Questions have been raised regarding the lack of proper action by the Charity Commission for England and Wales in regard to an organisation which has been accused of promoting antisemitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry, with a call for it to be stripped of its charitable status.
The “Islamic Education and Research Academy” group, which is a registered charity, was founded in 2009 with the aim of encouraging conversion to Islam.
The inquiry by the charity commission was initiated in the wake of a report by the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain, which alleged that a dozen individuals associated with IERA, whether as founding members, direct employees or associated speakers, were guilty of a wide range of antisemitic homophobic, and generally racist comments.
IERA’s founder and chairman, Abdurraheem Green, as reported by the Telegraph in 2014, was caught on camera at Hyde Park Corner asking for a Jewish man to be removed from his sight. “Why don’t you take the Yahoudi [Jew] over there, far away so his stench doesn’t disturb us,” he is heard to say on the video.
In another video, he cautioned against Muslims taking Jews or Christians a close friends, and called the purpose of the Jizya, the religious tax imposed by the Koran on non-Muslims, “to make the Jew and the Christian know that they are inferior and subjugated to Islam.”
Among the advisers involved with the charity, a 2014 Telegraph article said, were Bilal Philips and Dr Zakir Naik, both of whom were banned due to their extremist views from entering the UK by Theresa May, then the Home Secretary.
A 2014 report by the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain alleged that a dozen other individuals associated with IERA, whether as founding members, direct employees or associated speakers, were guilty of a wide range of antisemitic homophobic, and generally racist comments.
However, the Charity commission report, which was published last month, said:
“The inquiry did not identify that any of the comments attributed to individuals historically associated with the charity were made whilst representing the charity and/or during an event hosted by the charity.
“However, for the period when these individuals did speak at events organised by the charity there is no evidence that the trustees (at the time) considered any risks these individuals posed to the charity and its reputation.
“Although comments attributed to a number of individuals appear to have been made in their personal capacity and not on behalf of the charity or at an event it organised, it remains the case that in associating with such individuals the trustees were putting the charity at risk in sharing or being perceived to be sharing, a platform for the expression of promotion of extremist views and in failing to adequately consider the risk the individuals posed to the charity and its reputations and the potential risk to the charity’s beneficiaries in being exposed to extremist views.”
In its conclusion, the report said: “the trustees need to take additional steps to ensure that the charity not only distances itself from and is not associated with organisations and/or individuals which condone, or appear to condone, violent extremism and acts of terrorism.
“They also need to consider how they will address any views which promote extremism and that are linked directly or indirectly with a charity - any such views are deemed by the Commission to be wholly inappropriate and it expects trustees to take clear and robust action.”
In a statement in response to the Charity Commission report, the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain said:
“the Charity Commission has proposed procedural changes and the managing of risk pertaining to “guest speakers” who have all somehow seemingly incited hatred mainly within their “personal capacities”.
“The Charity Commission has ignored the fact that the iERA invites hate-filled preachers linked to the Islamist movement because they represent its own position regarding everything from the death penalty for apostates to hatred against Jewish and LGBT people.
“As mentioned in our report, the practical effects of iERA’s “soft Islamism” is a cumulative one in which hatred and dehumanisation are normalised. Their “missionary” activity is not about spirituality, but a wider effort to legitimise theocratic norms.”
“The Charity Commission should at the very least revoke the iERA’s charitable status. Its work is not for the public benefit, it has a clear political purpose, is against public policy and serves a non-charitable purpose.”