Last week it was reported that Jeremy Corbyn was turning down an invitation to attend a dinner to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration with Benjamin Netanyahu and Theresa May. However, on the eve of Balfour Day, Jeremy Corbyn was keynote speaker for MEND, which has been described by a leading think-tank as “Islamists posing as civil libertarians”.
Over the weekend the respected think-tank, the Henry Jackson Society, released an in-depth report showing how the Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) group were “Islamists posing as civil libertarians”.
The report prompted Conservative MPs to pull out of the event. However, Jeremy Corbyn and some of his Labour MPs attended the event and not only that but Mr Corbyn was the keynote speaker.
This group has been accused of openly working against British counter-terrorism measures, have shown support for Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel, having hosted numerous extremists and one of their speakers has even justified the murder of British troops. See below for more reasons.
Corbyn would have been well aware of this report before he spoke at the event, but instead of turning them down he proudly spoke at the event and recorded a promotional video for them.
“Stand up, together. It makes us strong”
— MEND Community (@mendcommunity) November 2, 2017
This video also includes Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Sayeeda Worsi from the Conservatives. We are not sure if this video was made before the report was published, but we also question whether Cable or Worsi would like to be associated with such a group had they known about the report beforehand.
Mend officials and volunteers have expressed highly concerning views on terrorism. This has ranged from downplaying the terrorist nature of various Islamist terror attacks, or promoting conspiracy theories in relation to those attacks, to suggesting that those returning from fighting in Syria should not be prosecuted, and advocating that British mosques hold prayers for the Mujahedeen (Islamic militias), and, in the case of one senior individual, legitimising the killing of British troops in Iraq.
Mend has regularly hosted illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers at public events. This has included those who have promoted Jihad, homophobia and anti-Semitism, as well as those who have legitimised the killing of adulterers and “infidels”. Mend and its officials have voiced support for Islamist hate preachers banned from entering the UK, and have opposed government policy on this.
Mend has consistently opposed the government’s counter-terrorism and counter-extremism legislation, usually without proposing credible alternatives. Mend often casts these measures as an attack on civil liberties, as targeting British Muslims and as an attack on normative Islamic practices. The organisation has played a particularly prominent role in demonising and spreading misinformation about the national counter-radicalisation strategy Prevent.
A number of the figures in Mend, including senior employees and volunteers, have promoted anti-Semitism and demonisation of Israel, particularly engaging in hate speech and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories over social media, as well as at Mend events.
“In the case of Mend, it is particularly notable not only how many of those involved with Mend have been recorded making anti-Semitic comments, but also how Mend’s events and narrative have accused Zionist, Jewish and pro-Israel groups of driving Islamophobia. Speaking in December 2016 before the Home Affairs Select Committee, the campaigner against Islamophobia, Fiyaz Mughal, named Mend and Cage as groups that he claimed attack his organisation, Tell Mama, for working with the Jewish community. During his testimony before that committee, Fiyaz Mughal also spoke of the need for the Home Office to “challenge” and “untangle the narrative of these groups”, a narrative which he described as including conspiracies, anti-Semitism, hatred of other communities and a “unipolar view of life”.