Islamic group urges sobriety – and holds shares in bar chain

Islamic Human Rights Commission lists investment in the Baa Bar Group

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An Islamic organisation that has argued sobriety is an “obligation on Muslims” and a “revolutionary duty” holds shares in a bar chain offering £1 “shooters’” and £3 cocktails.

Accounts filed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s charitable trust in 2009 listed an investment in the Baa Bar Group, a Liverpool-based company with eight locations across the North of England, then worth £38,250. The shares were also listed in the accounts for the year ending 30 June 2012. Baa Bar Group's website encourages customers to “follow their own deepest of animal instincts”.

The message couldn’t be more different from the IHRC’s own publications. Among these is Quest For Unity by Imam Achmad Cassiem. The report says: “The greatest underminer and saboteur of discipline and confidence is alcohol and so-called social drinking.” It goes on to claim that the “oppressor” is “making enormous profits from liquor” and urges Muslims to refrain from producing, distributing and consuming alcohol.

Baa Bar’s website, in contrast, urges potential visitors to “unleash your inner animal” and boasts that its inexpensive shooter drinks contain “e numbers, additives and plenty of alcohol”.

Jacob Campbell, research director for Stand for Peace, an interfaith organisation, said: “Although bizarre on the face of it, it actually isn’t all that surprising. Better by far to become morally bankrupt than financially so.”

a spokesman for the IHRC told The Independent: "The shares were a donation and we did not know that they were alcohol-related. Once we realised that they were, we sought advice from Imams as to how to dispose of them appropriately.

"On the basis of this advice we planned to donate them to a charity for recovering alcoholics. However the company was then delisted from the stock exchange, greatly reducing the value of the shares. In order to ensure that the recipient charity benefits as much as possible, we have for the time being retained the shares and plan to donate them as soon as they achieve an appropriate value.

"IHRC has not and will not benefit or profit from the donation."

The Baa Bar Group declined to comment, but its financial statements to April 2012 said it shares the Government’s commitment to tackling irresponsible drinking. Its accounts show a profit of £1.5m on a turnover of £10.3m.