A Muslim community leader from Nottingham has defended a recent trip he made to occupied Jerusalem after he was accused of doing “soft propaganda” for Israel.
In a statement he said the aim of the trip was to “advance peace and coexistence in the Holy Land of Muslims and Jews and Christians” and that he believed “that peace in Jerusalem will inspire peace.”
He added: “We are all grateful to the organisers at ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ for this timely initiative. I want to stress that the Quran teaches us to spread kindness and love, it forbids hatred of anyone, we stand for forgiveness and love for all humanity.
“I would like to clarify a few things. 1. The senior Sunni faith leaders who went on this trip seek peace, dialogue and mutual understanding, we are not politicians. 2. We want to see all the children of Abraham – Arabs and Jews – living in peace, harmony and freedom to follow their religion. 3. To tackle the rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred in Britain we must stand together with British Jews. 4. We all want justice for the Palestinians including respect for the youth of Palestine.”
The delegation which accompanied Hussain included Imam Asim Hafiz, chaplain to the British Armed Forces; Shaykh Ghulam Rabbani, the founder of Faizan-e-Islam, chairman of the British Muslim Alliance and spokesperson for Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat UK; Shaykh Mohammad Asrar, a senior lecturer at Al-Jamia Suffa-Tul-Islam, Bradford and Imam at Bilal Mosque in Leeds.
The delegation also visited Masjid Al-Aqsa and then journeyed to the Palestinian Authority, meeting leaders in Rawabi and Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
The tour organisers were Journey to Jerusalem which is sponsored by Basharat & Bashert, one of whose directors is Ed Husain, formally of the Quilliam Foundation.
They arranged the Muslims to meet Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs for the pro-Israel lobby group AJC whose website features praise from Benjamin Netanyahu and which fights against the BDS movement.
Rabbi Rosen, an adviser to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, said he “thoroughly welcomed” the initiative, with the second such trip being planned for September.
MPACUK have created an action alert urging Muslims to put pressure on the Muslim leaders not to return to Israel for a second visit.
They want the public to message organisations these imams represent and ask them if they regret their imams meeting with Israeli lobbyists in Israel, and will they confirm their representatives will not go to Israel to meet Israeli lobbyists in September?
Imran Shah of MPACUK told 5Pillars: “It’s truly shocking that such high-profile Imams are meeting with individuals that are active in supporting a racist, Apartheid state. If it was any other genocide, they would not meet supporters of such war criminals. By doing so, they are normalising the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.
“This is a firm red line for the majority of Muslims in the UK and the world. If this was done out of naivety, they should just be honest and commit to not going back in September. Regardless, they must respect this red line and the people’s right to hold them to account.”