Regulator warns Muslim charity after chair delivers ‘divisive’ sermon on Palestine

26 Apr 2024 News

Charity Commission building and logo

Civil Society Media

The Charity Commission has issued an official warning to an Islamic charity after its chair gave a sermon at its premises last year containing “inflammatory and divisive” content.

Its warning says that a sermon at the Nottingham Islam Information Centre also discussed party politics and included content which could be reasonably interpreted as discouraging the audience from voting in elections and/or engaging with democracy.

Civil Society understands the Commission issued the warning after a video of the talk by the charity’s chair Harun Holmes was shared online.

Holmes confirmed to Civil Society that he was speaking in the video, which the charity has taken down from YouTube.

Trustees: ‘We will ensure more scrunity’

A video with the charity’s branding shared by a social media user in October shows a speaker reading from scripture that includes quotes such as “oh Muslim, here is a Jew behind me, kill him”.

The charity’s trustees published a statement last year, apologising for a sermon delivered by Holmes at its premises on 13 October, which they said was “intended to give an overarching narrative of events that have happened and will happen in Palestine”.

They said Holmes was given the responsibility of the sermon at late notice despite not being a qualified Imam.

“In hindsight he recognises that other references would have been more appropriate which could better explain the context of the sermon within available timescales,” they said.

“The trustees recognise that certain portions of the sermon may have been construed in a negative light and inadvertently and unintentionally caused offence. We apologise for this.

“Going forward we will ensure more scrutiny is given over delivery of sermons and have adopted processes to prevent such a situation arising again.”

Commission chair Orlando Fraser said in November the regulator was assessing a “significant number of serious concerns” regarding some charities’ activities in relation to the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Fraser said the Commission was aware of several “allegations of antisemitic or hate speech” linked to charities at the time.

He said the regulator would act if it found wrongdoing by any of the charities and warned organisations not to “allow their premises or events to become forums for hate speech or unlawful extremism”.

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