Labour’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s Islamist History

Jeremy Corbyn - Caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

The most recent terror attack in London may well affect the outcome of the British parliamentary elections. Although Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has started to gain in on Prime Minister May’s lead, Corbyn has a very unclear relationship with radical Islamism and hate preachers. And even if Ms. May is now criticized for passivity, we cannot be certain that the security situation would be improved with Mr. Corbyn leading the country.

Like the Swedish Social Democrats, Labour has navigated on the path of identity politics and regarded Muslim voters as an attractive and large electoral group. Like the Social Democrats, they have focused on key representatives with great influence in order to maximize their use of clan cultures and clan structures. By attracting or collaborating with key figures, both Labour and the Swedish Social Democrats expect that these major voter groups will heed the words of their clan leaders and imams. There is no other religion that is so profoundly characterized by clan structures as Islam.

For Jeremy Corbyn, this will now become difficult to manage. Mr. Corbyn has had a tough time keeping a clear distance to the most radical and violence-promoting Islamists. Sheikh Raed Salah is one of the imams that Mr. Corbyn has praised and also invited to the House of Commons.

Sheikh Raed Salah is known to blame Israel for the 9/11 attacks, promotes the idea of a global caliphate with Jerusalem as the capital and associates with known Holocaust deniers. Overall, Mr. Corbyn has a complicated relationship with violence-promoting ideologies. Although he was asked five times during one and the same interview with the BBC, Mr. Corbyn refused to condemn the IRA’s crimes.

The parallels between Jeremy Corbyn and the Swedish Social Democrats’ sub-organization Faith and Solidarity are striking. But they are far from the only ones. In the Stockholm chapter of the Social Democratic party’s relationship with IFIS, you will find the same type of unreserved, bordering on the naive, cooperation. The former chairman, Veronica Palm, was a welcomed guest at, among other things, the “Muslim Family Days”; recently proven to constitute a natural gathering place for hate preachers over the years. As late as in January of this year, the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism (SKMA) brought attention to another case when a hate preacher was invited to Sweden. This time, it was the Islamic Federation, which, in collaboration with Young Muslims of Sweden and the study association Ibn Rushd, had invited the homophobe and anti-Semite Zaghloul El-Naggar. The SKMA describes Mr. El-Naggar’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and statements in detail.

Today, Minister for Home Affairs Anders Ygeman is chairman of the Stockholm chapter of the Social Democrats. Whether Mr. Ygeman will change the policy direction is so far unknown. His own Social Democratic Youth League district, SSU Stockholm, is driving a clear separatist agenda in collaboration with Rashid Musa, chairman of Young Muslims of Sweden, which is likely to be difficult to change. But Islamic separatism and the hosting of hate preachers will probably not attract the votes of the important Swedish middle class.

If Mr. Ygeman chooses to leave the matter be, and it becomes known in the EU that he refuses to deal with the rather suspicious relationships that his local party district entertains and is involved in, it could become a problem for Sweden. And the terrorist attacks in Europe should reasonably have repercussions both in the Swedish government and on the seventh floor of Sveavägen 68, where the offices of the Social Democratic Executive Committee are located. So far, no one has been powerful enough to challenge Professor Bjereld, the chairman of the Faith and Solidarity sub-organization, but he should be held accountable and forced to answer to what relationships his organization maintains with Islamist and Jihadist environments. Professor Bjereld, through his commitment to Ship to Gaza, which also includes the extreme right-wing and Islamist organization IHH, would be unable to plausibly deny the existence of these relationships. When it comes to the IHH, phone surveillance in the late 1990s revealed its close ties to al-Qaeda, among others. As late as in 2012, there was evidence that the IHH funneled money to this terrorist organization.

In any case, this story is now bound to catch up with the Executive Committee, where Professor Bjereld and Mr. Ygeman are alternates, but above all because Mr. Ygeman has been named one of the most likely candidates to succeed current PM Stefan Löfven. Mr. Ygeman would be wise to clean up among these relationships well in advance.

However, even if Ms. May herself may not remind Mr. Corbyn of this, it cannot be guaranteed that others will follow her example. If Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister, there is every reason to be vigilant, especially given his background. 

With Mr. Corbyn and his fuzzy boundaries in relation to Islamists, terrorists and hate preachers at 10 Downing Street, maybe it is just as well for Britain to leave the EU.

Om författaren

Johan Westerholm
Johan Westerholm
Redaktör och ansvarig utgivare för Ledarsidorna.se. Fd underrättelseofficer med studier i politisk islam. Bott i Stockholm, Madrid, London och Boston men nu landat i Furusund.

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