Charity Commission examines claims that Islamic website contained homophobic content

The Islamic Network says it inherited the website Islaam.net and took down the content as soon as it was made aware of that it was there

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission is urgently assessing concerns about alleged offensive content on the website of an Islamic charity.

The London-based Islamic Network, which has the advancement of the Islamic religion as its object, registered with the commission in 2004 and had an income of £79,034 in 2012.

A spokesman for the IN said that the organisation had "inherited" the website Islaam.net, which was created in 1998 and is currently not available.

Concerns about some articles on this website were reported to the commission. Since-removed news stories by the BBC and The Daily Telegraph, along with other media outlets, said that the website had homophobic content.

The spokesman for the charity said those articles predated IN’s ownership of the website. He said: "The comments being attributed to IN are in fact edits from four articles posted on the site more than 10 years ago. The IN emphatically refutes any allegation that it promotes or advocates hate of any community or individuals."

He said that the charity had started to sift through all 2,000 articles on the inherited website in 2013, after it appointed a new chair, Shahid Sardar, but that this had been a slow process because it was run solely by volunteers.

"It appears that these articles had not yet been reviewed and removed, but they were removed as soon as we were made aware of them because they clearly do not represent our views," he said. He apologised for any offence or alarm caused and said Sardar had ordered an independent inquiry into the matter.

Sardar was also suspended from his job as head of patient engagement at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust over the issue, a spokeswoman for the trust confirmed. "We have alerted police and are also conducting our own investigation," she said. "While this is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "Following the concerns raised with us about some of the content on the website of the registered charity Islamic Network, we are urgently assessing the risks to the charity and determining our next steps. While our assessment is being carried out there is nothing more we can say at this stage."

The IN spokesman also said: "Unfortunately, it has become common practice for parts of the media, and some journalists, to conduct witch hunts against Muslims and their charities, without establishing the facts and using selective quotes as evidence of hate. They then use such information against individuals with their employers, attempting to ruin their professional careers."

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