British Jewry’s leading communal security expert has explained why he felt obliged to help a Muslim group tackle Islamophobia.
Richard Benson, who retired as chief executive of the Community Security Trust last year after 12 years at the helm, was appointed co-chair of the Tell Mama group this week.
Tell Mama — the Mama stands for “measuring anti-Muslim attacks” — was set up to help British Muslims report discrimination and monitor incidents in a similar way to the CST’s recording of antisemitism. CST has worked closely with the group.
Mr Benson said Fiyaz Mughal, the anti-extremist campaigner who helped set up the group, had approached him to help take Tell Mama “to the next level, to have more success and ensure it has a future”.
“They wanted professional support and that’s why I considered it,” said Mr Benson. “I wanted to be a co-chair with someone from the Muslim community and that’s being finalised now. This won’t be a Muslim organisation led by someone from the Jewish community. My role is to take the expertise I’ve got from CST and give those tools to Tell Mama.”
In the part-time voluntary, role, Mr Benson will concentrate on forming an advisory board and recruiting trustees. Efforts will also be made to secure donations from the Muslim community.
Mr Benson, who remains on CST’s board, said: “I took this on in the best interests of the Jewish community as well. I felt this was part of the work CST does with engaging in other communities. It is part of our obligation to help.”
Mr Mughal was last year engaged in a legal battle with an Israel supporter who he claimed had defamed him on Twitter. He threatened the Jewish woman with libel proceedings after she allegedly criticised Tell Mama on the social networking site…