Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has qualified his recent appearance at an event hosted by a controversial Muslim group, saying his being there in no way amounted to his support for the organisation.
Duncan-Smith, commonly known as ‘IDS,’ said he was told that the Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) meeting was to “help tackle racial and religious prejudices towards minority communities… about which I am passionate”.
However, in a comment posted to social media this week, he added that he now realised “there are genuine concerns that this organisation may not be the force for community cohesion as is claimed”.
In December 2016 Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Muslim hate crime reporting organisation Tell MAMA, told a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing that MEND had attacked his group for “being too Jew-friendly, for being the friends of Zionists, because our chair is Jewish, [and] for being in the pay of Mossad”.
MEND denied the accusations, accusing Mughal of making “defamatory and libellous allegations” while under the protection of parliamentary privilege, and defended itself by saying it works with Jewish groups such as the Board of Deputies.
However, the Board distanced itself, saying MEND’s approach “risks increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities, rather than building trust and empathy”.