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Islamic Extremism Links Emerge

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Tim Dieppe comments on reports a trustee of Finsbury Park Mosque has been appointed a member of the political bureau of Hamas – regarded as a terrorist organisation in the US and EU. He also discusses the attendance by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at an event held in Parliament last week by Mend – an organisation accused of meeting the government’s definition of extremism due to their regular hosting of extremist Islamist speakers.


Finsbury Park Mosque Trustee

This week, The Times reported that one of the trustees of Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, Mohammed Sawalha, has been appointed a member of the political bureau of Hamas. According to The Independent, the Mosque claims that it was unaware of the appointment.

Hamas is designated an outlawed terrorist organisation by the US and the EU, meaning that its assets can be seized, and its members jailed. In the UK, however, only the military wing of Hamas is outlawed which means that Mr Sawalha has committed no offence here.


“In charge of terrorist operations”

The Sunday Times reported in 2008 that Mr Sawalha was named in US court documents as having previously been “in charge of Hamas terrorist operations in the West Bank” and had met two men accused of laundering millions of dollars to finance the group.

Mr Sawalha was appointed a trustee of Finsbury Park Mosque in 2010. He has been a director of Islam Expo which promoted Islamic lifestyles. He is also a former president of the British Muslim Initiative, and a former director of the Muslim Association of Britain.


Jeremy Corbyn a regular visitor

The Mosque lies in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency, and Mr Corbyn has been a regular visitor to the Mosque. He is reported to have met Mr Sawalha during a visit to the mosque in 2015. Mr Corbyn has previously been criticised for describing members of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”. He has since expressed regret at his choice of words.


Mend hosts event in Parliament

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn attended an event in Parliament held to promote ‘Islamophobia awareness month’ by Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend). He attended in spite of several other MPs withdrawing their attendance over claims that the organisation has hosted extremist Islamist speakers at their events. 


Mend accused of being an extremist organisation

The Henry Jackson Society published a report last week entitled Mend: ‘Islamists Masquerading As Civil Libertarians’. The report claims that “Mend meets the government’s own definition of extremism.” It shows how Mend has regularly hosted extremist Islamist speakers and has attacked moderate Muslim groups. Speakers hosted by Mend are said to have promoted Jihad, and anti-semitism, and to have legitimised the killing of adulterers and ‘infidels’. Mend has expressed support for Islamist hate preachers banned from entering the UK. One senior member of staff in particular has been judged in court to be a “hardline Islamic extremist” who supported the killing of British troops. This senior figure has indicated that he did not agree with democracy if it came at the expense of implementing sharia law.


Corbyn legitimising

Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance at the Mend event contrasts sharply with his refusal to attend a dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. His actions do nothing to help to quell allegations of anti-semitism within the Labour Party. By attending the Mend event, Mr Corbyn has legitimised an organisation accused of spreading extremist views. 


Extremism exposed

It is good to see the extremist links of Finsbury Park Mosque and of Mend being exposed in this way. This raises questions for both the Conservative government and the Labour leader to answer. Will Mr Corbyn ignore such allegations? And when the government talks of clamping down on extremism, will it focus on organisations such as these? We hope that the government will take appropriate action in relation to both these organisations.

 

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