Martin Derek Bright (born 5 June 1966) is a British journalist. He worked for the BBC World Service and The Guardian before becoming The Observer's education correspondent and then home affairs editor. From 2005 to 2009, he was the political editor of New Statesman. He had a blog for The Spectator, and was The Jewish Chronicle's political editor from September 2009 to March 2013. In 2014 he took a position at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, but resigned after five months over a lack of editorial autonomy.
Since the late twentieth century, he has particularly covered the rise of Muslim extremism, terrorist attacks in Britain and abroad, and aspects of British governmental relations with the Muslim community in the United Kingdom.
In 2009 Bright founded New Deal of the Mind, a charitable company to promote employment in creative fields and working with organisations, government and all political parties.
In 2001, Bright wrote "The Great Koran Con Trick", an article in the New Statesman about the work of the Islamicist scholars John Wansbrough, Michael Cook, Patricia Crone, Andrew Rippin and Gerald Hawting, associated in the 1970s with the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He reported the work of the scholars as "revisionist history" of Islam. They have developed new techniques of analysis, in some cases adopting methods from earlier biblical studies and using a wider range of sources, including non-Muslim, non-Arabic texts. Their conclusions have included:
Bright's arguments were ridiculed and debunked by the very scholars--including his own former SOAS tutor, Professor Gerald Hawting--whose work he drew upon to support his cover story. Three of these scholars wrote to the New Statesman raising objections to the article with one commenting that the "spurious air of conspiracy and censorship conjured up in Martin Bright's article is nonsense".
New archeological finds, such as scraps of manuscript at the Great Mosque of Sana'a in Yemen, have supported suggestions of the development of the Koran over time. Some of the scholars reportedly disagreed with Bright's characterization of their work. The article was considered controversial among traditionalist Muslims. The Muslim intellectual Ziauddin Sardar argued the SOAS scholars approached the material from a Eurocentric point of view.
In a documentary, Who Speaks for Muslims? (2002), and When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: The British State's flirtation with radical Islamism (2006), a report for the Policy Exchange, Bright has examined issues of the contemporary Muslim community in the United Kingdom and the government's relationship with its constituencies. This has been a focus of his journalism.
Bright left the New Statesman in January 2009, and began writing a blog, "The Bright Stuff - Dispatches from Enemy Territory," for The Spectator.
In January 2009, Bright formed New Deal of the Mind, a coalition of artists, entrepreneurs, academics and opinion formers working to boost employment in Britain's creative sector during the recession. The organisation was launched formally at Number 11 Downing Street on 24 March 2009. The launch seminar was attended by more than 60 of Britain's leading creative industry figures, as well as several ministers and politicians from across the political spectrum.
In January, 2014, he took a position at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as editor of a new website on religion and globalisation produced in conjunction with the Harvard Divinity School. He resigned after five months, feeling Blair did not give him the autonomy he needed.