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Home Office secretly funded Muslim lifestyle site


The SuperSisters, started independently in 2015 in the wake of Shamima Begum's departure to Syria, accepts funding from the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme run by the government.  (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images).
The SuperSisters, started independently in 2015 in the wake of Shamima Begum's departure to Syria, accepts funding from the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme run by the government. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images).

AN online lifestyle website targeting British Muslim teenage girls is covertly funded by the Home Office’s counter-extremism programme, the Observer has learned.

The SuperSisters, started independently in 2015 in the wake of Shamima Begum’s departure to Syria, accepts funding from the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme run by the government.

The revelation of the website’s funding has resulted in two of its employees resigning in protest.

Sabah Ismail, who was formerly employed as London manager at SuperSisters, said she quit because she feltused as a “female, Muslim puppet.”

Ismail wrote: “The funding was always an issue for me and only now I am truly seeing it all for what is really is. I was always aware that the project was funded by BSBT, and it was never something I was comfortable with although I didn’t know too much about it.

“Only in the last few days I have come to realise that the project was initially funded under the PREVENT strategy over three years ago, which quite honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach.

“In my naivety, I thought that through this ‘opportunity’ at SuperSisters I really could help to make a real change, pushing forward a different narrative from Muslim women themselves, showing that we are empowered and multi-faceted, and in a way, kind of turn the project on its head, putting up a middle finger at the funders.

“I realise now that with the Home Office funding the project at the root, there was no way I could do this regardless of the content I was pushing out.”

The government’s Prevent strategy is currently under independent review following allegations that it was acting as a state unit for spying on Muslims.

J-Go’s directors, Jon Hems and Jan Bros, told The Observer: “Where we acknowledge we went wrong, and we apologise for it, is not more clearly stating the source of funding on the SuperSisters Instagram and blog, not just our [parent] website [J-GoLtd.com].”

They added: “Countering extremism for us is about sharing an alternative narrative to highlight positive stories coming from a diverse contributor network.”