At the end of this month, on November 23-24, UK politicians, in a crushing betrayal of Britain's moderate Muslims, are planning join many of Britain's most outspoken Islamist groups and preachers at the sixth Global Peace and Unity conference, due to be held in London. Tens of thousands attend these conferences; journalists applaud the initiative, and cabinet ministers, political commentators and other policy-makers address its crowds.
Mohamed Ali Harrath, a leading figure in the British Muslim community, founded and organized the Global Peace and Unity conferences in 2005. He claims the events are designed to "promote dialogue, exchange ideas and information, and work towards dispelling misunderstandings surrounding the multiculturalism and co-existence of faiths."
Speakers at this annual event, however, have included Ebrahim Rasool, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, who has described its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, as an "inspiration;" as well as Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamist preacher recently banned from entering the UK, who has expressed support for suicide bombings and claims that Jews "as a whole" are the enemies of Muslims.
In 2010, the Daily Telegraph reported that, "items glorifying terrorism were on open sale [at the conference] … Also available were 'shahada headbands' as worn by many Palestinian suicide bombers... The headbands contain the personal testimony of the suicide bombers."
Harrath, incidentally, has a conviction in Tunisia for terrorism-related offenses, and the television station of which he is CEO, the Islam Channel, has been accused by a Muslim think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, of promoting extremist groups and encouraging hatred towards women, Jews and minority Muslim sects.
Mohamed Ali Harrath (centre) with Ismail Haniyeh (right), leader of Hamas in Gaza, in 2008. (Image source: Harry's Place)
This year, Veritas Consultancy -- a company that also provides services to groups such as Interpal, a US-designated terrorist organization -- is handling the logistics of the conference. Veritas Consultancy, however, has just one director: Mohamed Ali Harrath.
Harrath is a leading Muslim Brotherhood member; and the wealth of evidence that ties the conference, its affiliates and the proposed speakers to Islamist networks seems inescapable. Paul Goodman MP has described the conferences as the "Royal Ascot of the British Islamist calendar."
Despite these warnings, however, a number of public officials and politicians from across the British political spectrum seem happy to share a platform with leading Islamists and, in doing so, legitimize the organizers of the conference as genuine representatives of British Islam.
Not everyone, however, has supported this involvement. A number of senior politicians from across the spectrum have, in fact, disagreed very publicly over the suitable response and degree of "engagement" with Islamist-run Muslim community events.
In 2008, the then-Labour Government deemed another conference, IslamExpo, to be beyond the pale, and banned its MPs from attending. This policy did not, at the time, receive total support from senior politicians. One anonymous Labour Party minister, unhappy with the ban, decried the policy of boycott as "completely counterproductive," and added: "You have to engage with those with influence over those you want to influence."
In the same year, Policy Exchange, a think tank, circulated a briefing paper highlighting the extremist ideology behind the Global Peace and Unity conference. In response, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and now the Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, condemned the Policy Exchange report as "offensive," demanded its retraction and, despite the wealth of evidence demonstrating the questionable company he would be keeping, chose to speak at the conference.
Clegg, after praising the "diversity and unity" of modern Britain, said:
I say this with sadness: There were some people who didn't want me to come and speak to you today. A think tank here in London, Policy Exchange, has been distributing secret briefings against some speakers who you have heard, or will hear, this weekend. They suggested people like me should not come to an event like this. Let me be clear: of course I do not agree with the views of every speaker at this event. I do believe in free speech, I do believe in a free society where views are aired and expressed, not ignored and suppressed.
Clegg seems to have been under the misapprehension that the extremist speakers were an aberration, when, in fact, their views were outspokenly emblematic of the organizers' ideological designs. The more extreme preachers were not accidental invitees -- they were presented as the conference's star speakers.
Dominic Grieve MP, despite attending the conference, markedly expressed his disappointment at the choice of fellow speakers, and named several whose views he regarded as abhorrent.
By the time of the fifth Global Peace and Unity conference, there had been enough warning from counter-extremism activists for a few politicians to take note. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to ban his party's chairwoman, Baroness Warsi, from addressing the conference.
This month, the upcoming Sixth Peace and Unity Conference has announced speakers gathered from among the usual litany of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and apologists:
Yasir Qadhi, who claims the Holocaust is a hoax and has said, "Why are Jews studying Islam? There is a reason, not that they want to help us, they want to destroy us … Know that the Yahood [Jews] and the Kuffar [non-believers] like this type of thing."
Yusuf Islam, the former singer known as Cat Stevens, who has called for apostates and adulterous women to be stoned to death.
Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and a noted supporter of the anti-Semitic and pro-terror Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Livingstone has also claimed that Jews will not vote for him because of their wealth.
Said Rageah, a Canadian Islamist preacher and "instructor" at the extremist Al Maghrib Institute who has preached that God should "destroy" the enemies of Islam and that the Christians and Jews are "damned."
Farooq Murad, son of the "Supreme leader" of Bangladesh's violent jihadi group Jamaat-e-Islami, is also secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. A report published by the Department for Communities and Local Government explicitly links the Muslim Council of Britain to Jamaat-e-Islami, which committed acts of genocide during the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence. Murad is also a trustee of the Islamic Foundation. In 2003, The Times reported that two Islamic Foundation trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani politician who lobbied to ensure that those who blaspheme should be executed. Qadri has incited hatred against Pakistan's much-persecuted Ahmadiyya minority, whom Qadri has described as "heretics."
Yusuf Estes, who advises husbands to beat their wives and advocates the killing of homosexuals.
Iqbal Sacranie, a leading British Islamist who said of author Salman Rushdie, "Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him." Sacranie is a trustee of iEngage, an extreme Islamist organization which has lobbied government ministers to establish relations with the terror group Hamas and has harangued Muslim human rights activists who express opposition to Islamist extremism.
Sarah Joseph, editor of the Islamist magazine Emel, which has expressed support for the extremist East London Mosque. Joseph is a long-standing member of the Islamic Society of Britain, a leading Islamist lobby group. Joseph's defence of "political Islam" is praised on the Muslim Brotherhood's own website.
Muhammad Al-Ya'qoubi, a Syrian cleric who has denounced freedom of expression as blasphemous and a "false ideal." Ya'qoubi also condemned the Grand Mufti of Syria's expressed hope for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews.
Shady Al-Suleiman, who calls for the killing of women who engage in pre-marital sex: "Remember that if there is an Islamic state the punishment of zina [sex outside marriage], the punishment of those who commit zina, if they have never been married before, they will be lashed 100 lashes. If they are married while they committed zina, or previously been married and divorced, and they committed zina, then their punishment is stoning to death."
Muhammad Abdul Bari, a former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain who, during his time at the Council, invited Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Jamaat-e-Islami vice-president -- since then, sentenced to death in Bangladesh for his involvement in acts of genocide in the 1971 war of independence -- to speak at the East London Mosque, of which Bari is also chairman. Further, Bari has, in addition, defended the mosque's previous involvement with Anwar Al-Awlaki, the late Al Qaeda leader, whom the U.S. killed in Yemen with a drone strike.
Mohammad Ijaz ul-Haq, a Pakistani politician who has said that an appropriate response to the decision to award Salman Rushdie a knighthood is suicide attacks. "If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet," he said, "then it is justified." Ul-Haq is also, as noted by the conference organizers themselves, a vocal supporter of nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan, who helped Iran, Libya and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a spokesman for the extremist sect Neturei Karta, who attended and spoke at Iran's Holocaust-denial conference in 2007. Weiss is an outspoken supporter of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad and claims that Zionists have exploited the Holocaust to further their own aims.
Riah Abu El-Assal, a former Bishop of Jerusalem,who has offered his support to the Palestinian terror group Hamas by saying that, "When the Hamas government came about, I was the first religious leader in the Christian community to go and say, "okay, congratulations. Now in what way can we be of help? And what way can we assist to bring the reality of the situation with the Palestinian people to the world at large?"
Abdul Wahid-Pedersen, a Danish Imam who has defended the stoning of adulterous women, and who founded the Independent Scandinavian Relief Agency in 1988 and served as its Secretary General until, however, in 2004, the Agency was closed down after its close affiliate was deemed by the U.S. government to be part of Al Qaeda's funding network.
Muhammad Al Shareef, founder of the Al Maghrib Institute, pupils of which included the 2008 "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Shareef has written a paper entitled, "Why the Jews Were Cursed" -- in which he claims that Jews control the media and murder prophets. He goes on to advise that Muslims should not "take Jews as our close allies." Shareef also calls on Christians to "join the [Muslim] ranks and start to stand up and speak against things like this [homosexuality]…praise to God that you are homophobic."
Jamal Badawi, a Canadian Islamist, and included in an internal Muslim Brotherhood list of activists in 1992. In 2006, Badawi described suicide bombers as "freedom fighters," similar to those fighting the Nazis or the Japanese kamikazes fighting the Americans. Three years later Badawi proclaimed that Hamas terrorists were fighting jihad and that those who were killed were martyrs. He also condemned moderate Muslims who criticised Islamist terror groups.
The conference's list of "Supporters" and "Associates" includes organizations such as Interpal, designated a terrorist organization in the United States; Human Appeal International, which the CIA claims to act as a conduit to terror organizations; Islamic Help, which funds organizations run by senior Hamas leaders; Muslim Aid, which funded a number of terrorist front groups; Muslim Hands, a charity accused by Israel of having links to Hamas; the London-based Palestinian Return Centre, an Islamist lobby group considered by intelligence agencies to be a front for Hamas; and Al-Hiwar TV, a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled television station that was recently fined $158,000 for broadcasting a speech that advocated murder as a punishment for blasphemy.
In light of this assortment of speakers and supporters, have British politicians sought to distance themselves from that array of views?
Not in the least: Politicians and public officials speaking at the upcoming event include Andrew Slaughter MP, the shadow Justice Minister; Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice; Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, a Labour Peer; Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats; Khurshid Drabu, a senior immigration Judge; and Shahid Malik, former Minister for International Development. Malik met with Hamas leaders in 2012.
Most remarkably, alongside the extremist organizations, two other "supporters" of the conference include the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.
Does the focus on the extremist speakers and the affiliated extremist groups unfairly impose guilt-by-association upon the conference organizers?
Apparently not: Of the 29 announced conference speakers, six are public officials or politicians. Of the remaining 23 announced speakers, 19 have expressed extremist views, as listed above.
In other words, the conference speakers can be categorized as follows: 65% are self-proclaimed anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and pro-terror preachers, 20% are public servants offering legitimacy and moral credibility to them, while the remaining 15% could perhaps claim to be part of the conference's "project dedicated to creating a more harmonious world" -- or, as Simon Hughes MP told the conference in 2008, "Peace and unity...thanks be to Allah...a fantastic thing."
It is all the more astounding, then, that leading politicians have chosen to proclaim the men who espouse these views as cheerleaders for "peace and unity" and a "diverse...tolerant Britain."
The abundance of information already published about the Global Peace and Unity Conferences suggests that politicians are not oblivious to the sort of ideas to which they offer their political legitimacy; rather, they are perfectly cognizant, but have chosen collaboration over criticism. In doing so, are these public servants not actually promoting radical Islamism as the future of Western Islam, and betraying genuinely moderate Muslims everywhere?