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Islamophobia advisor sacked by Government without warning

8th Jul 2022
Islamophobia advisor sacked by Government without warning

Imam Qari Asim (Credit: European Conservatives Group/Flickr)

Hamed Chapman

The Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque, Qari Asim, has been sacked as an independent advisor to the Government without his knowledge, forewarning, or any discussion of having issues with him.

“I learned about the DLUHC’s recent letter addressed to me from the media and subsequently found it on the government’s website,” Asim revealed in a letter dated June 12 to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

“I still have not received the letter personally from DLUHC, which did not contact me about the letter’s contents before releasing it,” he responded to the letter that was undated but published on June 11 and subsequently updated.

The Imam contributed to the Government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group in a voluntary capacity for over 10 years. On July 23, 2019, coinciding with the election of Boris Johnson as Tory leader, he was appointed by 10 Downing Street as an Independent Advisor to lead the process of establishing a definition of Islamophobia.

The DLUHC letter said the Government had “no option but to withdraw the appointment and end your role with Government with immediate effect.” It claimed his “recent support for a campaign to limit free expression – a campaign which has itself encouraged communal tensions – means it is no longer appropriate for you to continue your work.”

It accused Asim of encouraging “an ongoing campaign to prevent cinemas from screening the film ‘Lady of Heaven,’ describing his actions as “a clear effort to restrict artistic expression, and the campaign you have supported.”

In reply, the former Government advisor said that the contention that he had “acted to undermine democratic values or spread community tension and religious hatred is inaccurate.”

He said he had “not personally attend or organise any protests outside any cinemas” regarding the controversial film about the daughter of the Prophet. But he did “support people’s democratic right to protest in the spirit of free speech.”

The film, which has been banned in several Muslim countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco, has provoked outrage in the Islamic world for being inflammatory and causing deep offence for alluding to supposed parallels between the terrorism used by Daesh and revered early Islamic figures.
It was written by Sheikh Yasser al-Habib, the Kuwaiti head of the London-based The Mahdi Servants Union, formerly the

Khoddam Al-Mahdi Organisation. Protests across the UK have led to the film’s withdrawal by Cineworld, the British cinema group, but not by the multi-national chain owned by Vue International.

In his letter, Asim also took exception to the Government’s behaviour towards him while he was appointed as advisor for the past three years, saying it had not engaged with him at all on the definition of Islamophobia and had not even kept its pledge to appoint a second one.

“Despite many attempts to make progress with my role, neither has a second adviser been appointed nor have terms of reference been issued to commence the process for establishing a definition which captures anti-Muslim prejudice.”

 

EDITORIAL: Gove responsible for unethical dismissal of imam

 

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