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MEND and Parliament – This is no way to help Muslims

I suppose the MPs on this list think they are helping Muslims by welcoming MEND to Parliament next week. (Click the images in this post to enlarge them.)

If this is what Joanna Cherry, Ed Davey, Stephen Kinnock, Caroline Lucas, Anna Soubry, and Wes Streeting think, they could not be more wrong.

The Muslims all of us should support – with room left aside for debate on specific issues, of course – are the liberals and the opponents of extremists.

Well, these very Muslims are the targets the Islamists of MEND have chosen for the most crude and vicious abuse for years and years on end.

The Quilliam Foundation
Special loathing is reserved for the Quilliam Foundation. The MEND campaign of hatred goes all the way back to the last decade, when MEND was known as “Engage”. In a typical attack from 2009, Quilliam is dismissed as a sinister government project designed to control Muslims:

As for the Quilliam Foundation which received around £1 million according to this investigation in The Times, its legitimacy as an organization has always been non-existent. The organization is widely recognised to be nothing more than a government funded social engineering project designed to depoliticize Muslims.

MEND have also resorted to one of their favourite low tactics when attacking Quilliam – link it with Israel. In a talk for MEND at a mosque in Bolton in 2014, MEND’s founder, sole shareholder, and former CEO Sufyan Ismail said this in an appeal to the audience for donations to MEND:

We’re not Quilliam Foundation, yeah, where we get government money and pro-Israeli lobby funding and things like this.

To see the extent of MEND’s contempt, try this site-specific link for mentions of Quilliam. It brings up an ocean of froth.

Quilliam is hardly infallible. It cannot be, since it deals with complex and controversial issues where there are often no easy answers. In addition, its people are open to debate. Legitimate disagreements are fine. Base calumny is another matter.

This record alone should put MEND beyond the pale for MPs who do care about Muslims.

Sara Khan
But there is more, much more.

Turn to Sara Khan of Inspire. She and her group do excellent work against extremism, especially for Muslim women. So MEND hurl insults and threats at her, repeatedly. Here is one example combining both – she is told to “learn to read” and threatened with lawfare harassment.

In June 2017 Inspire tweeted a Times article. This prompted another lawfare threat and a suggestion that Inspire is government-funded, which it is not:

Lower and lower they go. In this post, Manchester MEND activist Siema Iqbal accuses Sara Khan of “Islamophobia” (no really, look) and even brackets her with former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and Paul Golding of Britain First:

This is part of an ugly pattern, as one can see in the next two “Islamophobic” insults, where Khan is lined up alongside Quilliam:

MEND is fond of saying Inspire along with other groups are actually the products of a sinister and covert state operation. The aim is to spread mistrust and increase anger among British Muslims. Here Shazad Amin, MEND’s current CEO, retweets a typical attack:

Sara Khan has even been attacked for working with Hope not Hate, the anti-racist campaign group:

Tell Mama
Naturally Fiyaz Mughal’s Tell Mama hatred monitoring group is another MEND target. In a talk for MEND at Cheadle Mosque in 2014, Sufyan Ismail played the “Zionist” card, saying:

We don’t want the Government to fob us off with some phony thing called Tell MAMA, which has got a made pro-Zionist pretty much heading it or in a very senior capacity and is making all sorts of comments we might not agree with when it comes to homosexuality, to be recording Islamophobia.

This is presumably a reference to collaboration between Tell Mama and the CST, the Jewish community security group. Peter Tatchell has also backed Tell Mama. Such links are positive and should be welcomed. MEND, by contrast, scorns them in incendiary terms.

Tell Mama leader Fiyaz Mughal called the “pro-Zionist” rhetoric “a charge that is the most corrosive of all within Muslim audiences”. For its part, the CST said “Ismail’s attitude is deeply troubling and his comments are irresponsible, given the proximity in Manchester of large Muslim, Jewish and LGBT communities.”

In another telling episode, in October 2017 Siema Iqbal launched a scurrilous attack on Fiyaz Mughal. She made the simultaneously ludicrous and dangerous charge that he justifies attacks on mosques:

Fiyaz has been embroiled in controversies of his own. In a choice between him and MEND, however, the right side to pick is obvious.

Mak Chishty
Mak Chishty has been outspoken since his retirement from the Metropolitan Police. He has called on Muslims to do more to challenge extremists and in June 2017 he criticised MEND and the terrorist support group Cage. This elicited a furious response from MEND. Note that it includes an implicit defence of Cage, which is closely linked to MEND:

Chishty makes the wild accusation that “Without targeting Islamism and naming and shaming Muslim organisations such as Cage and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), we risk having our safety and security threatened forever.” To even begin to speculate on this nonsensical claim would be to give it credence that it does not deserve. However, we would challenge Chishty to produce evidence to support such an assertion.

The statement also provides another example of MEND’s isolation tactic:

Considering Chishty’s previous reputation, something that he should bear in mind is that he can only further isolate himself from much of the Muslim community with myopic, one-sided analyses that are unsupported by evidence and target a community already feeling stigmatised, vulnerable and under pressure.

Mubin Shaikh
Mubin Shaikh is a Canadian Muslim who turned away from extremism after 9/11. He went on to work for the Canadian police and intelligence services. In an extraordinary act of bravery, he infiltrated a terrorist cell known as the “Toronto 18”. His evidence was crucial to the identification, arrests, and successful prosecutions of cell members.

For Azad Ali, MEND’s “National Community Head”, this work was reprehensible. In 2016, Ali warned his Facebook followers to “be wary” of Shaikh, adding “don’t even give him the time of day”. This was Ali’s introduction to a post by a fellow extremist which denigrated Shaikh as a “snake” and “spineless vermin”. Jimas and Abu Muntasir were also attacked in the post.

Azad Ali is of course the man who has supported the killers of British troops in Iraq. He sued Associated Newspapers when this was reported and lost. He has also expressed support for the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and the terrorist group Hamas. So he is perfect for MEND.

Public Funding Is “Urine”
It is important to understand that MEND is not motivated by personal feuding alone. Its opposition to public sector campaigns against extremism is comprehensive. One can see this in Sufyan Ismail’s Cheadle mosque talk, where he launched this attack:

You might wonder who we are, who funds us at the end of the day. Are we some kind of Prevent-funded body or government-funded organisation? Well there’s good news and bad news here. The good news is we are 100% community funded, alhamdulillah. So I think you should all go “alhamdulillah” to that, yeah? I promise you not one penny comes from any government of any description, yeah. 100% of our funding comes from the Muslim community.

Put one drop of urine in a bucket of water, who’s going to drink it? Who’s going to drink it or bathe in it? Simple as that. This thing has got to be kept pure. It’s got to be kept pure.

I do hope MPs reflect on this. They too are involved in the business of spreading “urine”.

Good Mosques “Pray for the Mujahideen”
As noted earlier, MEND is a keen backer of the terrorist support group Cage. It is easy to see why when one watches Azad Ali speaking at a Cage event in 2015. He says:

You know, what’s happened is the war on terror has scared not the hell but the heaven out of the Muslims. And that’s really what’s happened. The whole purpose of this strategy is to de-Islamise, is to reduce our imaan [faith], reduce our practice, and it’s working to a certain extent.

If you look at, and the work, I’ll come onto the work we do in MEND, but some of the people here are as old as me, have been around for that long, remember in 2003, 2004, 2006 the different legislations that were coming.

And I recall the Glorifying Terrorism Act [sic], when that was coming. And one of the things we discussed with a lot of people, and in particular imams and mosques, was, you know, they had a lot of concern. You know, “will we now be able to make dua [prayers] for the mujahideen anymore? Will praising the mujahideen cause us to fall foul of this Glorifying Terrorism legislation?” And we were saying “no it won’t, it’s fine and everything else”.

But, you know, it didn’t work because the narrative that was being pushed out said that “yes, if you do this, you’re going to end up in trouble, you’re going to fall foul of the law.”

Ali then proceeds to ask the audience if they have heard many mosque sermons where prayers were said for “the mujahideen”. Only about four out of 100 raise their hands. Ali reacts by lamenting that “this is the state that we’re in”.

This clip is very important for understanding MEND. Ali plainly supports jihad. In fact, it is heavenly. He is a member of an extremist minority, not a “grassroots community leader”.

Muslims MEND Likes
One can also understand MEND by looking at the Muslims it likes. The speakers at its events and the people it promotes, for example.

It is a disturbing roster. It includes Anas al-Tikriti, Moazzam Begg, Lauren Booth, Malia Bouattia, Haitham al-Haddad, Omer El-Hamdoon, Dilowar Khan of the East London Mosque, Zahir Mahmood, Abu Eesa Niamatullah, Yasir Qadhi, Tariq Ramadan, and Yvonne Ridley.

This Must End
It is long, long past time for MPs to see MEND for what it is – a proudly intractable part of the problem and no component of any desirable solution.

If the Parliamentary event does go ahead, it will be interesting to see who does stand by the extremists.