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UK's next anti-Muslim hatred adviser quit over extremist threats

Far-right and Islamist threats made the man set to be the UK's next anti-Muslim hatred adviser withdraw before being appointed.

Fiyaz Mughal, founder and director of Faith Matters, said he was set to be appointed by Communities Secretary Michael Gove as a liaison to help the government tackle Islamophobia.

It was first reported by GB News on Friday that he would take on the role, which Mr Mughal claimed was leaked by a member of the government.

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However, he told Sky News that he withdrew after receiving "extreme threats" in his personal emails and "racialised hatred" from far-right groups. He also said Islamist groups started a "malicious, targeted campaign against me".

After stepping down, Mr Mughal said: "This is the state of our country, sadly, that people who try to do what is right for our country - to bring communities together, to tackle extremism - are being hounded out of government."

He also questioned the government's approach to Islamophobia, asking "how seriously are you actually taking anti-Muslim hatred?"

The campaigner said he was offered to be a liaison with British Muslim communities two days a month with a "£1,000 payment - I can get that doing other work - with me getting no security protection, no support and being left out there on my own devices".

He added: "Enough is enough. I stepped away because it is traumatising to me... I'm a working man.

"Actually it is enough that after 20 years I just can't accept any more abuse. It is traumatising my mental health."

While Mr Mughal said the government "has done an amazing amount of work" in tackling Muslim hatred, he said it "has not put resources behind its mouth, that is the difference".

The Faith Matters boss added: "I am in a different environment where I need to look after my security, and [the] government doesn't acknowledge that."

It comes as the government prepares to publish a revised definition of extremist groups after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hit out at "forces here at home trying to tear us apart".

Mr Gove told The Sunday Telegraph that a revised definition of extremist groups would receive "more specificity" and enable the government and others to ban funding and engagement with Islamist and far-right groups.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins failed to name which groups or individuals would fall under the revised definition when she was interviewed on Sky News' Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips.

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'Been in power for 14 years'

When asked about the changes to the definition of extremism, Mr Mughal said: "I welcome wholly this initiative government has taken.

"They've been in power for 14 years. They may be out of power in seven months. It is at the tail end of a government, been in power for 14 years. Where have they been on this agenda for 14 years?"

Imam Qari Asim was the last person to hold the post of independent Islamophobia adviser to the government. He was removed from the post in 2022 after calling for a film to be banned.