Evangelising hate – a report into iERA

Here’s a link to a timely new reportEvangelising Hate – Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) – by Al Razi of the Council of Ex-Muslims’ Forum.  iERA is currently being investigated by the Charities Commission due to concerns relating to governance (p. 6).

CEMB Forum’s premise is that iERA should be classified as a hate group, by analogy with organisations such as AFA (the American Family Association). iERA’s protestations that it is simply promoting traditional Islamic values cannot be accepted as a justification for its activities. Neither should the ‘ideal state’ proviso be used as a get out of jail free card.

“Imagine if someone said that they believed Muslims / Jews / black people deserve to be killed, but not right now. Only in an “ideal state”. That is exactly what they’re saying about ex-Muslims and apostates. It’s as sinister and wickedmas that. That’s what it boils down to”. (p. 7)

The names, and the catalogue of antisemitism, anti-kuffar bigotry, homophobia and intolerance will be familiar to most readers. For example on p.13 you can read iERA Chairman Abdurraheem Green’s pronouncements on penalties for adultery and homosexuality – he explains that the death penalty is justified because it prevents greater harm to society.

He doesn’t like democracy much either.

“Who knows, maybe they’ll make it law to kill Muslims? Why not? If enough of them say yes… ‘votes, yes, fifty percent, sixty percent’…that’s it, it’s the law now. Democracy. (p. 15)

(I don’t suppose the irony of this really quite misplaced anxiety was lost on the report’s compilers.)

Colleague Hamza Tzortzis rejects the concept of freedom of speech, and indeed freedom in general (p. 16). Adnan Rashid, another senior iERA figure, specializes in Takfir (p. 18):

Rashid says that Muslims who disagree with theocracy and the political imposition of Sharia laws are “opposing Islam”.“May Allah guide some of these people with Muslim names who appear to be opposing Islam. They are either very ignorant or are a bunch of hypocrites, pretending to be Muslims”.

Saleem Chagtai tries to soften the idea that apostasy should be punished by death.

“The person is given the chance to repent, to think about what they are doing, and really, given that it is a capital offence, then really only a person who wants to be a martyr or a lunatic would actually go and advocate, ‘yes I have left the religion and am open about it’”. (p. 19)

The same argument could of course be used to soothe Green’s worries about Islam being made a capital offence.

Later sections of the report detail Yusuf Chambers’ despicable comments about homosexuality (pp. 22-3) and Zakir Naik’s views on apostasy (p. 26).

The final section, rather topically, focuses on Mo Ansar and his defence of iERA and its preachers. Ironically, given that Ansar likes to project himself as a strong supporter of LGBT rights, he objected to Tell MAMA patron Peter Tatchell’s very understandable objections to iERA.

“A Muslim organization called IERA do a massive amount of outreach work to dispel myths and… misconceptions about Muslims which leads to horrific Islamophobia. PT [Peter Tatchell] went out of his way to block a conference…… being organised by them on combatting Islamophobia. He petitioned the hotel and used his website and influence to… activate a mass movement against IERA and the hotel chain. Appalling use of islamophobic language….. and total refusal to engage, discuss at all his actions, or apologise.

As Ali Razi rightly points out:

This is a perfect example of how iERA apologists suggest that criticising the hate speech which is normalised by iERA is itself an act of prejudice. (p. 40)

This is a very useful resource, and I hope it is widely read.  There is nothing bigoted in drawing attention to these problems, and those behind the report actively oppose all hate, including that directed against Muslims.

Update: iERA has produced a response.

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