Lord Sheikh, a Conservative Peer in the House of Lords, is a trustee of a group within the UK Interfaith Network. Sheikh was a keynote speaker at a 2010 charity dinner for Interpal, who the U.S. has classified as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group.
This story comes from The Clarion Project.
UK Government-Funded Interfaith Dominated by Islamists
The following is a summary of an article that appeared originally on GatestoneInstitute.org
Interfaith dialogue is a powerful industry in Britain. Many hundreds of groups receive many hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' funds to promote dialogue between groups of different faith. On the face of it, such initiatives appear to indicate progress and civilized discussion. But what sorts of groups are involved with the world of interfaith?
The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom
The largest umbrella group in Britain for interfaith initiatives is the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN). Founded in 1987, the IFN claims it works to "promote understanding and respect" between different faith groups.
The IFN has received millions of pounds of taxpayers' funds: 80% of the IFN's budget, in fact, is taxpayers' money. In 2011 alone, the Department for Communities and Local Government granted £373,990 (close to $600,000) to the IFN.
The IFN's stated aims, however, are clearly at odds with the views held by some of its membership.
For example, the IFN's executive committee includes Ayub Laher, who belongs to Jamiat Ulama-e-Britain (JuB), the representative body of Deobandi ultra-conservative scholars in Britain, whose Pakistani partner, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, is "directly affiliated" to Pakistani Deobandi seminaries with close ties to the Taliban. The Pakistani group's leader, Fazlur Rehman, described in Pakistan as a "patron of jihad," has stated that his organization and the Ayub Laher's JuB "have a unanimity of thought and ideology."
From 2011-12, the IFN's co-chairman was Dr. Manazir Ahsan (although his term expired in July of this year, he remains a member of the IFN's executive committee). Ahsan is a leading British Muslim activist who helped to coordinate the riots in the UK against Salman Rushdie after the publication of his book, The Satanic Verses. Ahsan was, in addition, a founder of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, which organized book burnings and protests, and called for the book to be banned and Rushdie to be prosecuted.
Ahsan is also the Director of the Islamic Foundation. In 2003, The Times reported that two of the Foundation's trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
British taxpayers have questioned whether a leading British Islamist, such as Ahsan, involved in a campaign of violent rhetoric and aggressive censorship, is genuinely committed to the principle of dialogue, let alone whether or not he was a suitable choice for chairman of the largest taxpayer-funded interfaith group in the UK.
The Joseph Interfaith Foundation
Interfaith groups within the IFN, like the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, also collaborate with extreme Islamist groups. Lord Sheikh, a Conservative Peer in the House of Lords and a trustee of the JIF was the keynote speaker at a 2010 charity dinner for Interpal, a charity of which the leading official, Ibrahim Hewitt, openly supports Hamas and has called for the killing of homosexuals. In 2003, the United States government classified Interpal as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group.
The JIF enjoys taxpayer funding. In 2009, it received £21,447 ($34,000) from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Fulbright Commission.
Partners with which the JIF "regularly cooperates" include:
East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, home of the Islamic Forum of Europe, the European branch of Jamaat-e-Islami. This mosque, in just one example of extremism, invited "prominent [Saudi] government official cleric" Saad al-Beraik to speak. Beraik refers to Jews as "monkeys" and has said, "Muslim brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women? Why don't you wage jihad? Why don't you pillage them?"
Over the last six years the East London Mosque has received £2.9 million ($4,600,000) of public funds.
Forward Thinking, an interfaith group that claims to "promote greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society." In 2008, Forward Thinking brought Tafazal Mohammad -- a "suspected terrorist sympathizer closely linked to the July 7 bombers" and formerly a trustee, along with 7/7 tube bomber, Mohammad Siddique Khan, of a "jihadist bookshop" -- to address a meeting in the British Parliament.
Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque. The Centre's director, Ahmad Al Dubayan, described as a "Saudi diplomat" is also a trustee of the King Fahad Academy (funded and managed by the Saudi government) which, in 2007, was revealed by a former employee to have taught pupils from textbooks that described Christians as "pigs" and Jews as "monkeys." Pupils were also asked to "mention some repugnant characteristics of Jews."
In 2008, a Channel 4 Dispatches program filmed preachers at the Centre calling upon Muslims to murder homosexuals and adulterers, declaring that Muslims who convert to another religion should also be slaughtered, and branding the behavior of other races as "vile."
The list continues with many Muslim groups with extremist ideologies involved in interfaith dialogue.
By championing these Islamists as the "voice" of British Islam, the Inter Faith Network falsely legitimizes these extremist groups to be sincerely representative of British Muslims. Yet, a 2007 survey revealed that 94% of British Muslims do not believe that the Muslim Council of Britain represents their views.
Smaller religious sects have also found interfaith organizations to be hostile. In November 2012, over 20 different religious groups came to the House of Lords together with representatives of civil liberty groups and academic bodies to express concern about religious discrimination by the Inter Faith Network against minority religious groups like the Ahmadiyya and the Pagans.
Interfaith has become part of Islamist groups' efforts to project soft power -- a way for the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami groups to promote politicized Islam as a real political force.
As the British Islamist preacher Haitham Al-Haddad has noted, not only is the role of Interfaith a deception, it is a deception that is crucial:
"Of course, as Muslims, we believe that this co-existence cannot take place unless they are living under the umbrella of al-Islam ... these visions and strategies are meant to be for a short run, means within fifty years, something like this.
"The far ultimate aim for Muslims is to have Islam governing the whole world, Islamisation of the whole globe. This is the ultimate aim of any Muslim and of all communities, Muslim communities.
"But we are not talking about that at the moment. We are talking about the immediate goals. So, in terms of immediate goals we need this peaceful co-existence, and they claim that they are promoting it and we need to take it from there."
Unfortunately, honorable activities do not only attract those with honorable intentions. Over the next decade, religious extremists may, in all likelihood, continue to foster violence and hatred in Britain.
Should Government really be in the business of promoting homophobes, anti-Semites and supporters of terror by continuing to fund, with taxpayers' money, interfaith networks so closely involved with the extremists themselves?