NSS joins campaigners calling for investigation of extremist charity sermons
Posted: Mon, 6th Nov 2023
Nine organisations call for action in open letter saying charities are promoting antisemitism and glorifying terrorism.
The charity regulator is "assessing" eight Islamic charities after the National Secular Society and other campaigners expressed concerns about extremist preaching.
An open letter to the Charity Commission, co-signed by the NSS and eight others last week, called for an "urgent investigation" into the eight charities after videos emerged of sermons preaching "antisemitism of the most extreme kind", "glorification of terrorism" and "incitement of violence".
The sermons were all made after proscribed Islamist terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, killing over 1,400 people. Since the attack, the UK and other countries have seen a surge in hate crimes. Over 130 people have been arrested for anti-Jewish and Muslim hate crimes in London alone, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The letter also called on the commission to consider whether there is "a more widespread cultural problem" among Islamic charities, and to "reassess" the progress for registering and engaging with charities.
The Charity Commission spokesman said it is "currently assessing all of the information available" to determine "what regulatory action, if any, may be required for each of the charities identified."
It added some of the allegations raised "may constitute a criminal offence".
Charities call for Israel to be destroyed and for "usurping Jews" to be 'taken away'
The sermons raised in the letter were all made after October 7th. In addition to the tax relief afforded to registered charities, several charities named in the letter have received thousands of pounds in government grants. The charities named are:
- Abdullah Quilliam Society: In a video on the charity's Facebook page on the Israel-Hamas war, Haroon Hanif (pictured) called BBC coverage of the conflict "complete lies" and said "no British Army can overpower you". He said Muslims should "continue waging your war for Allah and his messenger" and added: "We're large in numbers right now, two billion. If the two billion just marched on Israel it's all over, if they spat in the direction of Israel, it's all over."
- Alfurqan Academy: This charity is linked to the Al Furqan Islamic Centre Manchester. A sermon in a video with the centre's logo called on God to protect mujahideen (jihadists) from the "usurping Jews" and to "take them away".
- The CMA Welfare Trust: This charity runs Cheadle Masjid (mosque). In a video with Cheadle Masjid's logo, Sajjaad Khalil prayed for the destruction of the enemies of Islam and victory for the mujahideen in Palestine.
- Feltham Hira Association: A video with the logo of the Hijra Centre, a mosque run by the charity, showed a preacher praying with his congregation to become "conquerors, not as subjects" after praying for Allah to "destroy the oppressors".
- Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre: A sermon bearing the mosque's logo called for the congregation to pray for Allah to "destroy" the "oppressors". In August, the NSS wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport expressing concern over their award of £2.2m to the mosque despite its history of antisemitism, homophobia and misogyny.
- Mohammadi Trust Birmingham: This charity runs the Mohammadi Masjid (mosque). A video with the mosque's logo shared on social media features a sermon on an Islamic prophecy that during a war between Jews and Muslims, the trees and stones will say "Oh Muslim, behind me is a Jew, come and kill him".
- Redbridge Islamic Centre: A sermon, apparently recorded live at the centre, included prayers for the defeat of the "cursed" Jews and infidels. The preacher said: "scatter them and rip their groups apart, and destroy their houses and homes, bring them down and punish them like you do criminals" to "make Muslims get their victory" against "the usurping Jews".
- Seven Spikes Relief Foundation: In a video bearing the charity's logo, preacher Omar Hajjaj urged listeners not believe claims in the media that Hamas are terrorists.
All eight charities are registered under "the advancement of religion". NSS research has found charities are easily able to register under this purpose without providing evidence of how they serve a tangible public benefit.
The letter said these organisations had breached charity guidelines which say trustees should be alert to the dangers of "extremist ideology" or "extremist views", and must ensure charities do not "promote unlawful guidance or hatred" or "glorify terrorism".
NSS: Charities "fanning the flames of division when we most need to promote cohesion and tolerance"
The NSS has long been concerned that charities can use the recognised charitable purpose of "the advancement of religion" to promote extremism, including antisemitism and glorifying Islamist violence.
Head of campaigns Megan Manson said: "The Charity Commission must take these concerns seriously.
"The Israel-Hamas war has caused serious tension between different communities around the world, including in the UK. The hateful rhetoric churned out by these charities is fanning the flames of division when we most need to promote cohesion and tolerance.
"The ideology promoted by these charities is rooted in a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic theology. The commission must therefore take a closer look into how 'the advancement of religion' charitable purpose enables extremism. If 'the advancement of religion' is helping to fuel extremism, its validity as a charitable purpose must be questioned."
Other signatories of the letter include Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Maryam Namazie from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Civitas, Don't Divide Us, the Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation, Professor Richard Dawkins, free speech campaigner Toby Young, and Dr Benjamin Jones of the University of Warwick.
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