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The ‘No True Muslim’ Fallacy: How Muslims are intimidated and marginalised for supporting counter-extremism initiatives

Liam Duffy, October 2019

The success of counter-extremism initiatives depends on the support and cooperation of the communities within which extremists seek to gain influence. But, as this new report reveals, Muslims who work on strategies such as Prevent are being routinely subjected to abuse and intimidation by those around them.

Featuring case studies and testimony from counter-extremism practitioners, it details the abuse and pressure that is been brought to bear and how efforts to tackle extremism and terrorism are being undermined. Some individuals have been forced to move home and install CCTV, such is the scale of harassment they have received for supporting initiatives designed to weed out extremists bring communities together.

In one case, the Iranian state became involved in subjecting a community mosque to extreme pressure and intimidation. In another, a small community nursery was forced to return a valuable stream of government funding after coming under pressure for engaging with counter-extremism initiatives. In some cases, individuals have been forced to abandon lifelong friendships and seen romantic relationships suffer as a result.

The report’s author, Liam Duffy, notes: ‘The support of Muslims is essential to the success of counter-extremism initiatives. But those who cooperate are too often made to pay a price for doing so, facing online campaigns of abuse, reputational smears and sometimes even the threat of physical harm.

‘The psychological impact of this abuse is clear. We need to do a better job of protecting and supporting Muslims and Muslim community groups working on this sensitive agenda. If we don’t, then fewer and fewer people will come forward to support this important work.’

Fiyaz Mughal, Founder and Director of Faith Matters, commented: ‘These groups pose a serious threat not only to public discourse, but to the peaceful and law-abiding Muslims they try to intimidate into silence.’

Former Labour Councillor and founder of the Social Action and Research Foundation (SARF), Amina Lone, said: ‘The tactics used to silence anyone who dares to question, critique or reject political Islam include harassment, stalking on social media and highlighting your views to undermine or “expose” you to audiences, online bullying, personal threats, abuse of loved ones, pressure applied to older men within your circles including husbands, fathers and brothers.’

About the Author

Liam Duffy is a research fellow at Civitas as well as an independent researcher, trainer and speaker on extremism and counter-terrorism. He has worked to deliver the UK government’s Prevent strategy and was previously director of educational charity, SINCE 9/11. He is a frequent broadcast and newspaper commentator, has appeared on BBC News, and has written for the Times Educational Supplement, The Jewish Chronicle and The American Spectator.

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