UK

Muslim Charity Website Hosted Articles Calling For Gays To Be 'Destroyed By Fire'

20/07/2015 17:36 BST | Updated 20/07/2015 17:59 BST

A website for an Islamic charity hosted articles calling for homosexuals to be "destroyed by fire" and encouraged the killing of other Muslims, an investigation has found.

The Islamic Network featured material that "encouraged violence and denigrated particular faiths", the Charities Commission said Monday, after releasing its findings into an almost year long investigation.

It said two articles on the website "legitimised the killing of gay people and encouraged the killing of Muslims in certain circumstances".

islamic network

The Islamic Network website hosted articles calling the gay people to be "destroyed by fire"

The articles were titled, "The prohibition of the blood of a Muslim and the reasons for shedding it" and "Homosexuality". They were uploaded to the website on or around 3 November 2003 and 5 November 2004, the commission found.

The first article, the commission said, made reference to the "circumstances when under an interpretation of Islamic law it is permissible to spill the blood of a Muslim”.

The article said: "To all those who apostate from Islaam, by whichever method this may occur… it then becomes obligatory on the Muslims to kill him unless he returns to Islaam.”

The commission said the article went on to discuss other circumstances where it may be permissible to kill. It read: “A Muslim can be killed legally only for three crimes: a) adultery b) murder and c) apostasy.”

The article on homosexuality, the commission said, stated that it was a “perverted sexual behaviour”, a “sick disease” and an “evil and filthy practice” which is “even viler and uglier than adultery”.

It said gay people should be “destroyed by fire”, “executed by being thrown from a great height” and “stoned to death”.

The commission launched an investigation into the charity, which existed for "the advancement of the Islamic religion", in August 2014 after being made aware of "public concerns" about material hosted on its website, islaam.net, which no longer exists.

The commission said the website was created in March 1998 before the charity was registered, but the group later inherited it through links with one of its trustees.

It said that although the website was no longer publicly accessible, the historical content was still viewable by using internet archive websites.

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The commission said that the charities trustees had informed them that as soon as they were aware of the offensive articles "they acted immediately" to take them down.

At that time, the commission said, the charity released a statement, an extract of which, read: “Shortly after joining Islamic Network, in 2013, the chair, introduced clear and unequivocal policies against Extremism and Hate covering all activities. Since then we have been sifting through website articles uploaded by volunteers and removing those that we consider fall foul of this policy.”

However, the commission said it established that "material was freely uploaded to the charity’s website and there was no mechanism in place by the trustees to vet the content before publication".

The commission said it was further advised from 2013 that each article was reviewed in full before publication on the website and that any material that did not reflect the "views of the charity" was removed.

However, the inquiry "was not convinced by this response and no evidence was produced by the trustees in support of their claim".

The commission noted however, that none of the charities current trustees held their positions when it formed in January 2004, or when the articles were posted on to the website. And the trustees had acted quickly to take the offending articles offline when made aware of them.

But, the commission said "more should have been done" by the trustees to monitor its website to "ensure its content was appropriate".

The commission said: "The current trustees (despite their action in removing the charity’s website) were too slow in implementing their new policies designed to ensure extremism and hate material is not promoted."

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, at the commission said: “Trustees carry ultimate responsibility for the operation and activities of charity, including for the content of their charity’s website and social media.

"Trustees are responsible for putting in place appropriate systems of control, to ensure that material posted on their charity’s website is suitable and appropriate for a charity."

The commission said they were told that the website "will not be re-activated and will no longer have any connection with the charity or its work". Last month the charity however, launched a new website, the purpose of which, the commission report said, was to "promote the charity’s projects and to provide information to those wishing to support the work of the charity".

The charity could not be reached for comment.