Robert Mendick and Ben Lazarus, Telegraph (London), May 24, 2014
A leading Islamic charity is being investigated by the official watchdog amid allegations that its leaders promote anti-Semitism and have called for homosexuals and female adulterers to be stoned to death.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), which claims it works with two major British charities, lists among its advisers two preachers banned from the UK for extremist views.
The Charity Commission first became concerned after reports that the organisation had imposed gender segregation at its meetings held on university campuses. The University of London has banned the charity as a consequence.
Now the commission has announced a full-blown investigation after identifying a number of “regulatory issues” over its organisation of events and how it chooses speakers and preachers for them.
The investigation–likened by the commission to a police inquiry–coincides with a devastating 44-page report into iERA by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), an organisation set up to combat Islamist extremism.
IERA was founded by Abdurraheem Green, a Muslim convert, who is the charity’s chairman. He has been caught on camera preaching at Hyde Park Corner, calling for a Jewish man to be removed from his sight. “Why don’t you take the Yahoudi [Jew] over there, far away so his stench doesn’t disturb us?” he can be heard to say.
In a 2006 internet posting, according to the CEMB report, he described gay people as “vile” and “evil”. The report also says he suggested in a blog that women who commit adultery should be subjected to a “slow and painful death by stoning”. Two of the charity’s advisers are Bilal Philips and Dr Zakir Naik, who have both been banned from entering the UK by Theresa May, the Home Secretary.
Maryam Namazie, from the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, said the organisation should be stripped of its charitable status. “Clearly, the Islamist far-Right should not be granted charitable status but instead classified as a hate group–perpetrating hate against gay people, ex-Muslims, women, Jews, non-Muslims and the majority of Muslims who do not subscribe to their values.”
In a statement, the Charity Commission said: “The regulator is investigating concerns about the charity’s governance. The inquiry was opened following a records inspection at the charity’s premises in January 2014. The regulator says that it identified a number of regulatory issues connected to the charity’s approach and policies for organising events and inviting external speakers and its associated records and documents.”
The charity, which is based in London, says on its website it is a global organisation “committed to presenting Islam to wider society”. It issued a statement saying it was co-operating with the commission’s statutory inquiry. The charity said: “iERA considers to have willingly complied with the statutory case demands and already clearly articulated any discrepancies to the commission. Although iERA does not see the reason for a formal investigation they are fully supporting and assisting the Charity Commission’s formal inquiry.”
In the statement, the charity added that it had “been engaged in charity work which has benefited our fellow Britons and communities abroad. This includes supporting charities such as Age UK”.
iERA said it also worked with Great Ormond Street Hospital but last night the hospital said: “We are aware that two people, who are also members of the Islamic Education and Research Academy, are taking part in an independent local fun run and have chosen to raise funds for the charity, as thousands of people do every year. We have no further association with the organisation.”
A spokesman for Age UK said: “We are not aware of any work the iERA do for the national charity Age UK in the community.”