Sturgeon in hustings co-hosted by Mend

The online event, co-staged by the controversial organisation Mend, featured all of Scotland’s top political leaders


Nicola Sturgeon and other Scottish political leaders have appeared in a hustings co-staged by the Muslim advocacy organisation Mend, which has long been accused of having links to extremists and hosting figures who have made inflammatory statements about Jews and terrorism.

Earlier this year, Mend joined up with Cage — a campaign group widely accused of having sympathised with terrorists, including Isis killer Jihadi John — to criticise the government’s counter-terror strategy.

In 2017 Mend’s director of engagement, Azad Ali, wrote on Facebook that the attack on Parliament in March that year, in which six were killed, was “a lone wolf act and not terrorism”. Mr Ali claimed at the time that his remarks had been “taken out of [their] overall context” and his lawyers have said Mr Ali regarded the Westminster attack as a barbarous and cruel act of murder for which there was no possible justification or mitigation.

In 2014, Mend’s then-CEO Sufiyan Ismail claimed that “in 300 years the Israeli lobby has not lost a vote in Parliament”.

Also in 2014, during the Gaza conflict, Dr Siema Iqbal, the chair of Mend’s working group in Manchester, retweeted a message which read: “Truce in Gaza? Don’t you believe it! The Jews are shopping around for cheap bombs”.

In 2016 the Board of Deputies said it was “unable” to work with Mend because the approach taken by the Muslim group risked “increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities, rather than building trust and empathy.”

The Scottish online hustings took place on Thursday and was also staged by the Muslim Council of Scotland. It featured Douglas Ross of the Scottish Conservatives, Anas Sarwar of Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie, as well as the Scottish First Minister.

An SNP spokesperson told the JC: "The First Minister attended a hustings arranged by Mend and the Muslim Council of Scotland, along with all other main party leaders in Scotland."

Both Cage and Mend deny allegations of extremism.

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