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iEngage Attacks Muslim Liberals, Defends Islamists and Hate Preachers

iEngage is an attack organisation, which hopes to be appointed as the Secretariat to the APPG on Islamophobia. As we will show, this is not an organisation whose primary focus is opposing racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Instead, it is significantly devoted to attacking non-Islamist Muslims and liberals, while defending hate preachers and Islamist political parties.

The following politicians have led the charge to install iEngage as the Secretariat:

  • 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 personally be betraying those Muslims and liberals who are the primary target of iEngage. iEngage is certain to use its authority to continue the attacks on Muslim liberals that have been the hallmark of its campaigning activity to date. The

iEngage puts a significant amount of energy into opposing the Quilliam Foundation and British Muslims for Secular Democracy (“BMSD”), while defending Islamist organisations which have been criticised by both organisations.

Islam Channel

iEngage  has been at the forefront of organising opposition to Quilliam, in defence of the Islam Channel. This is unsurprising: considering that its ‘Trustees” include Mohammed Ali Harrath, a senior member of the minority Tunisian Islamist party, An Nadha/Muslim Brotherhood, who is also the CEO of the Islam Channel.

In April 2009, Quilliam published a report into the Islam Channel identifying presenters linked to extremist politics, some of whom were members of Hizb ut Tahrir. In March 2010, Quilliam produced a second report on the Islam Channel which identifies serious examples of “separatism, extremism, sexism and anti-Semitism”. In November 2010, OFCOM ruled that the Islam Channel has been in serious breach of the OFCOM Code in a number of respects.

iEngage CEO, Mohammed Asif wrote to Charles Farr at the OSCT, to object to a Quilliam Foundation report on the promotion of extremism by the Islam Channel.   He stated:

What the OSCT and the Foreign Office, who fund the QF, surely need to now ask themselves in response to this latest smear campaign is whether their association with a body that British Muslims find abhorrent for its half-baked analysis and laughable policy prescriptions, and which derails the other benign efforts by government departments to fully engage British Muslims in debates on integration and belonging, is a price worth paying?

iEngage also criticised the second report.

In response to the first alert, ENGAGE called Quilliam “stooges” and claimed that they were engaged in a “quest to foster a craven Muslim identity submissive to the warmongers”

Al Muhajiroun

ENGAGE also opposed the ban on Al Muhajiroun and criticised both Quilliam and BMSD for supporting the Government’s decision. They argued

Given that QF and BMSD are both in receipt of government funding under the Prevent programme, their concurring with the ban on Islam4UK is perhaps not entirely unexpected. Noam Chomsky’s insightful phrase ‘manufacturing consent’ comes to mind.

The previous year, BMSD had organised a demonstration against Al Muhajiroun. Inayat Bunglawala responded by forming a now-defunct group, Muslims4UK, which was promoted on iEngage. Inayat Bunglawala explained his reasons for setting up a separate group in emails to his supporters:

I have received some emails from people concerned that British Muslims for Secular Democracy (whose chair [Yasmin Alibhai Brown] opposes the wearing of the hijab, openly admits to drinking alcohol etc) are also demonstrating. Muslims4UK will be completely separate from them and will have our own area and banners and placards, insha’ Allah.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown

Yasmin Alibhai Brown is repeatedly attacked by ENGAGE for her opposition to the niqab and burqa.

Green Lanes Mosque

In December 2009, the Quilliam Foundation reported that the Green Lanes Mosque, a Salafi institution connected to the IERA (see above), had invited hate preachers to speak at a conference. British Muslims  for Secular Democracy put together a letter objecting to the presence of the hate speakers at the conference, which was backed by prominent Muslims, Jews, Christians and Humanists.

iEngage responded by posting articles defending the Green Lanes Mosque and attacking Quilliam and BMSD.

Martin Bright

iEngage opposed the presence of the political journalist, Martin Bright, on a panel organised by the Quilliam Foundation and Progress at the Labour Party Conference in 2009, and encouraged their reader to email John Denham MP to protest

They previously called Martin Bright an “Islamophobe”, and Ed Husain a “disgraced figure”

Extremism in Mosques

iEngage responded to a report by Quilliam that claimed that some mosques were failing to tackle extremism, by claiming that Quilliam was “Zionist” and by observing:

No, the QF’s true function has long been apparent. It is to lay the blame for ‘extremism’ on the Muslim community in Britain and its main institutions while covering up the key role played by thegovernment’s own misguided foreign policies. In return the QF are given large amounts of taxpayers money. How sweet.

“Thuggery and hooliganism”

iEngage denounced an article by Quilliam in the Labour Party magazine, Progress, promoting a report on the BNP’s attacks on Muslims

The Quilliam article also argued that street violence in clashes  between the BNP and Unite Against Fascism were counterproductive.  However, ENGAGE objected to the phrase “thuggery and hooliganism” in the article.

Redbridge Faith Forum on Quilliam

iEngage publicised a report by “Redbridge Faith Forum” which purported to demonstrate that the Quilliam Foundation has “no support amongst UK Muslims”. They neglected to mention that the wife of iEngage founder, Inayat Bunglawala, is the secretary of the body that produced the report.

Attacking other Muslim liberals

iEngage also frequently attacks other Muslim liberals, including Taj Hargey, the chair of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the Imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregation in Oxford. ENGAGE attacked Hargey for his opposition to the burqa, describing him as a “self publicist”

They earlier described him as a “fringe activist“.

iEngage attacked Haras Rafiq, who wrote a letter to the Evening Standard raising concerns about the Islam Channel sponsored conference, the Global Peace and Unity Event, and extremist politics more generally.

Panorama expose of racism and extremism in Saudi funded schools is a “witch hunt”

BBC Panorama broadcast a documentary on 22 November 2010, which exposed that a network of Saudi funded schools were teaching children anti-Semitic material and discussed the punishments that would be applied in an Islamic State to homosexuals

Concern about the content of the textbooks was expressed by prominent Muslim scholars, including Usama Hasan.

Before the programme had aired, iEngage called the documentary a “witch hunt” and encouraged its readers to “contact Panorama with your thoughts and comments on tonight’s programme”

Attacking the Community Security Trust

iEngage promoted an attack by the pro-Iranian pressure group, the Islamic Human Rights Commission on the Jewish organisation, the Community Security Trust which falsely claimed that it “demonises Muslims”.

It is very clear that iEngage, if retained as the secretariat of the APPG, will continue to attack Muslims, liberals and progressives who oppose Islamist political parties and hate preachers. This will not serve the important cause of fighting racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.