Tell MAMA’s Fiyaz Mughal calls for funds to tackle Muslim anti-Semitism in the UK

Calls mount after four people were taken hostage at a Texas synagogue by a British Muslim

Experts are calling for funding to combat Muslim anti-Semitism after British Muslim Malik Faisal Akram, pictured, took four people hostage at gunpoint in Texas.  AP
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Tell MAMA founder Fiyaz Mughal is calling for investment to tackle Muslim anti-Semitism after a British man took four people hostage in a Texas synagogue.

Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead in the armed siege at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville in Dallas in January. He had demanded the release of a female Al Qaeda terrorist.

From Blackburn in northern England, Akram was a British Muslim who had travelled to the US to commit the hostage taking.

Speaking at a webinar held by think tank the Henry Jackson Society on Muslim anti-Semitism after the Texas incident, Mr Mugbal questioned why the UK government has never funded investment into tackling the issue.

“There is a huge dauntingly obvious weakness within this area of work, that nobody, not a single government pot has funded work into Muslim anti-Semitism,” said the founder of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) — a national project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the UK.

“We start there. Why is this the case when we have multiple terror attack after multiple terror attack, that we have never had investment in this kind of work, it's bizarre.

“We have no funding, no joined-up thinking. I'm fed up to the back teeth about this sense of let's not touch this area when so many of our citizens have been affected by Muslim anti-Semitism.”

Mr Mughal, who also founded Faith Matters, is calling for education on Muslim anti-Semitism and for programmes to be built to address it.

His calls were supported by Elizabeth Arif-Fear, founder of human rights group the Voice of Salam, who said UK Muslims need to admit there is a problem.

“We know anti-Semitism is a problem in Muslim communities,” she said.

“It is not something we talk about enough. First and foremost we need to call it out for what it is, anti-Semitism on the rise, we know we have this problem in the Muslim community and we need to denounce it for what it is.

“We need to admit we have a problem and then when we do that we can start to build trust with others and start to look at building better relations with the Jewish community. Honesty, first and foremost. and better education, education of Jewish history.

“The trust needs to be there, and first that comes by admitting we have a problem and educating ourselves.”

British and US authorities are continuing to investigate the Texas incident.

The UK security services have come under pressure over how gunman Akram was able to enter the US after it was revealed MI5 had investigated him and he had a string of criminal convictions dating back more than two decades.

He had previously been labelled a “menace” after telling judicial officials he wished they had died on an Al Qaeda-hijacked plane on September 12, 2001, and had a history of extremism.

US President Joe Biden called the attack a terrorist act.

UK charity the Community Security Trust (CST), which offers safety and security advice to Jews and Jewish organisations, has reported a surge in anti-Semitism in Britain in the past year.

Last year four men, also from Blackburn, reportedly travelled to north London, which has a high density of Jewish residents, and shouted anti-Semitic abuse from their car.

Updated: February 23, 2022, 3:42 PM