The article, written by the journalist Dominic Kennedy, calls Ali an “extremist” who supported the killing of British soldiers. It links MEND to anti-semitism and questions its influence over police and politicians. And, bizarrely, it even compares the MEND logo (the Islamic testimony of faith) to a “jihadist hand signal” used by Islamic State.
Kennedy wrote: “An Islamic extremist who supported the killing of British soldiers has been made director of a Muslim pressure group with influence over parliament and the police. Azad Ali has publicly denied that Khalid Masood’s attack on Westminster last month, in which the Muslim convert murdered a policeman and four pedestrians, was terrorism. He described it as a lone-wolf attack.”
The so-called anti-extremism campaigner Maajid Nawaz then used The Times piece as a peg to attack MEND on his LBC radio show this morning.
MEND and Ali have yet to publish an official response to the article but MEND campaigner Dr Siema Iqbal tweeted that the attacks meant she must be working for the right organisation.
MEND seeks to engage in politics and the media to further the cause of the Muslim community. It takes a strong line against Islamophobia and the Prevent counter terrorism strategy, and has been attacked by right-wing media and politicians because of that and its perceived influence.
Azad Ali has also frequently been attacked by the right-wing media and denies all the accusations against him. Here is his clarification about the “lies” previously written about him.