Bradford Literature Festival boycott over anti-extremism cash

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Bradford Literature Festival

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The Bradford Literature Festival is due to begin on 28 June

Six authors have pulled out of a literature festival after discovering the event received funding from a government counter-extremism scheme.

Bradford Literature Festival receives money from the Home Office’s Building a Stronger Britain Together project.

Poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan said she did not want “to provide credibility or legitimacy to the counter-extremism project”.

Festival organisers said they “regretted” the withdrawals.

In a post on her Twitter page, Ms Manzoor-Khan praised the work of the festival with the local community, but said she was “alarmed” that it received Home Office funding.

“The government’s counter-extremism strategy relies on the premise that Muslims are predisposed to violence and therefore require monitoring and surveillance,” she said.

Five other writers have also announced their withdrawal from the festival over the issue.

The festival said it aimed to use “the power of literature to strengthen communities and bring people from all walks of life together”.

Their statement added: “As a South Asian, Muslim-led organisation, BLF is entirely conscious of the opinion some parts of the Muslim community hold about the BSBT programme – and whilst we acknowledge and value the perspective and opinion, it isn’t one, on this matter, that we share.”

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Poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan criticised the Building a Stronger Britain Together initiative

The Home Office said the BSBT programme was set up in 2015 “to stand up to extremism in all its forms and promote fundamental British values”.

“It is disappointing that some individuals are seeking to undermine and misrepresent the incredibly valuable work done in communities by our Building a Stronger Britain Together partners,” a Home Office spokesperson added.

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