British Respect Party MP George Galloway has announced the formation of the Respect Kashmir Convoy and the Respect Kashmir Solidarity Campaign. According to the announcement, the Respect Kashmir Convoy is not an actual aid or charitable convoy:
At a public meeting convened at 36 hours notice, George Galloway anounces to an audience of around 80 people, some of whom had travelled from Birmingham, the Respect Kashmir Convoy and the formation of the Respect Kashmir Solidarity Campaign. The Convoy is not an aid or charitable convoy but rather a Political Campaign which will leave the UK in autumn 2013 and arrive in in Sirinagar in Jammu & Kashmir some 2 / 3 weeks later.
The issue of Kashmir has been one of long-standing importance for the Jamaat e Islami (JEI) Pakistan which was founded in 1941 and is Pakistan’s oldest religious party. The party had its origins in the thought of Maulana Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi (1903-79), the most important Islamist intellectual in the history of Southeast Asia. Maududi was also a major influence on the global Muslim Brotherhood with whom the JEI has long enjoyed close relations. A previous post discussed a 3-day Islamic conference held in late October 2008 in Lahore that brought together leaders of the JEI with leaders in the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Kashmir issue has also been a topic for the Global Muslim Brotherhood:
- In July 2012, a post reported that Global Muslim Brotherhood figure Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director of Kashmiri American Council and imprisoned for violation of federal tax laws said that during his incarceration he will continue his work for the cause of Kashmir.
- In May 2009, a post reported that the terrorist group known as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had thanked global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi for declaring that Kashmiris were fighting a “Jihad” against the Indian Army.
- In June 2011, a post reported that Jamaat e Islami (JEI) Pakistan and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood had announced that they would “join hands to solve issues faced by Muslims all over the world and to promote the true image of Islam.” Kashmir was one of the subjects discussed at the meeting.
George Galloway has been a long-time supporter of Palestinian causes and a previous post discussed his role in Viva Palestina, a UK registered charity associated which had been under investigation by U.K. authorities. The organization has organized several convoys of humanitarian aid to Gaza including the first convoy where Galloway was reported to have handed cash and three cars to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah and the second convoy where Galloway met again with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah. Previous posts have discussed Galloway’s trips to the U.S. in conjunction with the convoys including a trip in March 2009 where he participated in a Northern Virginia fund-raising event in which Muslim American Society leader Mahdi Bray was also scheduled to appear. The Investigative Project has published a report titled “No Honor Among Thieves: Infighting Dooms New Hamas Convoy” which covers the criticism of George Galloway and his aides by participants in the latest Viva Palestina convoy.
Galloway had originally been a far-left British M.P. who was expelled from the Labor Party over incendiary comments made at time of the 2003 Iraq War. He subsequently formed the Respect Coalition which prior to a 2007 split included the Socialist Workers Party and members of the Muslim Association of Britain and Muslim Council of Britain, essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. The Respect coalition was the sponsor of the February 2003 anti-Iraq war demonstration in London, reported by police to have been the largest demonstration ever held in the U.K. A previous post discussed the 2007 falling out between Galloway and the Socialist Workers Party and the speculation that the difficulties stemmed from Galloway’s desire to focus more on developing a Muslim constituency. At that time, Galloway launched a new movement called Respect Renewal which helped to elect Mr Galloway as a Respect MP. As discussed in a post from May 2007, Mr. Galloway lost his seat in the House of Commons, the only seat held by the Respect Party. However, he was recently re-elected and U.K. Daily Telegraph writer Andrew Gilligan has posted an article titled which analyzes Galloway’s victory and his appeals to Islam during the campaign. In June, Galloway alleged that the Syrian opposition were “servants of the Crusader powers.”
Kashmiri media is reporting that the JEI in Kashmir may be backing down on support for jihad suggesting one possible reason for a the new found interest in Kashmir.