A wave of brazen support for Hamas has swept Britain since the October 7 massacre both in radical mosques and on social media channels with huge audiences, the JC can reveal.
Extremist imams in Bradford and Manchester have used their pulpits to openly attack Jews and lead prayers for a Hamas victory, with one asking Allah to “purify” the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem from “the filth of the Jews”.
And London-based broadcasters Moataz Matar and Osama Gaweesh celebrated the Hamas atrocities on October 7. Matar, who has more than four million subscribers, called it “a day filled with pride and glory”.
A dossier containing details of the pair’s activities supplied to counter-terrorism police by an informant in April was not acknowledged or acted upon, the JC has learnt.
The revelations raise serious questions for the police’s claims that they would take a “zero tolerance approach” to apparent antisemitic hate crime or public support for Hamas, a proscribed terrorist group.
On October 7, the day terrorists butchered Israeli women and children, Imam Shahid Ali of Jamia Islamia Rizva in Bradford wrote a post asking Allah to “grant victory to the Muslims of Palestine”. Later, he gave a sermon addressing the leaders of the world’s 57 Muslim countries, saying: “Oh brothers, soldiers of the Muslim armies, it is your duty to defend the holy land.”
And on October 13 — five days after the massacres — another imam at the Islam Bradford Centre asked Allah to “purify the Al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] from the filth of the Jews”.
Last weekend, thousands of protesters at a pro-Palestine rally in London on Saturday were heard chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, often understood as a call for the destruction of Israel, causing deep concern in the Jewish community.
The Metropolitan Police said it would not take action over a video from the protest in which a man could be seen chanting “jihad, jihad”, prompting anger from Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick pledged this week that foreign nationals who incite Jew-hate will have their visas revoked, and asked police to report anyone taking part in unlawful extremist activity to the Home Office.
However, the country’s foremost experts on extremism said that police and prosecutors were doing too little, too late — having allowed a permissive environment for Islamism and support for terror to flourish in Britain.
Crossbench peer Lord Carlile KC, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the JC: “It is time for this pusillanimous approach to dealing with criminal extremism to end.”
While revoking extremists’ visas was both necessary and overdue, he said this would “only approach the edge of the problem – the weakness of police and prosecutors, as seen at recent demonstrations”.
Carlile said the licence given to protesters chanting for jihad and the destruction of Israel suggested police “have not read the 1986 Public Order Act”. He called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Justice Secretary Alex Chalke to set up a special task force to ensure that “those who are there to keep the public safe ensure that they use the law strongly in appropriate circumstances”.
Robin Simcox, the government’s Commissioner for Countering Extremism, said in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute last week that Britain had become “a toxic and permissive environment for antisemitic, and at times extremist, narratives on university campuses and beyond”, adding he was concerned that British Jews increasingly do not feel safe, and are not being treated with the dignity that all citizens should expect.”
This, he said, was “an intolerable development”, not only for Jews, but “the health of our democracy”.
He added: “If you are chanting ‘from the river to the sea’ in the context of the largest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust, you have forfeited your right to the benefit of the doubt about what your intent is and the message you are trying to convey.
“The conclusion I have arrived at is that support for Hamas does not carry the stigma that support for other terrorist groups does.”
His analysis was echoed by Buckingham University security and intelligence expert Professor Anthony Glees. He told the JC: “Ten years ago, we had a good set of laws and an understanding that if glorified terrorism, you were guilty of encouraging others. We understood that radicalisation was a clear and present danger to the fabric of our society, but we seem to have lost sight of this, and that is very dangerous.
“We are reaching a position where whatever bad happens, the Jews are to blame. If there’s a pogrom in which 1,400 Jews are murdered, then it’s the Jews’ own fault. If there is an explosion in a hospital car park, then that’s also the fault of the Jews. Britain is drifting towards a culture that is ideologically antisemitic.”
It also emerged this week that Muhammad Sawalha, who is widely accused of being Hamas’s former West Bank military chief, is living in a former council house he purchased from the London borough of Barnet – a borough where thousands of Jews live.
Among the most shocking evidence the JC has uncovered are the statements celebrating the atrocities by three Egyptian broadcasters given refuge in Britain after fleeing Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi fell in 2013.
This newspaper revealed in April that two of them, Moataz Matar and Osama Gaweesh, had been exploiting their safe haven in London to deliver a steady stream of antisemitic propaganda - described by them as “a jihad of words” - which glorified terrorist violence to millions of viewers and social media followers.
In a video posted on the October 7, the day the attacks took place, Matar told his more than 4 million YouTube subscribers that it was “the happiest day of my life… a day filled with pride and glory”, describing the perpetrators of the attacks as “heroes who surprised us”.
He added: “One of the most wonderful things that I personally observed is the number of the captives… The Israeli captives are going to restrain Israel’s response… the badge of pride today is very large.” He said he sent his “greetings to the resistance”.
Gaweesh, who supported Morsi’s attempt to mount an Islamic revolution in Egypt, hosts a programme on the Mekameleen satellite TV channel and has posted photos of him meeting Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. Having fled initially to Turkey after Morsi was ousted, he obtained political asylum in Britain in 2018.
Following numerous earlier statements supporting Hamas terrorism that JC revealed six months ago, in one recent broadcast he praised a statement praising this month’s attacks from al-Azhar university in Egypt, the Sunni Muslim world’s highest religious authority which issues fatwas observed by many millions. It said “we proudly support the resistance”.
According to Gaweesh, the statement was “great, very strong, and represents the views of the majority of Egyptians”.
In another broadcast, screened on October 14, he quoted Haniyeh saying “the Palestinian resistance is making history” and that “Al-Aqsa flood”, Hamas’s name for the attacks, “represents the beginning of the removal of the occupation”. On social media, Gaweesh has claimed that suggestions Hamas killed babies or took Holocaust survivors and pregnant women hostage are “propaganda lies”.
Gaweesh is also the founder of Egypt Watch, a website that opposes the Egyptian government led by Morsi’s successor, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. In 2021 this partnered with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project to host a conference on the Egyptian arms trade, which was addressed by Corbyn and Leeds Labour MP Richard Burgon.
Mohammed Naseraly, a third London-based Egyptian broadcaster who also presents programmes on the Mekameleen channel, has described the atrocities as “a flood that has drowned the occupation”, adding that it was mounted by “the resistance”.
Robert Jenrick (Photo: Getty Images)
Following the JC’s April report about the broadcasters, former Board of Deputies member and fluent Arabic speaker Khaled Hassan sent a dossier containing full details of their activities and translations of their videos to counter-terrorism police. He revealed this week: “I did not even get an acknowledgement.”
Since the attacks, mosques across Britain, many of them registered charities, have hosted sermons from imams glorifying the murders, and posted recordings of them - seen by the JC - on social media. One among many is Redbridge in northeast London, where last week’s Friday prayers ended with an imam asking for “victory” over “the cursed Jews”.
He asked Allah to “scatter them and rip their groups apart and destroy their houses and homes, bring them down and punish them like criminals… make Muslims get their victory over the usurping Jews”.
Two of the worst examples come from mosques in Bradford. On October 13, one imam at the Islam Bradford Centre, a registered charity, asked Allah to “purify the Al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] from the filth of the Jews”.
He added: “Shake the ground from under their feet and instil terror in their hearts. Gd make of them an example for Muslims. Allah may you have mercy on the Muslims, you hear our prayers and you answer us. Allah, get rid of the unjust Jews. Count them in numbers, and kill them entirely. Don’t spare one of them.”
At the nearby Jamia Islamia Rizva, also a charity, imam Shahid Ali posted on Facebook on October 7, asking Allah to “grant victory to the Muslims of Palestine”. Later he recorded a speech calling on the leaders of the world’s 57 Muslim countries to attack Israel saying: “Oh brothers, soldiers of the Muslim armies, it is your duty to defend the holy land. It is the duty of the Muslim leaders to carry out the command of jihad. They must carry out military action” and “rise to defend the mujahideen”.
Meanwhile, at the Alfurqan Centre in Manchester, another imam prayed last Friday for “the victory of the mujahideen fighting Israel, the enemy of Allah and Islam” and asked Allah to “protect them from the usurping Jews”.
Lord Carlile (Photo: Houses of Parliament)
Other examples can be been posted on social media from masques in London, Cardiff, Nottingham and other major cities.
Last week the JC revealed that four organisations behind the continuing wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations have had direct links with Hamas. They include the biggest and most influential, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which sent two senior figures - who have since stepped down - to meet Haniyeh in Gaza in 2012.
The PSC owes its influence to its links with trade unionists. At the TUC conference last month, its director Ben Jamal posed for photos with TUC general secretary Paul Nowak. Louise Atkinson, then President of the National Education Union (NEU), spoke at a PSC protest in July, where she accused Israel of “gassing hospitals” in the occupied territories, and told her audience that she wears a ring made out of an Israeli tear gas cannister.
Two if the biggest unions, Unite and Unison, frequently support PSC events - at which “river to the sea” chants have been heard numerous times, while two senior Unite officials and four NEU leaders are among seven trade unionist directors of the company that runs the PSC.
The JC has approached all the mosques, imams and extremist broadcasters named in this article for comment.
The Alfurqan Centre said: “We reject the libelous allegation that a dua (prayer) made at our mosque by an Imam represents support for any terrorist group. This was a standard and lengthy Muslim prayer for the protection, justice, and liberation of all oppressed people, including those in Gaza, from their oppressors.
“There is no endorsement for killing any innocent people. Nor does the centre support killing of innocent people in any circumstances as this is against Islamic principles.”