A helpline for Muslim youngsters has been suspended and its CEO has resigned amid a furious row over the apparent forwarding of confidential information to a police anti-terror unit.
Muslim Youth Helpline, which was established in 2004, has been put on ice by bosses after private emails were leaked onto a blog detailing the “disgusting” breach of confidentiality.
Muslim Youth Helpline volunteers say they are “shocked and disgusted” at the incident after details were posted on a blog called MYH Whistleblower and claim it came as part of a “personal vendetta” by the charity boss.
The charity’s former CEO, Akeela Ahmed had claimed those calling for her resignation were “racists”, “homophobes”, and “extremists”.
She allegedly worked with husband Nafeez Ahmed to contact officers in anti-extremism programme “Prevent” to further the complaint after initial attempts to involve police failed to gain traction.
In a private email to Chief Inspector James Spencer in Prevent, Nafeez wrote: “The police officers we have spoken to don’t appreciate the insidious dynamic of what is going on as an extremist attempt to, effectively, forcibly takeover one of this country’s leading progressive Muslim charities.”
The Chief inspector replied, “The fact that you have concerns with your knowledge and experience of these issues does make me genuinely concerned”, adding, “I have already contacted SO15 Counter Terrorism Command and provided details.”
Mr Ahmed, who heads think tank the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD) made no attempt to deny the veracity of the leaked emails, saying: “These emails are confidential and have been unlawfully leaked.”
A statement from 30 signatories involved with the Muslim Youth Helpline published on the MYH Whistleblower blog on Saturday 9th June stated that they were: “Deeply disappointed and dismayed that in today’s current climate of fear and Islamaphobia that these two individuals would go to such an extent.
They claimed there were: “Horrified and shocked”, at the suggestion they were involved in extremist activities, claimed there was no evidence to support her suggestion and claimed it stemmed from an office related dispute. The names of the signatories were not published on the blog.
Solicitors for Mrs Ahmed said in a statement: “As is clear from its content, the blog is founded on confidential information and correspondence, including the report of criminal activity to the police. They also claimed that the confidential information was “obtained illegally, by the hacking of our client’s personal email account.”
One of the staff members that signed the original statement of grievance and statement responding to the leaks, Nasir Sayed said, “I am shocked and disgusted that Akeela did this,” he said he only found out about the leaked emails when they were posted on the blog, “innocent people have been accused of extremism without a shred of evidence against them,” he added.
The board of the Muslim Youth Helpline issued a statement on their website declaring that they had “Taken the unprecedented step of suspending their service whilst they investigated the issues behind the “unlawful campaign”, referring to the allegations of the hacked emails.
Chief Inspector James Spencer declined to comment and the police have yet to make a comment on the incident.
The first Muslim organisation to break the silence on the issue has been the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis) in an open letter from the President, Nabil Ahmed. He said, regarding the handing over of details to the police, “shocking and cannot be justified,” he went forward to ask for an apology to be issued to those whose names had been handed over to the police.
Fosis outlined criticisms and suggested changes for the Muslim Youth Helpline. They condemned the close relationship with the police along with the police themselves, asked for the resignation of the board and support for those whose names were passed on to the anti-terrorism police.