As you will have read, an Islamist organisation called iEngage has been saved – by one vote – from being expelled as the Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia. Those politicians who have saved iEngage’s skin are:
- Stephen Timms
- Sadiq Khan
- Jack Straw
- Lord Sheik
- Peter Bottomley
- Simon Hughes
If they allow iEngage to continue as Secretariat to the APPG, they will have done this country, and Muslims in particular, a terrible disservice.
There is a good case for an All Party Parliamentary Group to examine anti Muslim bigotry and conspiracism about Islam. However, iEngage is not a suitable body to act as its secretariat. Consideration should be given to replacing iEngage with an established anti-racist organisation, such as Searchlight, or with a more appropriate Muslim group without links to extreme politics.
Engage was launched in October 2008, with a board of trustees that included Mohammed Ali Harrath, a man who is a senior member in the An Nadha/Muslim Brotherhood group: a minority Islamist party in Tunisia. From its actions, it is very clear that iEngage exists, not to protest racism, but as an attack organisation, which vilifies opponents of Islamist political parties.
During the past two years, ENGAGE has:
- Attacked journalists and campaigners who have carefully raised concerns about links between specific Muslim institutions, hate preachers and particular Islamist political parties.
- Defended hate preachers and protested their exclusion from the United Kingdom by the Government.
- Attacked Muslim campaigning groups and individuals who have opposed Islamist politics or political extremism.
- Attacked David Cameron and Hazel Blears for breaking off relations with the Muslim Council of Britain, after Daud Abdullah, the Deputy Secretary General, refused to remove his signature from the Istanbul Declaration, which threatened terrorist attacks.
- Objected to the banning of Hizb ut Tahrir from a university campus, and defended a Hizb ut Tahrir-run primary school.
- Defended a senior Islamist activist who had written an article supportive of attacks on British troops in Iraq.
- Written to the Foreign Secretary to oppose the imposition of sanctions on Iran.
- Written to various politicians urging governmental dialogue with Hamas.
There is a real danger that iEngage will seek to prevent non or anti-Islamist Muslims from participating fully in the APPG, and will use it as a platform to attack, not those who hate Muslims, but those who are critical of Islamist political parties. The potentially important findings and recommendations of the APPG will be undermined by the involvement of iEngage.
Over the next few days, we’ll be posting material which demonstrates this group’s nature.