MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) is a leading Muslim Advocacy Group. It campaigns against Islamophobia and also states that one of its aims is “to ensure that anti-Muslim prejudice is regarded just as socially unacceptable as anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and xenophobia.” (the meaning of this would rather depend on what social circles you hang out in) It often has police and politicians appearing on its platforms.
Two weeks ago MEND ran an online meeting for the Labour Left Alliance (LLA) entitled “Islamophobia-the victims”. The main speaker was Azhar Qayum of the Islamophobia Report Unit who is also Joint-Head of Community Development & Engagement at MEND.
LLA was formed in July 2019. One of its founding principles is to oppose “attempts to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism and opposes the witch-hunt against the left”. It’s Secretary Tina Werkmann is a co-founder of Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW). LLA and LAW share the same bank account.
There can be no doubt as to the antisemitism of the LLA. A cursory look at the group’s Facebook page reveals a raft of antisemitic and conspiracist posts. There is a post from a Maggie Harrison that claims Keir Starmer was funded by Trevor Chinn:
“a wealthy prozionist” and that “Labour Friends of Israel plotted against JC from day one, with support from the BBC, and our sad media and its even worse now, with a rabidly proIsrael Leader”.
Earnan Sean O Neill comments:
“the Israel Lobby has clearly infiltrated the party from top to bottom.”
Ian Humphries posts:
“it’s not about being Jewish at all, it’s about the rich not wanting to pay taxes like Margaret Hodge, another bitter and twisted excuse of a woman”.
Experts in antisemitism remind us again and again that Jews aren’t hated for being Jews, they’re hated for being bolsheviks, capitalists, parasites, vampires, zionists, slave traders and any other term that is perceived in a negative way by the clique to which the abuser belongs. The choice of Margaret Hodge, a highly visible Jewish politician for abuse, not “for being Jewish” but for anything else that she can be attacked for is classic. Humphries was kicked out of the party for antisemitism. Campaign Against Antisemitism reported that an Ian Humphries was expelled from Labour over antisemitic comments on social media that include:
“BBC is run by the Conservative Party and the Israel lobby” and that “Tories just keep giving away money to the rich, as just to keep Murdoch and the Rothschilds happy”.
After the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into Labour Party antisemitism was published, LLA claimed that the enquiry
“was never about fighting antisemitism; it was a campaign designed to get rid of Corbyn and make sure that the Labour Party becomes once again a safe “second Eleven” that could run Britain on behalf of capitalism and follow the US into any new military adventure.”
One of the LLA’s key affiliates is Jackie Walker who is also chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt, she has previously posted online that the Jews were the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade” and stated that “the Jewish Holocaust does not allow Zionists to do what they want”. Walker was suspended from the Labour party in 2017 after comments made at an antisemitism training session, where she criticised Holocaust Memorial Day for only commemorating Jewish victims (it commemorates many more). After reinstatement, she was expelled for good in March 2019.
MEND are highly critical of the government’s Prevent strategy for countering extremism and remain inimical of other Muslim groups such as the Quilliam Foundation and Tell Mama. It is close to Cage, the terror suspects advocacy group, whose Research Director, Asim Qureshi, once described Mohammed Emwazi, AKA “Jihadi John”, as having been a “beautiful young man”. The founder of MEND, Sufyan Ismail, donated to Cage. The Times reported that Ismail was recently due to speak at an online event organised by the Civil Service Muslim Network, an umbrella group for Muslims in Whitehall, on the topics of Islamophobia and racism. The event was promptly scrapped.
In a talk at Bolton Mosque in October 2014 Ismail spoke of a vote in Parliament on Palestinian sovereignty:
“The other night in Parliament, for the first time in British history, first time in 300 years of the Israeli lobby’s presence in the United Kingdom, first time in British history they lost a vote in Parliament. Do you know this? And the Muslim community didn’t just beat the Israeli lobby, we battered them”.
Two groups; LLA which champions those who have been kicked out the Labour party for antisemitism and MEND whose founder has referred to the “Israel lobby” in conspiratorial terms and depicted them as being hostile to the Muslim community. It’s hardly surprising to find the two working together, what is surprising is that MEND can still get public officials and senior police officers to appear on their platforms as they did just last week at the ‘Tackling Islamophobia Together’ event attended by Rokhsana Fiaz, the Mayor of Newham, and Waheed Khan, superintendent of the Met Police.
The partnership between LLA and MEND should show exactly what MEND are about. It should serve as a wake up call to public officials, Police officers and MPs not to work with this toxic group any more.