UK's Labour cuts ties with Muslim org labelled 'Islamist' by Gove

UK's Labour cuts ties with Muslim org labelled 'Islamist' by Gove
The UK’s communities secretary said the organisation, which tackles Islamophobia and discrimination, will be investigated for extremism.
2 min read
03 April, 2024
The Labour Party has cut ties with the UK-based organisation MEND which advocates for Muslim communities [GETTY]

The Labour Party has cut ties with a prominent Muslim organisation after the UK government's Communities Secretary Michael Gove said the non-profit would be investigated for extremism.

The organisation, Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) is known for its work on tackling Islamophobia and discrimination faced by Muslim communities around the country.

Labour told The Telegraph on Monday that it had adopted a policy "not to engage" after Gove identified the organisation as "Islamist".

MEND has said that Labour’s decision will risk alienating Muslim voters, particularly as Labour MPs have previously attended events organised by the group.

They also stated that Labour’s move would "harm the Labour Party, which is already haemorrhaging the Muslim vote", referring to the party's slump in popularity among Muslim voters over its stance on Israel's war on Gaza.

Before the no-engagement policy, at least half a dozen Labour politicians had attended MEND events, according to researchers cited by The Telegraph.

MEND was established in 2008 and aims to empower British Muslims to engage in society and advocate for their rights.

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Last month, the organisation called for a rejection of Gove’s extremist definition.

The CEO Azhar Qayum said: "We challenge Michael Gove to repeat his claims outside of parliament and without the protection of parliamentary privilege if he believes he can provide evidence to back up his views."

In a statement published on 14 March, MEND said that Gove’s definition of extremism is a "blatant attack on civil liberties and free speech".

"It is a highly politicised and undemocratic polemic aimed at trying to exclude and ostracise peaceful and law-abiding Muslim organisations that have been critical of the government from having a voice," the statement added.

Gove outlined a number of UK-based Muslim organisations, including the Muslim Association of Britain, MEND, and CAGE as giving "rise to concern for their Islamist orientation and views".

As education secretary in 2014, Gove led a controversial crackdown on teachers after a hoax letter alleged that an "Islamist takeover" of schools was taking place. The 'Trojan Horse scandal' resulted in lifetime bans being handed to 15 teachers, with one teacher remaining banned from the profession.