into the criminal justice system and propagating inequalities that exist.


• The first images have dropped for Michael B. Jordan’s Netflix superhero family drama series Raising Dion, premiering on October 4. In another classic case of colourism, the mum and son were drawn as dark skinned, but have been cast as much lighter.

• Meanwhile the UK’s grime king Stormzy is funding two more places at the University of Cambridge for black students.

• Citizens Advice Bureau have been forced to apologise after propagating some disgusting stereotypes of people of colour online. Activist Fatima Iftikhar wrote all about it for us.

• White women do not represent all women. This is a fact that the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas forgot when she appointed an all-white “emergency cabinet” of women to fight a no-deal Brexit. She admitted she was “wrong to overlook” her “women of colour colleagues”.

• Black artist Nicola Lespeare has launched a series of black couple wedding cards in response to the lack of representative cards on the high street.

• 16 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have agreed to adopt Kiswahili as a formal language to replace the colonialist hangover of English, French, and Portuguese.

• Tottenham defender Renee Hector suffered the first recorded case of racist abuse in women’s football. She said she has no regrets about reporting it, despite “sinking into depression” subsequently.

• The mother of 12-year-old Shukri Abdi who drowned in the River Irwell, has accused the police of institutional racism after they failed to carry out a full investigation despite suspicious circumstances. 

• LGBTQIA+ YouTubers are suing the platform and Google for discriminating against their content by limiting reach and discoverability. 

• Donald Trump officially proposed a rule that would allow business to discriminate based on race, gender, sexuality, sex, religion, or nationality, provided they say the decision was based on relgious beliefs.

• Illinois prison banned books discussing black history or empowerment from its prisons due to their “racial” content. This is while three quarters of inmates in the State’s prisons are black.

• Tracy Single, 22, is the 15th transgender woman of colour to be murdered in the US this year.

Moment of the week

Normani has us wondering why we never noticed her before with her new ultimate hot girl summer track Motivation, where she gives us all the ‘90s R&B feels. We stan.