CAGE and Islam21C promote endorsements from alleged Al-Qaeda aligned activist in Syria
The campaign group CAGE and the Islamist website Islam21C have both promoted endorsements from Tauqir Sharif (Tox) as part of their Ramadan fundraising campaigns. Sharif is a UK-born activist based in Syria who has been unable to return to Britain since 2017 when his British citizenship was removed on the grounds that he is linked to a group aligned with Al-Qaeda. Sharif has reportedly admitted to fighting in Syria, but denied being part of Al-Qaeda. He has justified his presence in Syria as a charity worker. However, a letter from the Home Office accused Sharif of being “aligned with an AQ-aligned group,” and stated that it had been assessed that his return to the UK would “present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom.”
On its Facebook page CAGE—which campaigns against counter-terrorism measures—posted a video of Tauqir Sharif offering a testimonial for the group. Titled “Support all of the Ummah! [Donate]”, the video posted on 6 May features Sharif describing CAGE as “an organisation that are very close to my heart,” and stating that CAGE has “helped so many Muslims who have been persecuted under this atmosphere of Islamophobia that grips the world right now.” Sharif then went on to detail the assistance that CAGE has provided him as part of his own legal battle.
On the 9 May, Islam21C broadcast a live appeal over YouTube through its Unscripted podcast programme. As has been advertised on Twitter, one of the guests was Tauqir Sharif. During the part of the conversation that he joined for, Sharif spoke of the importance of building Muslim institutions, however he warned that “we have colonised mindsets in our Muslim community,” claiming that there are only very few Muslim organisations that are brave enough. Accordingly, Sharif referenced the former Guantanamo Bay detainee and outreach director at CAGE, remarking, “one of my teachers, Moazzam Begg said no one’s going to remember the cowards, history does not remember the cowards.” And referencing comments made by Haitham Al-Haddad earlier in the broadcast, Sharif observed, “the work you guys are doing is vital, like Sheikh Haitham said, it’s a Jihad—most people are scared to come on and have a sheikh say the word Jihad!”
Later, the conversation turned to the need for the Muslim community to act before its freedoms are taken away, with one of the co-presenters stating, “you want to pray in your lunchbreak, you tell your daughter you should wear hijab if she goes to school, they speak out about LGBT; then you’re going to be marginalised.” Sharif agreed that such freedoms are being eroded in France and other parts of Europe, and warned that in the future Britain might see hijab bans and Far Right groups running the government. To which the same presenter interjected; “we’re not far off there at the moment bro…the way the government is.” Sharif concluded his interview by urging those watching to donate to Islam21C and stating, “we need to think long term about how we are going to take our ummah out of this state of decadence.”
The Islam21C YouTube fundraising broadcast was co-hosted by Salman Butt, Chief Editor of Islam21C, and ahead of the appeal, it advertised the other guests as including Haitham Al-Haddad—one of the founders of Islam21C—as well as Ali Hammuda, Umer Suleman, Sajid Umar, Ustadh Omar Hajaj, and Ustadha Fatima Barkatulla.