All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia divided over ENGAGE’s role

Over at the Jewish Chronicle, Martin Bright reports that the recently launched APPG on Islamophobia has been “forced to end its partnership” with ENGAGE, who were providing administrative support to the Group. According to Bright, the APPG’s chair Kris Hopkins MP and one of the vice-chairs, Lord Janner, “agreed on Tuesday to drop Engage”. However, he also quotes a statement issued by another of the vice-chairs, Simon Hughes MP, which reads:

“Engage is an organisation which promotes the participation and engagement of young Muslims in the public sphere. Occasionally this may mean that the group represents views that others may disagree with. But as long as they stay within the law and enter into the sprit of a democratic dialogue, I have no problem with them providing support to the APPG on Islamophobia, a group which exists precisely to advance reasoned debate on faith issues in our country.”

Bright claims that it was an attack on ENGAGE by Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome that prompted Hopkins and Janner to change their minds. And, as Goodman makes clear, his own article was based on an earlier piece entitled “Islamists establish a bridgehead in Parliament”, which was written by Andrew Gilligan, the hero of the English Defence League.

No doubt ENGAGE will publish a clarification of the situation in due course. However, if the APPG has indeed severed its links with ENGAGE, we would be faced with the bizarre spectacle of an APPG whose purpose is to combat Islamophobia taking its first major decision on the basis of a witch-hunt led by two of the country’s leading Islamophobes! This hardly bodes well for the APPG’s future.

Update:  Bright’s JC report has of course been seized on byHarry’s Place who dismiss Simon Hughes’s support for ENGAGE in the following terms:

“Hughes has form as a supporter of Islamist politics. He is a regular speaker at the Islam Channel’s Global Peace and Unity Event, which showcases hate preachers. This is quite remarkable – Simon Hughes is a gay man and, supposedly, a liberal. Yet, he consistently allies himself with political groups which attack liberal Muslims, are virulently homophobic and would like to establish a state in which gay men would be executed. What is wrong with him?”

Are these the sort of forces Kris Hopkins and Lord Janner really want to align themselves with?

Further update:  See the “Joint statement from Kris Hopkins MP and Lord Janner” which announces their intention “to call a meeting of the group at the earliest opportunity, to recommend that we dispense with the services of Engage”.

A more appropriate response from the APPG would be to remove Hopkins and Janner and replace them with a chair and vice-chair who are prepared to stand up to Islamophobic witch-hunts from the likes of Andrew Gilligan, Paul Goodman and Harry’s Place.

Meanwhile, over at his Torygraph blog, Gilligan is hailing the news under the headline “Great news: Islamists lose their Parliamentary foothold”.

One more update:  Read ENGAGE’s detailed response to Paul Goodman’s criticisms here