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Posted on Nov 15, 2013

Joseph Interfaith Foundation

Joseph Interfaith Foundation

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation (JIF) is a leading interfaith group in Britain. Founded by Mehri Niknam in 2006,[1] the JIF claims to be an “officially joint Muslim-Jewish interfaith organisation that is committed to fostering engagement through a constructive and realistic dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain.”[2]

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation works closely with Imam Abdul Qayyum, who is a member of “National Council of Imams and Rabbis” (a registered operating name of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation).[3] Qayyum is a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration, which calls for attacks on Jewish communities and British troops.

Mehri Niknam is also a member of the Islamic Foundation’s advisory board.[4] The Islamic Foundation is the leading publisher of books by Abul Ala Mawdudi, the founder of Bangladeshi group Jamaat-e-Islami, which was responsible for acts of genocide during the 1971 war in Bangladesh. Lord Carlile, in his government paper on preventing violent extremism, noted that Mawdudi was a key influence in the radicalisation of young Muslims[5]. In his book, Islamic Law and Constitution, Maududi wrote that his ideal state would bear “a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states.”[6] In 2003, The Times reported that two of the Islamic Foundation’s trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.[7]

Niknam’s colleagues at the Islamic Foundation include Khurshid Ahmad, chairman of the board of trustees[8] and also rector of the Markfield Institute (further information below). Ahmad was also vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, which the Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal holds responsible for mass-murder, abduction and torture during the 1971 War of Independence.[9] After the 9/11 attacks, Ahmad expressed his admiration for the Taliban.[10]

Niknam works closely with the Muslim Council of Britain[11] and speaks at their events.[12] Khurshid Drabu, a prominent founding MCB official, is a trustee of the JIF.[13] The Council is also dominated by extreme Islamists associated with Jamaat-e-Islami, and its former deputy secretary general, Daud Abdullah, was also a signatory to the infamous Istanbul Declaration.[14]

A former trustee of the JIF is Lord Ahmed. In 2012, while a trustee, Ahmed was suspended from the Labour Party after he claimed on Pakistani television that he was only jailed for dangerous driving in 2008 because of pressure on the courts from “Jews” who “own newspapers and TV channels”. He also claimed that the judge in the 2008 case was appointed to his position after he helped a “Jewish colleague” of Tony Blair during an important case.[15]

In 2005, Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for a man called Israel Shamir. Shamir is, in fact, a notorious anti-Semite also known as Jöran Jermas. Shamir’s speech at the meeting included statements such as: “Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of Imperial thinking. … In the Middle East we have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble — and that is Jewish supremacy drive . . . in Iraq, the US and its British dependency continue the same old fight for ensuring Jewish supremacy in the Middle East. … The Jews like an Empire . . . This love of Empire explains the easiness Jews change their allegiance. … Now, there is a large and thriving Muslim community in England . . . they are now on the side of freedom, against the Empire, and they are not afraid of enforcers of Judaic values, Jewish or Gentile. This community is very important in order to turn the tide.”[16]

When journalist Stephen Pollard contacted Ahmed for comment, Ahmed refused to condemn Shamir or, in fact, issue any comment at all. A year later, the Joseph Interfaith Foundation invited Lord Ahmed to become a trustee of the charity.

Ahmed has participated in trips to meet with Hamas leader Ahmad Bahar, a senior Hamas terrorist who has called for the killing of Jews worldwide: “Make us victorious over the community of infidels… Allah, take the Jews and their allies, Allah, take the Americans and their allies… Allah, annihilate them completely and do not leave any one of them.”[17]

In 2010, Lord Ahmed met with the Al Qaeda activist Abu Rideh[18] and campaigned against the Government’s decision to bar the extreme Islamist Zakir Naik from entering the UK.[19]

In 2012 Ahmed suggested that the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai was a false flag operation designed to discredit the Taliban.[20] Ahmed has also given a parliamentary lobby pass to a representative of Middle East Monitor, a leading pro-Hamas group[21] for which Ahmed is also an honorary advisor.[22]

Lord Sheikh, a Conservative Peer, is another trustee of the JIF.[23] Sheikh has voiced praise for Al-Muntada, a fundamentalist Salafi charity, at whose events he is a “VIP speaker”.[24] In 2009, Sheikh led a delegation organised by the Palestinian Return Centre to meet with Syria’s President Assad.[25] Intelligence services have claimed that the Palestinian Return Centre is a lobby group for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.[26]

In May 2010, Lord Sheikh was the keynote speaker at a charity dinner for Interpal, which, in 2003, the United States government classified as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group.[27] Interpal’s leading official, Ibrahim Hewitt, openly supports Hamas and has called for the killing of homosexuals.[28]

Lord Sheikh’s chief of staff is Omar Faruk, who is also a CEO of an organisation called EcoMuslim, of which Sheikh is a patron. Faruk has spoken alongside a number of hate preachers as well as representatives of Hizb-ut-Tahrir (also alongside another representative of the Three Faiths Forum, another interfaith group).[29]

Partners with which the JIF “regularly cooperates”[30] include:

East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre

The East London Mosque is the home of the Islamic Forum of Europe, the European branch of Jamaat-e-Islami that controls the institution. The British Government has acknowledged that the East London Mosque is “the key institution for the Bangladeshi wing of Jamaat-e-Islami in the UK.”[31] The JIF has held events at the Mosque, despite its connections to terror and use as a platform for hate preachers.[32]

Most recently, for example, the Mosque hosted an event with Assim al-Hakeem,[33] who teaches that apostates must be killed.[34] He also advocates the execution of Christians and Jews for “talking against Mohammed.”[35] Other preachers invited to speak the East London Mosque include Saad al-Beraik,[36] a “prominent [Saudi] government official cleric” who refers to Jews as “monkeys” and has said, “Muslim brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?”[37]

Despite the recurrent presence of hate preachers such as Hakeem at the institution, over the last six years the East London Mosque has received £2.9 million of public funds.[38]

Forward Thinking
Forward Thinking is an interfaith group which works to “promote greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society.”[39] The group is chaired by William Sieghart, an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.[40]

In 2008, Forward Thinking brought Tafazal Mohammad, a “suspected terrorist sympathiser closely linked to the July 7 bombers”,[41] to address a meeting in the British Parliament. Mohammad, along with 7/7 tube bomber Mohammad Siddique Khan, was a trustee of a jihadist bookshop.[42]

In 2012, the Jewish Chronicle reported that the Pears Foundation, one of the Jewish community’s largest charitable trusts and interfaith funders,[43] granted £23,000 to Forward Thinking between 2008 and 2010.[44]

Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque
The Islamic Cultural Centre, based in London, organises “training for Non-Muslim Professionals, consultation with Government/Non Government organisations on Race Relations, meetings with the Metropolitan Police on Race relations, lectures and conferences on Islam in Universities, colleges, schools, Churches and Synagogues.”[45]

The Centre’s director, Ahmad Al Dubayan, is described as a “Saudi diplomat”.[46] Dubayan is also a trustee of a school named the King Fahad Academy,[47] where, a former employee revealed, pupils were taught from textbooks that described Christians as “pigs” and Jews as “monkeys”. Students were even asked to “mention some repugnant characteristics of Jews.”[48]

In 2008, a Channel 4 Dispatches program filmed preachers at the Centre calling upon Muslims to murder homosexuals and adulterers, stating that Muslims who convert to another religion should be slaughtered, and branding the behaviour of other races as “vile”.[49]

Markfield Institute of Higher Education
The Markfield Institute is described by the Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan as “the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK”.[50] The Institute was established by the Islamic Foundation – whose advisory board includes JIF’s Director Mehri Niknam – and which, as mentioned previously, is the leading publisher of books by Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, and Sayyid Qutb, the anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood ideologue.

Teachers and officials at Markfield have included: Azzam Tamimi, a leading British Islamist and senior lecturer at Markfield, who told the BBC in 2004 that he would willingly carry out a suicide bombing in Israel[51] and that “all the leaders of Hamas are my friends”;[52] Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who has been convicted by Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal of abducting and murdering 18 people;[53] and Khurshid Ahmad, vice-president of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami , who wrote that Afghan areas under Taliban rule were “the cradle of justice and peace.”[54]

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation, however, does not just partner with organisations that promote hatred; the problem is institutional. The JIF actively provides a platform for hate preachers and extremists.

In 2008, JIF organised an event titled ‘The Ultimate Saviour: A Multifaith Conference’.[55] Speakers included:

Abdul Hussain Moezi, the personal representative of Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khamanei. Moezi is a trustee of the Irshad Trust, a charitable organisation that runs a religious school in London called Hawza Ilmiyya, where, according to The Times, students have been taught that non-Muslims are “filth”.[56]

Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, who is a teacher at Hawza Ilmiyya. In 2007, Bahmanpour spoke at Al Quds Day in London,[57] an annual march organised by the Iranian regime, in which participants declare their support for the Iranian regime and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, and call for the destruction of Israel.[58] Bahmanpour is also a former President of the Christian Muslim Forum.[59]

Mohammad Baqir Ansari, who has written in a journal published by the Islamic Thought Foundation and circulated by the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project (both organisations are closely connected to the Iranian regime[60]) that, “After the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran which resulted in cutting off the hands of foreigners and unbelievers, especially the U.S. imperialism, from this country and which led to the awakening and awareness of the Muslims all over the world, pitifully, these so called Islamic elements and rulers of Islamic countries, instead of cooperating with this revolution and turning to Islam and their nations, turned their backs on both and looked toward the global arrogance, thus initiating their stratagems against the Islamic Ummah by reliance on kufr [derogatory term for non-believers].”[61]


In 2011, the JIF organised an exhibition at London Central Mosque’s Islamic Cultural Centre, and invited Dr Abdullah bin Abdulmuhsin Al-Turki, the Secretary General of Muslim World League, as the keynote speaker.[62]

The Muslim World League is a Saudi-based international organisation that promotes a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Muslim World League has provided financial support to a considerable number of terrorist organisations, including Hamas, Abu Sayyaf group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Jemaah Islamiyya and Al Qaeda.[63] In 2008, the Muslim World League organised its own ‘interfaith’ conference, at which a number of extreme anti-Semitic speakers were present — including Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who told the Muslim World League conference that he would “never sit with a Jew on one platform”.[64]

The Anti-Defamation League reports that the Muslim World League’s leader, Al Turki, who was the guest speaker at the JIF’s interfaith event, said at another event in 2001 that “the Jews’ distortion of the book of Allah…is not a new matter—it is the natural disposition of the Jews who inherited this deception from their forefathers and their ancestors who perverted the Torah and Zaboor and the Bible…The new Hebrew translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur’an adds a new perfidy to the perfidies of the Jews.”[65]

In 2012, the JIF, represented by Mehri Niknam, conducted a discussion on Islamophobia with the Islamist lobby group Engage.[66] Over the past few years, Engage has lobbied Ministers to establish relations with the terror group Hamas and has harangued Muslim human rights activists who oppose Islamist extremism.[67] Engage has even promoted the writings of Laura Stuart, an openly anti-Semitic Islamist blogger.[68] In a piece titled ‘What Good Muslims think of Jews’, Stuart wrote, “The Quran is just full of stories of how the Jews are always arguing and plotting so, to be honest, even without Palestine/Israel, Muslims are always going to be viewed as the Jews’ enemy number one.”[69]

Azad Ali is ‘Head of Community Development’ at Engage. Ali opposes democracy, “if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia [Islamic religious law].”[70] He admits to attending talks by Abu Qatada, the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe,[71] and has stated that the leader of a prospective Islamist caliphate should be Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.[72] Ali was also an ardent fan of the late Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a US drone strike in 2011.[73]

Ali has also justified the killing of coalition troops in Iraq.[74] In January 2010, he failed in his attempt to sue the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail over articles which he claimed had characterised him as “a hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq.” Associated Newspapers argued that Ali’s observations in his blog advocated a form of jihad, which could only be understood as justifying the killing of coalition troops in Iraq. Justice Eady said Ali’s case was bound to fail and had about it “an absence of reality”.[75]

At the event, Niknam spoke alongside Iqbal Sacranie, a trustee of Engage.[76] Sacranie has been chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain and is closely involved with the East London Mosque – both of which frequently promote extreme Islamist preachers. Sacranie has said of Salman Rushdie, “Death is perhaps too easy”.[77] On BBC Panorama in 2005, Sacranie described Abul ‘Ala Maududi — the Indian-born ideologue who founded the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami — as “a renowned scholar”, adding: “I have read many of his books and I believe he is one of the scholars that I certainly feel is an inspiration to many of us.”[78]

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation has been funded by the taxpayer. In 2009, it received £21,447 from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Fulbright Commission.[79]









[5] ‘Report to the Home Secretary of Independent Oversight of Prevent Review and Strategy’, Lord Carlile, 2011, Point 21 –


[7] ‘The colleges with links to Islamist movements’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, July 29 2004


[9] ‘The colleges with links to Islamist movements’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, July 29 2004





Also see:


[16] Lord Ahmed’s unwelcome guest, Stephen Pollard, The Times, 7 April 2005



[19] Archived snapshot of Pakistani news website:





[24] Also see:

[25] ‘Report on the Parliamentarian Delegation to Syria’, Page 15, Palestinian Return Centre, 2009


[27] US Treasury Press Release – “U.S. Designates Five Charities Funding Hamas and Six Senior Hamas Leaders as Terrorist Entities”, 8/22/2003, #JS-672




[31] ‘The Pakistani Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities’, Department for Communities and Local Government, Page 40







[38] Data taken from annual reports for financial years 2006-12, as filed with the UK Charity Commission


[40] ‘We must adjust our distorted image of Hamas’, William Sieghart, The Times, December 31 2008

[41] Muslim with intimate 7/7 links works for Scotland Yard, Rachel Williams, The Telegraph, 7 May 2011

[42] ibid.


[44] ‘Pears funded charity which hosted jihadist’, Martin Bright, Jewish Chronicle, 12 May 2011

[45] Islamic Cultural Centre website –

[46] ‘Lessons in hate found at leading mosques’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, October 30 2007


[48] Saudi-backed school ‘taught racism’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, February 6 2007





[53] Bangladesh sentences UK and US residents to death over war crimes, The Guardian, 3 November 2013

[54] British Islam colleges ‘link to terrorism’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, 29 July 2004


[56] ‘Muslim students ‘being taught to despise unbelievers as filth’, Sean O’Neill, The Times, April 20 2006




[60] ‘Islam, Gender, and Social Change’, ed. Amherst Yvonne Yazbeck, page 79, Oxford University Press: London, 1998
Also see:

[61] ‘Tahrif al-Qur’an: A Study of Misconceptions Regarding Corruption of the Qur’anic Text’, Muhammad Baqir Ansari, Al-Tawhid, Vol. 4, No. 4, July 1997




[65] Muslims USA, New York, May 2001 issue (as cited in ‘Backgrounder: Muslim World League’, Anti-Defamation League website)









[74] ‘Kill soldiers’ Muslim blogger is back in job as Treasury civil servant, 12 July 2009.

[75] ‘Kill British’ blog man fails in MoS libel bid, Oliver Luft, PA Media Lawyer, Press Gazette, 28 January 2010.



[78] A question of Leadership, John Ware, Panorama, BBC 1, 21 August 2005.




  1. Report on the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom and Interfaith Dialogue in Britain | Don't Fund Extremism - […] Mehri Niknam, a Jewish woman of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation has established a “National Council of Imams and Rabbis”…

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