NHS Muslim imam in ‘propaganda’ storm after pro-Taliban interview

Suliman Gani

An NHS Muslim chaplain filmed praising the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan has risked becoming a 'propaganda tool', experts have claimed

RTA World
Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 09/08/2023

- 18:14

Suliman Gani said he was ‘very impressed’ with the Taliban’s rule

An NHS Muslim chaplain filmed praising the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan has risked becoming a “propaganda tool”, experts have claimed.

In an interview with the Taliban’s state-owned TV channel RTA, Suliman Gani, an imam from South London who works at the St George’s hospital in Tooting, said that he was “very impressed” by the Taliban government.

Gani’s visit to Afghanistan, which involved meetings with Taliban ministers, was exposed by this broadcaster last week.

A statement from the Taliban’s Supreme Court claimed that the delegation of imams - who travelled with charity Human Aid & Advocacy - praised the new government in Afghanistan as a “role model” as a “Shariah-based system.”

Haitham Al-Haddad

Haitham Al-Haddad said that Taliban ministers were 'very soft' and 'very gentle'

RTA World

The statement added that the British delegation “expressed that British Muslims are very happy with the rule of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and pray for its survival.”

Gani and other members of the delegation did not distance themselves from the comments when questioned by this broadcaster.

But GB News can now reveal a range of positive comments about the Taliban’s government made directly by members of the delegation.

Al-Gani told the host of a “special interview” on state TV that it was his second visit to the war-torn country, describing the experience as “very special.”

He continued: “Afghanistan now is prospering in the sense that there is peace … I think this is the most critical point for the people living in Afghanistan.”

Gani compared the “mercy” of the Taliban after they defeated the previous government to the prophet Mohammed, adding: “The most important is to safeguard and protect our Deen [an Islamic term for the Muslim compliance with divine law], our way of life, our Iman, and I think Afghanistan is now another unique opportunity."

The imam, whose NHS trust serves over 3 million people, said: “Now that there is a new government in place, I think … what we have witnessed, the different ministers, the organisation, the experience, the mistakes that they had learned from previously. I think many of those have been addressed and now we see things are in the right direction.

“So for me I found it very organised, I am very impressed.”

Another member of the delegation called on Western countries to end their sanctions on the Taliban government.

Controversial cleric Haitham Al-Haddad said: “We have a message to the entire world: That, first of all, they need to engage more with the authorities of Afghanistan and the Afghani people. So engagement is so important. The second point is to end these economic sanctions, really that has to come to an end.”

Earlier in the programme, Al-Haddad said that Taliban ministers were “very soft” and “very gentle.”

He added: “I really congratulate the Afghan people for having such authorities [the Taliban].”

Al-Haddad went on to say that “you cannot separate” between the Afghan people and the authorities.

His comments come as resistance from Afghans against the authorities continues to rage on in pockets throughout the country.

Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank, told GB News: “The Taliban are an entirely despicable organisation whose heavily chronicled human rights and gender abuses speak for themselves.

"Anyone who might have offered views on contemporary Afghanistan should speak to the victims of Taliban policy rather than its instigators, else they risk becoming propaganda tools in support of a regime entirely antithetical to British values.”

Nooralhaq Nasimi MBE, a former Afghan refugee who fled Taliban rule in 1999 and claimed asylum in Britain, told GB News: “Following the recent visit of Tobias Ellwood MP to Afghanistan, we knew it would improve the confidence of others to engage with the Taliban.

Suliman Gani was photographed alongside the Taliban’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi

"The visit of an NHS chaplain is not the only case. We also are aware of a UK Imam travelling to Afghanistan recently to meet with the Taliban.”

He added: “My worry is about the British reputation as a whole, a country that always was the champion of democracy in the world.

“Now, some of its citizens, through their visits to Afghanistan, may cause long-term damage to British values.”

Tory MP and chair of the Commons Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood drew criticism last month when he praised the “game-changing” rule of the Taliban after a visit to Afghanistan.

An article in the Spectator by Afghanistan expert David Loyn described Ellwood as the Taliban’s “useful idiot.”

The delegation of British imams referred positively to Ellwood’s visit in their interview with the Afghan state television network.

A senior source within St George's hospital said: "Good grief. This is quite amazing when you consider that he works for the UK government and is paid by the taxpayer."

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, added: "How does the Taliban treatment of homosexuals tally with the Trust's LGBTQ+ policy and statements?"

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust Foundation was contacted for comment.

Gani and Al-Haddad were contacted for comment.

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