Home Society & Culture Islamic Charity Under Scrutiny for Misogynistic Comments and Anti-Semitic Video

Islamic Charity Under Scrutiny for Misogynistic Comments and Anti-Semitic Video

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A storm of controversy has engulfed the One True Message Foundation (OTMF), a recently registered Islamic charity based in Feltham, West London, after a series of contentious videos and comments by its trustees sparked widespread condemnation and calls for its charitable status to be reviewed.

The charity, which registered earlier this year under the charitable purpose of “the advancement of religion”, is now facing intense scrutiny following a video in which Faisel Qarni, a trustee and prominent figure within the organisation, compared women who do not wear the hijab to “unwrapped sweets”. This analogy was used during a street talk where Qarni attempted to highlight the “purity” of women who wear the hijab versus those who do not.

He stated: “I have two sweets, yeah. One, I open the wrapper and throw it on the floor, yeah, and I tread on it a little bit. The other one I leave in the wrapper, and I throw it on the floor, and I tread on it. One’s in the wrapper; one’s not. I pick both of them up and I say, ‘Take one.’ Which one are you going to choose?  Case closed.”

Critics have labelled these statements, along with a narrative that a woman wearing a hijab was less likely to experience harassment, as “deeply misogynistic”, arguing that such viewpoints support harmful stereotypes about women and contribute to victim-blaming. Following backlash, the video was removed from public platforms like YouTube, where it was marked as “private”.

The OTMF’s activities have attracted attention not only from the public but also from organisations like the National Secular Society (NSS), which has urged the Charity Commission to revoke the charity’s status.

Alejandro Sanchez, an NSS campaigns officer, expressed concerns,: “This deeply misogynistic video suggests women who do not wear the hijab are somehow sullied as they go about public life. The law as currently implemented is allowing charities registered under ‘the advancement of religion’ to spread misogyny with impunity,” as reported by The Telegraph.

Further controversies surround another video, titled “Zionist Jew Schooled”, which features Qarni engaging in a heated discussion with a young Jewish student about the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Many people have interpreted the video’s title and content as being anti-Semitic. It was also made private following inquiries from the media.

In the video, Qarni is seen wearing an OTMF jacket, discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and suggesting that the Jewish student needed education about the “realities” of the Israeli regime. The charity later defended this video, stating that it ended on a positive note with both parties shaking hands and denying any anti-Semitic intent.

Amid these incidents, the OTMF also released an interview with Sheikh Abu Usamah, a controversial cleric known for his extremist views. In the interview, Usamah described the conflict in Gaza as a “genocidal campaign by the evil Zionists” and voiced support for Hamas, despite previous criticisms of the group. He claimed his stance changed as he became more informed about the situation.

Critics like Maryam Namazie, a spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All, have called on the Charities Commission and the government to prioritise the rights of minoritized women and girls over the enabling of religious fundamentalists.

Namazie argues: “An OTMF video says if women dressed ‘modestly’, they wouldn’t be raped or sexually assaulted. This is exactly why modesty culture is an extension of rape culture. It always blames the victim, never the perpetrator.”

The Charity Commission has responded to these concerns, stating that it takes robust action when charities become forums for hate speech and unlawful extremism. But the commission has not yet announced any formal action against OTMF. Orlando Fraser, chairman of the commission, emphasised the importance of demonstrating public benefit as a criterion for maintaining charitable status.

As the controversy unfolds, the broader implications for how charities are regulated to promote religious values while respecting universal rights remain a significant topic of discussion among policymakers, activists, and the public.

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