Islamophobia group keeps controversial anti-Zionist link

By Martin Bright, February 15, 2011
Lord Janner

Lord Janner

The new all party parliamentary group on Islamophobia has voted by a narrow margin to retain the controversial anti-Zionist iEngage organisation as its secretariat.

Concerns about the sectarian politics of iEngage (also known simply as Engage) led to the resignation of the group's Conservative Chair Kris Hopkins MP and one of its vice-chairs, veteran Jewish Labour peer Greville Janner.

The appointment is a direct challenge to Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for Islamist groups to be given a wide berth in a recent speech to a security conference in Munich.

The group’s acting chair, Lib Dem President Simon Hughes, has consistently argued for keeping the link to iEngage. His position will cause embarrassment to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has been trying to build bridges with the Jewish community.

The iEngage website claims it is “dedicated to promoting greater media awareness, political participation and civic awareness among British Muslims”.

One recent post suggested the JC was leading a witch-hunt against Islamist Home Office adviser Asim Hafeez, who was reported to be leaving his post following Mr Cameron’s Munich speech. Another suggested far - right groups such as the English Defence League had taken comfort from the speech.

Labour’s Sadiq Khan, a close ally of Ed Miliband, who accused the Prime Minister of “writing propaganda for the EDL,” led Labour MPs voting to keep iEngage in place. These included Stephen Timms, the East Ham MP who was stabbed last year by an Islamic extremist over his support for the Iraq war.

Most Conservative MPs in the group voted to cut links with the controversial organisation, although maverick MP Peter Bottomley voted in favour.

The APPG has pledged to fully investigate concerns about iEngage before it is officially confirmed as the secretariat to the group, although it is unclear who will carry this out, or how long it will take.

Last updated: 11:58am, February 16 2011