It is troubling that the first non-Christian to address the Church of England synod can be linked to extreme Islamist networks. By inviting Fuad Nahdi, the Church is lending credence to the notion that only radical Islamism can represent British Islam. What hope, then, for those genuine moderates within Britain’s Muslim community?
A British Muslim activist is to speak before the Church of England’s general synod on November 18 — the first time a non-Christian has addressed the assembly.
Counter-extremism campaigners, however, have expressed disappointment that the Church would choose an activist accused of connections with extremist groups.
Fuad Nahdi, director of the British Islamic organization Radical Middle Way [RMW], has a long history of working with activists and groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, described by the former head of the MI6 as being, “at heart, a terrorist organization;” and Jamaat-e-Islami, the Brotherhood’s South Asian cousin, responsible for acts of genocide during Bangladesh’s 1971 Independence war.
Nahdi established Radical Middle Way in the wake of the 7/7 tube bombings in London, in order to “provide powerful, faith-inspired guidance that gives our audiences the tools to combat exclusion and violence.” RMW became a key component of the British Labour government’s counter-extremism program, named “PREVENT,” and received over £1.2 million of taxpayers’ money between 2006 and 2009.
The Labour government’s counter-extremism program included a policy of partnering with “non-violent” extremists to temper the threat of “violent” extremists. This approach offered legitimacy and public funds to anti-Semitic, anti-gay and misogynist groups, and was later deemed disastrous.
From the perspective of the Labour government, after the 7/7 bombings, Fuad Nahdi’s RMW seemed to offer the perfect example of this “moderate” Islamism with which politicians could work.
In 2006, however, the journalist Martin Bright reported that the initial government-funded events organized by RMW were conducted in collaboration with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies and the Young Muslim Organization — groups that Bright described as “heavily influenced by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group… which is committed to establishing Islamic rule under sharia law.”
In 2008, while still receiving government funds, speakers at RMW’s events included an outspoken supporter of Osama Bin Laden, Kemal el-Helbawy, who founded a number of Muslim Brotherhood institutions in the UK. El-Helbawy has said, “[The Palestinian cause] is an absolute clash of civilizations: a satanic program led by the Jews and those who support them, and a divine program carried by Hamas and the Islamic Movement in particular and the Islamic peoples in general.”
The same year, counter-terrorism expert Shiraz Maher revealed that RMW appeared to be supporting a campaign run by the global Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, a global network dedicated to imposing sharia law through armed jihad. Hizb ut-Tahrir publications sanction the killing of Jewish “women, children and elderly”; describe human rights as the “trumpets of the Kuffar [derogatory term for non-Muslims]”; and label Muslims who oppose their agenda as apostates who should be killed.
Today, speakers listed on the RMW’s website include preachers such as Jamal Badawi, Muslim Belal and Suhaib Webb.
- Badawi, a Muslim Brotherhood cleric, has described suicide bombers and Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “martyrs,” and advocates for the right of men to beat their wives.
- Muslim Belal is a “performance poet” who composes nasheeds (Islamic songs without instruments) that promote fundamentalist Islam. One of his nasheeds expresses support for the Al Qaeda operative and convicted murderer, Aafia Siddiqui.
- Suhaib Webb is an Islamic preacher who, according to FBI surveillance documents, spoke at a dinner in 2001 alongside Al Qaeda operative, Anwar Al-Awlaki, in order to raise £100,000 for the legal defense of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown), an Islamic fundamentalist who murdered two American police officers.