Islamic Forum of Europe
The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is an Islamic organization based in London with branches throughout the United Kingdom. Its website states it has branches in "most of the European countries including: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland".
Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organization (YMO), which is based in Tower Hamlets, "with several branches across Britain," and is very active among the Bangladeshi community. The YMO was established mainly by Bangladeshi youths in East London during the period of racial attacks in Tower Hamlets in 1978. Its women's wing is Muslimaat UK.
Insinuations of Extremist activity
Farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick, blamed the organisation for sex segregation policies at the East London Mosque after attending an Islamic wedding held at the venue which strictly seated men and women separately.
A Dispatches documentary aired on 1 March 2010 suggested the IFE are an extremist organization with a hidden agenda that went against Britain's democratic values. Dispatches quoted Azad Ali, the IFE's community affairs coordinator, as saying, "Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that".
However, in a comment piece in the Guardian newspaper, Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain suggested that many of the people interviewed on the programme had hidden agendas of their own and highlighted that Jim Fitzpatrick, who suggested the Labour Party had been infiltrated by IFE members, was up against George Galloway in the upcoming elections who had overturned a 10,000+ majority held by Oona King at the 2005 general election.
Galloway was recorded as saying that his 2005 election owed "more than I can say, more than it would be wise for me to say, to the Islamic Forum of Europe." Responding to the Dispatches programme, Galloway denounced it as a smear, credited the IFE only as one of several groups that helped his anti-war campaign, and claimed to know little about the IFE's membership or policies.
The programme also claimed that the IFE also helped Lutfur Rahman to gain the leadership of Tower Hamlets Council from 2008 until 2010. Six unknown Labour councillors told Dispatches that a senior IFE official had threatened to mobilise the group's supporters against them if they did not support the candidate. IFE in a response to the programme stated that the programme "Presented a grossly inaccurate and misleading picture of the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). The programme failed to broadcast IFE’s responses to many of the allegations and therefore failed in its basic obligation of fair, honest and balanced reporting."
The group has close links with the East London Mosque, which is located close to its offices. According to one report, the group found itself in conflict with Jamaat-e-Islami-affiliated group — Dawatul Islam (affiliated with the UK Islamic Mission) — at the East London Mosque "throughout the late 1980s". Dawat'ul Islam is now based at another mosque, Jamiatul Ummah Bigland Street. The IFE and YMO were featured in the book The Islamist by Ed Husain, where he explains that the YMO attracts mainly English-speaking Asian youths, providing circles or talks daily at the East London Mosque; while teaching about Islam, it covers the political system of the religion.
The journalist Robert Lambert criticized the accusations, pointing out that youth workers from the Islamic Forum of Europe were actively working to oppose the influence of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and Al Muhajiroun, for which they should be commended rather than denigrated. He wrote the following on the work of IFE youth workers: "the brave Muslims involved have received no praise for their outstanding bravery and good citizenship, and instead faced a never ending barrage of denigration." More recently during the 2011 England riots, on 9 August, IFE youth workers made use of social media to thwart and chase away a large mob of looters from Whitechapel, where the East London Mosque is located.
- Responding to the call, IFE website
- Bangladeshi Diaspora in the UK SOAS Conference on Human Rights and Bangladesh
- Gilligan, Andrew (15 April 2012). "Leading British Muslim leader faces war crimes charges in Bangladesh". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Andrew Gilligan, Backlash at the mosque, Daily Telegraph, 13 March 2010
- Andrew Gilligan, "IFE: not harmless democrats", The Guardian, 4 March 2010
- Inayat Bunglawala, "Watch out: democratic Muslims about", The Guardian, 3 March 2010
- Andrew Gilligan, "Lutfur Rahman: yet more backers he really shouldn't want", Daily Telegraph, 16 September 2010
- George Galloway, Galloway's Rebuke to Dispatches Programme. Socialist Unity. 1 March 2010
- . Islamic Forum Europe.
- Delwar Hussain, "Bangladeshis in East London: from secular politics to Islam", Open Democracy, 7 July 2006
- Ed Husain (2007). The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left. Penguin. pp. 24-5. ISBN 978-0-14-103043-2.
- The Islamist, pp. 52-60.
- Lambert, Robert (12 August 2011). "Muslims tackle looters and bigots". MWC News. Retrieved 14 August 2011.