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The return of Azad Ali

The Building Bridges project of Hamara is organising an event in Leeds to tackle anti-Muslim hate.

As part of Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) the Building Bridges project of Hamara is holding a half-day conference & exhibition in Leeds in November 2014. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate citywide discussions around strategic priorities for tackling hate crime, with a particular focus on anti-Muslim hate. The conference & exhibition will be an excellent opportunity for delegates to learn about manifestations of Islamophobia, current trends and statistics and both city-wide and national strategies to counter anti-Muslim hate.

Here is the provisional list of speakers:

Mark Burns-Williamson – Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire – CONFIRMED

Stop Hate UK - CONFIRMED

Victim of hate crime - tbc

Hanif Malik – CEO of Hamara Centre - CONFIRMED

Harvinder Saimbhi – Head of Anti-Social Behaviour, Leeds City Council –  CONFIRMED

Kauser Jan – Deputy Head, Bankside Primary School – CONFIRMED

Azad Ali – MEND – CONFIRMED

MCSF – Muslim Community Safety Forum

It’s entirely appropriate that the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, should be concerned about hate crime. But the inclusion of Azad Ali is more questionable. Let’s recap some of  his views:

  • Azad Ali opposes democracy “if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia”
  • Azad Ali sued the Daily Mail for suggesting that comments on his blog showed that he was “a hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq by fellow Muslims as justified”. He lost.
  • Azad Ali used to attend talks by the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe: Abu Qatada.
  • Azad Ali wants Ismail Haniyeh – leader of the genocidal antisemitic terrorist organisation, Hamas – to be the Caliph of the next Caliphate.
  • Azad Ali admired the Al Qaeda and recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki and had this to say about him on the Islamic Forum of Europe’s blog: “I really do love him for the sake of Allah, he has an uncanny way of explaining things to people which is endearing.”
  • Azad Ali’s show on the Islam Channel was sanctioned by OFCOM for its failure to maintain due impartiality in its coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, including in relation to comments on Mahmoud Abbas. That’s because he’s a Hamas supporter.
  • When an undercover reporter for Dispatches exposed Azad Ali’s political views, he threatened them on his radio show, saying: “We’ve got a picture of you and a lot more than you thought we had. We’ve tracked you down to different places. And if people are gonna turn what I’ve just said into a threat, that’s their fault, innit?”

It’s also worth remembering that MEND – Azad Ali’s outfit – is the rebranded version of the deeply discredited iENGAGE. Here are just a few reminders of iENGAGE’s past form:

• Targeted Muslim campaigning groups and individuals who have opposed Islamist politics or political extremism.

• Condemned 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.

Azad Ali is in no position to teach others about hate crime.  It really is time that he stopped advising the police on this or any other issue.