By Denis MacEoin
When long-standing Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas met US President Donald Trump on May 7, he came out with what we British call a whopper, a huge lie. Here is what Abbas said with a straight face: “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace. And we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world, along with the Israeli children, in peace, freedom and security.”
We expect politicians to lie out of all sides of their mouths, to use doublespeak in order to seduce citizens to vote for them. Whether they be government officials or opposition hopefuls, a certain amount of economy with the truth is par for the course. Political analysts and well-informed journalists know this, of course, and work hard to untangle these webs. Facts matter. Sources make a difference. And in democratic countries that value free speech and the freedom of the press, politicians are held to account. Not many falsehoods get off Scot-free, and serial liars are regularly brought to book.
Politicians and their spokespeople know this, however, and do their best to keep their lies within reasonable bounds, even when making promises they have no real desire to fulfil. Abbas’s lies, however, are so gargantuan as to be in a league of their own. There, the exact opposite is true, and thousands of videos, texts, and recorded radio broadcasts show that the PA, the PLO, Fatah and Abbas himself have, over the years done their utmost to teach Palestinian children to hate and prepare themselves for violence against Jews.
There is a reason for this subterfuge. Muslims in general, especially those promoting extreme ideas, are growing more and more conscious of how they appear in the forum of public opinion. Even the terrorist group Hamas has issued a new Charter from which they have removed the explicit anti-Semitic passages of its 1988 version, in order to make it look better in Western eyes. In fact, Hamas has not changed its ways, and is still planning to use violence to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic Palestinian state.
The more that Islam, Islamic terrorism, Muslim extremism, and anxieties in Europe about Muslim immigrants receive a bad press, the more many Muslim organizations and individuals see a need to make a better impression on the public in America, Europe, Canada and Australia. This does not refer to genuine reformers who work hard to create a new Islam from which its most negative values — jihad, corporal punishment, execution for adultery, female oppression and violence — have been replaced by values closer to the Judaeo-Christian principles that inform Western civilization. The target here is the extremists who have taken lessons from the world of public relations management, and who see advantage in adopting at least an outward style of liberalization and peace activism.
To a large extent, this desire to present a positive image while holding extremist and conservative ideas is linked to the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, which may be defined as dissimulation, and is used to protect a believer from criticism or attack. Historically, it was mainly used by Shi’i Muslims living in Sunni lands, who would pray, celebrate festivals, and speak as though they were Sunnis, to avoid persecution. Less commonly, it was and still is used by Sunni Muslims, especially when living in non-Muslim territory. Given the large numbers of Muslims now living in and entering Western countries, its use has not surprisingly become more commonplace, even if some anti-Muslim bigots wildly exaggerate its scale. With its roots in the Qur’an (3:28) — “Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers” — the term has also been interpreted to mean that a Muslim may be outwardly friendly to non-Muslims while remaining inwardly ill-disposed.
This in part explains why so many Salafi fundamentalist Muslims today engage in charitable and social work to assist their non-Muslim fellow citizens, stress their love for Jesus, and hold meetings to which they invite non-believers in order to learn what Muslims are really like. If you look at the community section of the website of the London-based Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), you will find links to the organization’s several charity enterprises: “Helping the Homeless in London”, “Warming up the Elderly in London”, “Ongoing Neighbourhood Cleanup Efforts”, “Good News from the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ campaign”, “The Elderly Care Project: Winter Warmth Campaign”, and “iERA at the Refugees Welcome here Rally”.
My local Church of England vicar takes groups of his parishioners to visit Newcastle Central Mosque (a Salafi/Ahl-e Hadith institution), where they are regaled with warmth and good food. In return, members of the mosque have visited St. George’s Church despite the presence of crosses and crucifixes and the vain images on the beautiful stained-glass windows. All buddies on the surface. But the real reason the Muslims are acting like this is in order to attract Christians to Islam. They do not, however, invite the rabbi and his congregation from the local Orthodox synagogue near where I live.
The UK alone hosts a number of organizations that present a seemingly friendly face to the public while harbouring beliefs and supporting individuals whose hatred for non-Muslims is palpable.
I do not wish to condemn this charitable work: quite possibly they do much good. It is quite likely that many homeless, elderly, and refugee people benefit from what they do, or that local neighbourhood campaigners appreciate their cleanup efforts. Superficially, their devotion to the needy is commendable, and much the same as the devotion shown by Christian charities such as the Salvation Army. In fact, a 2013 poll by ICM found that Muslims are far ahead of Atheists, Christians and Jews in the amounts they give to charity, something they deserve to be proud of. At the same time, “JustGiving said religious charities such as Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief benefited most from money donated by Muslims, but many of their donations also went to the likes of Cancer Research, Macmillan and the British Heart Foundation.”
Here, though, is the problem: Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief have been closely linked to funding Islamic terrorism around the world. Giving to cancer research is one thing, but giving to Hamas and other groups is quite another.
iERA, a British charity, was set up in 2009 by a Muslim convert called Abdur Raheem Green (formerly Anthony Green), and its purpose from the beginning was to carry out da’wa, or proselytization, to win converts for Islam. That remains its primary purpose. On their website, where you will find references to “Dawah Training” and “Dawah Campaigns”. A range of visual images appears on the screen, showing various missionary activities, notably giving out literature to Christians, with a link to “Giving Dawah to Christians”. There is a photograph of a group of iERA workers sporting bright blue hoodies with the name “Jesus” prominently displayed next to a large box containing the book Jesus: Man, Messenger, Messiah, part of a Prophetic Legacy Series featuring books on Abraham and Moses.
This is itself disingenuous. The implication is that Muslims too love Jesus — an approach that is bound to attract Christian passers-by (including priests and nuns, as shown in photographs) if only out of curiosity. But the Jesus of the Qur’an is not the Jesus of the New Testament. For Muslims, he is not the Son of God, not one third of the Trinity, did not die on the cross, was not resurrected after death, and is not God incarnate. He is simply one of a long line of prophets, important — yet inferior to Muhammad.
If the deceptions used in da’wa work were the only cause for concern about iERA, it might not appear worrying; but iERA has long been censured for its extremist Salafi/Wahhabi basis. The several preachers who sit or have sat on its advisory board or its board of trustees are among the most hardline exponents of radical Islam in the UK and abroad. Many have been banned from the UK and other countries.
Green himself (chair of the Board of Trustees) is an anti-Semite who urges the death penalty [pp. 12-13] for homosexuality and adultery, has stated that we should not argue with al-Qa’eda’s methods because “terrorism works”. Hamza Tzortzis, a co-founder of iERA, has said that “we as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom”. He also wishes to criminalise homosexuality, which he compares to paedophilia and cannibalism. He was originally a member of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He also supports the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy. [Also here, with a video; and here quoted by Nick Cohen.] He has supported child marriage under certain conditions. [Also here, with a transcript; here with a video.] In a Birmingham University debate, he refused to condemn shari’a punishments such as stoning and amputation.
A former member of iERA’s board of advisors, Bilal Philips, has been deported or banned from the US, Britain, Kenya, Germany, Australia and the Philippines for his terror connections, including his support for the Taliban and Hamas. He justifies child marriage, severe punishments including execution for apostates and homosexuals. It is worth adding that Philips is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and in the 1995 prosecution U.S. v. Omar Abdel Rahman, “in which almost a dozen people — including Clement Hampton-El, an associate of Philips — were convicted of conspiring to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels in New York City, among other terrorism-related activities.”
Other well-known names include Haitham al-Haddad, Zakir Naik, and Hussein Yee, some of whom are on record for their support of terrorism, some for their advocacy of extreme punishments; and some for their hatred of non-Muslims. These men and others stand out among the most problematic hate preachers in the Western world and occasionally elsewhere. Their motives are thoroughly questionable.
It could not be clearer that the “good works” of iERA have not seemed to revolve around true motives of care for human beings in need. Those who ran and still run the organization were perfectly happy to throw homosexuals off high roofs, stone adulterers, order suicide bombings of Jews in Israel, wage jihad against non-Muslims in general, treat their own women badly, and preach violence to young Muslims and Muslim converts. Writing in London’s Daily Telegraph in November 2014, Andrew Gilligan stated: “Others paid thousands of pounds of public money in Gift Aid [i.e. from the UK government] include IERA (sic), a charity closely linked to a number of the ‘Portsmouth jihadis’ – six young men from the Hampshire city who travelled together to fight for Islamic State (Isil) in Syria. At least two of the six, Mehdi Hassan and Ifthekar Jaman, and possibly as many as five, were members of the ‘Portsmouth Dawah [Prayer] Team,’ a group which proselytises in the streets of the port.” Naturally, iERA denied this connection, but Gilligan added, “The group was last year described by Mission Dawah, part of IERA, as ‘our team from Portsmouth.'”
Many unsuspecting people, little understanding just what and who stand behind the movement but impressed by the appearance of disinterested good works on behalf of the needy, given handouts on Muslim love for Jesus, or invited to iERA barbecues and get-togethers, will take everything at face value. A number of them will convert, assuming they have joined a religion of love, peace and charitable works. Some sociologists of religion have pointed out that neophytes attracted by friendly faces and warm words convert with little or no knowledge of the cults or faiths they join. But once inside, they are introduced slowly to the new beliefs they must hold, the rituals they must perform, and the laws they must obey. This is one of the several paths that lead to radicalisation and all it entails. Charity may begin at home, but in instances such as these, it not infrequently leads to death.
The Salafi Central Mosque in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the largest city in North-East England, hosts an organization named the Islamic Diversity Centre. Like the iERA, whose northern centre it is, the IDC engages in charitable work. Among its many “Social Initiatives” are an “Elderly Community Lunch in Teeside”, an “Elderly Care Project 2017”, “Help the Homeless 2017”, “Neighbourhood Clean Up 2016”, “Love Your Neighbour 2016”, “ECP Winter Warmth Campaign 2016”, “Feed the Homeless 2015”, a “Newcastle Blood Donation Campaign” and a bevy of similar projects, dating back to 2013. Another campaign has focussed on bringing toys to ailing children in North Tees and other hospitals. The Centre itself was founded in 2010 and appears to be the only body of that name in the UK. IDC Northeast has also launched a national campaign “Standing Against Racism and Against Hatred”. In Newcastle itself, the organisation appears on the streets with a stall from which its members hand out soup or other foodstuffs to the poor.
Here again, we are presented with a series of projects about which we can scarcely complain. Which of us would not want to feed the homeless or warm the elderly? But the same criticisms that we applied to iERA apply here. The Islamic Diversity Centre seems to have modelled itself on iERA and is, similarly a da’wa centre aimed at the conversion of non-Muslims, mainly, it seems, impressionable youngsters. Speakers such as the highly controversial Abu Usamah al-Thahabi have addressed audiences there.
Al-Thahabi is an extremist figure, an imam at the extremist Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham. Speaking of non-Muslims (including, one assumes, the elderly and homeless whom the IDC goes out to help) he has said: “We call them stinking kafir [unbelievers], dirty. But, of course, akhi [brother], if that’s going to run them away from al-Islam, we don’t say that to them in front of their face…. So the non-Muslims, part of being a non-Muslim is that they are liars, usually”.
Is that not a breathtaking indictment of this use of apparent goodness in order to bring unsuspecting people into the Islamic fold?
The only excuse he can find for living among the dirty kuffar (non-Muslims) is that it is necessary for missionary work: “Dawah is one of the reasons that a person is allowed to live with the kuffar. But living with the kuffar is a major sin, ikhwan [brothers], and it closes the door for a lot of (us?) in our lives. As we sit here ikhwan we have to hate it in our hearts, living with these kuffar. And whether you realise it or not, it is impacting upon us.”
In a 2010 report from the British Centre for Social Cohesion, then directed by Douglas Murray, one reads: Dhahabee [al-Thahabi] advocates holy war in an Islamic state; preaches hatred against non-Muslims; that apostasy and homosexuality are punishable by death; and that women are inferior to men. In a 2007 Channel 4 documentary Dhahabee was recorded as saying the following to his congregation: We ask Allah to bring about the means and the ways in which the Muslims will get the power and the honour of repelling the oppression of the kuffaar, where we can go out and perform the jihad. We ask Allah to bring that time so we can be participants in that. No one loves the kuffaar. No one loves the kuffaar! [unbelievers] […] Whether these kuffaar are from the UK, or from the US … We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of the kufr. We hate the kuffaar. Whoever changes his religion from al-Islam to anything else kill him in the Islamic state. Do you practise homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain. Allah has created the woman, even if she gets a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete, deficient. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal one witness of the man.
IDC was founded and is directed by Abu-Tayeb Khair Deen, about whom not much is known. A close reading of his Facebook page, however, reveals that he shares material from Bilal Phillips of iERA (24 March, 13 March, Muhammad al-Munajjid and Abu Eesa Niamatullah. Munajjid is a Palestinian “refugee” brought up in Saudi Arabia. He describes Jews as the top enemies of Islam; he indulges in fierce anti-Jewish hate speech, calls for execution of anyone who blasphemes against the prophet Muhammad and homosexuals, instructs women to cover themselves except for their eyes and hands or even entirely, and declares they must never be rulers, says that a Muslim man may have sex with a slave girl and insists that churches, synagogues or the temples of other faiths must never be built in Muslim countries.
Abu Eesa, a Pakistani-British Salafi, has called British people “animals”, attacks democracy, calls for restrictions on women, is an anti-Semite and is vocally opposed to progressive Muslims who try to integrate within Western societies.. Abu Tayeb Khair Deen’s Facebook page (dated July 31, 2014) carries anti-Israel, pro-Hamas videos shared with him by Abu Eesa.
Elsewhere, Khair Deen shares posts from Bilal Philips, Abu Usamah, Yasir Qadhi, and Green Lane Mosque, posts an anti-Prevent video, and an iERA video. Many of these links identify Khair Deen and the centre he runs with Salafi extremism. What genuine love can the members of the IDC have for non-Muslims they profess to care for when they are being thus instructed?