Prominent British Muslim activist Azzam Tamimi has said that he’s had his account closed down by HSBC bank.
The move follows HSBC’s controversial closure of several bank accounts belonging to Muslim activists and organisations, including Finsbury Park Mosque, Ummah Welfare Trust and Anas Altikriti of the Cordoba Foundation.
Tamimi, who is the founder of the Arabic language Al Hiwar TV channel as well as being a pro-Palestine, pro-Syrian rebel and Muslim Brotherhood activist, tweeted on Sunday: “Just back in London from a holiday in Jordan to find that @HSBC has closed my & my wife’s bank accounts. @anasaltikriti says join the club… I wish @HSBC_UK_Press can explain whether they closed my account because of my support for #Gaza or my support for the #ArabSpring”… The way @HSBC management behaves is unlike what we’ve been used to in the UK. It feels more like Arab despotic style.”
In response to his tweets Anas Altikriti said: ” The decision to close down accounts of @AzzamTamimi reinforces my claim that @HSBC_UK_Press are targeting #Gaza and #Palestine activists… @HSBC_UK_Press can claim all they want that their decisions aren’t based on religion or race. All their targets are Muslims.”
Tamimi is known to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood and a few months ago Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Whitehall officials to launch an investigation into the Brotherhood’s UK activities.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the review would examine allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the murder of three tourists on a bus in Egypt in February and that it planned extremist activities from Britain.
A No 10 source confirmed a report in the Times that the investigation is being launched as the prime minister faces pressure to follow the example of Egypt and Saudi Arabia (which claim that the Muslim Brotherhood uses London as a crucial centre for its activities) to ban the group.
MI5 will assess how many leaders have been based in Britain after last year’s coup in Egypt in which Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president, was ousted.
British officials are saying it is “possible but unlikely” that the Muslim Brotherhood will be banned in Britain on the grounds of terrorist links.
In a statement after the inquiry was announced the Islamic Human Rights Commission said it “believes that the PM’s decision is a direct response to the outlawing of the Muslim Brotherhood by the armed forces in Egypt in December last year, shortly after the movement’s democratically elected leaders were overthrown in a military coup…
“In March, Saudi Arabia also designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group and banned it from operating in the Kingdom. It is no secret that the Saudi and Egyptian regimes have been lobbying western capitals to curb the movement’s activities in a bid to reduce its influence in the Middle East.
”IHRC believes it is outrageous that the British government should be pandering to the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East when British interests and justice would be better served by taking diplomatic action against them for their part in overthrowing a democratically elected government and bringing back military rule.”
HSBC boycott calls
According to a recent BBC article, HSBC says decisions to close accounts were “absolutely not based on race or religion”.
HSBC said: “We do not discuss relationships we may or may not have with a customer, nor confirm whether an individual or business is, or has been a customer. Discrimination against customers on grounds of race or religion is immoral, unacceptable and illegal, and HSBC has comprehensive rules and policies in place to ensure race or religion are never factors in banking decisions.”
The bank said it was “applying a programme of strategic assessments to all of its businesses” after a $1.9bn fine in 2012 over poor money-laundering controls. “As a result of these ongoing reviews, we have exited relationships with business and personal customers in over 70 countries. The services we provide to charities are no exception to this global review,” the bank added.
A government official the BBC spoke to said they did not believe this was the result of government action but reflected a decision the bank had taken itself based on its own risk analysis.
In December 2012, HSBC had to pay US authorities $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in a settlement over money laundering, the largest paid in such a case. It was alleged to have helped launder money belonging to drug cartels and states under US sanctions.
In August last year, it was reported that HSBC asked more than 40 embassies, consulates and High Commissions in the UK to close their accounts. At the time, the bank said “HSBC has been applying a rolling programme of “five filter” assessments to all its businesses since May 2011, and our services for embassies are no exception.”
Nevertheless, there are growing calls in the Muslim community for a boycott of HSBC. In fact, it’s thought that many Muslims have already closed their bank accounts in protest.
Following their bank account closure, Ummah Welfare Trust made an appeal to the wider Ummah to do the following:
– Boycott and close down your personal and business accounts with HSBC.
– Inform your contacts worldwide in the Muslim world and further afar to boycott HSBC Global.