Amazon Draws Fire for ‘Wildly Irresponsible’ Scheme Supporting Islamic Extremists

Amazon has enabled customers to donate to a hard-line Islamist charity whose founder supports child marriage, female genital mutilation and believes men should be allowed to hit their wives, an investigation by The Times of London has found.

According to the newspaper, the company agreed to host the Muslim Research and Development Fund (MRDF) as part of its charitable scheme Amazon Smile, which launched in the U.K. last November.

The program allows Amazon customers to donate 0.5 percent of the money they have spent on a product using the online store to a charity of their choice.

The Times revealed that MRDF is one of 6,000 charities to have joined the Amazon Smile program despite its founder Haitham al-Haddad’s extremist views.

These include describing homosexuality as a “crime against humanity,” stating that all Western women should wear the niqab and calling Christians and Jews the “enemies of Allah,” as well as warning Muslims not to integrate, according to a report by the neoconservative foreign policy think tank Henry Jackson Society.

Haddad, originally from Saudi Arabia, has also been described as the “one of the most dangerous men in Britain” by the head of the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremism think tank. Sara Khan, who leads the U.K.-based Commission for Countering Terrorism, described MRDF as “the main Salafist organization in the UK.”

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

GettyImages-139132890 British Islamic scholar Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad arrives at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to take part in a debate about Islam, at De Balie, a center for politics, culture and media, in Amsterdam, on February 17, 2012. Amazon gives charitable support to Haddad’s charity despite his backing child marriage and female genital mutilation. MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images

According to The Times, al-Haddad said “the younger the better” with regard to teenage girls getting married. “It’s not necessarily a problem, biologically, if a girl of 12 or 13 becomes pregnant,” he added.

He also believed “a man should not be questioned why he hit his wife,” and has stated, "Men should toil outside the house. Women should be devoted wives and mothers."

In the wake of the catastrophic 2011 tsunami in Japan, Haddad said Allah allowed thousands to die to “punish the Japanese for their refusal to submit to him.”

Haddad also declared his support for stoning as a punishment for adultery and mandatory capital punishment for apostasy.

The Henry Jackson report “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: How Islamist Extremists Exploit the U.K. Charitable Sector,” states Haddad does not call for a violent creation of an Islamic state and has spoken out against terrorist attacks in the past.

“In other words, he has condemned the use of violence and terrorism, but advocates establishing political Islam through the existing political process," the report says.

In a statement, Amazon said they relied on the official charity regulator, The Charity Commission for England and Wales, to determine which organizations would be allowed to take part in Amazon Smile.

“If a charity no longer has charitable status because that organization supports, encourages or promotes intolerance or discrimination and has been removed from the Commission's register, we will remove them from the service,” a spokesperson told Newsweek.

“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.”

Amazon has not said how much money MRDF received through their charity scheme, but it is believed that the total figure is likely to be small.

Emma Webb, a research fellow with Henry Jackson Society’s Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism, criticized Amazon for “channelling ordinary shoppers’ money into the hands of intolerant extremists” by supporting MRDF with the scheme. “That’s wildly irresponsible. It’s giving charities like MRDF a veneer of respectability they don’t deserve.”

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