A senior Labour MP vying to be the first elected mayor of Greater Manchester has shared a platform with a Muslim pressure group accused of being led by “extremists”, after implying Muslims should not work with police.
Andy Burnham, a former cabinet minister, appeared at a mayoral hustings organised by the “anti-Islamophobia” group Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) on Saturday, The Times reports.
MEND regularly works with members of CAGE, which has supported terrorists and called Jihadi John a “beautiful” man. The group is led by Azad Ali, an Islamist who lost a libel battle with a newspaper that said he was “a hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq by fellow Muslims as justified”.
MEND director Mr. Ali has also written on his blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric closely linked to terrorist plots including the September 11 attacks, and described al-Qaeda as a “myth”.
— Manchester Achieve (@McrAchieve) April 8, 2017
MEND campaigns to scrap Prevent, a government scheme that aims to stop people from becoming terrorists; Mr. Burnham has previously appeared to agree with their stance on the issue.
At the Labour conference in Liverpool last year, after reviewing research by MEND, Mr. Burnham appeared to encourage Muslim to not work with police.
“Is there then a need to create trusted third parties for reporting hate crime so that it isn’t the case that people have to go directly to the police?” he said.
Mr. Burnham’s spokesman later claimed that it would be “utterly false” to suggest the MP had said people should bypass the police.
“What he has spoken of is the possibility of the police working in partnership with trusted, designated community organisations to give more people the confidence to come forward and report crimes,” she said.
An investigation by The Times also found evidence that MEND is increasingly exerting influence on politicians, police, and prosecutors.
The paper found the Labour shadow justice minister, Yasmin Qureshi, accepted £5,000 from Sufyan Ismail, the founder of MEND, without identifying him as the donor.
It is also reported that the Charity Commission is questioning three charities about their funding for MEND events featuring radical Islamic speakers.