SACC has received a response from Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre to the concerns we expressed over its possible involvement in the Prevent strategy. Amina's response does not address the question we asked and reinforces our suspicion that Amina's "Take Ownership" workshops have been funded by the Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit (SPVEU), which oversees and co-ordinates Prevent in Scotland. The issue is particularly troubling because Amina made a public pledge last year that it would not take Prevent funding.
We asked Amina whether funding for the workshops had been provided by or facilitated by the Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit, or was otherwise being provided in connection with the Prevent strategy.
Amina says (full statement below) that the workshops are funded by the "Scottish Government, specifically the Equalities, Human Rights and Third Sector."
The SPVEU was created as a unit within the Equalities, Social Inclusion and Sports Directorate. As far as we are aware it remains a part of the successor organisation, the Equalities, Human Rights and Third Sector Division, which falls within the Local Government and Communities Directorate. Amina's response means that the workshops may indeed have been funded by SPVEU, though this cannot be confirmed without further information.
Amina says that the project "is not funded through UK prevent." It is not clear what Amina means by "UK Prevent". Prevent is a UK-wide strategy. It is overseen in Scotland by the SPVEU, which is run jointly by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, and it also creates duties for public bodies in Scotland under statutory guidance issued jointly by the UK and Scottish Governments. Amina's reference to "UK Prevent" may be intended to mean that the project was not funded through a Prevent office situated south of the border. But there has never been any suggestion that it was funded in that way. Our concern is that it was funded by SPVEU.
The Scottish Government, when asked whether it funded Amina through the SPVEU or by any other means for purposes connected with Prevent, said:
"...we work with communities in order to see how we can best challenge terrorist narratives and provide support and guidance to those individuals who are potentially vulnerable to radicalisation. We do not disclose details of funding where to do so would prejudice our ability to reach those who are vulnerable."
Taken together with Amina's statement, this tends to suggest that Amina has been given SPVEU funds or other Scottish Government Prevent funds.
Our suspicion that Amina has received SPVEU funds was triggered by leaked information, which we have so far been unable to confirm officially.
Disappointingly, Amina does not comment on its support for the "Together Against Prevent" statement. Amina is listed as a supporter of the statement, which says: "We pledge to take no Prevent funds and support non-cooperation, wherever possible, with local Prevent programmes."
The statement, which SACC supports, also says: "We recognise and condemn the damage that Prevent’s 'spot the potential terrorist' approach has made primarily in stigmatising and criminalising entire Muslim communities, but also to a growing number of political activists and campaigners labelled with ill-defined terms like 'non-violent extremist' or 'domestic extremist'."
If Amina has accepted funding from the SPVEU, that would be a clear breach of the pledge. Its sustained failure to provide clarity is in any case incompatible with the pledge. Regardless of the merits of the material presented in the "Take Ownership" workshops, this raises serious questions about the corrosive effects of the Scottish Goverment's policy of secrecy. Secrecy is now particularly inappropriate in view of the very public roll-out of Prevent in Scottish schools.
It is very probable that other Scottish charities and NGOs are accepting funds from the SPVEU. We urge anyone attending an event about matters likely to be of interest to Prevent to ask the organisers whether they have been funded by SPVEU, or otherwise funded in connection with the Prevent strategy.
Full Statement from Amina
Amina - The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre is a national community organisation that works to ensure Muslim and Minority Ethnic women are given the support they need to enable them to live better and safer lives. We have fantastic projects and campaigns that tackle issues affecting communities such as violence against women, a national helpline, community development, employability and more.
"Take Ownership!" is an interactive workshop, created by Amina, aimed at young Muslims aged between 14-25 years old. The aim of the workshop is to empower young Muslims to be active members of their community, encourage them to feel proud of their Scottish Islamic identity and provide a safe space for them to discuss issues that may affect them such as islamophobia, internet safety as well as deconstructing arguments posed by groups like ISIS.
Given recent assertions by SACC and other parties, Amina wishes to confirm that all Take Ownership workshop materials are completely constructed by and are the property of Amina and the project is not funded through UK prevent, rather the Scottish Government, specifically the Equalities, Human Rights and Third Sector.
To date over 100 young people have got involved with workshops and commented that they now feel more confident in reporting a hate crime:
"very helpful for me, I feel confident in reporting racism and islamophobia in the future. it was very interesting with thought provoking discussions"
"I'm glad I attended, the variety of topics covered was excellent and activities were interesting"
"Excellent content, a lot covered. keep these workshops going and come back again!"
Amina would like to thank you for your continued support, and looks forward to continuing this vital work, working with more young people and their parents to ensure active, empowered, and informed communities.