Friday, 14 June 2013

Imam Alyas Karmani stands up for hope, while Hope not Hate betray their principles

Imam Alyas Karmani
Readers of this blog will be aware that Hope not Hate pays little more than lip service to the existence of Islamic hate preachers, even though Al Muhajiroun features on their list of hate groups. While every public indiscretion of UKIP members - who do not feature on their list of hate groups - is publicised in full detail, Anjem Choudhary, Al Muhajiroun's leader, has escaped any form of personal censure.

Even worse than this deliberate absence of condemnation for groups which seek to spread hate is their failure to highlight the efforts of Imam Alyas Karmani in Bradford to combat the grooming of young girls by Muslim men, something which is widely recognised as a problem. Imam Karmani - who is also a Respect Councillor - has issued a Khutba to be read in Mosques during Friday prayers on the 28th June and which is intended to drive home to worshippers that such actions are not acceptable in the eyes of Islam. His goal is that it should be read in more than 500 mosques across the UK.

For those of us who feel that Imams should play a more visible role in combatting the rise of Islamic extremism, Imam Karmani's initiative is to be welcomed, and is perhaps a sign that moderate Islam is capable of rising to the challenge. What is more puzzling is Hope not Hate's failure to even mention his initiative. What is the point of calling your organisation 'Hope not Hate' if all you are interested in is the 'Hate', and only certain types of hate at that? The key to their silence is Karmani's 'Respect' affiliation. In Bradford, Labour are seeing support haemorrhage in two directions - to UKIP on the right, and to Respect on the left, as evidenced by George Galloway's election as MP. Because of this, Karmani's initiative will fail to gain the support of Hope not Hate. Not because it is not worthwhile. Not because it is wrong. But because the Imam represents the 'Respect' Party and not Labour, and to push his initiative would be to admit that Labour - like Hope not Hate - has no answers, and indeed caused many of the problems

 By failing to promote initiatives such as Karmani's, Hope not Hate - who have access to a considerable audience - are helping to create the impression that there is no action within the Muslim community to tackle these problems. Their silence allows the EDL and the BNP to condemn Islam as something to be feared, because Hope not Hate is too mired in party political allegiances to shout from the rooftops the message of hope contained within Karmani's initiative. They would rather allow their silence to act as a recruiting sergeant for the far right than stand up and proclaim what should be their core message - Hope, not Hate.

We make no secret of our support for UKIP. And we would be lying if we said we supported much of Respect's policy platform. But this is an issue which cuts to the heart of the problems of Islamic extremism, and one which is beyond the nonsense of partisan politics. Karmani - whatever his political allegiance - is tackling a problem, and I urge UKIP supporters to share his message and to show that we are big enough to embrace good ideas whatever their political or religious source. Common sense is common sense.

So I say this to Nick Lowles and his Hope not Hate comrades. Shame on you, for betraying your core principles. Shame on your silence which allows hate to grow and lies to spread unchecked. And shame on your shoddy attempts to put your own personal allegiances ahead of an initiative which will clearly aid better relations between communities. Your blinkered attitude and political partisanship makes you no better than those you claim to oppose. For many years, you attacked the BNP, and ran with the slogan 'Not in my name', only for us to find the tables are now turned, and an increasing barrier to harmonious relations between communities is not the BNP and the EDL, but Hope not Hate and your refusal to back initiatives like Karmani's. If you must continue with such wilful blindness, be aware you do so on your own and not in my name. 

Read more about the Imam's initiative here
Click here

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