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.