Woolf Institute embraces Islamist voices
Baroness Butler-Sloss, having stepped down from the recently-announced child abuse inquiry, has now jumped into the arms of Islamists, as part of ‘The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life’, which has been convened by the Woolf Institute at Cambridge “to consider the place and role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain,” and which Baroness Butler-Sloss is due to chair.
The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life is a project of the Woolf Institute at the University of Cambridge. According to its website, the commission exists to “make recommendations for public life and policy.” Stand for Peace considers some of the commission’s patrons and members to be unfit to perform such a task:
Mogra is the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, a joint Jamaat-e-Islami/Muslim Brotherhood institution whose former assistant general secretary signed the anti-Semitic and pro-terror Istanbul Declaration. Mogra has been criticised for refusing to share a platform with a member of the moderate Ahmadi faith, while having no compunction about sharing that same platform with Hamas “special envoy” Azzam Tamimi.
Sacranie is a former chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain and the East London Mosque – both of which frequently promote extreme Islamist preachers. Sacranie has said of Salman Rushdie, “Death is perhaps too easy.” On BBC Panorama in 2005, Sacranie described Abul ‘Ala Maududi – the Indian-born ideologue who founded the genocidal 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.” [A Question of Leadership, John Ware, Panorama, BBC One, 21 August 2005] He is also a trustee of iEngage, an Islamist campaign group whose founding members include Mohamed Ali Harrath, an anti-Semite and convicted terrorist. The group has also promoted the viciously anti-Semitic rants of blogger Laura Stuart. Since 2012, Sacranie has been on the executive committee of Muslim Aid, an allegedly terror-linked charity that has admitted to funding Hamas-run institutions in the Gaza Strip.
Griffith-Dickson is the director of the Lokahi Foundation, an organisation which previously associated itself with such Muslim Brotherhood outfits as the Cordoba Foundation and IslamExpo, and whose advisory board includes Islamist academic Tariq Ramadan. The journalist Lee Smith has described Ramadan – who has referred to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Bali and Madrid as nothing more than “interventions” — as a cold-blooded Islamist whose “cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad.” Griffith-Dickson is known to be sympathetic to the Islamist cause, having once complained that “‘Sufi’ groups are the ones who enjoy the rights of the first born while the ‘Islamists’ are thrown out without an inheritance.”
The Woolf Institute works closely with a number of problematic institutions, such as the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, with which the Institute runs a joint project. The Doha Center itself is closely aligned with institutions dedicated to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who, in 2009, thanked Hitler for having “managed to put Jews in their place . . . Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the (Muslim) believers.” Qaradawi, despite this partnership, boycotted the 2013 annual Doha interfaith conference held in Qatar because he refused to share a platform with any Jewish speakers.
In 2008, the Woolf Institute provided a platform to Griffith-Dickson’s colleague, Tariq Ramadan, who is the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, and the son of senior Brotherhood figure Said Ramadan. Ramadan has claimed that killing Israeli schoolchildren is “contextually explicable” and has refused to condemn the stoning of adulterers in Muslim countries. He has banned from France on the grounds that his views are “contrary to the republican spirit and do no service to French Muslims”.
Other speakers at the Woolf Institute have included Ataullah Siddiqui, a senior research fellow of the Islamic Foundation and the editor of one of its journals. The Islamic Foundation is the leading publisher of books by Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent Bangladeshi Islamist group which was responsible for acts of genocide during the 1971 war in Bangladesh. The Times reported in 2003 that two Islamic Foundation trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Islamic Foundation’s current chairman, Khurshid Ahmad, has described the Taliban as “refulgent and splendid” and has warned of the “implication of Europe’s being in the clasp of Jews.” [Khurshid Ahmad, “Musharraf, Taliban and the Implementation of Shariah Bill in NWFP”, Tarjuman-ul-Quran, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan website, July 2003] The Woolf Institute’s Programmes Manager, Sughra Ahmed, is also a research fellow of the Islamic Foundation.
The growing influence of extremist groups within interfaith dialogue programmes is not a new phenomenon – click here to read Stand for Peace’s comprehensive report on the problem.