|Version number||Purpose / Changes||Author||Date|
|0.1||Initial draft.||Communica Consulting||15/04/17|
|1.0||Amended 3.46 & 3.47, added 3.48, 3.49 & 3.50. Amended Appendix A. Document approved.||CEO||28/04/17|
|1.1||Added appendix B “Extremism Checklist for Written & Audio/Visual Work”, and amended 3.27.||CEO||27/11/17|
|1.2||Amended appendix A to make it more applicable to non-staff and volunteers.||CEO||12/12/17|
|1.3||Amended appendix A to make point 12 applicable to relevant personnel.||CEO||08/02/18|
|1.4||Amended appendix B. Added points 3.24||K.Chiu||19/06/18|
|Date of approval||20 May 2017 Board meeting
12 December 2017 Board approved by email
|Date of next review||April 2018|
|Review period||On a yearly basis|
|Owner||iERA (The board of Trustees)|
1. POLICY STATEMENT.
1.1 iERA is a registered charity. Our main object is the “The advancement ofreligion”, specifically the religion of Islam.
1.2 The advancement of the Islamic religion necessarily involves the following areas of work:
- 1.2.1 Training, education and awareness sessions for new and non-Muslims.
- 1.2.2 Public lectures.
- 1.2.3 Religious and nonreligious debates and discussions. The provision of public speaking events where Muslim and non-Muslims can engage with, challenge and debate religious and nonreligious ideas and concepts.
- 1.2.4 Development and distribution of religious publications.
- 1.2.5 Public proselytizing.
1.3 The above areas of work can involve holding events or activities where speakers with different Islamic ideas, beliefs, and opinions can debate with and engage with each other, and be challenged.
1.4 Achieving our objects and attracting large and diverse audiences, inevitably involves inviting popular, charismatic and sometimes controversial speakers. There is also demand from Muslim audiences to hear and see the most popular and best orators address them. Therefore, the use of high profile, popular and articulate public speakers is necessary for us to fulfil our objectives as a charity.
1.5 As a Muslim charity, we receive funding entirely from Muslims. We therefore have a duty to ensure that the Muslim community’s’ rights and freedoms to hear a full range of views and opinion on Islam are not restricted in a climate of rising anti-Islamic sentiment and hatred.
1.6 We acknowledge that we have a civic and legal duty to ensure that our charity is not used for speeches and activities that are unlawful and not conducive to community cohesion.
1.7 We recognise that for any knowledge to advance it is sometimes necessary to hear and interrogate views that are labelled as “radical” and “extremist” which in time may become the norm in society. These views may well be outside the current norms of society. We also accept that “extremist” and “radical” views are not necessarily against the law or contrary to the public good, therefore we need to ensure freedom of religious expression is not curtailed.
1.8 This policy is being introduced to ensure that iERA achieves balance of responsibilities in its work and:
- 1.8.1 Holds events where the manner of educating, speaking and debating complies with Islamic standards and presents Islam in the best manner.
- 1.8.2 Continues to achieve its objectives of advancing the Islamic religion.
- 1.8.3 Does not break any laws, specifically on terrorism and hate crime.
- 1.8.4 Promotes community cohesion.
- 1.8.5 Meets Charity Commission guidance on Extremism published in January 2013, in line with Government Policy.
1.9 The policy seeks to ensure that iERA effectively manages any potential legal and reputational risks, associated with holding public events and activities where staff, subcontractors, volunteers and Muslim speakers can be subject to public scrutiny and labelled as extremists.
1.10 It is also about ensuring that iERA complies with the law and regulatory guidance of the Charity Commission on Extremism, the Policy will seek to ensure the right balance is struck between managing risk and facilitating freedom of expression, including associating with other coreligionists to advance their religion and knowledge.
1.11 To this extent we will:
- 1.11.1 Ensure steps are taken where those involved with iERA, and in the delivery of its activities, do not break the law in relation to violence, terrorism, and hate crime.
- 1.11.2 Ensure procedures are in place to prevent the promotion of violence, terrorism and hate at our events or activities.
- 1.11.3 Ensure procedures are in place to ensure that extremism and hate towards others is not promoted at our events and activities.
- 1.11.4 Ensure that where controversial speakers and topics are to be debated firm management is in place.
- 1.11.5 Effectively manage the risk of negative publicity and public perception of extremism in our activities.
- 1.11.6 In the management of risk, we will try to ensure that media publicity arising from campaigns by external groups/parties with political agendas does not lead to unnecessary restrictions on activities and freedoms of Muslims and the Islamic faith.
- 1.11.7 Our policy and procedures will also cover online/media activities and educational and marketing materials produced by iERA.
- 1.11.8 In line with Islamic requirements we will ensure that our activities promote good relations, cohesion and respect between all communities, faiths and races.
- 1.11.9 In line with Islamic requirements we will ensure that the language used by speakers is etiquettes for speaking set out in the Quran and Sunnah.
- 1.11.10 As a charity that is focused on the advancement of the Islamic religion we understand that we have to address and provide learning on those areas deemed controversial in the wider public. We will manage activities in a way that the scope for misunderstanding and negative publicity is reduced.
- 1.11.12 Provide a vehicle where those who feel we have breached the policy and have a grievance can make a complaint.
2. THE LAW, RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
2.1 The Trustees of iERA have a duty to uphold the rights of people using its facilities. They must also protect the iERA from harm, especially from abuse for extremist purposes. As set out in the Charity Commission’s Compliance Toolkit:
“All charities must comply with UK law and so must not promote or support terrorism or extremism, or other illegal conduct, such as racial or religious hatred. Nor can a charity’s name, premises or money be used to promote extremist and other activities which are inappropriate under charity law.”1
2.2 Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
2.3 The Human Rights Act 1998, which allows the European Convention on Human Rights to be enforceable through the UK courts, gives protection for freedom of thought, conscience, expression and association, and protection from discrimination.
2.4 Freedom of speech is not without limits. There are occasions when it is necessary to curtail freedom of speech, e.g. if it is known that a speaker at an event may:
- 2.4.1 commit a criminal offence
- 2.4.2 incite others to commit a criminal act
- 2.4.3 discriminate against a protected group
2.5 Trustees must:
- 2.5.1 act reasonably and prudently in all matters relating to their charity.
- 2.5.2 always act in the charity’s interests.
- 2.5.3 safeguard and protect the charity’s assets, including its reputation.
2.6 The Charity Commission’s Compliance Toolkit states, with regards to legal obligations placed on charities:
“Trustees should normally consider obtaining external professional advice on matters where there may be material risk to the charity, or where the trustees may be in breach of their duties and on complex legal matters. In higher risk situations, it will be difficult to see how they could show they have discharged their duties without doing so. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to seek formal regulatory advice from the Commission under section 110 Charities Act 2011 that they are acting within their charity law duties.”
“Trustees must comply with the rules on carrying out political activities. For example, trustees must not allow the charity to be used as a vehicle for the expression of the political views of any individual trustee or staff member (in this context this means personal or party political views).”2
2.7 The Terrorism Act 2000 makes it a criminal offence to support, incite or encourage others to commit acts of terrorism or to glorify terrorism, whether directly or indirectly. This includes support for proscribed terrorist groups.
2.8 The Charity Commission’s Compliance Toolkit states, with regards to this:
“It is sufficient if the speaker is reckless as to whether members of the public may be encouraged to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism. Charities cannot provide a platform for or condone or support terrorist activities or ideologies. Trustees must be vigilant to ensure that a charity’s premises, assets, staff, volunteers and other resources cannot be used for activities that may, or may appear to, support or condone terrorist activities.”
“Charity trustees may commit a criminal offence if the charity is connected to or supports a proscribed organisation. Trustees must therefore put in place proper procedures for managing the risks of coming into contact with proscribed organisations, designated persons, groups or entities and take appropriate steps if the situation arises.”
“Even indirect or informal links with a proscribed terrorist organisation pose unacceptable risks to the property of a charity and its proper and effective administration. This may be an association with someone who is a known supporter of a proscribed organisation, or allowing a member of a proscribed organisation to influence the behaviour or activities of the charity. Examples of indirect or informal links to proscribed organisations include allowing or using charity premises, events, website or literature to support a proscribed organisation. Trustees must ensure that the risks caused by associating with such persons or organisations are properly assessed and managed.”3
RACIAL & RELIGIOUS HATRED.
2.9 The incitement of hatred or violence by a member of staff, subcontractor, volunteer or speaker, based on religious or racial grounds, as outlined in the Government’s legislation ‘Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006’, is unacceptable.
2.10 Charity law prohibits the use of charities for the promotion of any political party or candidate. Nor does it permit the use of its facilities/services/events to be used to canvas people for political purposes.
2.11 In the aftermath of the Lutfur Rahman ruling, charities and particularly religious preachers exercising “spiritual influence” must not use their influence for the promotion of a political party or a candidate.
2.12 Some forms of political activity and lobbying which relate to the charity’s objects may can be permissible.
2.13 Therefore, as a rule iERA will not allow its charity to be used for party political purposes.
3. PROCEDURE. RESPONSIBILITY.
3.1 All Trustees, staff, subcontractors, volunteers, speakers will be made aware of this policy and must sign a statement agreeing not to breach its core principles. These signed statements will be kept on our files (see Appendix A).
3.2 We will provide training to trustees, staff, subcontractors and volunteers on this policy, Charity Commission guidance on terrorism, extremism, political activities and the law. This training will also include an understanding on the law around freedom of expression and rights.
3.3 To assist us in the management of risk, a Risk Management Group (RMG) comprising of trustees, staff, and external adviser will be established.
3.4 The RMG will effectively continuously review all activities to develop guidance on standards and ethics. It will also manage general iERA risks and around events/activities and discuss speakers, and topics.
3.5 The RMG will always meet to discuss any proposed event or activity and carry out risk assessments. Its operation and terms of reference are set out in iERA’s Risk Management Policy.
3.6 See iERA’s Risk Management Policy. SPEAKERS, GUIDANCE, AND CONTROVERSY.
3.7 Anyone whose views pose a high risk of breaking the law, inciting hate, damaging good community relations and the good name of the charity will not be granted permission to speak. All other speakers will be asked to provide a bio and subject to due diligence.
3.8 Where controversial speakers are invited, the reasons for inviting them and how the decision was reached will be recorded.
3.9 In determining the appropriateness of speakers and topics we will carry out (or ask those commissioned to carry out) checks to see if their known views on a topic are “extremist” or “pro-terrorist”.
3.10 Where there are controversial topics or speakers we may:
- 3.10.1 Ask them to provide an outline of their proposed speech
- 3.10.2 Give them guidance on topic and areas they are not allowed to cover
- 3.10.3 Ask them to put into context any statements so they cannot be misunderstood. These will be provided to speakers before they speak.
- 3.10.4 In all cases speakers, will be provided with section 2 of this policy and a general statement to sign saying they have understand the law and our ethos and will not say or do anything that will contravene it (see Appendix A).
3.11 Reports and Minutes of any meetings, discussion with speakers, decisions will be clearly dated, recorded, and kept on file. This is necessary should they be required at short notice by the Charity Commission for inspection.
3.12 Where it is necessary to have speakers and topics that are controversial and or extremist, the RMG may recommend placing a warning on events that some people may find some of the views offensive and controversial.
3.13 All invited speakers will receive a verbal explanation of our policy. They must sign a statement of agreement to abide by the general ethos and key principles of the policy. This will be kept on file.
3.14 The statement of agreement will ask speakers to refrain from extremist and hateful, unlawful speech and adhere to any additional guidance we provide.
3.15 This will also include guidance from the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah on the best way of dialogue with adherents of religious or non-religious beliefs, and the duty to have good and relations with one’s neighbours and communities.
3.16 At the beginning of each event or activity a representative of iERA will reaffirm and explain our policy and reiterate that insightful and hateful behaviour will not be tolerated.
3.17 Speeches and events will be recorded and retained, within permitted budgets for events.
3.18 If comments are made during an event and in the presence of trustees and officials of the charity; the speaker will be asked to clarify their view. If it is determined a breach of this policy, they will be asked refrain or in the most serious cases to leave the panel. The trustees or their representative will re-affirm their policy, and put into context any statement that may give rise to accusations of extremism.
3.19 If a member of the audience makes such comments, or provides answers that breach the policy, the same principles as 3.22 will apply.
3.20 Where it appears, a speaker has discussed a topic that may seem to potentially break the law a representative of iERA will make it clear that it in no way endorses the comment or breaking the law, and the speaker will be asked to stop their speech and leave the panel.
PUBLICATIONS, EDUCATIONAL AND MARKETING MATERIALS, SOCIAL MEDIA.
3.21 Any courses materials and books or other publications will also be reviewed for adherence to this policy, before publication and circulation.
3.22 Any leaflets, publicity and marketing materials including media press releases, interviews and website content, will be subject to the same review.
3.23 All audio/ visual/ written publications will be reviewed by an internal member of staff who has had no involvement in the publication.
3.24 CEO must give final approval of the audio/ visual/ written publications. If CEO has contributed to the audio/ visual/ written publications, final approval must be given by a member of Trustee.
3.25 Identified senior members of staff will review any materials and assess them for risks of being perceived or labelled as extremism or breaches of the law.
3.26 A record of the review will be retained with signed approval of the material before publication.
3.27 Staff with responsibilities for updating social media will also ensure adherence to this policy.
3.28 All staff with responsibilities for implementing this policy must be trained and able to identify potentially damaging, or unlawful comments.
3.29 A checklist will be prepared against which all publications must be assessed. See appendix B.
THIRD PARTY INFORMATION AND RELATIONS.
3.30 All external leafleting at events run by iERA will be prohibited unless they have been approved beforehand and meet with the requirements of the policy. At any talk this policy will be reaffirmed and speakers and audience will be asked not to distribute anything at the event, or make such comments which breach this policy.
3.31 We will also try to ensure that others we have contractual relationships with, also adhere to our policy.
3.32 Allegations of extremism, violent or pro-terrorist speeches or offensive/abusive comments must be made in the first instance in writing to the trustees.
3.33 The individual may be sent a form to complete providing further information and witnesses.
3.34 Any complainant that goes straight to the media first before making a complaint to the trustees will be considered malicious and not dealt with unless the vice chairman decides it needs investigation.
3.35 Any trustee, staff, subcontractors, volunteers or representative of iERA that wishes to make a complaint and goes straight to the media or other body, without first complaining to the trustees, will be liable to instant dismissal for bringing the charity into disrepute.
3.36 Any allegation must be made in writing by a bona fide person and provide evidence, i.e. incident, time and date, what was said, and by whom and the reasons why it was considered extremist or hateful. No general accusations will be entertained.
3.37 Names of witnesses may need to be provided.
3.38 If the complaint is made during one of our events, or by the media, we may seek to investigate the incident immediately and respond to the complainant or the make a public statement.
3.39 Trustees will consider the complaint to see if the policy has been breached and make a decision or, they make ask an independent person or expert to look at it and advise.
3.40 Where we are certain someone has broken the law, we will inform the Police.
3.41 If the complaint is upheld the speaker will be asked to either clarify his comment and we may make the clarification public, if this is after the event. If he/she refuses or repeats the comments they will be asked not take part in future events.
3.42 At an event if a member of the public makes a complaint we will ask the speaker to clarify the comment through the Chair of the panel or a trustee or senior member of staff. If the comment is considered a breach of our policy, we will ask the speaker to clarify or refrain from similar comments. If they continue to make the comment we will ask them not to take any further part in the event.
3.43 All complaints and decisions will be kept on file.
MONITORING AND REVIEW.
3.44 We will update the trustees on a regular basis on the number of complaints and issues arising under this policy and procedure.
3.45 An independent annual report on the effectiveness of this policy and procedure will be carried out and the policy updated.
3.46 The RMG will continue to develop standards and ethics on methods of Dawah.
DEFINITION OF EXTREMISM.
3.47 The Charity Commission adopts the definition of extremism used by the Government’s Prevent policy (see 3.47).
3.48 As there is no legal definition of extremism iERA reserves the right to seek professional advice on whether comments, statements or behaviour may be considered extremist, and to challenge the conflicting interpretations.
3.49 “Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas”.
3.50 All trustees, staff, subcontractors, speakers and volunteers will immediately inform the CEO if anyone connected to iERA is suspected to support, incite or encourage others to commit acts of terrorism or to glorify terrorism, whether directly or indirectly.
3.51 The CEO will then inform the relevant authorities and open a serious incident file. See iERA’s Serious Incident Policy.
3.52 The above does not apply to any imminent threat. All trustees, staff, subcontractors, speakers and volunteers will immediately inform the relevant authorities.
APPENDIX A: STRICTLY PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL
iERA AGREEMENT FORM AND GUIDELINES FOR STAFF, SUBCONTRACTORS, VOLUNTEERS AND SPEAKERS.
iERA has adopted an extremism policy to enable it to comply with its duties under the law.
By signing this form it does not necessarily mean you are a member of staff, subcontractor, volunteer or speaker. You may be asked to sign this form if you plan to print or distribute our publications, have a formal meeting with us, enter into a working relationship with us or engage in any activity that has sufficient reason to be covered by this policy.
We expect all staff, subcontractors, volunteers and speakers (whether at our events or representing iERA at external events) to abide by the policy’s core ethos and principles. This is set out in the code below. As part of this policy all staff, subcontractors, volunteers and speakers are expected to sign this code of conduct agreement.
Please read the code below and complete and sign the form to indicate your agreement to abide by it. You:
- will ensure that you do not promote, advocate or endorse hatred, violence against anyone, or any group, faith or community, in the UK or overseas.
- must not promote, endorse, glorify or praise terrorism in any form.
- must not express support for any proscribed terrorist group.
- will not break any laws, at home or when travelling abroad.
- will not promote, advocate or endorse the breaking of any laws at home or abroad.
- will ensure that you do not promote, advocate or endorse any intolerance against anyone, or group, faith or community, in the UK or overseas.
- must ensure any quotes from the Qur’an, Prophetic Sunnah and Islamic Scholars are clearly placed in context and not left for the public, audience or media to infer support for hatred or violence.
- will ensure, if applicable, that your presentation is appropriate to the age and understanding of the audience.
- must always be appropriately dressed for any iERA event and adopt the correct language, and behaviour.
- must ensure the content of the speech/presentation must contribute to iERA’s aims and objectives of advancing the Islamic faith and educating the audience in accordance with authentic Islamic teaching.
- must not promote or endorse any political party or candidate during working hours or at any iERA events.
- are not permitted to raise or gather funds for any external organisation or cause without express written permission from the Board of trustees. Applicable to staff, subcontractors, iERA speakers and fundraising volunteers only (this does not apply to non-fundraising volunteers).
- agree, if applicable, to iERA staff (or anyone with delegated authority) and trustees having the right and responsibility to interrupt and/or stop the talk/presentation for any violation of this agreement, and asking the speaker to leave the panel.
- agree that any violation of this policy will be considered gross misconduct, which lead to immediate dismissal. Applicable to staff, subcontractors, iERA speakers and volunteers only.