Understanding Islamism

A Policy Exchange Project

Islamism and the Left

This paper seeks to consider the question of the relationship between Islamism (in all its forms) and parts of the Left, not just in France but more broadly. It proceeds from the assumption that such a relationship exists and is not simply tactical.

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IRGC flag displayed at London anti-Israel rally

The Iranian news agency Mehr News has released a short video showing a flag of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) being displayed during a London anti-Israel demonstration on 22 May. The IRGC was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2019. In December 2020, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee called on the British Government to also proscribe the IRGC.

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Die Welt reports EU Commission funding Islamist groups with anti-Semitic links

Die Welt – the Berlin-based centre-right German newspaper of record – reported on 25 April that the European Commission apparently continues to fund organisations that either the Federal Government (FG) or the domestic German intelligence and security agency, Das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV – The Constitution Protection Agency), have found to be Islamist and some of whose employees have made anti-Semitic statements.

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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.”

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Friends of Al-Aqsa leader participates in online conference including listed terrorist and Islamist figures

The head of the UK-based campaign group Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), Ismail Patel, has appeared among the speakers at a recent online conference that included a number of extreme figures. Taking place on 9 May 2021, the conference titled The scholars’ speech to those steadfast in Al-Aqsa, was broadcast over Facebook and YouTube by the Palestine Scholars Association in the Diaspora. Coverage of the event by Donia Al Watan reported that Muthanna Harith Al-Dhari, head of the Political Department of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI), was one of those speaking at the conference. In 2010, Al-Dhari was listed by the UN Security Council under the Al-Qaeda sanctions list for providing financial support to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He is the son of the late Harith Al-Dhari; the former head of AMSI, known as ‘the Spiritual Leader of the Iraqi Resistance’ (Insurgency), and designated by the US Treasury in 2008 for threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.

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5Pillars publishes Hizb ut-Tahrir leader advocating military force and a Caliphate to “liberate Palestine and Kashmir”

The UK Islamist news website 5Pillars has published an opinion piece by Abdul Wahid—chairman of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain—arguing that Muslim majority countries, and to a lesser degree some Muslims in the UK, are betraying the Palestinian and Kashmiri causes. Titled, Only a united Ummah can liberate Palestine and Kashmir, Wahid advocates the use of military force and the establishment of the Khilafah, or Caliphate, as the only means for achieving this.

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London-based Ibrahim Mounir made acting General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

London-based Ibrahim Mounir made acting General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

In September 2020, it was announced that the UK-based Ibrahim Mounir had been appointed as the acting General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (EMB) – the most senior figure in the organisation. In the month following the announcement, the Qatari Arabi21 Arabic language portal reported that Mounir had addressed a letter to President Emmanuel Macron, in which he denounced the latter’s suggestion that Islam is in crisis. Mounir further claimed that Macron had been wrong to identify the Brotherhood with isolationism, radicalism and puritanism. And he objected to Macron’s assertion that the Muslim Brotherhood used religion for political ends, was attempting to establish a parallel order, or rejected the French republic.

London Rally in Support of the Militant Group Hashd Al-Sha’bi

London Rally in Support of the Militant Group Hashd Al-Sha’bi

On Sunday, 27 September 2020, a car rally took place through central London, “in solidarity with and in appreciation of the Hashd Al-Sha’bi” (also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, PMF). The Hashd Al-Sha’bi, which was formed in 2014 when the conflict with ISIS began, is an Iraqi umbrella organisation comprised of 40 (mostly Shi’a) militia groups. The three main factions within Hashd Al-Sha’bi owe their allegiances to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and Muqtada al-Sadr.

Muslim Brotherhood statement welcomes “Intifada” in a response to Macron’s remarks

Muslim Brotherhood statement welcomes “Intifada” in a response to Macron’s remarks

On the 30 October, the Muslim Brotherhood’s London-based weekly bulletin Risalat Al-Ikhwan published a statement titled: ‘On French and European offences against Islam, its Prophet and Book’. Among other matters, the Muslim Brotherhood’s statement praises the uprising [intifada] of the peoples of the Muslim world and the defence of their sanctities “by every peaceful civilised means”. An intifada is best understood as a sustained ‘uprising’. It may or may not be intermittent, and is often marked by violence – although the level of violence may vary.

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