The peddlers of Islamophobia

Usama Hasan works at the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation

Laura Stuart argues that the Quilliam Foundation and the Henry Jackson Society are at the forefront of promoting Islamophobia in the UK.

The Quilliam Foundation’s Usama Hasan has been exposed, yet again, taking a sneaky and unprincipled stance against some of our most educated scholars of Islam.

An e-mail marked “confidential” from Usama Hasan to persons unknown shows him requesting recipients to harass Sheikh Haitham al Haddad with emails. Usama Hasan then goes on to urge them to contact the media with dubious accusations about Sheikh Haitham in order to embarrass The University of Nottingham for hosting him.

Sheikh Haitham is one of the leading scholars in the UK who sits on The Islamic Shariah Council, a body which gives Islamic advice, not binding by UK law, but often sought by Muslims who desire a halal outcome to marital and other disputes. He is a Palestinian and a scholar who is steadfast in telling the truth which is always under attack.

To discredit Usama Hasan’s claims even further we can take a look at the source he uses. Hasan directs the unknown recipients of his e-mail to a blog entitled “The Islamic Far Right of Britain”. What we know about the owner of that blog is that his name is Andy Hughes, a former leader of the English Defence League in London who has also used the names “Harry Burns” and “‘Arry Bo.”

Andy Hughes set up his website to attack Islamic speakers, but now is looking for someone to take his website over. It has been interesting to watch how the far-right Islamophobia-award-winning blog Harry’s Place have been happy to publish articles from the Islamic Far Right of Britain, despite the fact that Andy Hughes was a high-profile leader in a racist group previously.

Far-right blogs

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Islamophobia Watch wrote about the unholy alliance of the far-right blogs in an article titled “Harry’s Place and the bigots it works with”. Harry’s Place have published articles from other pro-Israel groups such as Student Rights and Stand for Peace websites which effectively mobilized racist groups such as Casuals United and the EDL into making threats of violence against venue providers who agreed to host Muslim speakers whom the far-right do not want to be heard.

Harry’s Place et al do this whilst hypocritically claiming to believe in the right of free speech. Venue providers faced with threats of physical violence against their premises and staff have had to take last minute decisions to close down Islamic conferences, although there was no hate speech or reason not to host the events found by the police.

There is also presently a huge campaign against Islam coming from groups like The Henry Jackson Society. Their leader Alan Mendoza spoke recently at The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee annual conference on the problem of the increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe. The Henry Jackson Society is rumoured to be funded by the right-wing Israeli Likud party.

I am not clear who funds the Stand for Peace or Student Rights websites but both are also engaged in gathering snippets taken from Islamic lectures and using them mostly out of context to promote a fear of Islam. Both Raheem Kassam and Hasan Afzal who run those sites are avid supporters of Israel.

Liberal Islam

The agenda of all of these groups is obvious and clear to me, I have spent the last years following the campaigns of these groups and I have come to one conclusion. Usama Hasan and the others are all linked and all work solely to discredit and silence Islamic speakers so that people may not know the truth about Islam but rather a watered-down and liberal Islam that pro Israel Zionists and Neo Conservatives might find acceptable.

They want a docile and de-politizised Muslim population who would pray in the mosque but who would not consider it their duty to speak out against the oppression of their fellow Muslims here in the UK or in other lands. The aim is to regulate Muslims and imams to make it so that certain passages of the Quran and some aspects of Islam cannot be discussed either in the mosques or even in our own homes.

There appears to be a lot of money available to fund organizations with an anti Islamic agenda, however, we as Muslims can seek to combat this wave of misinformation and slander if we can read up and understand the agenda behind it. It is time that we organised ourselves to combat the lies and slander by these groups who seek to misrepresent Muslims and Islam especially on university campuses across the UK which are the main target of pro Israel groups due to the growing Boycott and Divestment campaign and other initiatives such as Israeli Apartheid Week.

Muslim speakers such as Sheikh Haitham al Haddad or those from IERA. are not breaking any laws or the police would be closing their talks down, so are we as Muslims prepared to let pro-Israel advocacy groups dictate who speaks and what is said about Islam in the UK?

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 5 Pillarz editorial board.

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