British Cabinet Minister attends "extremists" event in House of Lords

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has attended an event with Hamas sympathisers and Israel boycotters in a House of Lords session on "Representation and Reality"

by on 8 April 2013 11:50

Last month the British Minister of State for Faith and Communities Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, hosted a conference in the House of Lords entitled, "Representation and Reality". 

The conference was bill as a "critical discussion around the way Islamic societies and Muslim students are represented in the media and reality actually taking place." The conference had contributions from Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Lord Qurban Hussain, Islam Channel’s Carl Arrindell, Universities UK CEO Nicola Dandridge, Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson, Dr Sara Silvestri, NUS President Liam Burns, and Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

While Dandridge has previously played down the claims about extremism at UK Universities, other panel participants have far more concerning backgrounds, namely Carl Arrindell, pictured here with the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

Arrindell, who currently works for the Islam Channel television station, is described as a former PR man for Interpal, a charitable organisation that has been investigated numerous times by Britain's charity regulator, the Charity Commission, after allegations that the group fundraised for terrorists.

The conference was organised by the "Federation of Student Islamic Societies" (FOSIS), an umbrella group that claims to represent Muslim students across the United Kingdom. While FOSIS is known to outwardly maintain that it seeks peace promotion and harmony on university campuses, their campaigns as well as the speakers they promote prove that the organisation is anything but conducive to peaceable relationships on campuses. On its own website, FOSIS criticises the British government's support for the State of Israel, stating:

"...many have argued that partaking in the boycott is pointless, as we contribute to the Israeli economy as British taxpayers. Whilst unfortunately this is true, and provides evidence of the West's blind and total support for their colonial offspring, it should not be an excuse for us not to do anything."

With this in mind, questions are being asked as to why a British cabinet member, especially the Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, endorsed FOSIS with her attendance at the event.

FOSIS’s continued promotion of extremists at events, and its willingness to share platforms with individuals with deeply intolerant views will lead to further questions on why a government minister is working with such a group.

The Student Rights blog reports:

Just the day before the conference, FOSIS organised an event at Imperial College called ‘Need for Creed’ which featured Hamza Tzortzis as a speaker.

A former member of the radical Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir, Tzortzis has claimed of apostates “if someone’s going to fight against the community they should be killed”, and rejects freedom of speech.

In March 2013, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), which Tzortzis is a leading member of, was barred from University College London after attempting to enforce segregation by gender.

Compounding this, only a few days later Omar Ali spoke at a rally in support of the convicted Al-Qaeda facilitator Dr Aafia Siddique, sharing a platform with extremists including Dr Khalid Fikry andHizb ut-Tahrir spokeswoman Dr Nazreen Nawaz.

Dr Fikry is a virulently sectarian speaker who has claimed that “Shia are one of the worst and greatest enemies against our Ummah nowadays”, hardly something likely to reassure Shiastudents that FOSIS will challenge bigotry on campus.

Given that Arrindell is evidently pally with Hamas heads, and FOSIS both promotes extremists speakers and a boycott of one of Britain's allies, Israel, is it all that appropriate for a Minister of State to give her backing to this conference aimed at charging those concerned as "Islamophobes" and attempting to paper over the cracks of Islamist-inspired extremism?

I think not.

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