Last week I blogged about how the Tory MP Robert Halfon – a former Political Director of the Conservative Friends of Israel – had launched a highly dishonest and cowardly attack on the Muslim advocacy group ENGAGE. Halfon had only been able to get away with such remarks because he had made his defamatory accusations in parliament where he was protected by parliamentary privilege. At the time, I challenged Halfon to repeat the same remarks in a public forum outside parliament: Unsurprisingly, Halfon does not appear to be keen to do so.
We have in recent weeks witnessed what appears to be a shrill and orchestrated campaign from pro-Israel elements seeking to undermine ENGAGE and have it removed as the secretariat for the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia (and no doubt replaced by a more pliant Muslim group).
Here are a couple of examples of the articles that have appeared.
1. Dec 8, 2010: Anti-Islamophobia parliamentary group drop ‘Islamist’ secretariat, Martin ‘The Great Koran Con Trick’ Bright writing a tad prematurely in the Jewish Chronicle
2. Dec 8, 2010: iENGAGE Chucked Off All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, on the rabidly pro-Israel website, Harry’s Place
Unfortunately for the pro-Israel lobbyists, some MPs were not willing to believe their smears uncritically and insisted on finding out more about ENGAGE for themselves. ENGAGE also produced a fine response to the smears.
Anyway, the latest developments are that on Monday a vote was held by members of the APPG on Islamophobia where a number of pro-Israel MPs urged that ENGAGE be dropped as the secretariat, but – according to the Jewish Chronicle – they failed to win the motion by just a single vote.
You can be sure that the likes of Martin Bright, Robert Halfon, Harry’s Place, Paul Goodman and Policy Exchange will not stop in their attempts to get ENGAGE removed as the secretariat. Indeed, in his latest blog, Goodman seems to hint that the PM David Cameron ought to take action against Tory MPs who supported ENGAGE and also call for action by Labour leader Ed Miliband against Sadiq Khan MP who supported ENGAGE.
If you want to see an independent, credible and effective APPG on Islamophobia and not one that is subservient to pro-Israeli interests, then you can do your bit by calling and writing to your MP now and urging him/her to join the APPG and support the work of ENGAGE in documenting anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes. Don’t delay this and urge your friends to also get in touch with their own MPs.
There is really no question that we are seeing an unprecedented level of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK nowadays much of it stoked up by influential and hostile elements in the UK media. Here are a few recent examples from just the last two weeks:
For some additional examples since Dec 2010 see my earlier blog here. Which other faith community has to endure this level of bigotry? If you want to see this challenged then please do contact your MP urgently.
Update: ‘Jewish Chronicle returns to witch-hunting ENGAGE’, Islamophobia Watch
Update 2: After initially reporting that the MPs voted to retain ENGAGE by ‘just a single vote’, the Jewish Chronicle has since amended its report by its political editor Martin Bright, to say it was ‘by a narrow margin’.