Israel lobby gloats over removal of ENGAGE from APPG on Islamophobia

Around six months ago, I wrote that pro-Israeli activists were involved in strenuous efforts to try and hobble a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia that had been set up at the initiative of ENGAGE.

Their efforts centred around portraying ENGAGE as a hotbed of ‘Islamists’ and some wild claims were made.

Using the cloak of parliamentary immunity, Robert Halfon MP, a former chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel, raised this question in the House of Commons:

“Will the Leader of the House find time for an urgent statement on iEngage, the secretariat of the newly formed all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia? iEngage has a track record of being aggressively anti-Semitic and homophobic, and has extensive links with terrorism in Tunisia and the middle east.”

Halfon could only get away with making such an outrageous and defamatory accusation because he was speaking inside the House of Commons where he enjoys parliamentary privilege which grants him full immunity to any libel claims.

I challenged him at the time to repeat his allegations in public. He has yet to find the courage to do so.

As I said at the time:

“You can be sure that the likes of Martin Bright, Robert Halfon, Harry’s Place, Paul Goodman and Policy Exchange will not stop in their attempts to get ENGAGE removed as the secretariat. Indeed, in his latest blog, Goodman seems to hint that the PM David Cameron ought to take action against Tory MPs who supported ENGAGE and also call for action by Labour leader Ed Miliband against Sadiq Khan MP who supported ENGAGE.”

And, lo!, it came to pass. For on Monday 18th July, as the Jewish Chronicle reported, ENGAGE were removed as the secretariat of the APPG on Islamophobia. This has led to a lot of gloating in the expected quarters such as Harry’s Place, The Spittoon, Paul Goodman of Conservative Home etc.

Amidst all this, the bigger picture appears to have been somewhat obscured. ENGAGE at their inception in 2008 aimed to get parliament to establish a group to look at the serious issue of Islamophobia -  in the same way that MPs had established an APPG on anti-semitism.  ENGAGE lobbied various MPs and got promises from them in the run up to the 2010 general elections about setting up such a group. This has now been achieved. An APPG on Islamophobia now exists with many MPs as members.

This is an important achievement. I know that a few years back some UK Muslims approached the APPG on anti-semitism to request them to extend their remit to also cover anti-Muslim prejudice but were firmly rebuffed.

It now remains for all UK Muslims to ensure they lobby their MPs to take an active part in the APPG on Islamophobia. We will see if these MPs seek to challenge anti-Muslim prejudice in our society with the same vigour that they seek to challenge anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination.

Just take a look at these recent worrying incidents:

17 July 2011: EDL supporters call for bombing of Dudley mosque

16 July 2011: Three convicted after racist attack on Islamic college

15 July 2011: 71 year old Muslim attacked as he opened the mosque for prayers

14 July 2011: Arson attack on Accrington mosque

13 July 2011: Man who ripped off burqa sentenced for attack

13 July 2011: Muslims boycott Glasgow airport because of ‘racial profiling’

7 July 2011: Pig’s head thrown on site of proposed mosque

6 July 2011: Six arrests after EDL Huddersfield demo

Isn’t it astonishing that up until now – when ENGAGE helped set up the APPG on Islamophobia – our MPs had not established any group to examine this outright anti-Muslim bigotry and find ways to tackle it?

ENGAGE have, alhamdulillah, played and continue to play a vital role in cataloguing reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes right across the UK by trawling through local news reports all over the country. So does the superb website Islamophobia Watch. May their efforts find pleasure in the sight of our Creator, ameen.

Update: ‘Tory MPs packed APPG on Islamophobia meeting to remove ENGAGE’ – Islamophobia Watch

Update 2: Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch has posted a very firm response to Chris Allen on Allen’s blog. Allen wrote the report that gave the Islamophobes just what they needed. Here is Bob’s response in full.

 

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6 Responses to Israel lobby gloats over removal of ENGAGE from APPG on Islamophobia

  1. 'Uthmān says:

    Astonishing indeed. I heard about this already and was waiting for your post about it. I had suspected that this was the work of the pro-Israel lobby. It seems my assumption was correct.

  2. @’Uthman,

    Apologies for the late blog. I have been very busy at work and also have yet another exam next Tuesday (Cisco IINS if anyone’s interested!).

    To be frank, I don’t think ENGAGE should have tried to be the secretariat for the APPG Islamophobia. Helping establish the APPG and then compiling documented evidence of anti-Muslim prejudice around the country and pointing out the role our right-wing press play in fomenting such bigotry is work enough!

  3. LibertyPhile says:

    The incidents you list above are an absolute disgrace. Whatever one thinks of Islam and Muslims the perpetrators of all such outrages must be caught and punished.

    This, of course, also poses the question why does Islam and its followers generate such negative feelings. For some answers to that see here.
    http://nottheappg.wordpress.com/why/what-muslims-do-and-say/

  4. @ LibertyPhile:

    ‘This, of course, also poses the question why does Islam and its followers generate such negative feelings.’

    I wonder whether you would pose such a question about how the Nazis felt about the Jews? I rather think not. Now – as always – please fuck off back to your rabid cesspit Harry’s Place.

  5. What about Jack Straw? says:

    Inayat

    I have read that Jack Straw, who initially voted to retain Engage, has now voted to remove it from the APPG.

    Do you know why he decided to do that, and what are your views?

  6. @ What about Jack Straw?

    I am blessed with a number of gifts, but not, alas, with the gift of seeing into people’s minds!

    Regardless, of the vote about ENGAGE, the priority now should be that MPs should be asked to seriously look at the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK and the role that much of our right-wing press plays in fomenting this hatred. As Islamophobia Watch remarked, I really don’t think that the majority of the 50-odd Tory MPs who attended the APPG meeting on Monday give a fig about anti-Muslim discrimination. So, it is important to lobby those that do care and ask them to examine this issue properly.

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