Engaging with the Islamic World

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Group.png Engaging with the Islamic WorldRdf-icon.png
Parent organizationUK/FCO

About the Group

The Engaging with the Islamic World (EIW) is a programme operated and funded by the FCO's Strategic Programme Fund (SPF). The EIW 'aims to challenge and change perceptions of the UK' in the Muslim world at home and abroad' and to project Britain 'as modern, multicultural and tolerant'[1]. The EIW does not only aim to promote understanding of British foreign policy abroad, but also has a domestic role in tackling extremism and building an understanding of Islam in Britain. Many of its activities appear to overlap with the activities of the Islamic Media Unit (IMU). Since later Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) publications have made no reference to the IMU it is possible that the EIW programme is its replacement.

The 2003-04 Report of the overarching Global Opportunities Fund (GOF) (subsequently renamed Strategic Programme Fund) described the programme as follows:

The Engaging with the Islamic World program was created to support the FCO role in a cross-government strategy for constructive engagement with the Islamic world and the promotion of peaceful political and economic reform in Arabic countries…the program's main purpose is to support indigenous led change and to encourage a greater understanding and partnership between Islamic countries and the West.

The EIW has run into some controversy in recent years after Civil servant Derek Pasquill leaked a series of Whitehall documents to the Observer and New Statesman related to the US practice of secretly transporting terror suspects to places where they risked being tortured, and UK government policy towards Muslim groups.

Activities

The GOF 2003-2004 Report documented the EIW's activities as the following

The activities supported by the programme are divided into three areas: good governance, rule of law and the participation of women. In 2003-04, the programme focussed on the Middle East and North Africa, although it is now projected to expand its coverage outside the region. In 2003-04 projects were supported in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Yemen[2].
In Year 1 the programme funded 26 projects, which focused on Islamic countries in North Africa and the Middle East; this geographical coverage will expand to cover other countries in Year 2. The programme emphasises the importance of supporting reform that has been called for locally as well as reform that meets government objectives[3].

The Programme’s strategy in its recent 2006-2007 Report had as its main policy objectives to

Increase our understanding of and engagement with Muslim countries and communities and work with them to promote peaceful, political, economic and social reform, in order to reduce extremism;
Counter the ideological and theological underpinnings of the terrorist narrative, and support the voices of moderation within Islam, in order to prevent radicalisation, particularly among the young, in the UK and overseas[4].

The FCO's reports have hailed the project as a success describing its impact overseas as striking. It claims that as a result of its achievemnets 'Britain is seen as a good example of a multiracial, open and tolerant society'[5].

Funding

The annual Budget of the Engaging with the Islamic World programme was £1.52 million, which was increased to £4 million for 2004-05[6] and rose to £9.8 million in 2005-06[7]. In 2006-7 the Programme spent £8.6 million and funded over one hundred separate projects, amounting to 13% of the GOF's spend[8]

People

  • Deputy Director 2006: Andrew Jackson
  • British Ambassador to the Lebanese Republic Frances Guy was head of Engaging with the Islamic World (EIW) between 2004-2006

See also


References

  1. Foreign & Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2005-6, p 36
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office , Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2003-4, December 2004, p 53
  3. Foreign and Commonwealth Office , Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2003-4, December 2004, p 4
  4. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2006-7, p 37
  5. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2005-6, p 34
  6. Foreign and Commonwealth Office , Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2003-4, December 2004, p 53
  7. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2005-6, p 11
  8. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2006-7, p 37