Prominent Muslim organisations in Reading have condemned an Islamic group which has been set up in opposition to the Government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) initiative. Reading Borough Council and Thames Valley Police are implementing a Home Office initiative designed to tackle violent extremism by working with Muslim communities.
The Evening Post reported on Friday that Reading PVE Crisis Group has been set up with the support of more than 1,000 Muslims who feel the Government initiative is unfairly targeting the Muslim community. But a statement from Reading Council for Racial Equality in response to the crisis group said: “We do not recognise the Reading PVE Crisis Group and condemn the way in which they have used the names of legitimate local Muslim organisations in order to justify their own political views.” The contents of the letter issued by the group do not carry the endorsement of many of the organisations listed.
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Council chiefs in one Midland city are spending more than $3 million of taxpayers’ money on fighting extremism. Birmingham City Council has spent $525,000 in the last financial year under the Government’s controversial and secrecy-shrouded Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund (PVE). And it has secured a further $2.4 million under the scheme to spend over the next three years. Councils across the country have received PVE cash to help communities tackle extremism. But there are concerns over how effectively local authorities are using the money. Birmingham City Council used the $525,000 to fund projects at 10 mosques in the city. Dr Mashuq Ally, the council’s Head of Equality and Diversity, the department in charge of deciding how to spend the funds, said the money had been used for 11 projects. He said these focused on young people, religious institutions, and women and media. Among them was a scheme to teach imams English. Another was aimed at developing management structures in the mosques. “It was also about making sure they are embracing the involvement of young people and women in the decision-making process,” Dr Ally said.