Giving scheme faces claims of funding extremism

Online shopping

An investigation has been launched amid claims that Amazon shoppers have been able to support groups accused of extremism

8th October 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

An internet giant has been accused of relaying cash to a charities that support extremists.

Two groups linked to a preacher accused of carrying extremist views by the UK government’s counter extremism commissioner Sara Khan are listed as part of 6,000 organisations that Amazon shoppers can choose to benefit from their online purchases through the Amazon Smile programme.

The retailer allows users to select a good cause that it then donates 0.5% worth of any purchases made to.

At least two of the charities listed by Amazon as eligible for donations were backed by Haitham al-Haddad, a controversial imam who has been classed as an Islamist preacher by the UK government. The charities are the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF), and Helping Households Under Great Stress (HHUGS).

Al-Haddad is an Islamic scholar who advocates hardline orthodox beliefs, such as homosexuality being a sin, that men should not be questioned for beating their wives, and that the punishment for adultery should be stoning. He has said that he is against Isis and other extremist groups.

Khan told The Times, "Haitham al-Haddad's views are misogynistic, racist and homophobic. They promote a supremacist us versus them world view that wrongly makes Muslims feel that they can't be fully British."

Amazon said that it is investigating the allegations made by The Times but that it relies on information from the charity regulator.

A spokesman said: "We rely on the Charity Commission, the official charity regulator in England and Wales, to determine which organisations are eligible to participate. If a charity no longer has charitable status because that organisation supports, encourages or promotes intolerance or discrimination and has been removed from the commission’s register, we will remove them from the service.

“The organisations in question are approved by the Charity Commission, however, due to the serious nature of these concerns, we have referred these allegations to the commission and will be conducting a full review to ensure they do not violate our policies.”

A spokesman for Dr Haddad told the Daily Mail it would be inaccurate to portray him as an extremist hate preacher. His words, the spokesman said, had been taken out of context.