Those who believe in tolerance and pluralism should oppose groups like iERA with as much consistency as they oppose hate groups like the EDL and BNP.
Those who believe in tolerance and pluralism should oppose groups like iERA with as much consistency as they oppose hate groups like the EDL and BNP
A woman has been stoned to death in Pakistan.
And yet there is a charity in Britain that has promoted speakers who endorse this practice.
Our new report, Evangelising Hate, has exposed the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group.
Over 40 pages we document the bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, supremacism, violent extremist ideas and hate speech promoted by the organisation, its leaders, speakers, advisors and affiliates.
It is unrelenting. The group has promoted clerics and speakers who say that ex-Muslims and gays deserve to be killed and that women who are ‘guilty’ of sex outside marriage deserve to be stoned to death. It has promoted the idea that domestic violence against women is acceptable, that non-Muslims are ‘kuffar’ and inferior to Muslims.
A string of racist anti-Semitic hatred runs through the rhetoric of iERA-promoted speakers and affiliates. Hatred, demonization, dehumanisation of non-Muslims and liberal Muslims who disagree with their interpretations of Islam is the norm. Two clerics promoted by iERA have said that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is permissible, contrary to mainstream Islamic opinion. A leader of iERA has suggested criteria by which child marriage may be acceptable.
One evangelical activist who worked with a group affiliated to iERA has been killed in Syria fighting for the terrorist Jihadi group ISIS. One of their leaders, Hamza Tsortzis, used to be in the far-right fascist Hate Group Hizb ut Tahrir, and still appears on platforms alongside current leaders of that organisation.
They were banned from University College London (UCU) after attempting to impose gender segregation during one of their events.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and the full dimensions of iERA’s promotion of hatred and bigotry can be read in the report.
A member of the Ex-Muslims Forum has expressed how the apologia for bigotry and hate in the name of theocratic ideology that iERA proffer is morally degenerate:
“Imagine if someone said that they believed Muslims / Jews / black people deserve to be killed, but not right now. Only in an ‘ideal state’. That is exactly what they’re saying about ex-Muslims, gays and others. It’s as sinister and wicked as that. That’s what it boils down to”
We wrote the report because we were horrified by the hatred that was being promoted by iERA under the umbrella of it being ‘normative Islam’. As we say in the report:
“By describing the views of those associated with their organisation as ‘normative’ and ‘traditional’ religious observance, they aim to neutralise criticism. This allows them to deem any criticism as an attack on religion, rather than legitimate resistance to hatefulness carried out under the cloak of religion. In this way, the promoters of hatred depict themselves as victims of those who expose their hatred.”
The response by iERA has been predictable, and along the lines we described as their modus operandi.
In a darkly comical irony that demonstrates their unreformed hate, their press release response was signed by the ‘Head of Public Relations’, Saleem Chagtai, who believes that ex-Muslims and gay people deserve to be killed. They also claimed to be an organisation that engaged in charity work with Age Concern and Great Ormond Street hospital, which the Telegraph pointed out was a lie.
The report has proven to be timely. The Charity Commission is currently investigating iERA because of concerns over its governance, diligence and the
speakers it has promoted.
Evangelising Hate raises issues that everyone on the left should pay attention to.
Hate groups like iERA use the language of multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance and pluralism to camouflage their agenda and beliefs.
In doing so, they are essentially poisoning the well from which the left draws the water of its beliefs in equality and tolerance from. There is a reluctance by some to confront religious hate groups, but it is vital that we do so, because they seek to advance their cause by cynically using rhetoric that is parasitical to the values that the left believes in, but which they actively work against.
All those who believe in the liberal secular values of tolerance and pluralism, and who oppose fascism, should oppose groups like iERA with as much consistency as they oppose hate groups like the EDL or BNP.
Whilst nationalist extremism and hate is easy to identify, groups like iERA hide in plain sight by abusing the rhetoric and language of the liberal left.
Staying silent about this, or being inhibited from confronting it out of fear, allows it to prosper, and makes us complicit in our own abuse.
Al-Razi is a member of the Council of Ex-MuslimsLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.