The baroness, Islamic extremists and a question of free speech

Two groups campaigning to get British Muslims involved in the election are “clever fronts” to win political access and influence for Islamists holding extreme views

AT FIRST glance, it looks admirable: two closely connected campaigns, called YouElect and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), to get British Muslims involved and voting in this year’s general election.

Mend says it is “creating and supporting an environment in which British Muslims can confidently and critically engage in politics”. One of YouElect’s leaders, Jamil Rashid, told the Islam Channel: “We’re all part of this society, so I think it’s extremely important that Muslims stand up and be counted.” Who could disagree? That, no doubt, is why the Electoral Commission has made Mend an “official partner” in registering Muslim voters for the coming campaign; why at least 10 Labour and Tory MPs joined the launch of Mend’s “Muslim manifesto” in the Commons earlier this month; and why even Lynton Crosby, the Conservative campaign director, addressed a Mend fringe meeting at last year’s Tory conference.

Mend also holds events with police chiefs, gets funding from the EU and is a “key partner” in the Hacked Off campaign for state-backed controls on the press. The truth, however, is that these distinguished bodies and people have been conned. Both Mend and YouElect are clever fronts to win political access and influence for Islamists holding extreme and anti-democratic views.

When not giving reassuring interviews, Mr Rashid is a director of the London-based Muslim Research and Development Foundation, the think tank of one of Britain’s most notorious hate preachers, Haitham al-Haddad, an extremist cleric and Sharia judge from east London.

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