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Interpal’s Ibrahim Hewitt

This is a guest post by habibi

Interpal claims that it is a “non-political” charity.  This is an interesting contention.

Here is its chairman, Ibrahim Hewitt, participating in one of the London Gaza demos.  Just one day after the fighting began, he claimed that Israel had committed “war crimes”, while a Hezbollah flag fluttered behind him:

And here’s another video of an Interpal representative, Abu Muhammed, addressing a Gaza demo in Preston.  According to him, Israel’s Gaza offensive was an attack against “all humanity” and “95%” of the victims were civilians.  Will the offensive “bring peace to the Zionists?”, he asks.  “Never” is his answer.

But let’s get back to Hewitt.  The Gaza demo was no first.  When Israel killed Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin in 2004, Hewitt addressed a protest rally organised by the hard-core Islamists of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).  Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi and Ismail Patel, both known as supporters of terrorist groups, also spoke at the rally.

In recent years Hewitt has also appeared at several Islamist conferences. In addition to Tamimi and Patel, fellow speakers at these events have included hate preacher Riyadh Ul Haq; Anas al Tikriti, the former president of the MAB, who said “now all of us are Hamas” at one of the January demos; Reza Abu Luqman of Hizb ut Tahrir, who believes a caliphate should “use the economic and military power of the Ummah to liberate Palestine”; Massoud Shadjareh, the head of the Khomeinist “Islamic Human Rights Commission”, which organises the annual “Al Quds Day” hate marches in London; and George Galloway, the well-known supporter of the butchers of the Iraqi “resistance”.

Note that Hewitt is no rogue within Interpal: the charity itself is hardly wary of associating its name with extremists.  On its website, under the heading “Interpal events”, one currently finds meetings featuring speakers Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain, who thinks every day should be Al Quds day; Mohamed Ali Harrath, the CEO of Islam Channel and convicted terrorist; Ismail Patel; Azzam Tamimi; and Anas al Tikriti.

All of this matters, or should matter.

In its new report on Interpal, the Charity Commission demands that the charity cut its links with the Union for Good, a charity grouping headed by Islamist preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi.  This is one of the Commission’s reasons for that decision:

“The risks to the Charity’s reputation arising through statements made by the President of the Union for Good at the time of its formation, which promoted violence as a legitimate form of resistance in support of the Palestinian cause.”

I believe the Commission’s concern is misplaced.  For Hewitt has not been misled or blundered.  No, he has found the right crowd.  Here are some of his own views, mostly expressed in publications of Ismail Patel’s “Friends of al Aqsa”:

On Israel: “By their behaviour in vandalising and destroying Mosques and Churches, the Jews have demonstrated that they cannot be entrusted with the sanctity and security of this Holy Land.”

On Zionism: it is nothing less than “a threat to world peace”.

On Jews and the media: “Much has been said about Zionist control of the media and conspiracy theories abound on this subject. Can there be smoke without fire though?”

On the US government: “Zionism’s puppets”.  By the way, according to Hewitt (see this video from 7:30 in), the US also killed a hajj-illuminated Malcolm X in order to “divide and rule”, just like the British government.

On French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy: Hewitt cites Garaudy approvingly here.

Perhaps the best picture of Hewitt’s extremism emerges in one of his longer works: “What Does Islam Say?”, a pamphlet explaining what he sees as the Islamic approach to several social and political issues.  There is plenty of predictably noxious Islamist fare.  Apostates and proven adulterers get the death penalty.  Sexually active gays must face “severe punishments” for their “great sin”, possibly including death.  Most forms of music are haram, with particular warnings against Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Bizet’s Carmen, which “portray concepts that are alien to Islamic beliefs”, while Vivaldi’s Gloria promotes Christian beliefs which are “in contradiction to Islamic teachings”.

Maybe music is a bugbear because Hewitt used to be a musician.  After he converted to Islam in 1981, though, he burnt his instruments.  He was certainly in need of a radical transformation in those times:

“I might have been an extremely racist person before my embracing Islam, the religion which taught me tolerance and mutual kindness among people and which took away from me the evils of extremism, hatred and cruelty.” He went on to say :“I think that as a result of my excessive racism and extremism, I did not speak to a non-white person for twenty one years of my life. I was proud of myself and of the colour of my skin more than enough.”

I think many people would beg to differ on Hewitt’s version of Islam rescuing him from extremism, but never mind for now. Of particular interest in the Interpal context is Hewitt’s apologia for terrorism in “What Does Islam Say?”.  For him, the terrorist label can be applied widely, and certainly to the US, the UK and Israel.  In the case of the UK, this includes its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As for Palestinian terrorism, not so fast, Hewitt suggests:

International law accepts that people living under illegal military occupation are entitled to fight against the occupiers with whatever means they have at their disposal. If the world does not like, for example, “terrorist suicide bombing” in Palestine (a weapon neither unique to the Palestinians nor invented by them), then, as one Palestinian exile said at a conference in December 2003, “Give us F-16s, Apache helicopters, missiles tanks and heavy weapons, and we’ll have a fair fight”.

Indeed, after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, Hewitt opposed a broad international consensus by urging third parties to work with it through the Palestinian Authority (PA):

Interpal, like many other British NGOs, feels that the PA should have international support no matter which party is at the helm. It is important to raise public awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people and to counter the negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims induced by the global war on terror. The democratic process dictates that any party elected fairly and judiciously by the majority of the people has the legitimacy to rule and must be accorded the courtesies and rights befitting an elected government. All the Western governments which used to work with the previous Palestinian administration should engage in dialogue with, and financially support, the current PA.

Hmm, I rather doubt that Hewitt has ever called for the Muslim countries that refuse to recognise democratic Israel to accord it ”the courtesies and rights befitting an elected government”.

It is simply extraordinary that anyone trusts a man with this record to keep Hamas out of his charity’s operations.

Above all, why did the Charity Commission, which has investigated Interpal for over two years, and which paid such close attention to the role of another trustee, Dr Essam Mustafa, have nothing to say about the issue of the suitably of Mr Hewitt as a charity trustee?