Shrinking of civic space should ring alarm bells

An IHRC Briefing: Shrinking space for CSOs in the UK

29 JULY 2020


The finding by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) that the spaces in which civic organisations can safely operate have shrunk yet again should ring alarm bells in the Union.

According to the second annual consultation carried out by the agency in 2019, half the civil society organisations consulted say that the situation in their country has deteriorated in the last year.

More than half suffered verbal and online threats and attacks, including hate speech, as well as negative media reports about them and 20% were victims of a physical attack targeting their staff or property.

IHRC shares the FRA’s view that “Civil society is an essential component of the democratic system. The quantity, quality and intensity of obstacles affecting civil society’s ability to carry out their work provide an indication of a country’s general state of fundamental rights, democracy and rule of law.”

FRA report also found that regulatory frameworks, such as provisions on freedom of expression, assembly and data protection are inhibiting CSO activity while funding is increasingly a problem as it becomes more and more conditional on conforming to political expectations.

Having experienced some of these challenges ourselves, IHRC is particularly concerned at the impact they are having on Muslim organisations in the UK for whom acceptability, and in some cases even survival, is subject to the exigencies of social engineering programmes masquerading as anti-extremism policies.

An ideological alliance of anti-Muslim governmental agencies such as the Charity Commission and non-governmental agencies such as the Henry Jackson Society and Tony Blair Foundation have made it their mission to stymie Muslim participation in the public arena unless Muslim organisations can demonstrate that they are pro-Zionist and pro-government.

And in funding some of them, the government is actively supporting organisations such as the Henry Jackson Society in their efforts to close down civil society space.

IHRC published a briefing last year highlighting the shrinking political space for CSO’s and warning of its consequences. It is available to read at

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Islamic Human Rights Commission

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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222



Twitter: @ihrc