Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman to sit in Cabinet, used her position to set up a government advisory panel stuffed with Islamist ‘entryists’, it has been claimed. The Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, set up by Warsi and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, includes a number of people with links to extremist organisations.
Some members are using their positions on the Working Group to push for bans on hate preachers entering Britain to be lifted, including Zakir Naik, who has stated that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”. Another has links to the anti-Semitic group which has been lobbying for a hardline Muslim mega-mosque to be built in London; yet another has links to an organisation described as a “political front from the Muslim Brotherhood,” The Times has reported.
Fiyaz Mughal, the head of Tell Mama, a national organisation which monitors anti-Muslim attacks, resigned from the group in protest at it’s activities. He told the Telegraph: “I was deeply concerned about the kinds of groups some of the members had connections with, and some of the groups they were recommending be brought into government. It seemed to me to be a form of entryism, by people with no track record in delivering projects.”
Another member said: “The working group was Sayeeda [Warsi]’s personal project and she was responsible for the appointments. There was very little transparency about who was put on.”
One of the most prominent members of the group is Muddassar Ahmed, a former senior activist of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, an extremist militant organisation which waged anti-Semitic campaigns against “Zionist” Labour politicians Jack Straw and Lorna Fitzsimons. Ms Fitzsimons, former MP for Rochdale, lost her seat after MPAC delivered thousands of leaflets to her Muslim voters saying that they should sack her because she is Jewish, although she is not.
Mr Ahmed defended himself on the grounds that his “regrettable” MPAC involvement had been “many years in the past”, and claimed not to have been involved in the campaign against Ms Fitzsimons, concentrating on the campaign against Mr Straw instead. He claimed to be a “very different person from what I was then”, and drew support from the government, who insisted that Mr Ahmed had “disassociated himself” from MPAC and it’s “approach” to politics.
But Mr Ahmed, through his PR company Unitas Communications, has more recently been involved in the Newham People’s Alliance, a campaign group formed to press for the creation of a mega-mosque in East London which Tablighi Jamaat, a conservative Islamist sect wants to set up. The NPA conducted an anti-Semitic campaign against Newham Borough’s Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, whom they nicknamed “dirty Robin”, branding him a “Zionist” and racist, and saying that no Muslim should vote for him. It also blockaded Newham Town Hall when the plans for the mosque were refused planning permission.
Meanwhile the NPA has also shown support for Lutfur Rahmen, the Mayor of neighbouring borough Tower Hamlets who has been linked to extremism and accused of vote rigging, saying that Newham should be more like Tower Hamlets.
“It was a very vicious campaign, with a lot of lying and making things up, and they were close allies of Lutfur,” said Sir Robin last night. “Muddassar Ahmed wanted to stand as candidate for us [Labour], but we blocked him because of his background.”
The NPA was represented at the planning enquiry into the mosque last June by Mr Ahmed and others from Unitas Communications. “The NPA were very unpleasant and bullying people to deal with,” said Alan Craig, a former Newham councillor who led a rival campaign MegaMosque No Thanks at the inquiry. The planning appeal will be decided by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the department in which the Working Group on which Mr Ahmed sits is based.
Mr Ahmed has since distanced himself from the NPA, saying that he was not responsible for their behaviour and that they were a “very loose group, a group of guys we grew up with who asked us to help them out at the planning inquiry. Tablighi Jamaat have never been linked to any sort of extremism and we have got to be careful not to alienate them from mainstream discourse.” He insisted that he and Unitas had not been paid by the sect nor anyone else.
Other members of the working group include Iqbal Bhana who has repeatedly praised the Islamic Human Rights Commission for their work. The IHRC has spoken in defence of Abu Hamza, claiming that he was “demonised” and calling his conviction for terrorism in America an example of the “double standards of the British justice system in relation to Muslims”.
Also on the working group is Iftikhar Awan, a former trustee of Islamic Relief, which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sarah Joseph, a former spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which the government broke ties with thanks to its association with Islamists.
Other members have tried to get the government to rebuild the relationship with the MCB, and also with the Cordoba Foundation, which was described by David Cameron as a “political front for the Muslim Brotherhood”.
One group member who has opposed these attempts has said “Civil servants in the DCLG resisted strongly. They kept saying that there was nothing showing a change in the voice and opinions of these groups. But they were under tremendous pressure from Warsi.”
Lady Warsi, a former solicitor who stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 2004, was elevated to the Peerage in 2007. Three years later, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her to the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio; she later joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a Senior Minister before her resignation in 2014 over what she termed the Government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza.
During that time she sparked controversy with her views on the integration of Muslims into British life; in 2011 she claimed that Islamphobia had “passed the dinner table test” and was “widespread and rising”. despite police figures showing that anti-Muslim hate crimes are very much in the minority.
In fact, anti-faith hate crimes, which include hate crimes directed at people of all faiths, make up just 5 percent of the total, and figures from the Metropolitan Police Force, which is the only force to categorise hate crimes by target, found that Jews and gays were four times more likely than Muslims to be targeted.
Nonetheless, by 2012 Lady Warsi, along with Nick Clegg, had put together the Working Group, which still continues despite her resignation. It is based in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and includes officials from there, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Foreign Office and the Crown Prosecution Service.