DCLG still using the wrong advisers

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It has recently emerged that Mohammad Abdul Aziz, a ‘Senior Muslim Adviser’ to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – a department tasked with promoting community cohesion – is an honorary member of the East London Mosque (ELM), an institution that is not uncontroversial.

The sprawling mosque complex also houses the London Muslim Centre, and has frequently hosted speakers who promote values at odds with those of British society – including preaching against religious minorities, women, homosexuals, and even other Muslims whom they regard as being irreligious.

The ELM has also, in the past, hosted Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda theoretician currently on the run in Yemen, who has attracted much attention in the United States after authorities linked him to three of the 9/11 hijackers. Awlaki subsequently moved to Yemen, and has subsequently been linked to the Fort Hood terrorist attack, and the abortive attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bomb a United Airlines flight on Christmas day.

The ELM first hosted Awlaki in 2003, when he spoke at an event hosted in the mosque by the now defunct group “Stop Police Terror.” He focused on anti-terror arrests, and urged Muslims not to report fellow Muslims to the police under any circumstances. “A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim,” he told the audience; “he does not oppress him, he does not betray him and he does not hand him over…You do not hand over a Muslim to the enemies…”

The ELM readily admits that Awlaki spoke at the mosque in January 2009:

A video of al-Awlaki [they state] was shown by an external hirer on 1 January 2009 in which he talked about life after death. Nothing controversial or extreme was said in the video.

That might be so, but the manner in which the event was advertised was certainly controversial and extreme. Billed as an “end of days” conference, the poster shows Manhattan under siege, crumbling into oblivion.

Abdul Aziz, prior to joining DCLG, also had ties to a number of Islamist groups, including Salafi organisations: the Muslim Council of Britain; the Islamic Forum of Europe, and Islamic Foundation (Leicester).

The UK Telegraph reporter Andrew Gilligan, who first exposed the entryist tactics of the Islamic Forum of Europe a few months ago, has now revealed:

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, ‘Winning Hearts and Minds: Understanding and Engaging British Muslim Communities’, 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 Aziz’s paper condemns what he calls a ‘veto approach’ which has, he says, meant too little engagement with many of the ‘most significant organisations across [Britain’s] Muslim communities’. 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, as British Muslims for Secular Democracy scoring very low indeed.

Mr Aziz claims, absurdly, that the IFE is now primarily a ‘community organisation’ with an ’emphasis on service delivery… rather than political or ideological programmes’. He says that ministers should consider appearing in public with organisations which promote ‘a message of divisiveness, expressing intolerance towards other communities in the UK’. He says that officials should even deal privately with some organisations which may support ‘violent extremism in Britain’.

Abdul Aziz’s ongoing relationship with the ELM and affiliated Islamist bodies should raise questions about his suitability as an adviser to DCLG. After all, they have a proven track-record of promoting extremist and reactionary views which are at odds, not just with British society, but with the majority of British Muslims, too. Why should DCLG, therefore, promote and approve these kinds of ideas when they are so unrepresentative?