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Muslims Against Muslims Against Crusades

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.”

The full video can be viewed via the link below
Muslim Resistance: The Struggle Within by NewsLook

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”,, 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,, 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 ( – 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 reactionsa 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.

MDL Team

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.


Muslims Against Crusades: My Position

I want to address a question that is persistently raised by pro EDL types and right wingers on twitter. Partly because I want to put the record straight, but also because it’s a valid question that I have found hard to articulate an answer to with satisfactory justifications thus far. The question is, why do self-confessed anti-fascist, anti-racists liberals only oppose the EDL and BNP, and not give their perennial nemesis Anjem Choudary and Muslims Against Crusades equal attention? The inference is that by not visibly and vociferously campaigning against MAC that we are somehow condoning and complicit in their words and deeds. Willfully acting as dhimmified useful idiots in the Islamification of the UK.

I have actually aired my uncomplimentary views on Choudary and his band of followers on a number of occasions, but I want to make a definitive and permanent statement. I have expressed my opinion that he is an agitator who doesn’t represent British Muslims, that he’s a publicity hungry pantomime villain that has the reactionary right dancing to his loony tunes. He’s simply a cartoonish caricature with a minuscule following who are best starved of the oxygen of publicity. I don’t share the outrage of the EDL when they call for sharia law, declare certain areas sharia controlled zones, announce plans for Islamic Emirates within the UK, claim that the flag of Islam will fly over Downing Street or that the Royal abode will become a mega mosque. I just can’t take their behaviour seriously, and while I can understand why people are offended, I have enough common sense to realise that these are laughably delusional statements that will never come to fruition. Even their more tasteless stunts such as, sending unsympathetic letters to bereaved families of British soldiers, planning protests for Wooton Bassett, holding a mock funeral for Bin Laden in London, burning poppies on Armistice Day and warning of potential terrorist attacks at the Royal Wedding, whilst despicable in varying degrees have a whiff of professional trolling rather than being a serious threat to society and a danger to the public.

Am I being too dismissive? Some might claim that in the grand scheme of things, much of my reasoning could also be applied to the EDL. After all, they don’t represent all white Britons, or all working class Brits. Compared to the national population their support is microscopic, and it could be argued that deprived of attention they would simply fade into obscurity. So why do people like myself choose to spend so much time and energy working against far right extremists but not their Islamic equivalent?

After much thought it’s still not crystal clear in my mind, but I’ll try to make sense of it whilst putting it into words. I think much of it is down to the fact that as a white Briton, I have a responsibility to make a statement which shows that the EDL don’t represent me. Not only this, but I have a duty to the Muslim citizens of this country who are every bit as British as I am, to show that as a multi-ethnic, culturally diverse nation, the persecution and demonising of minorities is not supported by the vast majority of  their compatriots. That as someone who is proud of the fact that this country is a colourful melting pot of races, faiths and cultures, I will not allow the divisive ideology of a far right group go unchallenged.

Using the same logic, rightly or wrongly, I feel maybe subconsciously that it’s therefore not my place to actively oppose the MAC in a similar way. That there might be a risk as a white non-Muslim of making the issue appear racial or Islamophobic, rather than an anti-extremism stance. Maybe I need to be less PC, after all the MAC’s actions are damaging to the image of the wider Muslim population and provide the ammunition for the EDL to whip up more hysteria. But deep down I probably feel the people best positioned to counter the MAC are British Muslims. The problem with this, is that it implies we require Muslims to distance themselves from people that we should have the perceptiveness to realise don’t represent them in any way. I personally don’t expect British Muslims to make public statements denouncing Anjem Choudary just to allay the suspicion of  paranoid bigots. Why should they? I’ve covered this issue in a previous post here. The claim that moderate Muslims never speak out against extremists is tediously commonplace in right wing rhetoric, and as I’ve proven is totally false. Frustratingly, the media gives more air time & column inches to Anjem Choudary than anyone representative of the British Muslim community. Radical Muslims make headlines and generate debate, Muslims being uncontroversial and law abiding just isn’t news. There is ample evidence available just a google search away, of individuals and Muslim groups speaking out against Choudary’s various organisations, but it’s telling that those making the claims choose not to investigate this possibility. This is a subject I plan on giving more attention to in a future post.

Another reason I tend to ignore MAC is due to the fact that there is a wider picture pertaining to their history, and a widely held suspicion that there is more to their continued existence than meets the eye. This may sound slightly cryptic and conspiratorial, and I will be elaborating on this in an up and coming article also. But I’ll just say that focusing time and energy on Choudary and his henchmen is probably a distraction of massive proportions and futility, and exactly what certain quarters want. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not suggesting they pose no potential risk at all. Al-Muhajiroun under Omar Bakri saw an estimated 16 members or affiliates commit or conspire to commit terroristic acts during their existence. Choudary was second in command until Bakri’s enforced exile and their disbanding, before he formed the now proscribed Islam4UK. The ideology and, it’s reasonable to assume, many of the members remain to this day, along with newer recruits under the guise of MAC. But they lack the sinister aura of the Hamza/Bakri days, and seem to act as more of a propaganda and self publicity operation today. That such a media friendly extremist would be able to conduct affairs so blatantly and publicly without being monitored very closely is unthinkable and highly improbable. The most sensible course of action for the public and media to follow as far as MAC are concerned in my opinion, is to pay them no attention, and let the relevant agencies do their jobs.

It’s no surprise that the nationalist, xenophobic, immigrant hostile EDL are so easily provoked by a group of Muslims espousing anti-Western, anti-Monarchy and anti-Forces views, it’s as predictable as it is depressing. But it’s their choice and their right to oppose them. When it becomes obvious that the EDL or anyone else are using the MAC’s behaviour to target an entire community with unwarranted abuse and hostility, which has inevitably escalated into violent attacks, vandalism and vile dehumanising rhetoric on a par with Nazi era anti-Semitism, I choose to oppose them. I have different priorities. We are witnessing the development of a destructive and dangerous ideology, the Islamophobic Eurabia conspiracy theory, that is enjoying a worryingly widespread mainstream acceptance and has produced it’s first major terrorist atrocity in Norway. It’s the latest period in our shameful history of demonising and persecuting minorities in the ‘Christian West’, and poses a far more destructive and corrosive threat to peace and harmony in our communities than a handful of religious zealots with little support or influence.

So that’s my official stance on Muslims Against Crusades. I find much of what they do distasteful, but ultimately pointless. I don’t take them seriously enough to make me angry. Rather, I focus my attention on what I feel is the more serious issue and urgent cause, right wing extremism, neo-fascism, racism and bigotry. I make no apologies for this and am comfortable with my choice.

Selective Hearing, Collective Guilt & the Big Lie

Why do we (white or non-Muslim Britons) feel the need to hold our Muslim compatriots responsible for the crimes committed by men who happen to share the same faith? Why do we ascribe collective guilt to 2.4 million people for the transgressions of a tiny minority? One of the recurring claims made by Islamophobes is that they never hear the Muslim community speaking out against the extremists. Why aren’t the moderate Muslims out protesting? Where is the voice of moderate Islam denouncing these acts? Silence is treated as complicity or sympathy.

Do we (white or non-Muslim Britons) really have so little trust and so much suspicion that we need the British Muslim community out on the streets apologising for crimes they haven’t committed? Exactly what format do the people baying for these denunciations want them in? Maybe a dedicated freeview channel for Muslim apologies? An SMS messaging service? An RSS news feed? Who exactly should be doing the denouncing? The MCB? Imams? Community leaders? Muslim councillors or politicians?

Normal, law-abiding ie the vast majority of British Muslims will not feel that the likes of Anjem Choudary, the 7/7 bombers or the ‘Muslamic Rape Gangs’ represent them or their community, so why should they be expected to publically distance themselves from them? Are we actually admitting that ‘unless you tell us you’re not a terrorist or rapist we will assume that you are’?

Why is it only Muslims that are subjected to this treatment? Where were the apologies from the white working class when Raoul Moat’s murderous rampage was finally stopped? Where was the Anglo-Saxon community spokesperson denouncing the many white supremacist, neo-nazis that have been caught in recent years? Where was the condemnation from the Afro-Carribean community in the wake of the capture of the Nightstalker Delroy Grant? Why don’t mainstream Christians speak out against the likes of Stephen Green? Maybe they do, maybe they have. I don’t know, because I haven’t looked, because I don’t expect them to.

The same is almost true with the Islamophobes. They haven’t seen the condemnation of terrorism from the Muslim community because they haven’t looked. But it’s there, absolutely tons of it. Why isn’t it published by the Mail, the Star, the Express, the Sun or the NOTW with coverage equal to that of the crimes? Only they can answer that, but I have a hunch.

If the likes of the EDL and other Islamophobes really want to see condemnation of terrorism and extremism from the Muslim community, they don’t have to look too hard. has compiled a comprehensive collection from around the world. There are fatwas and denunciations from Imams, Muftis and leaders from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Indonesia, Tunisia, Morocco, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, Chechnya, Bosnia, Russia, Nigeria, Philippines, Palestine, Afghanistan, USA, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Great Britain.

As they explain:

I certainly cannot agree that Muslims – ordinary Muslims, clerics, scholars, religious bodies, political leaders (Sunni and Shiah) have not spoken up. We have collected 105 fatwas from Islamic scholars, 75 statements by Islamic Organizations (many of these signed by anywhere from 50 to 500 scholars from around the world), and 142 statements by individual Muslims. They speak clearly against terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping, harming civilians, harming places of worship, weapons of mass destruction. They clarify the Islamic position on minority rights and apostasy. Some directly condemn al-Qaeda and bin Laden, and specific acts like 9/11 or the Madrid bombing. There is almost no issue involving terrorism, extremism, or injustice that has not been addressed. Most Islamic scholars have spoken clearly.

Let’s not tolerate this conspiracy of silence bullshit, because it’s not true. But the more lies are perpetuated they very quickly become fact.

And Justice for all………?

While the tabloid media is shrieking it’s disgust from the front pages with regards to the ‘Muslim Poppy Burners’ £50 fine, and the right wing reactionaries are jerking their knees with rage. EDL ‘leader’ Guramit Singh walked free, without charge after being cleared of intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. He was arrested on December 11th, 2010 at the EDL’s Peterborough demo after a complaint about a speech he gave there. If you haven’t had the pleasure here’s a snippet:

I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says”, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.

…The UAF, the counter-protestors, the members of the Islamic community: English Defence League 2011, we’re coming to a street near you. We ain’t even fucking started yet.

Standard EDL fare really. Mention of paedophilia? Check. Beheading for infidels? Check. Comparison to Hitler? Check. But let’s get this straight. His message to the assembled crowd and any passers by regarding Muslims is “fuck ‘em”. Ten times no less. An additional ‘fuck’, a ‘fucking’, one ‘arse’, one ‘shit’ and he dropped the C-bomb for good measure. On a PA system. Also, is it just me or does the closing salvo sound like a threat?

Let’s look at the poppy burning incident without rage tinted glasses. There were between 30 – 50 MAC members depending on the source. There were a handful of signs with anti-war/anti-military slogans such as ‘British Soldiers: Terrorists’, ‘Hands off Muslim lands’ and pro-Islam ones like ‘Islam will dominate’ and ‘There is no God but Allah’. There were also some tasteless and provocative chants of ‘British Soldiers Burn in Hell’ and ‘Mass Murderers’. As their piece de resistance they proceeded to burn two plastic poppies. As one of them stated: “We wanted to upset people and we wanted them to hurt.”

They wanted to offend people, they wanted attention and they got exactly what they wanted. Job done. The offenders were arrested and processed through the justice system. The fine was for a “calculated and deliberate insult to the war dead and everyone who mourns them” according to reports from the court. I haven’t seen what the actual charge is, presumably some form of Public Order Offence. We can argue about inconsistent sentencing, but isn’t this about right? It was disrespectful, hateful, and inflammatory but what exactly should have happened? The people angriest at this would probably support deportation, a prison sentence or if you look at EDL facebook pages gruesome torture and a slow, painful death. But on what grounds? Treason? This crime still exists and is punishable with life imprisonment. I’m sure this would be just about acceptable for the EDL/BNP lot. They would still prefer the 19th century punishment of hanging, disemboweling, beheading and quartering. No one has been prosecuted for treason since the infamous William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce who was executed in 1946. This includes crimes during the ‘troubles’ which were prosecuted as murder or other crimes. In 2005 however the government considered bringing the charge back into practice for Islamic clerics that had been condoning terrorism and the actions of insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time Lord Carlile QC, the governments reviewer of anti-terror laws said:

“I don’t think there is a lawyer still alive and working who has ever appeared in any part of a treason case,” the Liberal Democrat peer told BBC News. Treason usually applied to wars between nations, he said. Lord Carlile argued existing laws could be used, such as charges of solicitation or incitement to murder, commonly seen in contract killing cases.

This is exactly what happened in 2006 when Abu Hamza was  charged with inciting murder under the Terrorism Act 2000, and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. No matter how offensive the fuckwittery of the MAC, it’s not inciting murder (unless you count the homicidal sentiments directed towards them). I’m going to cut to the chase. The ill-feeling towards the poppy burners has as much to do with their faith and ethnicity as their actions. It’s racism wrapped up in nationalism. The disrespecting of people who have died in wars is one thing, but the fact that it may be immigrants or sons of immigrants doing it is what’s sending the frothing into overdrive. The burning of a symbol such as the poppy is too much for people who’s national pride is derived in a large part from imperialism and military conquests. Not being one who shares in this pride, whilst I appreciate the symbolism, to me they just incinerated some flimsy plastic flowers. It was a cheap publicity stunt that should have been denied any sort of acknowledgement. For me, Singh’s abusive tirade was the more serious incident. It was much closer to the hate speech of Abu Hamza than the actions of MAC. What if something had gone horribly wrong in Peterborough that day? Would he and the EDL be held responsible? Would Singh be facing a lengthy period behind bars?

Tommy Robinson said: “We are pleased the charges were dropped – there was nothing in them.”


The Unlikely Bigot

One of the most disappointing things to happen whilst researching for my blog was confirming my suspicions that someone I respected and admired was as intolerant and ignorant as the religious literalists he’s so critical of. I’d heard others accuse him of arrogance, and being too confrontational and militant. I always found him to be fairly reasonable, softly spoken and even a little timid in his television appearances. This could be because what he was saying articulated what I was feeling at the time. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to be objective. I still find him a fascinating person to read or listen to in his areas of expertise, but I’ve lost a great deal of respect for him. Disappointment is the overwhelming feeling I have.

I’m referring to Richard Dawkins. Celebrity atheist and evolutionary biologist. His 2006 book The God Delusion is his most popular and controversial to date, is an international best seller and was my introduction to his work. As I’ve blogged previously, already being an atheist, this book illustrated my attitude to religion perfectly. Not only that, but it consolidated and exacerbated it. I say exacerbated, because I believe that an extreme intolerance of anything is unhealthy. Particularly if it’s clouded by a lack of knowledge or understanding. In hindsight, this is where I was. But it wasn’t directed at any one in particular, just organised religions in general.

I’ve also explained how and why my attitude has softened over the last couple of years. I believe this has enabled me to see the issue from a different perspective, more compassionately. As a passionate scientist I get the impression that Dawkins takes personal offence from people’s devotion to religion. There’s a condescending overtone and mocking nature to much of what I hear from him now. A few years ago I would have approved, but now I just find it infantile and unnecessary.

He’s also a secular Humanist, and is Vice President of the British Humanist Association. I also consider myself to be a humanist of some description. I support and agree with much of what they believe in and campaign for. For instance, a reform of Religious Education so that “all pupils in all types of school should have the opportunity to consider philosophical and fundamental questions, and that in a pluralist society we should learn about each other’s beliefs, including humanist ones”.

Their campaign for the repealing of the blasphemy law, their support of human rights and free speech, their pro-choice stance on abortion and defence of stem cell research. A quick scan of notable supporters reassures me that my lefty credentials are intact. Stephen Fry, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Ed Byrne, Prof. Brian Cox, Jon Ronson and Robin Ince are all present.

Their Wikipedia page also states the following:

The British Humanist Association campaigns for a number of causes. It campaigns for legal provision against discrimination on grounds of religious belief or sexual orientation. It has called for unification of existing anti-discrimination legislation and has contributed to the Discrimination Law Review which developed the Equality Act 2010.

How could anyone representing these values possibly be smeared as a bigot? The same way as anyone else can be bigoted despite being well intentioned. Through a lack of knowledge, understanding and empathy. Woah! Who am I to question the knowledge of a fellow of New College, Oxford, and former Professor for Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford? Doubt the understanding of the inventor of the concept of the meme, and a winner of countless honours and awards?

Good point. My argument is; he’s only human. He’s not immune to having blind spots caused by prejudice, or exempt from negative human traits such as stubbornness, or arrogance. My opinion is that his militant atheism, his distrust and dislike of organised religion, is clouding his otherwise brilliant mind. His refusal to make any attempt to appreciate and understand the complexity of certain religions, and only look for reasons to condemn them is shameful and embarrassing.

I first became aware of the unlikely bigotry sometime last year. I heard that he’d been extremely critical of Islam, but thought it’d probably been taken out of context or someone was being hyper-sensitive. Why would an atheist single out one particular religion, and surely someone like Dawkins would be intelligent and perceptive enough to not jump on the bandwagon?

Whilst looking for information for one of my posts, I stumbled across the website. I decided to browse the site out of curiosity and became both confused and angry. I must stress this isn’t Dawkins’ personal website, it’s run by The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, of which he is the founder, but it is official. He does contribute to it, and is aware of its content. As well as articles by Dawkins and other regular contributors, the bulk of the site consists of items from the global media that are considered newsworthy for atheists, secularists and humanists. Some are truly fascinating pieces about nature, science, and the human mind. But a huge portion is dedicated to articles cherry picked to highlight the dark side of religion, or rather the dark side of people or organisations claiming to represent religion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about exposing the crimes committed by Catholic priests, the abuse of human rights that exist in Wahabist Saudi Arabia, the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda, Zionist expansion into Palestine and the variety of unpleasant views expressed by religious extremists. But to use them as examples of why religion is inherently ‘bad’, as if the crimes are committed by religion and not people, is missing the point entirely in my view.

Some of the names that crop up on a regular basis on the website will be quite familiar to keen followers of Islamophobia. People that are lauded by the websites readers as robust and brave critics of Islam, but in reality are nothing more than agenda driven right-wing bigots. Just two of these people are Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Pat Condell. Ali is an Islamophobes wet dream. A female Somali ‘ex-Muslim’ who fled her native country to escape from an arranged marriage and honour killing, to become a born again atheist and radical anti-Muslim.

Pat Condell is a UKIP supporting, BNP and EDL approved ‘comedian’ who at one time was fairly even-handed in his criticism of religions, but seems to have focused 100% of his vitriol on Islam recently. He perpetuates misconceptions and myths for laughs whilst his supporters applaud him for ‘telling it like it is’. Which to me translates as ‘using the privilege of free speech to be tactless and offensive, whilst using gross generalisations and exaggerations’.

To concentrate on Condell for the time being. A number of people actually complained about his YouTube monologues being posted on the website. This was the reply from Dawkins:

“I believe Pat Condell deserves a hearing. He may sound extreme, but that could just reflect the extremes he is fighting against. I don’t know the corresponding figures for America, but polls in Britain suggest that an alarmingly high percentage of young British Muslims support the terrorists of 9/11 and 7/7, and some 40% of Muslims want Sharia Law introduced into Britain. Disquietingly high percentages supported the death sentence against Salman Rushdie and the threats of violence against the Danish cartoonists. Even ‘moderate’ Muslim leaders support the principle that apostasy deserves the death penalty, even if they are too nice to carry out the sentence themselves. I think it is well arguable that Islam is the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today. Pat Condell is one of the few with the courage to say so.”

It reads like a more eloquent version of any number of EDL rants. I’m not going to get side tracked by pointing out the inaccuracies and untruths in his statement, but the fact he’s using much the same well-worn clichés parroted by right-wing extremists speaks volumes. Here’s another sycophantic gushing from Dawkins:

“Pat Condell is unique. Nobody can match his extraordinary blend of suavity and savagery. With his articulate intelligence he runs rings around the religious wingnuts that are the targets of his merciless humour. Thank goodness he is on our side”.

Depressing. I won’t go into an in-depth analysis of the content of Condell’s diatribes; I’m hoping that my series on Islamophobic misconceptions will do that job in due course.

The story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is far more exciting than that of a grumpy, middle-aged bigot. She’s exotic, intelligent and articulate, with a colourful history. But she also has some extremely unsavoury friends, and is a growing presence on the Islamophobic circuit. Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu and moved between Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya with her politician father. She claimed political asylum in Holland in 1992. Her asylum application was based on her claim that her father was forcing her into a marriage with a cousin, and would face an honour killing if she refused. She also claimed to have fled the Somalian capital to escape the civil wars she had witnessed, and was forced to live in refugee camps. Her family denies all accusations made against them, and she herself admits to lying in order to gain asylum. In the meantime she had earned a master’s degree in political science and forged links with the centre-left PvdA party.

She later suffered a crisis of faith and eventually renounced Islam in 2002. She wrote her first book criticising Islam shortly after, and began receiving death threats. She also wrote a screenplay for a short film called ‘Submission’ which controversially depicted the abuse of a Muslim woman at the hands of her husband, and seemed to infer this behaviour was encouraged by the Qur’an. In 2004 the producer of this film Theo Van Gogh was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan member of a terrorist cell. A five-page letter was pinned to Van Gogh’s chest with a butcher’s knife that amounted to a fatwa on Hirsi Ali, forcing her into hiding. During this period Hirsi Ali had become an elected member of Dutch Parliament as part of the VVD party, where she became a colleague of Geert Wilders.

In 2006 her admission of making a fraudulent application for asylum forced her resignation from politics, and her Dutch citizenship was nearly revoked. Since then she has been working in the USA for a right-wing think tank and earning a pretty penny playing the martyr and cozying up to the A list of the Islamophoberatti. During this time her anti-Muslim comments have been prolific, here is a small collection:

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars…. you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.
Reason: Militarily?
Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.
Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?
Hirsi Ali: No.
Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?
Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. …
Reason: Well, your proposal went against Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution.
Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—
Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down.
Hirsi Ali: There is no moderate Islam.

“It is a totalitarian method. The Nazis tried it using women as incubators, literally to give birth to soldiers. Islam is now doing it.”

On women who chose to wear the niqab: “They are the female equivalent of the radical young men who travel to Pakistan and come back wanting to blow up trains.”

“The Prophet would have not have disapproved of 9/11, because it was carried out in his example.”

“Muhammad is, seen by our Western standards, a pervert”

There’s also the standard fare of comparisons between Islam and Nazism.

While Dawkins and other people who should know better have been, or still are fawning over Hirsi Ali, progressive Muslim scholars and thinkers have challenged her, the Dutch Muslim women were happy to see the back of her, and she’s been exposed as a died in the wool neo-con. The scale of her hypocrisy and double standards are laughable. Despite being a Muslim refugee that was granted asylum on a false premise she went on to represent a political party that would have denied her application, and seeks to persecute Muslims. She also proposes the following measures for the EU:

Admission of immigrants on the basis of their contribution to the economy. The current system “is designed to attract the highest number of people with truly heartbreaking stories”.

Diplomatic, economic and military interventions in countries which risk causing large migrant flows.

And like many atheists she doesn’t seem to offer a bad word for any religion other than Islam. In fact she goes out of her way to be complimentary about some of them. It comes as no surprise at all then that her views on the Israel-Palestine issue aren’t entirely balanced or sympathetic.

In perusing Dawkins’ website I also discovered a new name. Yet again his story fitted exactly what I’d come to expect of this strange breed of humanists. Sam Harris is another secular atheist that reserves particular disdain for Islam. The article below contains pretty much every generalisation and misconception you could ask of from an Islamophobe.

The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed.

In Islam, it is the moderate who is left to split hairs, because the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world.

They must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling. It is simply a fact that the greatest predictor of terrorist behavior anywhere in the world (with the exception of the island Sri Lanka) is whether or not a person believes that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet.

The outrage that Muslims feel over U.S. and British foreign policy is primarily the product of theological concerns. Devout Muslims consider it a sacrilege for infidels to depose a Muslim tyrant and occupy Muslim lands—no matter how well-intentioned the infidels or malevolent the tyrant.

It is time we admitted that we are not at war with “terrorism”; we are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran.

The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a dangerous fantasy—and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for moderate Muslims to indulge.

The arrogance, condescension and ignorance are almost too much to put into words.

On the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’:

But the margin between what is legal and what is desirable, or even decent, leaves room for many projects that well-intentioned people might still find offensive. If you can raise the requisite $100 million, you might also build a shrine to Satan on this spot, complete with the names of all the non-believing victims of 9/11 destined to suffer for eternity in Hell.

Equating Islam with Satanism? Nice. Hang on what’s this?

Harris was raised in a secular Jewish home by a Jewish mother. Harris also defends Israel and its military actions in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and is critical of liberals who do not:

“For instance, [liberals] ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the Israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so. Muslims routinely use human shields, and this accounts for much of the collateral damage we and the Israelis cause; the political discourse throughout much of the Muslim world, especially with respect to Jews, is explicitly and unabashedly genocidal. Given these distinctions, there is no question that the Israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict.”

Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right.

In the article below he espouses support for Geert ‘The Most Dangerous Man in Europe’ Wilders.

Are these really the words of a humanist liberal? Let’s look at some quotes from Dawkins himself.

“I do feel visceral revulsion at the burka because for me it is a symbol of the oppression of women.”

He calls the burka the “full bin-liner thing”.

“It is possible to see Europe as a haven of civilisation, with the pincer movement of Islam on one side and the US on the other.”

“This is historically a Christian country. I’m a cultural Christian….  I’m not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history. If there’s any threat to these sorts of things, I think you will find it comes from rival religions and not from atheists.”

“The Government could do more but it doesn’t want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come.”

“It seems as though teachers are terribly frightened of being thought racist. It’s almost impossible to say anything against Islam in this country because if you do you are accused of being racist or Islamophobic.”

‘Because we are all brought up to respect faith, it leaves open a gap through which fanatics can charge’

“The young men whom you call ‘radicalised Britons’ and ‘extremists’ are just honest Muslims who take their scriptures seriously.”

There is precious little difference between these comments and those we hear from the likes of the EDL and other right-wing bigots preceded by the caveat “I’m not being racist but….”

Elsewhere on the site the articles are reproduced from their source uncritically. There’s no moderation with regards to the accuracy or bias. Take this one for example. In an obvious attempt to discredit someone they view as an ‘Islamic apologist’ they unwittingly side with and give credence to British nutjob Anjem Choudary.

Recently, Christianne Amanpour hosted a panel discussion meant to explore the misunderstood delineation between moderate and extremist Islam.

She likely sought to support the notion that Islam is peaceful, and to advance the belief that only a small contingent of radicals corrupts the faith. To those ends, she enlisted guests of Christian and Muslim backgrounds for her panel.

It’s the standard stuff that tends to make Christians look intolerant and Muslims look misunderstood.

When Amanpour addresses the ideas of Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, she has the audacity to question his ideas about Islamic domination.

Then, in an effort to convey that Islam can live in peace with the Western world, he concludes, “We do believe as Muslims that the east and the west will one day be governed by the Sharia. Indeed we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House.”

So a Muslim woman in the panel decided to take Choudary to task for his reckless and inflammatory statements, and she went on to instruct him that Islam is a faith of pluralism, and that it provides an allowance of other faiths to exist in a state of equal importance.

But my guess is that she forgot that she was speaking with someone who had given far more study to the Quran and Hadith than most Christian theologians.

To her assumption of Islamic tolerance of other faiths and legal systems, Choudary simply suggests that she knows nothing of what Islam desires or requires.

He even makes the comparison that she is a Muslim in the same way that a person who occasionally eats beef burgers is a vegetarian.

This exchange reveals that cleric Anjem Choudary practices fundamental adherence to Islam in an effort to live in reflection of and submission to the prophet.

While it is important to note that moderate Muslims do exist, it is imperative that we keep that fact within the proper global context.  Amanpour and liberal pundits the world over can host hundreds of panels comprised of thousands of Muslims that have embraced Western culture, and that will not change the fact that such voices are irrelevant in the Islamic worldThe millions and millions of Muslims that share Choudary’s literal belief in fundamental Islam are ultimately compelled to achieve the goal of universal Sharia, or die trying.

I their haste to discredit someone who clearly has the intention of portraying a balanced and positive image of Muslims, they have assumed that a leader of a proscribed group who supports terrorism is the voice of Islam. Someone who is regarded as a joke and a nuisance among the 2.5 million Muslims in the UK. A brief scan of the ‘About’ page of the blog reveals:

The right to exist and the survival of the State of Israel are of great importance to us.

Sigh. Ignorance? Coincidence?

The Dawkins website also had a Bad Faith Awards in 2010. Predominantly made up of figures that had made distasteful comments, or were at odds with atheism. But in 8th place was Lauren Booth who had converted to Islam. The rationale?

8th place: Lauren Booth (286 votes)

Perhaps readers viewed Cherie Blair’s sister’s very public conversion to Islam as an act worthy of ridicule rather than the Bad Faith Award.

Another minor quibble that, whilst being relatively trivial, is another indication of Islam’s special place in the websites crosshairs, is the fact that it has its own search tag. Islam has only 5 pages of search results whilst ‘Religion’ has 132. Take the Islam related articles out and you have 128 articles associated with other religions, yet none are singled out with their own tag. As I say, it may seem pedantic, but hints at an underlying prejudice which becomes more apparent on closer inspection.

There seems to be an attitude among atheists whereby the urge to criticise religion is so overpowering, they abandon their propensity for critical thought and prefer instead to believe the propaganda and lies peddled by Neo-cons, Zionists, Islamophobes and racists. Instead of being allies in the battle against bigotry, the militant atheists and secularists seem to have chosen to use their rational thought process to do the opposite.

Leagues Apart

I don’t really remember the exact moment the foul stench of the EDL’s particular brand of bigotry wafted into my consciousness. But I vaguely recall learning of their links to football hooliganism, and that they had formed to oppose Islamic extremists. In trying to pin down the precise time that proved the catalyst to my interest, I discovered that the watershed moment was probably due to a series of ‘anti-extremist’ marches held from April to August 2009, organised by a group called ‘March for England’. But there was no mention of the EDL at this point.

On the 10th of March 2009 the Royal Anglian Regiment, on their return from Afghanistan, were welcomed with a home coming parade in Luton. The march was marred by a demonstration by a hand full of Muslim men wielding offensive and inflammatory placards. This wasn’t an anti-war protest as such, but an intentionally tasteless piece of opportunism carried out by the Al-Muhajiroun group led by Anjem Choudary. Who were also unknown to me at the time. The first march took place in Luton under the guise of the ‘United People of Luton’ as a direct response to the disrespectful display from Choudary and his cohorts.

Learning that a man by the name of Tommy Robinson, who claimed to be the founder, was a Luton resident seemed to make sense. But knowing of the historic links between football firms and far right organisations, along with a natural leftist gut feeling of discomfort when minorities are targeted, my suspicion was aroused.

The spate of demonstrations continued with events in Birmingham and London. It appears that it’s around this time that the moniker ‘English Defence League’ was adopted, and picked up on. Further events took place in Birmingham (twice), London, Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham before the end of the year, all under the banner of the EDL.

The media coverage had been steadily increasing since the first article was published in April, with inevitable attention being drawn to possible links to the racist BNP, and due to the hooligan element, violent neo-Nazi organisations like Combat 18 and the National Front. In an attempt to distance themselves from this image, they held a press conference ahead of their Manchester demonstration, and proceeded to symbolically burn a Nazi flag. This is the first vivid memory I have of the EDL. Balaclava-clad men, burning a flag, in a sparse and dingy room.

It didn’t take a great deal of investigation to realise that my reluctance to give them the benefit of my doubt was justified. Not that it required a sixth sense, as a Google search at that time would have revealed images of men baring more than a passing resemblance to the sinister paramilitary terrorists of the IRA & UDA.

It was at this point I made a discovery that was to cement a special place in my life for the EDL. Being a Cardiff City supporter I’m no stranger to terrace culture and all that goes with it. Despite not taking part in football violence, it’s impossible to follow a club like Cardiff City and not be exposed to it at some stage. Even if you’re not a hooligan, you either know someone who is, have seen them in action, or read one of their inevitable biographies. The names of individuals, rival firms and infamous battles become part of club folklore.

I’d seen it mentioned on a Cardiff City message board, that one of the founding members of the EDL was a City fan and Soul Crew member. Whilst reading a blog post about one of the EDL marches, I followed a link that took me to an article on the Hope not Hate website that profiled the hooligan leaders. My heart sank when reading about Jeff Marsh, Casuals Utd and the part he’d played in forming a movement of this nature.

Cardiff City fans have had a bad reputation that’s followed us around ever since I can remember, and genuine, law abiding supporters have always suffered from guilt by association. Telling someone you were a Cardiff City supporter when meeting people usually elicited one of two responses. Aggression. Or fear. Neither particularly welcome when on holiday or a night out. It’s a stigma we’ve had to endure as fans and a club, and have made huge strides in eradicating. Seeing a convicted Cardiff hooligan playing a lead role in the group I was already developing an unhealthy hatred for was depressing. I was angry at them for the bigotry and hatred they were spreading, I was angry that they were using the beautiful game to spread their message and recruit, and angry that the name of my club and hometown was going to be part of it’s history.

That was over a year ago now, and a lot has happened in the meantime. Unfortunately we’ve seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, and even more unfortunately, actions, due to the English Defence League and affiliated splinter groups. The right wing, mainstream media are doing their best to fan the flames with their anti-Muslim and anti-immigration scaremongering, whether they intend to or not.

Unfortunately they are tapping into a disillusioned and angry white working class, which now has a scapegoat to blame and a vent for their anger. How many of these are gullible kids being manipulated, or genuine racists playing the ‘Islam is not a race’ card, and hiding behind the ‘I’m not against all Muslims just the extremists’ fallacy, it’s impossible to tell. But my hope is that by exposing the lies for what they are, we can go some way to stemming the tide.

Even if convincing existing members and sympathisers that they are misguided is being optimistic, and a little naive. By challenging their misconceptions, prejudices and general bigotry, these racist organisations will realise they will not go unopposed.

The more scrutiny the EDL comes under, the more dirt gets uncovered, and their true motives will be laid bare for all to see. This, coupled with a clearer understanding between communities is what the anti-fascist and anti-racism movements in Britain are striving for, and what most decent people want.

The EDL has grown, but so has the opposition. I’m hoping maybe, even in just a small way, my hometown will be part of EDL history for another reason.

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