Now it’s Daud Abdullah who’s being witch-hunted – with the assistance of Ed Husain

One of the UK’s most influential Islamic leaders, who has helped counter extremism in the country’s mosques, is accused of advocating attacks on the Royal Navy if it tries to stop arms for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza.

Dr Daud Abdullah, deputy director-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, is facing calls for his resignation, after it emerged that he is one of 90 Muslim leaders from around the world who have signed a public declaration in support of Hamas and military action.

Abdullah, who led the MCB’s boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day, was a member of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, the body endorsed by the government that trains imams and was set up to curtail the activities of extremist clerics. In January, he briefed the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, and communities secretary Hazel Blears on the situation in Gaza and its likely impact on social cohesion in the UK.

There were calls last night for the government and the MCB to condemn Abdullah’s actions. “The British government should stop funding organisations such as the MCB and supporting events such as Islam Expo, which hosts scholars from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who hold extremist views,” said Irfan Al Alawi, international director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism.

“If the MCB is serious about tackling extremism, it should immediately expel extremists such as Daud Abdullah from its own ranks,” said Ed Husain, co-director of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism thinktank. “The man is a fanatic.” He added: “As well as potentially endorsing terrorism against British troops, Abdullah shows total disregard for human life.”

Observer, 8 March 2009

Update:  See Islamic Forum of Europe media release, 9 March 2009