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Book Discussion Featuring Book By Controversial Muslim Activist Backed by Publicly Funded Charity

January 3rd, 2022 15:46

On 25 Novem­ber 2021, a coali­tion of Man­ches­ter stu­dent groups host­ed an online event, backed in part by a UK gov­ern­ment-fund­ed group, that fea­tured a book by a con­tro­ver­sial British Mus­lim activist who has sup­port­ed “Jihad” in Mus­lim con­flict zones. Accord­ing to a post on the blog of For­eign Pol­i­cy: 

Novem­ber 14, 2021 Pol­i­cy Exchange’s Under­stand­ing Islamism project has exposed an event sched­uled for the 25 Novem­ber to dis­cuss the book ‘I refuse to con­demn’ by Asim Qureshi of CAGE.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the post, the online dis­cus­sion was co-orga­nized by three initiatives:

  • Decolonise Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­ches­ter (UoM), a col­lec­tive of UoM staff and stu­dents aimed at “decol­o­niz­ing” the university’s curriculum
  • Our Shared Cul­tur­al Her­itage (OSCH), a youth-led project ded­i­cat­ed to explor­ing “the shared cul­tures and his­to­ries of the UK and South Asia.”
  • Rad­i­cal Read­ers, a read­ing group set up by OSCH

OSCH is a project of the British Coun­cil (BC), a non-gov­ern­men­tal edu­ca­tion­al char­i­ty that received a 2018  grant of more than £868,000 from the gov­ern­ment’s Her­itage Lot­tery Fund to sup­port the project. The BC has said it did not pro­vide indi­vid­ual fund­ing for the book event itself.

The event’s orga­niz­ers also adver­tised the sale of the book, pro­vid­ing dis­count codes to poten­tial buy­ers. The book was made avail­able to read free of charge for Man­ches­ter Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents and staff. Mr. Qureshi him­self did not speak at the book discussion..

Asim Qureshi serves as Research Direc­tor of CAGE, a con­tro­ver­sial UK Mus­lim advo­ca­cy group tied to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in the UK. Accord­ing to British media, dur­ing a 2006 protest, Qureshi  advo­cat­ed sup­port­ing vio­lent Jihad over­seas in con­flict zones involv­ing Mus­lims, saying:

When we see the exam­ple of our broth­ers and sis­ters fight­ing in Chech­nya, Iraq, Pales­tine, Kash­mir, Afghanistan, then we know where the exam­ple lies. When we see Hezbol­lah defeat­ing the armies of Israel, we know where the solu­tion is and where the vic­to­ry lies. We know that it is incum­bent upon all of us, to sup­port the jihad of our broth­ers and sis­ters in these coun­tries when they are fac­ing the oppres­sion of the West.

In 2015, he gained noto­ri­ety for describ­ing the IS exe­cu­tion­er Mohammed Emwazi as a “beau­ti­ful young man.”

Con­ser­v­a­tive MP Nus­rat Ghani has crit­i­cized the Nation­al Lot­tery for indi­rect­ly fund­ing OSCH, say­ing that it could bring the orga­ni­za­tion into dis­re­pute. Labour MP Khalid Mah­mood joined Ghani in crit­i­ciz­ing the Lot­tery, claim­ing that CAGE and Qureshi have “con­sis­tent­ly shown them­selves to be some of the worst [of Britain].”