A Muslim cleric appointed to advise the Government about Islamophobia has previous links to an Islamic hardliner who called for a woman to be hanged for blasphemy.
Islamophobia adviser Imam Qari Asim had previously defended the extremist preacher, Khadim Rizvi, who was responsible for calling for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, to be executed for blasphemy against Islam, the Mail on Sunday reports.
Bibi spent nine years on death row but was later acquitted. She has since faced death threats in Pakistan and has been offered asylum by multiple countries including Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada — but not the United Kingdom, due to the Government fearing her presence might “stoke tensions” in Britain’s Muslim community.
Reports that she is still being held in a “secure location” in Pakistan are unconfirmed and her current whereabouts remain unknown.
Theresa May Refuses Asylum for Pakistani Christian Hunted by Lynch Mobs to Appease British Muslims https://t.co/8nJ9qWYJSU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 26, 2018
In a Facebook post in 2017, now deleted, Mr Asim reportedly expressed solidarity with Mr Rizvi and his organisation Tereek-e-Labbaik who were at the time engaged in violent protests against the Pakistani government.
Mr Asim is not the only one of the 11-member Government “Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred” to have been linked with extremist Muslims. Another member, Ahmed Peerbhai, is reportedly a supporter of the Friends of Al-Aqsa group whose leader, Ismail Patel, has previously defended the terrorist group Hamas, saying, “Hamas is no terrorist organisation… we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel.”
The British government has come under fire in the past for working with Islamic hardliners. In 2018, the Home Office received criticism about it seeking a “re-engagement” with the Muslim Council of Britain.
The group, which has received at least £150,000 of taxpayer funding, has been embroiled in multiple scandals including apparent praising of Hamas as well as seemingly calling for Muslims to “resist” British troops.
The MCB, which describes itself as Britain’s “national representative Muslim body”, is said to have only a tiny amount of support from the Muslim population overall due to its hardline views, with one poll showing that only two per cent considered it their main route to engage with the Government on their behalf.
CAGE Demands ‘Abolition’ of All Terror Laws After Director Found Guilty Under Terror Legislation
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 26, 2017
In another previous Government scandal relating to relationships with Islamist hardliners, Max Hill QC, England’s chief prosecutor since 2018, was criticised for work in his previous role as Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation, in which he had met with many groups with extremist connections including CAGE, which had described Islamic State beheader “Jihadi John” as “extremely gentle” and “beautiful”.
Mr Hill also met with the Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) group, which has been described as “Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians” by think tank the Henry Jackson Society, and The Cordoba Foundation, branded a “political front for the Muslim Brotherhood” by former Prime Minister David Cameron.