A government-backed Muslim charity has held a fundraising event for the British advocacy group CAGE, despite being ordered by the Charity Commission to cease funding the group amid concerns over its links to terrorism. A speaker at the event praised jihad before asking ushers to “lock the doors” while the collection bucket was passed around.
In April last year, more than 200 men, women and children gathered at the Muath Trust’s Bordesley Centre in Birmingham for a meeting hosted by the Trust, a Muslim charity which has received £130,000 in taxpayers’ money from the Government’s Big Society Transition Fund, plus further hundreds of thousands of pounds from Birmingham city council, The Telegraph has reported.
There, they were addressed by speakers including British cleric Shaykh Zahir Mahmood (above, centre) and Cage founder Moazzam Begg, as well as Cerie Bullivant (above, left), spokesman for the Muath Trust, and Trust chairman Raza Nadim (above, right).
Mr Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee, railed against “prime ministers, presidents, politicians becoming scholars of Islam […] as have many others when they deem to think what they believe is and isn’t Islam”.
The British Government are “idiots” and “snakes,” he said, who “like to see this situation and use it to push through more laws like the Counter Terrorism Act.”
Yet, “when an organisation like ISIS does rise up they remain utterly silent as long as they are butchering Muslims”, he added.
“Remember terrorism is extremely broad, the concept, the idea, the notion of terrorism is so broad, nobody can define it.
“So it’s up to the police whether they think you’re a terrorist,” he said.
“These powers are passed through a group of people who are not qualified to determine what is or what isn’t extremism, what is or what isn’t terrorism.”
Taking to the platform, Mr Nadim cited an article by an imam from the Lewisham Islamic Centre in south-east London, attended by Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers, saying: “He mentioned jihad as a noble act, and they said he is an extremist.
“I think jihad is a noble act. It’s one of the greatest deeds, if not the greatest deed ever a Muslim can do.
“But they say that’s dirty. And that’s what’s happening to your faith, that if you don’t tackle this stuff, what will happen? They will tell Muslims this watered-down version of Islam, here’s what you can follow.”
Following his call to action he concluded by urging those present to donate to CAGE, saying: “This is the final thing that I need to move on to, and which I need to ask the fellas to lock to the doors for. If I could see by a show of hands – who here is willing and can donate to Cage today?
“Ask yourselves: how much money have we as a community given for the anti-Islamophobia industry?
“One of the repercussions that Cage have faced for speaking out for the Ummah and our faith has been that their bank account has been frozen. So any money that you give, please do give as cash if possible.
“If you can, give it today. If not, leave your details.
“We need to promote the work of people like CAGE.”
Nadim is also a member of The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), which has been banned from several university campuses in the UK, and in December spearheaded a campaign to see Labour MPs who voted in favour of military airstrikes in Syria deselected by their constituencies.
The Muath Trust, established in 1990, describes itself as “one of the largest community led third sector initiatives in the United Kingdom”. Birmingham City Council had defended handing the Trust money, saying the funding was necessary “to support essential community services”.
Trust chief executive Irshad Baqui denied the doors were locked at the meeting. He said that the Trust endeavoured to act “in conformity with its objectives and in accordance with the guidelines outlined by the Charity Commission,” adding: “Muath Trust does not have any formal or informal relationship with Cage and does not support or agree with its views and policies.”
However, the day before the event CAGE sent a Tweet from its own account reading: “Don’t miss our event tomorrow ‘Holding onto Cinder: Our Deen & the CTS”. CAGE was also listed as an organiser of the event by Eventbrite, an online ticket sales platform, and photographs taken at the event show the speakers sitting next to a CAGE banner.
A Cage spokesman said that the request to lock the doors was “humorous”, and that “jihad” merely meant “struggle against injustice”.