PREVIEW FOR A MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO: UK’S EAST LONDON MOSQUE
Is DCLGâ€™s Senior Muslim Advisor Mohammad Abdul Aziz an Islamist Supporter?
ABOUT THE MOSQUE IN JANUARY 2010:
East London Mosque and the attached London Muslim Centre (LMC) have attracted a large quantity of negative publicity recently due to their links with Anwar al-Awlaki and the Undie Bomber. On Saturday 23rd January, LMC will play host to an event called â€˜Cry of the Ummah!â€™. It has not been organised by LMC, rather they have allowed â€˜Baitul Hikmahâ€™, an organisation which arranges Islamic courses and talks, to organise an event in support of â€˜Ummah Welfare Trustâ€™ (UWT). As David T has previously documented here, UWT gives money to Interpal, a charity which has been banned in the US, Canada and Australia for funding Hamas. And here is a photo showing that UWT clearly has a close relationship with â€˜Alsalah Islamic Foundationâ€™, which the US Treasury has designated a financer of Hamas.
Mohammad Abdul Aziz is a Senior Muslim Advisor at DCLG. He is also a honary trustee of East London mosque (ELM) and the London Muslim Centre (LMC), as well as having been an advisor to the MCB. He was formerly an executive committee member of YMO, which is the youth wing of Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) â€“ an Islamist entryist group. After spending years in YMO propagating the teachings of the Islamist ideologue Maulana Mawdudi, Mohammad Aziz resigned to follow a stricter and more conservative form of Islam known as â€˜Salafismâ€™. As a student he attended UCL to study Law, grew a lengthy beard and would roll his trousers up over his ankles to conform to his new stricter interpretation of Islam. During his time as a Salafi he influenced a whole generation of young Bangladeshis in East London. He later came under the influence of a senior Jamaati Islami member Khurram Murad who eventually convinced him to once again join entryist Islamism. Mohammad Aziz then went onto represent the MCB at a number of events. For example, he was the MCBâ€™s official representative on the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) and also represented the MCB in a meeting with Charles Kennedy (Lib Dems) in 2004. He even caused controversy in 2006 by trying to discuss the MCBâ€™s stance on Homosexuality. Before joining DCLG he was a researcher at the Islamic Foundation, a Jamaati Islami linked group based in Leicester and run by Dilwar Hussain. It is believed that several of Mohammad Azizâ€™s family members are involved in ELM & IFE, notably his younger brother Abdul Jalil who is a member of IFE.
Mohammad Aziz also co-owns an equality research and consultancy company called Faithwise. It has been revealed that Faithwise would secure contracts from the MCB without even having to bid for them. It was also reported that in 2005:
â€œFaithwise secured another contract from the Crown Prosecution Service â€“ again untendered â€“ for a pilot programme to help key staff gain a more detailed understanding of the Muslim community. Faithwise was part of a successful joint application with, youâ€™ve guessed it, the MCB.
It would be wrong to reduce this controversy to a question of who is getting what, and how. Mohamed Abdul Aziz is also a commissioner on the Commission for Racial Equality and on the steering group of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. Holding all these positions makes him the single most important driver of the Muslim equality agenda in the country at a critical time when a new rights framework is being erected that will govern the community in the years ahead. That responsibility sits rather uncomfortably with his private business interests. Itâ€™s something the MCB has known for a long time, but has either seen as unproblematic or inexpedient to bring outâ€.
â€œ.. Islamist sympathisers in Whitehall are working to shape the policies of the new administration. Inside the Department of Communities and Local Government there is a paid ministerial adviser called Mohammed Abdul Aziz, who is also an honorary trustee of the East London Mosque.
At an internal government event during the election campaign, while the politicians were safely out of the way, Mr Aziz and another man launched a paper, â€˜Winning Hearts and Minds: Understanding and Engaging British Muslim Communitiesâ€™, a copy of which has been leaked to The Spectator. The document is a sophisticated argument, couched in pseudo-scientific terms, for the new government to work more closely with Islamists and even terrorist sympathisers.
Mr Azizâ€™s paper condemns what he calls a â€˜veto approachâ€™ which has, he says, meant too little engagement with many of the â€˜most significant organisations across [Britainâ€™s] Muslim communitiesâ€™. By this, it turns out, he means the East London Mosque. The paper ranks a number of Muslim organisations, with the East London Mosque scoring the highest marks and anti-fundamentalist bodies such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy scoring very low indeed.
Mr Aziz claims, absurdly, that the IFE is now primarily a â€˜community organisationâ€™ with an â€˜emphasis on service deliveryâ€¦ rather than political or ideological programmesâ€™. He says that ministers should consider appearing in public with organisations which promote â€˜a message of divisiveness, expressing intolerance towards other communities in the UKâ€™. He says that officials should even deal privately with some organisations which may support â€˜violent extremism in Britainâ€™.
Iâ€™ll be watching to see whether the new government takes any notice of these terrible ideas; one should never underestimate the power of people like Mr Aziz whispering in ministersâ€™ earsâ€
The question that needs to be asked is why does DCLG employ a trustee of East London Mosque as a senior advisor on Muslim affairs? Surely there is a conflict of interest for Mohammed Aziz considering the fact that he has also been an MCB advisor? It is no surprise then that his policy recommendations support ELM, MCB, IFE and call for the government to privately deal with organisations which may support â€˜violent extremismâ€™. How much longer will senior civil servants at DCLG rely on such people? Letâ€™s hope the new government will see through these Islamist entryist tactics, remove the infiltrators from their posts and trash their policy recommendations.
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