Islamism,  UK Politics

iEngage: Foreign Affairs

iEngage presents itself as a body which campaigns against Islamophobia. However, it spends its time attacking Muslim liberals and progressives, as well as journalists and politicians who oppose hate preachers and Islamist political parties.

It also engages in advocacy for Islamist terrorist organisations and their supporters, and demands various changes to Britain’s foreign policies. Here are a few examples.

Opposing the ban on Hezbollah activist, Ibrahim al-Musawi

Senior Hezbollah activist, Ibrahim al-Musawi, was banned from the United Kingdom in March 2009 by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Al Musawi had previously worked for the Hezbollah propaganda TV station, Al-Manar. When Al-Manar was banned from French satellite TV for airing a 29-part Ramadan special Ash-Shatat (Diaspora) during October–November 2003, which showed Jews drinking the blood of Christian children , and which quoted extensively from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mousawi said the ban resulted from “political pressure by the Jewish lobby”.

ENGAGE condemned the exclusion in the strongest terms, and claimed that the Home Secretary had “caved into pressure from the pro-Israel lobby”.

Support for Daud Abdullah in relation to the “Istanbul Declaration”

In March 2009, it was revealed that, while attending a Hamas-aligned conference in Istanbul, the Deputy Secretary General had signed a declaration that the presence of “foreign warships” enforcing the Gaza ceasefire “must be rejected and fought by all means and ways”. Prime Minister Gordon Brown had promised British naval support for such action.

Abdullah refused to remove his name from the Istanbul Declaration. In response, the Labour government broke off contact with the Muslim Council of Britain. A similar position was taken by the Conservative Party and David Cameron.

iEngage claimed that the Government was trying to “intimidate” the MCB and argued:

It would appear that Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for the Communities and Local Government (CLG) department clearly has delusions of grandeur. Latest news reports would suggest that she has started to treat Muslims as if she was still living in the days of the British Raj.

They also published Seumas Milne’s claim that the Government wanted to impose a “docile leadership” on British Muslims, and commented:

But if Blears’ high-handed actions towards the MCB are anything to go by, the government is not interested in responding to the consensus that exists. It is more concerned to impose a consensus orchestrated by hostile right-wing think tanks and the stooge Quilliam Foundation type bodies it has set up and funded. Muslim organisations should resist this interference and demand that Blears is sacked.

iEngage attacked David Cameron for his boycott of the MCB.

Iran and Ahmadinejad

In response to an article by William Hague, the Chief Executive Officer of iEngage, Mohammed Asif, wrote to the Foreign Secretary calling for sanctions on Israel instead, He argued:

As ENGAGE wrote to the former foreign secretary, there is a strong perception among British Muslims, and Muslims around the world, that our policy on issues pertaining to the Middle East and Iran are biased in favour of Israel. A perception that will only likely be reinforced by the
comments made in your article in The Times last Friday, and further emboldened by your claims that the EU act to reinforce the sanctions against Iran in demonstration of the benign effects of the Union’s collective political and economic weight.

iEngage readers were encouraged to write to the Foreign Secretary.

iEngage also criticised David Miliband when British diplomats walked out of Ahmadinejad’s speech in the United Nations

Support for engagement with Hamas

ENGAGE is also a strong advocate of the Government “engaging” with Hamas. For example, Mohammed Asif wrote to David Miliband in June 2010:

There is an urgent need for a rethink of our current policy on freezing Hamas out of any discussions on peace between Palestinians and Israelis. I hope you will agree that this forms an essential part of the ‘active and substantive top down political process’ that we must now pursue.

ENGAGE also promoted an IPPR Report entitled “Engaging with Islamists”. They concluded:

Let’s hope that Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Middle East, who so disgracefully criticised Ken Livingstone for interviewing Khalid Mish’al, is among those that take note of this new report and its sensible recommendations.

ENGAGE also promoted the controversial “softball” interview by Ken Livingstone with Khaled Mish’al, head of the political bureau of Hamas.

ENGAGE encouraged the Government to engage with Hamas, and objected to FCO criticism of a Clare Short meeting in the House of Commons featuring Khalid Mish’al, head of Hamas’ political bureau, again encouraging engagement with Hamas.

There is a simple explanation for iEngage’s support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Ahmadinejad’s regime in Iran. They substantially share their politics.

More to the point, if Sadiq Khan, Jack Straw, Simon Hughes and Stephen Timms manage to install iEngage as the Secretariat to the APPG, it is likely that they will seek to define Islamophobia as opposition to Islamist political parties. Such an outcome will deeply undermine the fight against racism, sectarianism and bigotry.