Martin Bright at the JC reports:
London Citizens, the “community organisers” feted by Ed Miliband and David Cameron, has chosen to stand by a trustee who expressed his support for Hamas.
The issue was raised with the board of London Citizens at the end of June, after video footage emerged of Junaid Ahmed, the deputy chair of the organisation, expressing his support for Hamas fighters at the height of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
He is also a trustee of Islamic Forum Trust, the charitable arm of Islamic Forum of Europe, a community organisation which encourages “spiritual and social renewal” through the promotion of Islamic values.
A Dispatches programme broadcast in March 2010 suggested that IFE had a radical Islamist agenda and played an important role in the election of George Galloway as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.
London Citizens is a behemoth which seeks to act as the hub of every religious, community and voluntary organisation in London. It repeatedly uses that authority to protect and defend supporters of some of the worst political extremism in Britain. Not the BNP or the EDL, mind you – just its Islamist equivalent. This is just another example of the same thing.
London Citizens has two explanations for its conduct. The first is that their participants “leave politics at the door”. Except that, actually, they don’t. Neil Jameson, who runs London Citizens, consistently uses the name of his organisation to vouch for the East London Mosque, the Islamic Forum Europe and the London Muslim Centre: three organisations at the heart of London Citizens, which are also connected to the South Asian Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami.
Secondly, they sometimes argue that by “engaging” with extremists, they help to bring them into the mainstream and moderate their politics. But if they “leave politics at the door”, then how can they possibly be moderating extremists?
There’s a simpler explanation. Neil Jameson has committed London Citizens to a defence of an organisation whose politics is in some respects more extreme than the BNP. That is because he is personally close to the UK Jamaat-e-Islami network. His alliance will destroy London Citizens and will taint anybody who is involved with this sordid business.
The expulsion of iEngage from its Parliamentary gig has undermined Stephen Timms, Jack Straw and Sadiq Khan who initially backed them. It also undermines the Labour Party – in precisely the same way that the discovery that some Tories had been involved in racist or homophobic politics hurt the Tory Party.
This is yet another example of the same problem in action. London Citizens is not exclusively a Labour Party project, but it is seen as such, because it involves a number of prominent Labour figures.
Labour needs to take control of this problem, or it will be hurt.