Following on from my recent post with regards to my personal feelings on Anjem Choudary and Muslims Against Crusades, I’m going to address the fallacy that ‘moderate Muslims’ don’t speak out against them. As I have stated previously, the media outlets that are happy to give a platform to Choudary for the sake of generating controversy and publicity, never give voice to the Muslim majority who are utterly frustrated at the continued antics of ‘Andy’ and the legitimacy the media provide him with. It’s also unsurprising that the type of people who seem so paranoid and distrustful of British Muslims and make this false claim, don’t appear to be quite concerned enough to investigate the possibility that they might be wrong. If it isn’t spoon fed to them via right wing tabloids or ‘counter jihad’ blogs it simply doesn’t happen. In this respect the media, even the supposedly balanced BBC, are acting irresponsibly and guilty of letting down the UK Muslim community. Whether they feel that they actually have a responsibility to act objectively, or even care about the Muslim community is an entirely different matter. So let’s hear from some of these silent moderates.
Whenever you read something negative about Muslims in the press, it is often followed by someone saying: “Where are all the moderate Muslims? Where are all the Muslims who are against terrorism, against extremism … why aren’t we hearing from them?”
The reality is that Muslims have been working against the extremists in the their community way before 7/7 or even 9/11. Documentary maker Masood Khan explains why he was inspired to make Muslim Resistance, a series of films examining British Muslims’ efforts to combat extremism. It is the reason why the likes of Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri, the now exiled leader of al-Muhijiroun, were shunned by the Muslims up and down the country way before they became the known faces of Islamic extremism. It is also why their followers number in the hundreds rather than in the hundred of thousands. But nobody talks or writes about that. - Hotter Than a Pile of Curry – Luton Muslims Kicking Out Al-Muhajiroun, 21/01/11
The film by Masood Khan mentioned above follows Abdul Rahman as he organises anti-extremist events to counter the al-Muhajiroun. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this is the fact that Rahman and the other Muslims who have taken it upon themselves to hound al-Muhajiroun out of Luton are Salafis. Salafis themselves are viewed by other Muslims and non-Muslims as extremists. So it is therefore quite telling that even they consider al-Muhajiroun to be radical.
Rahman: “It’s very hard for the layman, or even the Muslim to differentiate between us as Salafis…and those al-Muhajiroun who are basically from the more takfiri, the jihadi type of methodology, mashallah. So I felt personally that now that we can’t make that distinction, I thought that it was upon us, upon the Salafis to gather together, inshallah, to call to the masses, to clarify to them the differences between us and the al-Muhajiroun. And not even the Muslims, but even the non-Muslims. Because they have a right, in this country, to know what is Islam and what is not Islam.”
On being asked whether he as a Salafi was considered to be an extremist, Rahman was candid in is response.
“Yeah, non-Muslims… you know it’s the natural order of things, if you don’t follow, if you don’t how can I say, adhere to what they believe, what they think, then they’re gonna deem what you do as extremism. But going back to the word moderate Muslim, when a non-Muslim uses this, you can define it as a word that basically means someone who doesn’t do things which annoys him. You understand? Because the reality now is that al-Muhajiroun are extremist, but why now that we’re speaking out against them are we considered moderate Muslims? Because I still believe in the death sentence, I still believe that homosexuality is incorrect, morally. I still believe that the hand should be removed for the one who steals. So am I a moderate Muslim really, really? Why are you calling me a moderate Muslim now? Is that just temporary? Until what? Until we do your dirty work for you? And remove the evil of al-Muhajiroun, and then you’re gonna what, go back to calling us extremist, fundamentalist Muslims? Again it’s all subjective you know, it’s just wordplay in my opinion you know.”
Muslim communities around the country have shunned al-Muhajiroun and its various entities for years and refused to give them a platform. Instead, they have to work through front organisations, hire private halls, set up high-street stalls or leaflet people with their poisonous little tracts. They are utterly marginal but are still able to generate huge coverage through provocation. Their recent barracking of British troops returning from Iraq and a counter mini-riot in Luton has poisoned relations in the town. The Muslim community of Luton, which had already chased them out of the mosques, has taken to chasing them off the streets too in a desperate bid to signal their utter disgust and consternation. – Yahya Birt - How not to deal with al-Muhajiroun, 18/06/09
Our sensationalist and irresponsible media has, in fact, been deeply complicit in the rise and rise of this fanatic, devoting quite disproportionate and counter-productive coverage to his various rantings. Is Choudary an Islamic scholar whose views merit attention or consideration? No. Has he studied under leading Islamic scholars? Nope. Does he have any Islamic qualifications or credentials? None whatsoever. So what gives him the right to pontificate on Islam, British Muslims or “the hellfire”? Or proclaim himself a “sharia judge”? Will he even manage to round up enough misfits to carry the 500 coffins with him? I doubt it – Choudary and co couldn’t even persuade enough people to join a “march for sharia” that they had proudly planned to hold in central London in late October, and, at the very last minute, had to humiliatingly withdraw from their own rally. Pathetic, eh? – Mehdi Hasan – Please Don’t Listen to Anjem Choudary, Guardian, 04/01/10
Since the 1990s, other hatemongers such as Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza received wildly disproportionate media coverage – attention in which they revelled, pantomime villains in a very un-Islamic, self-indulgent “celebrity culture.” Simmering anger amongst British Muslims at the antics of such extremists climaxed in late 2001 when Bakri’s planned appearance on the Kilroy show was cancelled after a deluge of complaints. Over the last few years, Muslims have breathed a collective sigh of relief as most fanatics have been deported or imprisoned on terrorism charges. But the pantomime has begun again.
Choudary is less demagogic mastermind, and more ideological instigator. Last month, 1500 people attended a community event called 6 Billion Ways in London. That afternoon, Choudary and about 50 of his followers marched in protest outside the venue along Bethnal Green Road. Since a number of the participants at the event were Muslim, Choudary and his followers seemed to be arguing that Muslims should not work with socialists, environmentalists, and other activists. Choudary and his backers were outnumbered 30-to-1 at this event, as they are more generally. But he somehow continues to speak louder.
Anjem Choudary should be dismissed by everyone but MI5, and if profiled in public, should be identified as a hatemongering, misinformed sideshow on the fringes of the real community of British Muslims. It might not be must-see TV. But it would be news. – Usama Hasan & Justin Guest – Nothing Sells Papers Like a Villain, Guardian, 18/03/09
Last week, I wrote on Cif about the pressing need for democrats – of all faiths and none – to counter-demonstrate against the radical group Islam4UK on Saturday. Headed by former al-Muhajiroun UK leader Anjem Choudary, the organisation’s website frothed about “what Trafalgar Square would look like under sharia” and had originally cited it as the location for their “March for sharia”. Our movement was born out of years of collective frustration at the incendiary antics of groups like these, who distort the teachings of Islam for their own political expediency. Moreover, we wanted to stand up for values such as legal and constitutional equality for all, equal rights for women and minorities, and religious freedom, including the right to be free of any faith…..At the 11th hour, we heard that Islam4UK were cancelling their demonstration, rumours that were initially dismissed as the Choudary camp’s standard tactical manoeuvring. When it later emerged that Islam4UK had indeed sheepishly withdrawn from their own protest, the official reason doing the rounds was that English Defence League members had made death threats towards Anjem Choudary. The bottom line is this: had al-Muhajiroun dared to march on the streets of London, they would have been outnumbered to the point of toe-curling embarrassment. – Shaaz Mahboob (BMSD) – A Good Day for Democracy, Guardian, 03/11/09
Recently the “Muslim extremist” organisation currently trading as Islam4UK — really al-Muhajiroun — announced that they were planning a march through Wootton Bassett, the town just outside Swindon through which the motorcades bring the bodies of fallen soldiers after they land at RAF Lyneham. Needless to say, this has produced outrage in pretty much every quarter, including the Government, military circles, the local community and even the Muslim community. I put “Muslim extremist” in quotes above because many Muslims are not entirely convinced that their leadership are precisely that; Choudhary in particular is suspected of being anagent provocateur or at least an asset, and the amount of airtime they get, given their tiny membership, is grossly out of proportion…. the Muslim objection to al-Muhajiroun is about the threat they pose to us, the danger they place us in given the roaming gangs of football hooligans which have emerged since their demo last March, and their overblown and disproportionate media profile. – Matthew Smith (Blogistan) – Muslims Versus Anjem Choudary, 06/01/10
The latest publicity stunt organised by some former members of the banned al-Muhajiroun outfit in Luton yesterday appears to have gone exactly to plan. It is a simple formula – hold up some offensive placards designed to get people’s backs up and call a local reporter to come along and capture some footage – that has reliably generated acres of media coverage for them in recent years.
Our TV channels and today’s newspapers have very obligingly given over a huge amount of precious broadcast time and expensive newsprint to report the antics of the tiny group of hooligans. Leaflets had been distributed during the past week by the former al-Muhajiroun activists in Luton urging people to protest at the parade of soldiers returning from Iraq. There are over 20,000 Muslims living in Luton and tellingly less than 20 people heeded their call. And yet the irresponsible actions of this tiny few seem to command the airwaves.
The success the protestors have had in attracting news coverage in the past and now only further encourages them to carry on and seek out additional new opportunities to inflame passions and stir up mischief. Would it not be a better strategy for our media not to give al-Muhajiroun airtime in order to frustrate their ignoble aims? And if the protestors resort to ever more ludicrous antics to try and gain attention and actually step over the line into breaking the law, then they can always be hauled before a court of law and prosecuted. – Inayat Bunglawala - Al-Muhajiroun’s little helpers, Guardian, 11/03/09
Well, the bad news is that al-Muhajiroun is back. In its latest guise of Islam for the UK/Islam4UK it has announced that it is to hold a procession called “March for Sharia” on Saturday 31 October, starting at 1pm outside the Houses of Parliament, where it tells us its members will demand the abolishment of the House of Commons, then march past Downing Street, and end up at 4pm in Trafalgar Square. Its flyers tell us that it expects thousands of British Muslims to participate in the demonstration. Past experience tells us that it will in fact struggle to get more than 100 people, if that – out of a total UK Muslim population of about 2 million – to attend. So what should be done? In recent days I have seen some emails from anxious Muslims saying that they have got to publicly put clear distance between themselves and al-Muhajiroun. Others have wondered whether they should organise a counter-demonstration on the same day at the same venue. – Inayat Bunglawala – Stand Tall Against The Extremists, Guardian, 21/10/09
Mainstream Muslim groups ignored the rally, saying Al-Muhajiroun’s radical rhetoric doesn’t represent the views of the majority of Britain’s 1.5 million Muslims. Al-Muhajiroun’s latest biting-of-the-hand-that-feeds-them was a pilgrimage to “Mecca”, i.e. a rally in Trafalgar Square for 500 of the faithful, with 100 right-wing nationalists shouting anti-Islamic slogans waiting to greet them. - Shahed Amanullah - British Extremists: “Trafalgar Square is our Mecca”, altmuslim.com, 26/08/02
Plans by an extremist Muslim group to protest at the Royal Wedding have been denounced by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), responsible for burning poppies on Remembrance Day, threatened to turn the Royal Wedding into a “nightmare” when their application to protest the event at Westminster Abbey was rejected. The MCB, the UK’s largest umbrella body for Muslim groups, denounced the extremist group’s “silly antics” which they said were at odds with Islam’s teachings.
“We believe their action on this national occasion of celebration is completely at odds with the ethos of Islam. We remind them of Prophet Muhammed’s blessed words, that ‘marriage is indeed half of faith’,” the MCB said in a statement. ”They have chosen a day when the whole nation will be watching in celebration and cause offence and stir friction amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We as a community need to stand united against such extremist groups and convey to the nation that this is not Islam. We hope that the British public recognises this as an act that yearns for publicity with the sole objective of claiming media attention for silly antics.” – Muslims Stand Up to Extremists Over Royal Wedding, politics.co.uk, 21/04/11
You have to sometimes just wonder what on Earth is going on with different people and what they get up to in public, and reflect whether we’re all not just being taken for one huge ride.
I’ve been following the antics of this new handful of professional rabble-rousers of the M.A.C (“Muslims Against Crusades”) and despite regularly coming across many crazy freaks in a normal day, I’ve concluded that these folks are amongst the most butt-ignorant and foolish I’ve ever seen in action.
They disgrace the beards on their faces and the word “Muslim” in their fake title (hence I feel that we should call them out for the muppets that they actually are) and have actually achieved incredibly to outdo the equally butt-ignorant EDL, remove our focus from illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thereby ironically disrespect the deaths of thousands of war-dead all over the world, stretching as far back as World War I to the deaths of all people in current day conflicts.
Tell your friends and colleagues that the British scholarly opinion with respect to M.A.C is that they should be ignored just like one would ignore an irritating itch which we don’t want to scratch for fear of infection. Who would want to waste their time dealing with such poisonous people, in case they also become infected and sullied by their sheer arrogance and foolishness. Ignore them. Period. Or just feel free to humiliate them via other avenues so that perhaps one day they might reconsider their stupidity…. - Abu Eesa Niamatullah (1stethical.com) – MAC: Muslims Against Crusades or Muppets Without A Clue?, 15/11/10
Last week, MAC applied for a permit to protest outside Westminster Abbey on Friday, warning that if their request was rejected they would turn the day into a “nightmare.” Interestingly, MAC canceled their protest plans because they assert that the wedding may be the target of a terrorist attack.
Why is this story important? First, it demonstrates a point I raised in a post last week that extremist behavior produces extremist reactions: a protest by MAC was going to lead to a counter-protest by the EDL. Both groups espouse extreme positions and do not represent either the majority of Muslims or the majority of the British. In fact, the Muslim Council of Britain, the largest umbrella group for Muslims groups in the UK, denounced the MAC’s plans and said, “We believe their action on this national occasion is completely at odds with the ethos of Islam. We remind them of Prophet Muhammad’s blessed worlds, that ‘marriage is indeed half of faith.’”
Second, it is really problematic that a Muslim group would use an event like this to display their position when it will only produce more distrust of Muslims and further foster Islamophobia. Muslims are supposed to be a positive force in a community and should take into consideration how, when, and where they express their concerns. There is more than enough negative attention on Muslims.
Third, if this group knows of information that would endanger anyone, it is their Islamic duty to warn the appropriate authorities. As I have written in past posts, terrorism is condemned in Islam. There are clear rules to war and using an event like the royal wedding to inflict violence is absolutely contrary to the faith.
Just as it is an Islamic duty to stand up to injustice, it is a duty to portray the faith in the best way possible. You can stand up to injustice, follow Islamic rules, and still demonstrate that Muslims are positive members of the society. The Prophet Muhammad is the greatest example of this. A group like MAC makes the challenge of moderate Muslims even greater. – Inside Islam - Making It More Difficult for Moderate Muslims, 27/04/11
MDL Condemn the MAC!
by Muslim Defence League (MDL) on Thursday, 11 November 2010 at 23:54
Manners over Knowledge
Remembrance Day was marred by a handful of Muslims whose actions completely do not reflect the noble character of an ideal Muslim. They burnt the symbolic red poppy and chanted abuse at the fallen. Let us make it clear from the beginning that the Muslim community condemns the actions of these individuals. The noble Quran teaches us to talk and debate with people in the best of ways:
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.
Do these brothers think that they where behaving and acting in the best of ways? Surely acting like thugs walking down central London with your faces covered makes one look like an individual who intends harm. Did the Prophet Muhammad and his companions behave in this crude manner? I think not! What this indicates is that these Muslims really have no idea about how a Muslim should conduct himself when in the community. They have read a few books and listened to a few talks by these so called “Shaykhs” and now have become the super Muslim. In reality, yes perhaps they have become more “religious” and left the street thug life, but that attitude and whole demeanour has stayed with them. The so called “Shaykhs” have taught them about the injustice that is going on, but forgot to teach them Adhab (Islamic Manners), but how can they teach them the true Islamic manners when perhaps they have none themselves. I guarantee if the likes of Anjum Chowdary really read and understood the book “Kitab Al Adhab” by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah they would not behave the way they did. It was the famous Imam Malik who was told by his mother to learn manners from the Shuyukh first and then knowledge. One has to ask the question: Did these brothers learn any Adhab before they decided to take this type of unholy action?
We all know that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wrong and as British Muslims we disapprove of them. The question then needs to be asked how a Muslim according to his religion opposes these wars. Does he/she stab a Member of Parliament who voted for the war? Does he blow himself up to make a point? Does he protest and shout abuse at troops coming home from duty? NO! A Muslim does not lose hope and stays within the law of the land. He does not break the covenant that protects him, feeds him and provides shelter for him. Even those brothers who protested today, perhaps many of them are out of work, but yet they claim benefits. How ironic is it that you oppose so vehemently the government and the “Kuffar”, yet you claim benefits and live off the state. A Muslim protests peacefully not at the troops but at the government who took the troops to these illegal wars in the first place. We write and lobby our MP’s to make the right decision next time. We contact the media and tell them the truth about these wars, that there were no weapons of mass destruction. We inform the people that these wars are illegal and unjustified. Finally we give the message that war is not the answer!
What do these people think? That if they do not shout and scream Islam will be finished? Do they think that their feeble attempts at “defending Islam” are anything close to resembling the majestic character of Prophet Muhammad? Do they think the noble Prophet would be proud of their actions? Do they not realise the consequences of their actions? Do they not realise that more and more people are adopting the Islamaphobic narrative being pushed by right-wing groups. The inception of the EDL was due to this handful of Muslims who protested at the homecoming of troops in Luton. They have bought more harm to the Muslim community then any good! Every action has a reaction, this is the basic law of physics and we have seen what the reaction has been today. The EDL and other right wing groups are gaining momentum due to the climate of Islamaphobia. They are taking advantage of a poor economic situation and praying on the vulnerability of people. Groups like MAC who are really Al Muhajiroon do not help the situation. They are making it far worse for us and we the Muslim community reject them and the message they have to give. I am not comparing them, but those who know early Islamic history will have heard of the “Khawarij” like the way they were rejected, we must also rally around reject the extreme narrative of these individuals who burnt a poppy today.
Again I want to re-emphasize the importance of learning manners:
“We are in more need of a little adab (manners) than we are in need of a lot of knowledge.” Abdullah Ibn Mubarak
Our pious predecessors understood this very well as they learnt Islam as it should be learnt. We need to adopt this culture of good manners, if those brothers knew really how a Muslim should behave; they would have never behaved like that in the first place. Our actions have consequences, I hope for the sake of our community’s safety that these brothers realise just how much harm they have invited upon the Muslims and I hope that our non Muslim friends understand that these people do not represent us.
Yes, that’s right. The Muslim Defence League, who were formed as a reaction to the EDL, issue as strong a condemnation of MAC as you’ll find. I have no doubt that despite the articles I’ve used and many more that exist, this won’t be enough. But it does prove beyond doubt that Muslims of all ages, classes and denominations do denounce Choudary and Muslims Against Crusades. From the MDL to the Muslim Council of Britain, from Salafis to British Muslims for a Secular Democracy. If the EDL genuinely wanted reassurance that the Muslim community don’t share the ideals and aims of MAC, they only need to undertake a few minutes of research. But as long as they are oblivious and remain conveniently ignorant of the truth, they can continue to peddle this line and smear an entire faith to advance their agenda. Until the mainstream media either stop giving a platform to Choudary or at least give equal opportunities to an alternative voice, they are complicit in the perpetuation of Islamophobia.
Links to the full articles used can be found below.