Islamic Forum of Europe
Official logo of the IFE
|Headquarters||East London Mosque, Tower Hamlets, London, UK|
Dr Abdul Bari |
Musleh Faradhi Habibur Rahman, Dilowar Hussain Khan
European Council for Fatwa and Research |
Muslim Council of Britain
IFE was founded in 1988 as a British Bangladeshi professional group, by, amongst others, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who stands accused of at least 18 murders as well as war crimes in his native Bangladesh. Its first president was Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari who later became chairman of the East London Mosque, succeeded by Musleh Faradhi as President since 2005.
It was reportedly founded by former members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, with whom it came into conflict over management of the East London Mosque "throughout the late 1980s" resulting in "two High Court injunctions" in 1990 in "response to violence" at the mosque. Dawat'ul Islam is now based at another mosque, Jamiatul Ummah Bigland Street.
It has also worked with the street protest group United East End that opposes the English Defence League (EDL) and part of the Enough Coalition, an umbrella group which aims to tackle anti-Muslim hatred, and that includes organisations such as the Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative, Federation of Student Islamic Societies, Unite Against Fascism and the East London Mosque.
Our goal is to create the True Believer, [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [accountability] and jihad. This will lead to social change and Iqamat-ud-Deen [an Islamic social and political order].
Islamic Forum Trust
It also set up the Oldham Muslim Centre (OMC) branch at a cost of £2.2m which opened in April 2010. Vice chairman of the project Syed Badrul Alam, and Central President of the IFE Mohammad Habibur Rahman were at the opening. The trust also owns 120-122 Chadderton Way, also in Oldham.
IFE is also reported as the group which runs the East London Mosque, which is located close to its offices. IFE and the mosque have hosted many notable persons and religious leaders including Prince Charles, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Fiona MacTaggart, Brendan Barber, Dr Yasir Qadhi, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Saud Al-Shuraim, Salah Al Budair, Bakir Izetbegović, Jamal Badawi, Allama Delwar Hossain Sayeedi and many others.
Farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick blamed the organisation for sex segregation policies at the 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". Ali's controversial blog Between the Lines was also hosted by the IFE.
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 noted that Jim Fitzpatrick, who suggested the Labour Party had been infiltrated by IFE members, was to be challenged for his seat by George Galloway in the forthcoming general election who had overturned a 10,000+ majority held by Oona King at the 2005 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 IFE and Young Muslim Organisation were featured in the book The Islamist by Ed Husain, where he explains that the Young Muslim Organisation 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.
In Feb 2010 The Daily Telegraph described the group as "a sophisticated political group with a structured rank system and hardline goals. Prospective recruits must attend training. One undercover reporter was told that she would have to take an exam and swear an oath of allegiance and ordered to keep her membership of the IFE a secret." Robert Lambert, at the time co-director of the University of Exeter's European Muslim Research Centre, criticized the accusations, maintaining 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: "the brave Muslims involved have received no praise for their outstanding bravery and good citizenship, and instead faced a never ending barrage of denigration."
- Azad Ali, spokesman for Islamic Forum of Europe
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