Fury as Iran-linked IHRC stages Wembley event chaired by disgraced academic Miller

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Fury as Iran-linked IHRC stages Wembley event chaired by disgraced academic Miller

EXCLUSIVE: Board says Friday evening event, also featuring pro-Corbyn writer Asa Winstanley at the Islamic Human Rights Commission's HQ in north London, 'shows utter contempt for Jewish community'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Boycott Israel flag on display earlier this year in window of IHRC book shop and HQ in Preston Road, Wembley
Boycott Israel flag on display earlier this year in window of IHRC book shop and HQ in Preston Road, Wembley

A human rights organisation alleged to have close links with Iran is at the centre of renewed controversy over its staging of an event featuring the disgraced sociology professor David Miller and a writer criticised over antisemitism claims.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) confirmed to Jewish News that the event, promoting Asa Winstanley’s book Weaponising Antisemitism, was going ahead at the organisation’s bookshop and headquarters in Preston Road, Wembley, on Friday evening, despite renewed anger this week about inflammatory comments about Jewish people made by Miller on social media.

When the three staff members working inside the IHRC store were approached by Jewish News and asked about allegations of anti-Jewish racism made against Miller and Winstanley, they all proceeded to dismiss these concerns.

They also confirmed that Miller, who was sacked in 2021 by Bristol University following a string of complaints made against him by Jewish students, and Winstanley would both be present at the event in a downstairs room at the IHRC HQ.

The discussion is also being shown online on Facebook and YouTube.

Advert for Friday’s IHRC event with Miller and Winstanley

A male shop worker, who declined to disclose his name when asked, said:“Anyone who is offended by anti-racists is themselves a racist. This is a problem we always have to deal with as a human rights organisation.”

Asked about a tweet posted by Miller last week which claimed that “Jews are not discriminated against” and that they are “over-represented in Europe, North America and Latin America in positions of cultural, economic and political power”, the man working in the IHRC accepted that this was not something he would say.

But he was keen to reference Israel which he said was a “racist apartheid” state. He added: “Apartheid is one thing, saying stupid things on Twitter is another. There’s a big difference.”

Jewish News understands that concerns about the Miller-Winstanley event at the IHRC bookshop were raised at a recent meeting of Brent Council, which has come under increasing pressure to look into the activities of IHRC, which receives more than £1m in charity cash.

Miller, sacked in 2021 by Bristol University following a string of complaints made against him by Jewish students, and Winstanley will both be present at the event in a downstairs room at the IHRC HQ.

Asked to comment on the Miller-Winstanley event, the Board of Deputies told Jewish News: “The fact that the ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ is reportedly hosting an event with David Miller and Asa Winstanley in Wembley shows their utter contempt for the Jewish community.

“We hope local politicians in Brent will come together to make it clear that those who deny antisemitism or accuse Jews of ‘weaponising’ it should not be welcomed in the borough.”

One local resident who learned about Friday’s event emailed Jewish News saying:”The thought of having David Miller and Asa Winstanley spewing their filth makes me physically sick.”

Kosher deli located next door to the IHRC bookstore and HQ in Wembley

Phil Rosenberg, a deputy, who represents the Brent-based Brondesbury Park Synagogue, added:“The IHRC has a shameful track record in baiting the Jewish community.

“Inviting such appalling characters as David Miller and Asa Winstanley deepens the sense that the organisation has nothing to do with human rights or Islam, but that it is merely a sordid platform for those banished for bigotry elsewhere.”

Winstanley has repeatedly faced allegations of antisemitism and quit Labour ahead of an investigation into allegations against him after he described the Jewish Labour Movement as a “proxy for the Israeli Embassy”. His new book includes widely discredited claims that the “Israel lobby” was responsible for the downfall of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

The IHRC bookshop, which is next door to a kosher deli, was at the centre of further complaints in April after a flag bearing the slogan “Boycott Israel” and another saying “Free Palestine” were displayed in the front window, prompting complaints from local people.

Following interventions by Brent Council and local Labour MP Barry Gardiner the two flags were eventually removed.

But ahead of this week’s Miller-Winstanley event, the front window of the shop featured posters advertising the discussion and copies of the author’s book were displayed alongside other anti-Zionist text books. Three staff members in the shop insisted to Jewish News the IHRC did not engage in “political” activity but was purely a “campaigning human rights organisation”.

Jewish News asked the trio if the IHRC – which helps to stage the annual Al Quds Day rally in central London at which the flag of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah was displayed before the group was proscribed by the government – would ever campaign against allegations of human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.

Two women who worked in the shop both said: “We are not involved with Iran.” The male staffer then added: “There is nothing in our remit that says we don’t” [campaign against human rights abuses in Iran].

Asked if it would launch a campaign against the persecution of women in Iran seen in public not wearing the hijab, the man in the shop said: “As a Muslim I don’t think I need to answer that. I find that offensive. You are asking me as a Muslim. I have told you we don’t deal with Iran.”

Asked why he would not disclose his name, he said: “I don’t want to give you my name because I don’t trust you. You are asking me because I am a Muslim about what’s going on in Iran.”

2017 Al Quds Day parade in central London, backed by the IHRC

In 2019, The Times noted that 22 years after it was formed the IHRC offered no support to women’s rights activists and religious minorities in Iran. Amnesty International has labelled the country’s discriminatory laws against women “appalling”.

It alleged the IHRC had received more than £1m in charity cash despite being run by self-declared Islamist revolutionaries closely aligned to Iran who say that the West is “the enemy” and Britain a “Stasi state”.

Massoud Shadjareh, ex-chairman of the IHRC, spoke of Ayatollah Khomeini, the cleric who became Iran’s supreme leader after the 1979 revolution, as “a torch of light for the whole of mankind”. The IHRC’s wrath has also been directed at London mayor Sadiq Khan, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the European Court of Human Rights. Corbyn once said the group represent “all that’s best in Islam”.

In 2017, at the Al Quds Day parade in London, Nazim Ali, the then director of the IHRC was recorded blaming the Grenfell Fire tragedy on “Zionists.”

He also told the protesters: “We are fed up of the Zionists. We are fed up of their rabbis. We are fed of their synagogues. We are fed up of their supporters.”

Screaming into the microphone, Ali then guided the crowd in a chant of: “Judaism – yes. Zionism – no. The state of Israel must go.”

Asked to comment on the decision to proceed with the ‘author evening’, a spokesperson for the IHRC told Jewish News: “The event for Asa Winstanley’s book is going ahead.”

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