IDS de­nies back­ing Mend

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

EX-TORY LEADER Iain Dun­can Smith has dis­missed sug­ges­tions he sup­ports the con­tro­ver­sial ad­vo­cacy group Mend af­ter he at­tended an Is­lam­o­pho­bia Aware­ness Month (IAM) event it or­gan­ised in Par­lia­ment last Wed­nes­day.

The ex-Work and Pen­sions Min­is­ter said he recog­nised there were “gen­uine con­cerns” that Mend — the Mus­lim En­gage­ment and Devel­op­ment group — “may not be the force for com­mu­nity co­he­sion as is claimed”.

Mend has been crit­i­cised by the Home Of­fice over its op­po­si­tion to the govern­ment’s anti-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme Pre­vent, and part­ner­ships with cler­ics and or­gan­i­sa­tions who have ex­pressed views that are an­tisemitic, ho­mo­pho­bic and anti-West­ern.

Mr Dun­can Smith said he in­tended to dis­cuss how MPs can be made aware of groups that, he said, “do not pro­mote com­mu­nity co­he­sion” with Sara Khan, the govern­ment’s Com­mis­sioner for Coun­ter­ing Ex­trem­ism.

He is­sued his state­ment af­ter he ap­peared along­side Labour’s Naz Shah, fel­low Con­ser­va­tive MP Peter Bot­tom­ley and other par­lia­men­tar­i­ans at the launch of IAM.

Dr Shazad Amin, Mend chief ex­ec­u­tive, spoke at the event and said the British pub­lic per­ceive Is­lam­o­pho­bia to be a real prob­lem in so­ci­ety and sug­gested IAM was an im­por­tant plat­form for dis­cussing the is­sue.

Writ­ing on Wed­nes­day on his Face­book page, Mr Dun­can Smith said: “I have seen my at­ten­dance is be­ing used to sug­gest I was there to sup­port the or­gan­i­sa­tion Mend. This is in­cor­rect.”

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