A Case Study in Demonisation: The Times’ Accusation of Extremism and IHRC

A Case Study in Demonisation: The Times’ Accusation of Extremism and IHRC

On Friday 3 November 2023, The Times carried a piece that contained strange and misrepresentative claims about IHRC.  These are sadly nothing new and are part of an environment of hate, currently being instrumentalised by the British government to crack down on legitimate and necessary protest against the genocide ongoing in Gaza.

For the sake of transparency we publish our email correspondence with The Times below.



Then article published by The Times, uses narratives of ‘extremism’ that have been circulating for some time.  There has been a concerted effort to label groups and causes as ‘extremist’ by the government for a number of years since its failure to introduce a Counter-extremism bill.  In the intervening period, a Commission for Countering Extremism has been set up, and a variety of think tanks often neo-liberal and right leaning have all produced reports labelling human rights and community organisations like IHRC, Cage, MEND, MPACUK, Hizb ut Tahrir and even the MCB as extremist.  They have also attacked a number of left leaning and environmental groups, as well as groups campaigning on the issue of Palestine from within and without the Muslim community in the same way.  In recent days it appears that the government will now be issuing a definition of extremism by the end of the year, one assumes based on this body of shoddy and malicious work.


These are very dangerous times, where what once was considered normal political debate, and where basic issues of justice and liberation, are being curtailed, demonised and criminalised. Despite so many capitulations, collaborations and self-censorship no-one is safe from the place we are at today.


As we have stated to The Times, despite this demonisation, which has resulted in threats and violence against many, including us, we will continue to stand up for the oppressed. We hope those of you reading will do so too.

Find more links and context in our Twitter / X thread.


Correspondence with The Times


Our response to The Times

Dear Fiona,


Thank you for your email.


We note that the Times has been at the forefront of the current media attempt to label all pro-Palestine groups as extremists, terrorist sympathisers or Iranian/Russian agents fomenting dissent. This McCarthyite environment is being created to suppress support for Palestinians and shield Israel from criticism for its war crimes in Gaza.


You may be interested to know that your paper’s vilification of pro-Palestine groups has yielded results. Our offices were vandalised on Monday, in what was clearly a targeted attack for our stance on Palestine. Your continued demonisation of pro-Palestine groups will only incite further hostility against Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups.[1]


You quote Shawcross and the Henry Jackson Society, whose animosity towards Muslims is so overt and unhinged, they are less poster boys for Islamophobia and more a grotesque caricature. As for the unnamed intelligence officials, we can only assume it’s some guy down the pub you heard raving about extremists.[2] No serious intelligence official with knowledge of our work and our management team could reach such conclusions, presumably why you will not be naming your sources.


Finally, your employers and colleagues should note, for all their attempts to silence the pro-Palestine solidarity movement, IHRC will fight back.

  1. Government rhetoric responsible for hate attack on pro-Palestine human rights group

  2. Darren Osborne: troublemaker who was heard ‘cursing Muslims’ in pub rant / Finsbury Park mosque attacker Darren Osborne told pub-goers he would kill all Muslims’, court hears


Original Query from Fiona Hamilton from The Times

On Thu, 2 Nov 2023 at 08:36, Hamilton, Fiona <> wrote:

Good morning


I’m getting in touch about an article that The Times is planning to publish this evening and in tomorrow’s newspaper. It relates to the influence exerted by Tehran through UK-based institutions and I will also be reporting on concerns held by the police that Iranian-backed agents are stoking tensions at ongoing protests over the Middle East conflict.


I will be reporting that the Islamic Human Rights Commission is one of a number of key institutions in the UK considered by intelligence officials to have direct links to the Iranian regime. Intelligence agencies believe that they perform the soft power function for Tehran and act to spread influence on behalf of the regime. There are concerns that these groups, including IHRC, are involved in spreading the regime’s propaganda and present a threat to social cohesion.

– would you like to respond?


The report by William Shawcross about Prevent described the IHRC as an “Islamist group ideologically aligned with the Iranian regime, that has a history of “extremist links and terrorist sympathies”.” The report continued: “Several senior figures within IHRC have espoused support for violent jihad, expressed sympathy for convicted terrorists, and advocated for the extraction and eradication of ‘Zionists’. Campaigns have supported high-profile associates of a number of terrorist or extremist groups such as al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. By way of example, in their 2017 obituary for “blind sheikh” Omar Abdul Rehman, the mastermind of numerous bomb plots in New York in the early 1990s, IHRC described him as “a rare man of principle…[whose] death will only make him a martyr and more of an inspiration.”

– do you wish to comment on the conclusions that were made in the Shawcross report?


There is other information in the public domain about the IHRC that I intend to incorporate into my reporting. This includes:

–  that founder Saied Reza Ameli is an Iranian official on the Supreme Council and previously served with the IRGC

– The Times reported in 2019 that co-founder Massoud Shadjareh marked the 40th anniversary that year of the Iranian revolution by hailing Iran as “undoubtedly the only nation which is standing against oppression, against tyranny and for the independence of people, in line with Islam”.

– A report by the Henry Jackson Society in 2019 concluded that the IHRC was “an institutionally pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic organisation”. It said that one IHRC briefing claims that use of force against Israel can include the “destruction of installations” on her territory and “the financial, logistical and informational support” of Hezbollah. It also raised concerns that one of IHRC’s most prominent campaigns is the “UK franchise of the Khomeini-inspired Al-Quds Day parade, introduced for protesters around the globe to express support for Palestine and oppose Zionism on the last Friday of Ramadan. It is explicit in its desire for the eradication of the state of Israel”. The report cited further Mr Shadjareh’s repeated endorsement of violent resistance against the state of Israel.

– Do you stand by Mr Shadjareh’s comments? Do you wish to address any of these other claims?


Protesters at Saturday’s pro-Palestine rally carried IHRC banners.

– Do you wish to comment on your involvement in organising supporters to attend the rally?


My deadline is 5pm.






Fiona Hamilton

Chief Reporter


Twitter: @Fhamiltontimes


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