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Islamic Network claims “witchhunt”; continues to promote extremist preachers

This is a cross-post from Stand for Peace

The Islamic Network, whose website Stand for Peace recently exposed as a repository for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate speech, is now complaining that it is the latest victim of “witch hunts against Muslims.”

Following an investigation of Stand for Peace’s revelations by BBC News, the NHS suspended the Islamic Network’s chairman, Shahid Sardar, from his job as Head of Public Engagement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex.

A spokesman for the charity, however, has since told Third Sector that the offensive material on its website – which included calls for homosexuals to be “destroyed by fire,” and claims that “the Jews scheme and crave after possessing Muslim lands” – was over ten years old and “clearly do[es] not represent our views.”

“The IN emphatically refutes any allegation that it promotes or advocates hate of any community or individuals,” the spokesman said.

The Third Sector article also indirectly quotes a spokesperson excusing extremist content on the charity’s website: “the charity had started to sift through all 2,000 articles on the inherited website in 2013, after it appointed a new chair, Shahid Sardar, but that this had been a slow process because it was run solely by volunteers.”

Stand for Peace finds this defence unconvincing. Shahid Sardar has, in fact, been the chairman of the Islamic Network since at least 2011, according to the charity’s own accounts.

In addition, over the past year, the Islamic Network has continued to host and promote, on countless occasions, some of the most objectionable hate preachers in Britain and elsewhere.

Take, for instance, Abdur Raheem Green (promoted by the Islamic Network herehereherehere and here), who has complained of the “Yehudi [Jewish] … stench” and urged Muslims to “push them [Jews] to the side.” He also advocated a “slow and painful death by stoning” for homosexuals.

Then there is Ismail Menk (whom the Islamic Network promotes here and here), who describes gay people as “filthy” and “worse than … pigs and dogs.”

Other speakers include Ahmad Musa Jibril (promoted here and here), described by the Guardian as a “radical cleric using social media to back British jihadists in Syria;” Assim al-Hakeem (herehere and here), who regards sex-slavery and female genital mutilation as “permissible;” Murtaza Khan (here), the 9/11 Truther who thinks the Jews are “controlling everything;” Haitham al-Haddad (here), who calls Jews “apes and pigs” and suicide bombing “permissible”; and many more besides.

Perhaps most incriminating for the Islamic Network, however, is its promotion of speeches by two preachers who have been banned from the UK for hate speech: Mohammed al-Arifi (here), who waxes lyrical about “the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah” being, “undoubtedly, an honour for the believer;” and Bilal Philips (hereherehere and here), the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.

On top of all this, in 2013, the Islamic Network encouraged its supporters to donate to HHUGS, an extremist charity whose patrons include confessed terrorist Moazzam Begg, who was recently charged under terrorism offences after returning from a trip to Syria. The HHUGS website has featured articles defending Munir Farooqi, who was “convicted of preparing terror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature”; and Khaled al-Fawwaz, who is on the UN sanctions list of persons associated with al-Qaeda and was extradited to the US in 2012 to stand trial pursuant to his 1998 indictment on 269 counts of murder.

One HHUGS video promoted by the Islamic Network includes a speech by former Guantanamo inmate Omar Deghayes, in which he praises terror suspects as “the best among us”, and that, “they are accused of terrorism because they stand and speak the truth. They usually are accused of terrorism because they uncover the falsehood and they are active. And they are angered by what happens to our ummah, and they strive in the cause of Allah.”

Stand for Peace wonders, therefore, just how credible is the Islamic Network’s refutation of “any allegation that it promotes or advocates hate of any community or individuals,” when it so consistently hosts and promotes such virulent preachers of hate?