12 March 2019
Dozens of organisations have signed a letter to the European Union demanding that it retracts a statement saying it was preparing to terminate a funding agreement with the Islamic Human Rights Commission after a newspaper article accused the campaigning and lobbying group of anti-Semitism.
The right wing and often Islamophobic Sunday Telegraph reported on 15 December 2018 that IHRC is the organiser of the annual al-Quds Day demonstration in London during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It claimed that the pro-Palestine demonstration which is attended by people of all faiths including Jews is a vehicle for anti-Semitism. The article should be viewed in the context of a wider campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation against the al-Quds rally spearheaded by right wing and pro-Israel groups. In recent years they have campaigned fiercely to have it banned but have failed to furnish legislators with any evidence to back up their claims of anti-Semitism. The rally itself has come under attack both in the media from Zionist and far right activists who have held counter protests.
The article quoted a European Commission spokesperson as saying ” it is now preparing to “terminate” its agreement with the group[IHRC]….” The agreement refers to funding awarded to IHRC by the EU for a joint project it completed last year into countering Islamophobia in EU member states.
Confirming that they do not believe IHRC to be anti-Semitic, the signatories also demand that the Commission supports the rights of people to political expression and to protection from racist violence with regard to the al-Quds Day event. It states that the peaceful nature of the rally, which has been run as a family friendly event in London for three decades, has been praised by the Metropolitan Police whose presence is only necessary to protect the attendees from increasing threats of violence made by opponents.
Two further letters have also been sent separately to the EU, the first from Les Levidow of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. It says that “the false allegations (against IHRC) come from a political agenda to protect Israel and its political supporters from criticism, especially by conflating them with Jews in general. This conflation is a racist stereotype of Jews. Moreover, it is offensive to the many Jews who do not identify with Israel.”
The other letter is from Friends of Al-Aqsa, a pro-Palestine campaign group. It states “we are gravely concerned that a source from the European Union seems to suggest the IHRC are anti-Semitic without providing evidence…Having worked with and witnessed the work of IHRC we fail to see how the European Commission have concluded the work of IHRC could be anti-Semitic.”
The letter and signatories can be viewed at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/campaigns/21451-letter-to-the-european-commission/
For more information or comment please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 607475[ENDS]
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222