The left-wing think tank that released a controversial report about Islamophobia on Twitter was directly funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
Left-wing think tank Demos released a new report that conflates Islamophobia with any criticism of Islam Friday claiming that Islamophobic tweets had become so frequent that Twitter should actively engage in censorship to stop the comments. Leaked documents from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) show that George Soros’ organization funded Demos to be able to conduct research over social media platforms like Twitter.
According to the document, “List of European Elections 2014 Projects,” Demos received 129,484 dollars from Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), the European arm of the international foundation. The description of the money claims the funds are to be used to create software to scour data on Twitter. It reads, “Demos will produce tools and techniques, like open source software, that could be used to analyze real time Twitter data, in order to allow campaigners to increase turnout of target groups. These tools will be made available online free of charge.”
Chief Executive Claudia Wood claims that the method developed by Demos could identify “hateful, derogatory, and anti-Islamic” tweets in real time, exactly the features described by the leaked Soros document. The leak also specifies that Demos received the grant from OSIFE in order that they share the software with other groups across Europe. “Demos will also train advocates and civil society groups interested in civic and political participation through a series of two-day face-to-face workshops in France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK,” the document reads.
The Demos study was criticised by National Secular Society communications officer Benjamin Jones who remarked that the methodology of the study was unsound and claiming a link between violent passages in the Koran and racism,”creates a false moral equivalence between racism and criticising a set of ideas.”
While there is no mention of Islamophobia in the Demos grant, there are several other grants listed that specifically tackle criticism of Islam. In the Netherlands OSIFE directly funded groups that claimed to be tackling Islamophobia including Spior and umbrella organization for Islamic groups in Rotterdam.
OSIFE gave the group 24,970 dollars over a period of five months in 2012 to “realize a preliminary research into the nature and principal features of islamophobia in the Netherlands, preceding the development and executing of a (periodical) monitor on islamophobia,” showing that the foundation was, at the time, keen on developing a means to monitor Islam-critical speech online. Spior received a further 100,000 dollars in 2013 to, “promote participation in the political process amongst underrepresented groups, particularly migrants, women and Muslims.”
Censorship of Muslim and migrant critical speech online has become a major issue in European countries like Germany and the UK. In Germany dozens of people have had their homes raided by police for anti-migrant comments and in the UK Muslim critical comments have led to arrests and fines. London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan has also vowed to create an “Online Hate Crime Hub” to monitor so-called hate crimes.