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A watchdog has stated that charities should not allow themselves to be platforms for “hate speech”. They have expressed concerns about reported incidents of antisemitism and other forms of hate during the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The Charity Commission promised to take firm action against individuals who purposefully or carelessly misuse charities in England and Wales. They also cautioned that they will not tolerate hate speech being spread through physical locations, events, or online platforms associated with charities.
In an article published in the Sunday Telegraph, Orlando Fraser KC, the chair of the watchdog, commended the numerous charities in the UK for their heightened efforts in “fostering unity and fighting against extremism” amidst a rise in incidents of hate crimes targeting Jews and Muslims.
However, he cautioned that “a small number of individuals may misuse their positions of privilege to incite division and conflict, potentially undermining these positive efforts.”
Mr. Fraser stated that the watchdog has received numerous reports of serious concerns regarding actions connected to the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
He stated that these charities, which represent a variety of religious groups, have mostly dealt with accusations of antisemitic or hateful language. It is important for charities to ensure that their physical spaces, events, and online platforms do not promote hate speech towards any community or illegal extremism.
The Charity Commission will not tolerate charities being mistreated. If any wrongdoing is found, we will handle it firmly.
Several weeks after the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, sent a letter to the Charity Commission cautioning about the potential harm of charities promoting extremist ideologies, this statement was released.
The government has issued a warning to promote a complete rejection of any hate speech at universities and in the health service. This came amidst heightened tensions caused by Hamas’s attack on Gaza on October 7th, leading to Israel’s retaliation with airstrikes and invasion of the strip.
Mr Fraser referenced a past incident where an Islamic center reportedly held a ceremony for the slain Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in 2020, and another organization connected to far-right extremism, while emphasizing that the regulatory body has taken action in response to similar concerns in the past.
He stated that we respond with equal force to any type of hateful language or extremism, regardless of the community it arises from or is directed towards.
During times of increased tension, the public looks to charities to take the lead in promoting unity. This does not mean that charities should avoid discussing sensitive or controversial topics – they are permitted to advocate for causes that align with their charitable goals.
I understand that it is their duty to act with respect, tolerance, and consideration for others. It is important for them to refrain from using inflammatory language which can cause division and damage trust in their field.