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Harris Bokhari and MHCLG

This is a guest post by Hassan al Bunny

The DCLG (recently renamed the MHCLG) has the job of increasing community cohesion – a function that succeeds or fails on the strength of the partners they choose to work with in these communities.

But Melanie Dawes, the department’s Permanent Secretary, may have been a little over enthusiastic in some of the company she keeps – including one Harris Bokhari.

Britain has long had the challenge of shady people associated with Islamism cosying up to our leaders, compromising our citizens, and even claiming to speak for every British Muslim.

Entryism is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s oldest tricks – quietly infiltrating a political system and outwardly adopting its values, before finally having the strength, support and resources to launch their Islamist project.

One of those figures may be Harris Bokhari, a former spokesman for the British Islamist front organisation, the Muslim Association of Britain, a campaign group which is known for being pro-Hamas.

Bokhari started out organising anti-Israel protests with Jeremy Corbyn in 2002. There certainly was antisemitism happening at those protests (the Israeli government was compared to the Nazis, for example), and neither Bokhari nor Corbyn disavowed it.

Bokhari has now moved on to his latest project, a charity called The Patchwork Foundation. It claims to be focussed on widening participation in politics amongst marginalised communities, which is a noble cause and one which it does seem to have succeeded in.

But to what end?

Bokhari has a history of being complicit in Jew hatred. And eight years later, a recording emerged of him inciting hatred of a persecuted minority Muslim group – Ahmadis – as part of his campaigning effort for Sadiq Khan.

Ahmadis are one of the most oppressed minorities in the Muslim world, despite being self-professed Muslims. The constitution of Pakistan, for example, declares them disbelievers. Since then, hundreds of Ahmadis have been murdered and dozens of their mosques have been set on fire or otherwise blocked from operation.

And this violence has arrived in Britain. Leaflets have been distributed in South London – not far from Sadiq Khan’s constituency – inciting believing Muslims to murder Ahmadis. But this was just the beginning of UK anti-Ahmadi hate crimes: in 2016 Asad Shah, a Scottish Ahmadi shopkeeper was stabbed to death. His murderer, Tanveer Ahmed, pled guilty to religiously-motivated murder.

With such a history of hate against non-Muslims as well as his fellow believers, it is all the more surprising that not only has Bokhari not recanted his views, but he has recruited high profile trustees for his organisation, including Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Is Ms Dawes aware of her colleague’s history? Has she discussed these issues with him? Is she certain he is not using the Patchwork Foundation as a trojan horse for imparting his wisdom to impressionable young Brits from marginalised communities?

Melanie Dawes’ publicity material also states that she is “gender champion” for the civil service. This makes her colleague’s opinions on women even more relevant to her governmental role. Does he differ from the standard Muslim Brotherhood opinion that there is no such thing as marital rape? That a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s? That polygamy is a man’s right, but polyandry is punishable by stoning?

These are important questions, and ones Harris Bokhari should answer – in the presence of his new colleagues at Patchwork.