Islamism,  UK Politics

iEngage: Support for the East London Mosque, London Muslim Centre and Islamic Forum Europe

The last few posts have examined iEngage’s attacks on Muslim liberals and progressives, and its support for hate preachers and Islamist political parties. Despite the nature of this organisation, Jack Straw, Sadiq Khan, Stephen Timms and Simon Hughes are apparently determined to see this organisation installed as the Secretariat to the APPG on Islamophobia.

The nature of iEngage is demonstrated by its support for the East London Mosque, London Muslim Centre and Islamic Forum Europe: three bodies with a worrying history of extreme politics, which have repeatedly hosted hate preachers and supporters of terrorism.

The Department of Communities and Local Government has identified the links between the South Asian Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the East London Mosque.

“The [Jamaat-e-Islami (“JI”)] helped to create and subsequently dominate the leadership of the MCB, currently the largest Muslim umbrella body in Britain, with around 500 affiliates representing a broad set of orientations. Vying for the leadership of the MCB are the Pakistani and Bangladeshi wings of JI, alongside the Muslim Brotherhood and some politicised Deobandis. The current Secretary General is the Chair of the East London Mosque, the key institution for the Bangladeshi wing of JI in the UK.”

The East London Mosque houses the Islamic Forum Europe, a controversial organisation which is also aligned with Jamaat-e-Islami, which was the subject of a recent Channel 4 Dispatches documentary. It was established by Choudhry Mueen Uddin, who was accused in a Channel 4 documentary and by Bangladeshi human rights campaigners of involvement in war crimes, when active in a Jamaat-e-Islami aligned militia during Bangladesh’s War of Independence. Mr Mueen Uddin denies these allegations.

ENGAGE has repeatedly attacked, as Islamophobes, any journalist or Muslim who criticises the East London Mosque, the London Muslim Centre or the Islamic Forum Europe.

Anwar al Awlaki

The East London Mosque twice hosted the Al Qaeda-aligned preacher at the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre. Awlaki has been identified by the 9/11 Commission as the spiritual adviser of two of the 9/11 hijackers. He has been active in recruiting Muslims to fight military jihad since the mid 1990s, and now has been connected to various further terrorist acts, including those of Major Nidal Hasan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the attack by Roshonara Choudhry on Stephen Timms.

In 2003, Awlaki gave a sermon at the Mosque in connection with an organisation called “Stop Police Terror”, whose founding statement says:

We have come together to say that enough is enough and that Britain’s Muslims, as a community, will refuse to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities if this abuse continues.

Its founding supporters include the East London Mosque, the Islamic Forum Europe, Anwar Al Awlaki and Inayat Bunglawala.

Awlaki told his audience at the East London Mosque:

A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress him and he does not hand him over. You don’t hand over a Muslim to the enemies of Allah.

Awlaki spoke again at the London Muslim Centre in 2009, by telephone link. When Andrew Gilligan wrote about these meetings, iEngage attacked the report as a “Crusade” and sought to argue that Awlaki had only become radicalised following his incarceration in Yemen.

This argument is demonstrably false.

Islamic Forum Europe

iEngage has described Andrew Gilligan’s reporting on the extremist politics of the Islamic Forum Europe, and of its role in the election of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, as a “Crusade” and stated:

At the time, his documentary attracted over 1,000 complaints to OFCOM and instigated a planned march by extremist group, the English Defence League (EDL) through Tower Hamlets calling for the East London Mosque to be closed. This time, his “expose” acts as a prompt to highlight the upcoming selection of Tower Hamlets’ first directly-elected Mayor. What use could his comments have except in attempting to, once again, undermine and de-legitimise the active participation of British Muslim citizens in the democratic process? In a time of heightened Islamophobia in the country, the comments of Mr. Gilligan can only serve prompt to the xenophobic elements of our society to continue their tirade against Muslims. East London Mosque

“Crusade” is a word that is repeatedly used by iEngage. It it an inflammatory and sectarian term that implies that Muslims are being attacked by Christians for religious reasons.

In reporting on the Independent’s claim that Abdulmutallab may have attended the East London Mosque, iEngage describes criticism of the East London Mosque/Islamic Forum Europe as “McCarthyite witchhunting of Muslim groups”.

Reporting on responses to an article by Martin Bright reporting on the politics of the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre, iEngage accused critics of the institution of harbouring “a malign intent to demonise and misrepresent Muslim groups in the UK”

Earlier they had objected to Martin Bright’s use of the term “Islamist extreme right”.

Azad Ali

Azad Ali is a senior and controversial Islamic Forum Europe activist, who was suspended from his job in the Civil Service, when it emerged that he had written an article, praising the Al Qaeda theorist Anwar Al Awlaki, which also supported attacks on British troops in Iraq.

When Azad Ali’s suspension was lifted, iEngage reported that had been “cleared of wrongdoing”, following a “witch hunt” against him.

Azad Ali later sued the Daily Mail for its report, but lost the case. In dismissing the case, Mr Justice Eady said:

“I would hold that [Ali] was indeed, in November 2008 and for so long as the blog remained available, taking the position that the killing of American and British troops in Iraq (whether before or after the 2005 elections) would be justified…In those circumstances, the claim can be categorised legitimately as ‘bound to fail’ and as having about it an ‘absence of reality’.”

Again, the major purpose of iEngage is to attack liberal and progressive Muslims and critics of Islamist parties and hate preachers. It seeks to describe political opposition to these parties as “Islamophobia”.  That is why it cannot serve as the Secretariat to the APPG.