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19 Dec, 2014 13:41

Muslim charities lose govt grants, accused of ‘extremist’ links

Muslim charities lose govt grants, accused of ‘extremist’ links

Two Muslim charities have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.

Birmingham based ‘Islamic Help’ and the London based Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) protested the government’s decision, after the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revoked their grants

The government informed the charities it did not want to support groups “linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence.”

In a written statement, DCLG Minister Eric Pickles said Islamic Help invited “an individual with extremist views” to speak at one of its public events, while the MCF – an umbrella organization for the UK’s Muslim charities – had “failed to reassure us that they have robust measures in place to investigate and challenge their members.”

The decision could affect a number of Muslim charities across the country, particularly those working with groups in Syria and Iraq.

The DCLG has declined to name the “extremist speaker” involved with Islamic Help. A spokesman for the charity said the speaker did not have a formal connection with them.

Islamic Help is known for its outreach programs in areas including Palestine, Syria and the Central African Republic. It told the BBC its events were designed to raise money for its humanitarian work, not providing a political platform to speakers.

The group is set to lose around £7,000, a spokesperson for the group claimed.

Both Islamic Help and the MCF received government grants through DCLG’s Faith Minorities in Action project, which was launched by the department last year, in conjunction with the Extremism Taskforce.

Mosque in east London.(Reuters / Chris Helgren)

The scheme was introduced to encourage interfaith initiatives and to counter extremist activities in the UK.

However, the DCLG said the MCF was not meeting the targets of the scheme, and not monitoring the activities of its members closely enough.

The MCF hit back at the government’s claim, saying the termination of the Faith Minorities in Action project would cease ‘vital work’ in building bridges between communities.

“The MCF is extremely disappointed at the decision by the Department for Communities and Local Government to discontinue its support for the Faith Minorities in Action project,” an MCF spokesperson told RT.

“The MCF is committed to creating an integrated Muslim charitable network in the UK and to building partnerships which have been a key part of its work since its inception. We reject the basis on which this funding decision has been made.”

“The Muslim Charities Forum is considering all options available to contest the DCLG’s decision and allegations,” the spokesperson added.

The action follows a report produced by the think tank Claystone, which earlier this year found that more than a quarter of charities being investigated by the government were Muslim advocacy organizations.

The think tank criticized what it saw as the “targeting” of Islamic organizations, particularly following the appointment of Sir William Shawcross as head the Charity Commission. Shawcross has also been criticized by Muslim groups for claiming “Europe and Islam” are among the world’s most “terrifying” problems, and that Islamic extremists were infiltrating British charities.