Tag Archive: islam


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On Saturday 30th April, I attended Cumberland Road Mosque’s conference 2016 which was entitled “Reclaiming Islam From Extremists” which consisted mainly of lectures given by renowned imams and students of knowledge on the issue of extremism within the traditions of Islam. On the bill were Taalib Alexander,a known student of knowledge who has delivered various lectures in South London, Abu Taymiyyah, student of knowledge from Leicester and Abu Usaama Adh-Dhahabi, Imam from Green Lane Masjid who filled in at the last minute for Abdur-Rahmaan Hassan. Taalib Alexander gave us an insightful lecture on the contemporary manifestations of extremist movements within the arab and muslim world. Focussing on Isis and Boko Haram, mainly, Taalib explained how these were organisations whose main aim was money and power and he gave examples of how these groups have killed muslims in order to attain power and influence.

 

His talk was beneficial because it gave the conference a more of a contemporary feel, since many of these lectures focus on the khwaarij mainly but Taalib exposed how these groups target muslims and other people of all faiths and none in the name of their own ideology, especially the targeting of young children which goes beyond all bounds and ethical norms. Abu Usama Ath Thahabi explained the Islamic definition of extremism and the position of islam and the traditional scholars on the issue of extremism, which they call ‘Ghuloo’. He explained that Islam doesn’t only recognise the far right extremists, which is those people who go overboard within religion which they impose on others, but there is also a recognition of far left extremism, which is the secular types who make up reasons for not practicing islam and the example he gave of this type of extremism was Quilliam Foundation. He explained that Islam was in the middle of these two extremes which is not to overburden yourself to the far right or not to be too relaxed in religion which is the far left but rather to stay on the middle path as explained in the Qur’an and the Sunnah & to finish off Abu Taymiyyah spoke about the contextualisation of violence within the sharia and gave examples of how, even though in some circumstances violence could have been used, the Prophet Muhammad(saw) chose peaceful methods when it came to dealing with people. From my experience in counter extremism work, those three topics were enough in terms of providing an over-arching framework of the extremism debate within Islam which provided enough scope for further issues to be discussed so with this in mind, I asked two questions at the Q&A session.

 

My first question was directed at Abu Usama my question was pertaining to the concept of Al Hakimiyyah (Sovereignty to God) and how extremist groups differ in their understanding to that of the understanding of the orthodox muslim scholars. Abu Usama explained that traditionally the Sunni Scholars have three categories in relation to the Oneness of God. Tauheed al Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of God in His  Lordship), Tauheed al Uloohiyyah (Oneness of God in his Worship) Tauheed al Asma Was As Sifaat (Oneness of God in His Names and Attributes) and he said that within these attributes, one can come to the understanding that God is al-Hakim (The Sovereign). So with this understanding, one is still within the orthodox sunni understanding of Islam however he went on to explain that extremists have come up with a fourth category which is Tauheed Al Hakimiyyah (Oneness of God in His Sovereignty) and what they have done is focus on the category of Al Hakimiyyah & politicised it to the detriment of all the other obligations within islam. So with this politicised category of Al Hakimiyyah there are no agreements with different states, there are no boundaries or nation states, mankind has no place in the interpretation of divine laws and regulations, there is no room for different opinions etc because everything and everyone comes under the rulership of God, well according to the way these extremists understand the Sovereignty of God. This question was needed to be asked because I wanted to focus on ideology which Abu Usama explained well Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God) but the debate on extremism is changing. It is not just solely on political violence anymore but it has evolved in to one of the friction between liberalism and conservatism. So with this in mind, I asked Abu Taymiyyah the question about the killings of the secular bloggers in Bangladesh and how muslims should deal with secular atheist bloggers in muslim majority societies. Both he & taalib denounced the killings of these bloggers stating that extra-judicial killings is against the rulings of Islam and it is only the prerogative of the ruler to deal with those subjects who may have broken the law of the land. Abu Taymiyyah went on to explain that muslims should deal with Secular bloggers with dialogue and debate, not violence.

 

Although there was a lot of benefits in going to this conference, I do have some lines of constructive criticism for the mosque committee and speakers. Although I understand that the speakers came from far and there were time limitations, for lectures that are essentially annual conferences for masjids and religious institutions I would have liked to see the use of audio visual equipment like, pictures, video etc by the speakers to compliment what they are talking about as it was billed as a conference so there could have been room to spice up the talks especially now that there is a lot of online verified testimony from people who have escaped the clutches of ISIS and Boko Haraam, seeing some of these videos as part of their talks would have been a nice compliment. So that’s my first point of constructive criticism. The second point comes with a caveat, although I understand the masjid was a small masjid and the lectures had to take place in the mens prayer space but to me you cant advertise something as an event for all of the community, only to find that at the event, there is a total lack of the presence or the participation of women. That, as well as of the issue of writing questions on paper for women, some would say, is almost discriminatory and I don’t think this has any place now as women, as should rightly be in my opinion, are involved in all aspects of public life. So for future events, I would suggest the renting of a hall where women are present and are participating in the event (by this I mean, you can have women speakers as well) or to extend the mosque where you have shared spaces where you can host your annual conferences and other events.

I would suggest the further development of halls in mosques as then when you do events, you can incorporate things like entertainment such as poetry or acapella rap or acoustic nasheed singing so the event is fun but also more importantly educational as well.

 

But with these points of criticism, I still commend the brothers for hosting an event on such a topic, it was very beneficial and I wish them all the best for the future by the Will of God.

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Islam and the future of toleranceI first heard about the book “Islam and the future of tolerance” on maajid nawaaz’s  facebook page during the controversy of Quilliam receiving funding from the co-author of the same book, Sam Harris. This book was supposed to be the first of its kind, a dialogue between an atheist and an ex-radical liberal muslim where controversial issues surrounding Islam were to be discussed and debated. Prior to the release of the book there were many reviews recommending the book, the most notable one’s coming from the Conservative Muslim Forums’ Mohammed Amin who said that he found the book very “absorbing” which made me think that this book might be of certain value as well as challenge me in my personally held views. The fact that this book was marketed in a way that made it unique, that critical issues were going to be discussed and debated with one of the world’s leading atheist leader’s added value to its overall image.

Discussing and debating about the role of Islam in this contemporary world is something that I welcome as I believe that we share this world with people who hold different beliefs and habits, especially now that we are living in a world system that is largely secular and is notoriously exporting neoliberal democracy throughout the globe, and not just the Muslim world. Debates on meeting both the religious and secular challenges must be had but they must be had by qualified individuals who have in-depth expert knowledge in all of the social, scientific, ethical, philosophical, and religious sciences with the aim of providing solutions and this book is promoted as if it will add value in this area. The format of the book is that of questions by Sam Harris, author, neuroscientist and philosopher, and answers by Maajid Nawaaz, ex-member of Hizb-Ut Tahrir, author of Radical and chairman of the counter extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation.

The first thing that stood out for me are the individuals in this conversation themselves because both Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaaz are NOT Theologians or experts in the Islamic sciences and this lack of in depth religious knowledge is definitely evident in their dialogue as no matter what subject they discuss, it goes no further than the base elementary level which, for me, greatly devalued the book in regards to the contribution that people like Mohammed Amin said it would make. A quick example of this is in Sam Harris’ question that many Muslims view, in a problematic way, the Qur’an as the literal word of God. Maajid’s answer, in short, was that historically there were Muslims called the Mutazilite who didn’t believe the Qu’ran was the literal word of God but were crushed by Muslim empires and therefore interpretation of Islam was influenced by whoever was ruling at that time. Now, I’m not disagreeing about his commentary regarding the Mutazilite, I just didn’t see how his commentary regarding that group added value as there is a lot more that could have been said in regards to this aspect of the debate. Maajid could have educated him about the process of revelation, how and why they occurred and how they are implemented. The lack of depth in his answers reflects the fact that he lacks in depth knowledge of the religious sciences itself.

The question of implementation is also very important as Maajid states that even an extremist can be a scholar and interpret the text and therefore the best way to deal with this is to actually promote the belief that there is no credible interpretation of the holy texts. This new method promoted by Maajid seems to have found fertile ground among the liberals but this methodology still doesn’t solve the problem to which the Quilliam were formed to allegedly solve as this methodology still doesn’t solve the problem of human agency, that extremist speakers will always bend the text to suit their world view and seek to use their religious dogmatism to radicalize vulnerable people. This along with the fact that the Qur’an and the hadith give guidelines and how the text should be interpreted.

Instead of dealing with the problem, maajid’s solution is to expand the remit of interpretation even more when he said “In the absence of a right answer, pluralism is the only option and pluralism will lead to secularism, and democracy, and human rights.” The problem I have with this is that this methodology created the problem of extremism in the first place. Extremist organisations like Al Qaeda, ISIS and others deem their interpretation of the Islamic text to be correct, no matter how much it deviates from the correct teachings or mainstream understanding. The solution is not pluralism or promoting the lack of the belief in the right interpretation but to actually contextualise how the Muslim community should live with their faith in light of the reality that they are living in no matter where they reside. It is the lack of education in regards to the text and how to apply the ethics from the texts in light of the context that we have found ourselves in, that has gone someway in creating the ideological problem of extremism.

He also mentioned that pluralism will lead to human rights and secularism which I think is very telling as this means that he believes that more autonomy should be given to those who are critical of Islam in muslim majority countries. I do not contend the fact that ex-muslims, members of sexual minorities and others in muslim majority and minority countries have some valid points regarding contemporary muslim societies that should be heard and addressed. However if one were to scrutinise the opinions of many of these contemporary liberal muslims or ex-muslims, you will find that many of them, like Maajid, lack knowledge of Islam and its sciences which in and of itself has led to many bigoted opinions of the religion and the muslim world and therefore can serve to reinforce stereotypical views to an unknown public. The fact that Maajid stated that pluralism can tackle extremism aligns himself with certain policies of the Bush administration which aimed to amplify the voices of certain individuals within Muslim majority and minority countries due to their dissent of islam and Muslim practices, in other words amplify Islamophobia. This political alignment, between the current dominant power and the individual, has given rise to what Hamid Dabhashi calls ‘native informants’ in the Muslim world which is a status the Maajid believes will further Human Rights in the Muslim world, another issue that he likes to talk about.

Maajid, in several of his talks, has promoted the idea that Shariah needs to be deconstructed and rebuilt under the rubric of contemporary human rights. This view states that Maajid himself believes that Islam itself isn’t compatible with human rights even though Human rights in theory tries to protect the dignity of human beings which is compatible with Islamic teachings as there are several verses in the Qur’an which highlight the reality of human dignity and the need for its protection. In theory, I don’t think there is any conflict with human rights theory and Islamic principles, the conflict comes in in relation to its implementation in non-western countries. Human Rights in its essence, though noble, is a political project. It was conceived in the west, under western ideas of liberalism and it needs the backing of a major political power to ensure its implementation throughout the world, in this case the United States. This has ensured that the Human Rights project is viewed through a particular lens by many human rights critics. In his book Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique, Makau Mutua, then director of the Human Rights Centre at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, states

“The second difficulty, which is an extension of the first, is the implied duty on Westerners to impose the concept of Human Rights on non-European cultures and societies because it is a universal concept that all societies must accept for their own good. Seen from other cultural perspectives, such a view barely masks the historical pattern by the West – first realized through colonialism – to dominate the world by remaking it for the benefit, and in the image, of Europe”[1]

My argument here is not to argue the need for an ethical multicultural human rights approach (one that gives parity to all cultures, religions and societies and not just the dominating western standard) to protect the dignity of human beings because human beings are being abused and so there is a need, my point here is to argue that by stating that they are a secular human rights organisation, under the current mainstream understanding of the term, the Quilliam Foundation have ideologically and politically positioned themselves with the status quo and those that seek to maintain it. Maajid Nawaaz himself states his belief in this position when he said

“On the contrary, what can unite us is a set of religion-neutral values. By focussing on the universality of human, democratic, and secular (in the British and American sense of the word) values, we can arrive at some common ground”[2]

Along with this political positioning comes another favourite pastime of Maajid, his constant attack on the “regressive” left, by which he means leftist organisations that work with ‘Islamists.’ I consider myself to be part of the left and I can confidently say that the majority of the muslim leftist organisations have no intention to instil sharia law but rather to call for a real democratic governance in this war on terror era. But there is something else that is more troubling about maajid’s views on the left. He states in the book

“This is why I don’t like the “fellow-travellers” who hold hands with extreme islamists and walk along the path with them to entirely illiberal ends, believing that they’re doing muslims a favour when in fact they’re surrendering all those muslims who seek reform – to their deaths, in many instances – by quietly acquiescing to regimes and principles that would aspire to have them killed”[3]

In other words, he believes that by working with muslim activist groups, the left is contributing towards the islamization process and therefore playing a critical role in destabilizing secular and democratic values. What is astonishing is that Anders Behring Breivik had similar views which inspired him to go on a mass shooting spree, killing 77 leftist/multiculturalist teenagers in July 2011. At first, the media saw this as a muslim trait and instead of calming the islamophobic atmosphere, the Quilliam foundation freely indulged in it. Blaming leftist organisations for quietly acquiescing to different regimes, which in some cases may be correct, serves to obscure the greater fact that many of the individuals involved in these leftist organisations are expats of those very countries and have politically aligned themselves in the way they have due to the fact that many of these dictatorships that exist in the Muslim world are supported by the dominant world superpowers – and they believe that in order to topple the dictatorships, one must also oppose and challenge those that support them.

This regressive view of the left is also shared by Sam Harris who was questioning maajid. He states that by taking the position the left has, they have abandoned those that are ex-muslims, homosexuals, women and other individuals while forgetting the fact that the left itself consists of ex-muslims, non-muslims, women, homosexuals and other members and see their opposition to western imperialism as  stepping stone to free the middle east from these dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.

For me, what was interesting about Sam Harris was how engaged and amazed he was with Maajid’s simplistic answers. One could wonder how a rational neuroscientist and philosopher like Sam Harris would come to believe that islam promotes the notion of ‘Holy war’. Just out of interest, if you are wondering that, CJ Werleman’s the New Athiest Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists provides an in depth analysis of the new atheist movement and how scientists and atheist leaders like Sam Harris came to believe some of the most racist, xenophobic views about Muslims and the Middle East.

But as stated above, the books unique selling point is that this is a debate between a leading atheist leader/thinker and a muslim on issues relating to Islam in the contemporary world. The fact that critical issues are discussed is the very reason why it is receiving rave reviews in the academic liberal circuit which is sad to say because within the western muslim communities, this isn’t so unique. We have muslim preachers such as Hamza Andreas Tzortzis who have been travelling around the world debating leading atheist thinkers such as professor Lawrence Krauss. The organisation that he belongs to, the Islamic Education and Research Academy, regularly hosts debates and panel discussions with muslim theologians and members of others faiths and none on important contemporary issues under their ‘Don’t Hate, Debate’ campaign. The idea of muslims and athiests debating about islam isn’t a new phenomenon in the Muslim tradition as this is something that has been going on for decades.

Due to the times that we are living in and the issues that we, as mankind, are facing, debates around the role of religion are crucial to have. Due to this pressing need, I can understand why some people will look at religion critically or fail to see how religion fits in the contemporary modern world.

For people looking for answers to these types of questions, I would urge you to read Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberationby Tariq Ramadan as it contributes significantly to the discussion of Islam, Human rights and other contemporary issues by someone who has studied in the Islamic Sciences. This book however, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, adds absolutely nothing worthy of value to the debate and after reading about 90% of the book, I can honestly say that watching paint dry would have been a more intellectually stimulating experience.

Mizan the Poet

Twitter: @Mizanthepoet

Facebook: Facebook.com/Mizanthepoet

[1] Mutua; Makau, Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique, pg 80

[2] Harris; Sam, Nawaz; Maajid, Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue, pg 4

[3] Ibig pg 52

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I have just had the privilege of coming back from Hhugs (Helping Households Under Great Stress) Annual Dinner called Shattered Lives which was held in Tower Hill, East London and although the event was a great success, one of the comments made by the speakers was rather troubling.

For all those who don’t know, Hhugs is an organisation that assists the families of citizens who have been arrested under contemporary anti-Terror laws. Hhugs assist the families in a number of ways including financial assistance, emotional assistance, facilitating transport as well as providing other crucial services. Yesterday’s event, Shattered Lives was their annual fundraising dinner which consisted of talks, poetry and a video presentation. We had excellent talks from people like Lauren Boothe, Mohammed Ali (CEO Islam Channel) as well as others but it was one of the trustee’s of the organisation, Fahad Ansari who revealed that a Metropolitan Police PREVENT Officer Mark Deacon contacted them expressing concerns about one of the speakers in the hope that the event will not go through. When that avenue did not work, Mr Deacon approached the venue in order to cancel the event but by the grace of God, the venue did not succumb to the pressure from PREVENT.

PREVENT was set up by the government to steer young, vulnerable Muslims away from extremist ideas but as time goes by, it’s becoming clear that PREVENT is actively monitoring Muslim leaders and Muslim individuals who harbor political opinions or are involved in any form of politics in order to reduce any form of criticism against the status quo.

This is exactly the same thing that happened to CagePrisoners last year when the PREVENT department tried to close down their ‘Caged in the USA’ event.

Charities like Hhugs provide a crucial service to the community and targeting organisations like Hhugs will actually help foster extremism within the community. And although I do acknowledge that extremism is a problem within our community, as well as other communities, that must be tackled, Muslim community leaders have the added responsibility of uniting with each other and developing a cohesive strategy that serves to protect the interest of their respective communities and effectively counter the intrusive methods employed by the government and the intelligence services that serve not to prevent violent extremism, but to rather preserve a system that is very much imperialistic in its nature and is working to stifle any forms of legitimate political dissent.

Remembering Guantanamo

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As the majority of the western world glues itself to the television to get the latest updates on the US Presidential election, a group of British protesters gathered outside the US embassy today to remember those connected to an issue that the Obama administration long seems to have forgotten about.

Yesterday, The London Guantanamo Campaign hosted its event “Demo, Truth and Justice The American Way” which consisted of speakers and entertainers who highlighted the on going human rights abuses conducted by the US and UK governments in Guantanamo Bay.

The event was attended by people like Ilyas Townsend(Justice for Aafia Campaign) who talked about the history of colonialism and it’s contemporary manifestations, Chris Nineham(Stop the War Coalition) who talked about our need to oppose Guantanamo and the connection between Islamophobia and the war in terror and Joy Hurcombe(Save Shaker Aamer Campaign) who spoke of their fight to free Britains last remaining Guantanamo detainee.

But for me the most interesting speech was from Aviva Stahl(CagePrisoners) who highlighted the intrusive entrapment methods of the FBI responsible for radicalising Muslims. This was particularly relevant to my previous article which was an interview with documentary film maker Roshan Muhammad Salih and his investigations of MI5’s intelligence gathering operation of the Muslim community in the UK.

It was a very inspirational event to be involved in, seeing people stand up for the right of others but there is another thing that I learnt. Although it is important to resist the current war on terror, we have to understand that this is simply an evolution of the cold war. Therefore our response to the war on terror must also evolve if we are to take our activism to new powerful heights and ensure that our children and our children’s children have a fighting chance in stopping imperialism and racism in all of its forms.

Roshan Muhammad Salih Born and spent early years in Sri Lanka, of Sri Lankan/British heritage. Lived in north Wales until A levels. Went to University in Staffordshire and Exeter with a year’s break in France. Sort of fell into teaching for a couple of years in a rough inner city school. Then retrained as a journalist, moving into local newspapers, then TV with Granada, Aljazeera (in the Middle East), Islam Channel and most recently Press TV. Now working as an independent documentary-maker. Specialism in global Muslim affairs.

He is working on a documentary looking at the MI5 and spying in the UK Muslim Community which will be available on press tv very soon so check http://www.presstv.com for more information. People can search for him on Facebook for more information about exact broadcast date. He will also put the documentary on youtube. Roshan can be contacted on roshan@newsanew.tv for more information.

Can you tell us more information about the documentary that your working for, especially the issue of spying in the muslim community?

Ah yeh, ok so this documentary, I’m an independent documentary maker , I’ve sold this documentary to press tv so it will broadcast on press tv in the next weeks or months at the latest they haven’t put across a date but I’ll keep you in touch with that. The idea of the documentary in a nutshell is that huge resources is being thrown at the terrorism threat or the so-called terrorism threat by the government and the community that they’re monitoring more than any other is overwhelmingly the Muslim community. And they are doing this in the name of national security to catch so called terrorists. Now the tactics they are using is ultimately very direct, they’re placing bugs in mosques , placing bugs in restaurants, in offices, they are monitoring young people, they’re monitoring community leaders, they’re monitoring women especially, they’re monitoring Somali youth, people in schools, colleges, universities because they think that these are the guys that are most likely to turn in to terrorists so in the one hand they’re monitoring the community quite intensively they’re also trying to recruit people from the community to become spies because what they need is information and access and they haven’t got that so who’s got it? Muslims have got it so they are trying desperately to get muslims to spy on their behalf. And they’re doing this with some success I’d say aswell. Other tactics they’re using currently they’re employing undercover police officers in the community especially converts, you know people who pretend to convert to islam and then very soon afterwards they start asking questions about what do you think about jihad? What do you think about Afghanistan? Iraq and lets do something and kind of encourage people to maybe say things they shouldn’t say and all the while they’re wearing recording devices and they’re filming whats going on and so you have this element of entrapment aswell and the basic premise of the documentary is that I think the government is not going after terrorists, I think we would all support them if they were genuinely going after terrorists but they’re targeting the whole community.

Did you encounter any obstacles while filming your documentary and if so, can you give us any specific examples?

Ah yeah I mean the police and the MI5 are completely uncooperative you know they don’t want anyone making any documentaries on any of this serious stuff or ask any serious questions so they didn’t give me any interviews they didn’t give me any help and you know, infact, I wouldn’t say that they were obstructive because they know if they were that would probably give me more reason to publicise what they are doing because they know I’m the kind of guy who would just go public straight away. But you know they turned down all our interviews so in terms of the police and MI5 there was no luck from them no cooperation from them whatsoever. Muslims I think are scared aswell I mean a lot of people approached me personally and said “I’m really glad you’re doing this, no one’s doing it and heres a lead follow this up” but they wouldn’t do it on camera, they wouldn’t go on camera especially even though they supported what I was doing and were encouraging me and giving me leads off the record and I just think they are very scared of what the security services can do because the security services are complete, they can get away with whatever they want here they’re completely untouchable you cant make a complaints against them and they can destroy your life ultimately so you know muslims are scared. On the other hand a lot of muslims who have been subjected to MI5 surveillance themselves did go on camera and these were the brave ones who ultimately said something needs to be done about it so it was kind of a mixed reception from the community itself I think I got here

From your experience would you say that there is a difference between someone who is an informant and organisations who act as partners with the police so for example if I can just break it down you know the Muslim Contact Unit has partner organisations that it works with so would you say that there is a fundamental difference between that relationship and the relationship between that of an informant and informer?

I’m actually looking at the Muslim Contact unit now, are you referring to specific groups or….

Yeh they work with specific muslim youth groups, muslim organisations that want to integrate young muslims back in to society however they because of this relationship between them and the police they can be seen by people as informers

I mean the Muslim Contact Unit if I remember correctly Bob lambert founded it wasn’t it, do you know about Bob Lambert?

Yes I do know

So basically he was a former spy and he kind of preyed of environmental groups and he had relations with women in thoese groups and had children and abandoned them, you know an inherently untrustworthy character and yet he made his way in to the muslim community unfortunately muslims seem to have taken him to their heart aswell. I mean I’m generally I would say in an an answer to your question I think there is overt spying going on and covert spying. I think any muslim organisation which takes money from government and any muslim organisation which has close ties with government and police, atleast we have the right to be suspicious and I think that as I said the governments needs access in to the community and if these people are taking money from the government that means that they are beholden to the government to a certain extent because theres no such thing as a free lunch in this life I’m afraid. So theres an overt kind of kind of spying going on where they probably pass on information I’m sure they do. I think then theres covert spying where you don’t know who’s working for who so I think theres a two pronged strategy overt and covert and you people might think the covert is worse than the overt but I think they’re two peas in a pod to be honest it’s the same thing ultimately, ones overt and ones secretive. Personally I’m against any muslim organisation taking any money from the government whatsoever

Can you give us any examples of organisations and individuals that are engaged in spying because in your statuses you say that there are liberal and there are extreme muslims who are “working” for the intelligence services, so can you give us any examples?

Well this is the thing, the short answer is no I’m not going to give you examples because the whole, this is all inherently underground activity there is no paper trail. MI5 do not leave a paper trail, that is what they are experts in doing and yet we know that they are spying on muslims because they basically admit it you know in the PREVENT papers which are published in the home office website and even in the meetings I have attended you know they’ve said to community members you’d be naïve to think if it wasn’t going on. I mean I cant name names because in order to name names you have to be 100% sure even as a muslim you know you cant finger people unless your 100% sure I just don’t believe in doing that I do think that any organisation, any muslim organisation which takes money from government is inherently suspicious and you know I think we have a right to suspect them. We don’t have a right to say we think you are definitely spies but we have a right to have doubts because we know that these are the type of organisations which are doing spying and I think any organisation which calls itself a womens empowerment organisation is inherently suspicious aswell, not that I’m against womens empowerment but it is also obviously so called government strategy to empower socalled muslim women who are being oppressed in their community and often these groups get government money so I think we have a right to have doubts about that. Also organisations that work with the young because the youth are the governments real target, that’s what they want information about so any youth community groups that are working with muslim youth I think, I would personally have doubts about them without saying they’re guilty, they’re innocent whatever so generally I would say in terms of organisations anyone that has close ties to the government and the police we should be suspicious about and we shouldn’t be naïve about it aswell because I mean I know somebody who I cant mention but I know he is an MI5 spy and I know that he’s a head of a huge muslim organisation in this country but I cant name him and he isn’t the kind of person you’d expect if I said his name to you now you’d be shocked OK you’d be absolutely shocked if I said it out loud they would demonise me they would come after me and say why are you going after this good man and that’s why I say we shouldn’t be naïve because the people that we least expect to be the spies are probably the spies and the ones that we do expect to be spies, maybe they’re not spies. So in terms of individuals, I think general islamist groups, I should say first of all I consider myself an islamist. I’m a practicing muslim who believes in political islam but I don’t believe in having contact with MI5 or police and this is why I think that my brothers my islamist brothers fall down because they will justify their contact with the MI5 and the police in the kind of it’s the greater good and I think that’s very cynical and that’s very hypocritical I don’t think you get in bed with your enemy one day and then you know fight him the next I think that’s completely cynical and hypocritical. I ultimately believe that your not in charge aswell because these guys, they control you, you don’t control them and these guys are masters of this game and you become pawns of the game. So you mentioned Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed who have had contact with MI5, I know they have because I know their lawyers who sat in on these meetings they in themselves have had contact with MI5, whether they’re MI5 pawns or not is a different matter but we know that MI5 is infioltrating muslim organisations like al muhajiroun but I would say that every single major muslim organisation in this country would be infiltrated if you look at it from MI5’s point of view that just stands to reason. Basically in terms of individuals, I think that anyone, the fact is a lot of islamists have contact with the MI5 and a lot of them because they sought refuge in this country and as soon as you do that the MI5 and the police are all over you but that doesn’t mean that they are tools for MI5 but it does mean that some contact has gone on, I mean you never know whats actually happened, are they blackmailing them? Have they threatened their families? Are they working under duress? You know these are legitimate questions asked and also I mean the fact is if you look at Libya and Syria, these are two areas where islamists and the MI5 and I’ll say the MI6 are working in hand in hand because the islamists will justify it in terms of the greater good they’ll say that we have to overthrow despots like ghaddafi in Libya and bashar in Syria but the fact is that, I mean that I’ll give you an example I know a guy who’s on a control order and he met the same guy who was harassing him for 10 years on the Turkish and suria border and that guy was ultimately from MI5 who said to him “whatever you want I’ll give you” so you know they’re working on the same side so theres a marriage of convenience going on between some islamists and individuals and groups and MI5 and I think that personally my recommendation would be no contact with them whatsoever because your just asking for trouble.

Do you see the industry of spying in the muslim community getting more problematic or something that will die down in the future?

No its going to get bigger, mizan because ultimately the terror industry is big business and ultimately everything in this world comes down to money. And everyone has its price. Ultimately its in the interest of the security services to heighten the terror threat and they do that because as long as the terror threat is high they can go for huge government resources to finance the work they are doing and etc etc so everyones after these contracts and therefore they’re likely to keep on planting stories in the newspapers, they’re going to keep on using the daily mail, the daily telegraph, the daily express and all those right wing papers to heighten the terror threat, to make people scared because as long as they can keep people scared then they can get more money and the police and the MI5 have their own agenda which is often separate from people in government. There might be people in government who want to eradicate terrorism and they might actually feel that way and maybe there are people in the police and MI5 who feel the same way aswell but there are also other people who are generally are just in this to make money and terrorism equals money.

What advice would you give to the muslim community regarding how it should interact with the government? I know that you know, you said that basically a no no to the intelligence but you know the government and the police how should we interact with the authority because you know, we are citizens and we are a community living in the UK?

Yeh I mean of course we’re a minority in this country and we should be good citizens, we should obey the law, we shouldn’t do anything wrong, we shouldn’t I mean I’m against terrorism, I am 100% against terrorism, we live in this country and if we choose to live in this country we accept the rules of this country and we accept the fact that we’re a minority here we don’t run the place and so therefore muslims should be good citixzens here we should interact with our neighbours with non-muslims and you know I’m all for that but at the same time I think that the governments agenda when it comes to terrorism is so compromised and so ideological that I I think any muslim organisation which takes money from the government is asking for trouble really because we’re just going to become pawns in a game that we don’t understand so I would say what one law is is no money from government, muslim organisations should not be taking any money from government, ummm individuals we should not have any contact with MI5, if MI5 approach you then you should know your rights you should not have conversation with them off the record for example because they are experts at getting information out of you and make you incriminate yourself and they can blackmail you. You should ask for lawyer straight away and you should talk to them in the presence of a lawyer otherwise don’t talk to them at all. What else yeh I mean as also as a community we need to unite and the thing is we are a very divided community, we’re divided on sectarian lines you know we’re either salafis or Sufis or shia, we’re divided on ethnic lines such as Pakistanis or whatever and we’re just you know a complete joke in terms of unity and if we don’t unify then they will be able to pick us off very easy and I think the muslim community should come together and form a coordinated response to whats happening. They are basically being targeted, they are basically under attack and they have no answer about it and even if they do know they’re like passive victims but they don’t have to be passive victims they should tell the authorities that this is unacceptable, they wont stand for it, I don’t personally have all the answers, I don’t know what to do for A to Z but I fo know that we need to come together and sort this out as a community and decide on some kind of cohesive response otherwise we’re just going to picked off and we’re going to be victims and I personally don’t want to be a victim and mizan theres onwe other thing that I wanted to say that you haven’t aswked me but I remember it was in one of the questions that you wrote down that I had a look at and that is how I came to this documentary in the first place? I basically came to it in the case of Munir Farooqi in Manchester, ummm which I hope you can highlight because if you go to http://www.savethefamilyhome.com you’ll find the website there it gives you the complete information about this guys case and he was basically subject to under cover surveillance by two cops over the period of a year and they pretended to convert to islam and after they converted they started asking quesions about Jihad, politics and Afghanistan and they filmed this guy and secretly recorded what he saif for over a year and because of the few words that he said about “perhaps noe day we’ll go to Afghanistan and we might do something” he was convicted for 18 years and it smacked me when I visited the family the case smacked me of entrapment you know there was no plan of going to Afghanistan, there was no plot but just because of the few words that he said off the cuff or angry or whatever he was banged up and he is in prison now for 18 years so to me that is not catching terrorists that is entrapping people. So I hope that on your blog you can highlight this case of Munir Farooqi because its probably the most shocking case of entrapment that’s happened in this country perhaps ever you know and they are appealing the judgment at this moment in time aswell.

In 2006, a new convert showed up at a mosque in Orange County, California, eager to study the Koran and make new friends. But when he started acting odd and saying strange things, those friends got suspicious. To them, he was Farouk al-Aziz. But his real name was Craig Monteilh, and he was working undercover for the FBI (Read the update of his story here)

An excellent discussion about the innocence of muslims and its response.

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Yesterday, CagePrisoners hosted an event called ‘Caged in the USA‘ which included discussions and talks from community activist Lee Jasper, former Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, activist and brother of Talha Ahsan, Hamja Ahsan and ex-US political prisoner and black panther Robert King.

As an observer the event itself highlighted the similarities and the differences between the imprisonment of political prisoners due to the war on terror and the imprisonment of other political prisoners in earlier era’s.

All the speakers and panelists highlighted the same challenges that Muslim and non-Muslim communities face when it comes to the issue of terrorism and the police. Robert King spoke about how the black community were treated as slaves and this has evolved in to the American justice system and Omar Deghayes complimented what Robert King said when he mentioned the Guantanamo inmates are treated as sub-humans and as slaves. The input from Hamja Ahsan and Lee Jasper bought in to the Event the importance of the community to tackle social, economic and political issues and the hypocrisy of the UK government regarding the Extradition of Talha Ahsan.

But one thing that CagePrisoners mentioned was that the Home Office PREVENT department called them and the Karibu Centre to stop the event. Why?

Since there was no promotion of any radical ideology at the event and all that was discussed were issues pertaining to the War on Terror (which is what all CagePrisoner events are known for) it seems to me that the Home Office is acting on the findings by discredited think tanks such as the Quilliam Foundation and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

CagePrisoners act to give a voice to the voiceless and although they might represent some political prisoners who’s opinions I do not agree with, I stick with the principle that no one is above justice and that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing, whether that is Abu Hamza or (if he were to be arrested) the EDL’s Stephen Lennon.

This does not make CagePrisoners an inherently extremist organisation neither but what CagePrisoners have done via events like this is to help open a platform where political issues can be discussed, progressive ideas can be exchanged and civic participation and lawful activism can be encouraged. During these times where the UK governments double standards is plain for all to see organisations that give young activists the platform to air their views and get involved should be encouraged and supported.

But the Home Office PREVENT departments attempt to close the event shows to me a frightening reality that far from preventing violent extremism, it actually tried to prevent any form of political dissent.

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Here is the Speech by David Cameron yesterday, I’m going to do a critique on this.

This is a check against delivery version of the Prime Minister’s speech

“With me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

I will always stand by the Jewish people. And it is humbling to be here tonight and to be called a friend.

Here in this room, we have many of the people who are determined to build the strongest possible relationship between Britain and Israel.

The business leaders who have taken our trade to well over $8 billion a year and made Britain the second biggest export market for Israel in the world.

The scientists who are taking forward an ambitious programme of joint research as part of the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, which includes no less than four Nobel Prize winners.

The leading academics who are helping to forge new partnerships between Manchester and the Weizmann Institute, Oxford and Ben Gurion, Cambridge and Tel Aviv.

The hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world.

And, of course, our two ambassadors – Matthew Gould and Daniel Taub who are doing so much to help build this partnership between our countries.

UJIA

Mick, Doug – you have made an inspirational contribution and I am sure that everyone will want to join me in paying tribute to your leadership and hard work over these past few years.

I am a big admirer of what the UJIA does both here in Britain and in Israel. Let me explain why.

First, the Jewish community in Britain is a role model for successful integration because you understand that as well as being part of a community with a common faith you are also part of a wider community – that of our country.

You epitomise the philanthropic spirit that is so central to Jewish teaching and which sees so many Jewish people give generously – not just to Jewish charities but to all charitable causes.

And through your support for Jewish youth movements and educational programmes for young people at both Jewish and mainstream schools and through your Summer Tours to Israel for 16 year olds and gap year students you continue to show each new generation that it is possible to be both a proud Jew steeped in the values of the Jewish people and a proud British citizen.

Yes, you can love this country, take pride in its history, celebrate its Olympics, even cry with its football fans every other year. There is no contradiction between being a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.

In the past, governments allowed a flawed state multiculturalism that said we should encourage different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.

I don’t subscribe to that. And neither do you. I believe we have to end the passive tolerance of segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

Let’s be clear what that means. It means getting preachers of hate out of our country.
It means proscribing organisations that incite terrorism. And it means zero tolerance for any form of anti-Semitism, especially on our campuses.

And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.

SECURING ISRAEL’S FUTURE

I’m a fan of what you do in Israel too. The focus you have given to the Galilee has ensured that UJIA’s funding reaches those communities that most need it.

And the projects you’ve supported touch the lives, not just of those directly involved, but of all Israel. The medical school in Safad which teaches Jews and Arabs alike. Western Galilee College, where more than 30 per cent of the intake is Arab, and almost half of that Arab women. Or, of course, the high school in Shlomi. There in the shadow of the hills from which Hezbollah launched its missiles you brought an army of teachers and the hope of a new generation.

That is the vision, strength and courage on which our future depends. And that is what the UJIA is all about. Now, tonight I want to talk about three key steps to secure Israel’s future.

Standing up to Iran.

Seizing the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring and the spread of democracy in the wider region. And making the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

Let me take each in turn.

IRAN

First, Iran. Let’s be clear about the facts. Iran is flouting six United Nations resolutions. The Regime’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended purely for civilian purposes is not remotely credible.

And it has shown its violent agenda by exporting terror and violence to Iraq, to Syria, to Gaza, to Lebanon and to many peace-loving countries across the world.

Iran is not just a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the world. Now there are some who say nothing will work – and that we have to learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran.

I say we don’t and we shouldn’t.

But at the same time I also refuse to give in to those who say that the current policy is fatally flawed, and that we have no choice but military action. A negotiated settlement remains within Iran’s grasp.

But until they change course, we have a strategy of ever tougher sanctions. Just today, Britain has secured a further round of new sanctions through the EU Foreign Affairs Council. And these relentless sanctions are having an impact no-one expected a year ago.

They have slowed the nuclear programme. Iranian oil exports have fallen by 45 per cent. That’s 1 million fewer barrels a day and $8 billion in revenues lost every quarter.

The Rial has plummeted – losing around half its value between May and September.
Inflation is soaring – thought to be as much as 50 per cent. And the Iranian Regime has had to establish an economic austerity taskforce to manage the pressure they have brought on their own people.

Most significantly, there are signs that the Iranian people are beginning to question the Regime’s strategy with even pro-regime groups protesting at the actions of the Government.

It’s mind boggling that the leaders of a nation so rich in oil have succeeded in turning their country into a banana republic desperately trying to put rockets into space while their people suffer.

The Iranian regime is under unprecedented pressure and faces an acute dilemma. They are leading their people to global isolation and an economic collapse. And they know it.

They know too that there is a simple way to bring sanctions to an end. By giving the international community the confidence we need that they are not and will not develop a nuclear weapon.

I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu that now is not the time for Israel to resort to military action. Beyond the unpredictable dangers inherent in any conflict, the other reason is this:

At the very moment when the Regime faces unprecedented pressure and the people are on the streets and when Iran’s only real ally in Syria is losing his grip on power a foreign military strike is exactly the chance the Regime would look for to unite his people against a foreign enemy.

We shouldn’t give them that chance. We need the courage to give these sanctions time to work. But let me also say this. In the long term, if Iran makes the wrong choice, nothing is off the table. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to Israel. And a threat to the world. And this country will work unwaveringly to prevent that from happening

Open societies

Let me turn to the changing events in the wider region. I have no illusions about the dangers that political transition can bring in the Arab spring countries.

And I understand why instability can be a great cause for concern. I understand how dark things were for Israel when surrounded by enemies on every border. And I understand how Israelis feel when gas masks are handed out to families; and car parks are converted into bomb shelters.

But I passionately believe that what we are seeing through the Arab Spring need not be a new threat to Israel’s security. Democracy and open societies are not the problem – they can be a big part of the solution.

Yes, there are those who believe that in a volatile region only an authoritarian strong man can maintain stability and security. But when brutal dictators suppress their people in the name of stability, the end result is a region is that more dangerous – not less.

More dangerous because these regimes abuse the Palestinian cause to smother their own people’s hopes and aspirations, dealing with frustration at home by whipping up anger against their neighbours, Israel and the West. And more dangerous too, because people denied a job and a voice are given no alternative but a dead end choice between dictatorship or extremism.

Now, of course, many fear that elections can open the door to Islamist parties whose values are incompatible with truly open societies. But the answer is not to oppose elections. The answer is to respect the outcome of elections. And then judge governments by what they do.

For example, there are big questions facing President Mursi in Egypt. We want to know if he will live up to his commitments to protect the rule of law for all citizens, defend the rights of minorities and allow women to play a full in society. And I challenged him personally on these points when I met him in New York last month.

But when he re-launches Operation Eagle to try and do something about the lawlessness in the Sinai, we should welcome that. And when he goes to Tehran and speaks the truth to that regime about its despicable actions in Syria in support of Assad, we should welcome that too.

But if the Islamists attempt to undermine the stability of other countries or encourage terrorism instead of peace and conflict instead of partnership then we must and will oppose them. And that is why we will not waver from our insistence that Hamas gives up violence and that the rockets from Gaza must stop. Hamas must not be allowed to dictate the way forwards for Israelis and Palestinians.

Of course, the Arab Spring presents huge challenges. But if we can show the strength and courage to engage with new democratic governments, their chance to establish the building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies offers the greatest opportunity for stability and peace in a generation.

MEPP

That brings me to the Palestinian Territories and the peace process. We can’t advocate democracy and open societies in one breath and then cite the need for stability as an excuse for why the Palestinians shouldn’t renew their democracy too.

It’s now seven years since Palestinians voted for a President and six since parliamentary elections. The Palestinian leadership needs to refresh its mandate and show it has the consent of its people, starting with municipal elections later this month. And it needs to resolve the situation in Gaza and restore to Palestinians a unified, leadership able to deliver peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel.

So Palestinian reconciliation and Palestinian elections are key points on the path to peace – because without consent there can never be credible negotiation.

It will require great strength and courage to take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

And let me say this: I know it takes two to negotiate. So let me tell President Abbas something very clearly there is no path to statehood except through talks with Israel.

So if the Palestinian plan is simply posturing with the UN rather than negotiating with Israel, Britain will never support it.

And let me say this to the Palestinians too. Britain will never support anyone who sponsors a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.

But in the search for peace both sides have to make hard choices. And just as President Abbas has followed through his commitment to non-violence with real progress on the West Bank so Israel needs a real drive to improve life for ordinary Palestinians.

That means more support for economic development in the West Bank, relaxing restrictions on Gaza, ending the demolition of Palestinian homes, and yes, it means meeting Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap and under international law to halt settlement building.

Britain’s position will not change. Settlements beyond the green line are illegal.

I know how hard the concessions needed for peace can be. But the truth is, time is running out for a two state solution – and with it Israel’s best chance to live in peace with its neighbours.

CONCLUSION

Brett, in your introduction you said that support for Israel was in the DNA of the political party I lead. It is. But I believe it is in the DNA of the country I lead too.

That is why Britain will always stand by Israel, protect Israel, and work with Israel on the path to peace.

I long for the day when I can come to a dinner like this and not have to talk about the threats to Israel. I long too for the day when making statements in support of Israel is as unnecessary as going to see President Obama and saying I support America’s right to exist.

For now, Israel will continue to face acute threats and a hard road to peace. But with strength and courage we can, together, stand up to Iran. We can, together, seize the opportunities presented by the spread of democracy in the wider region. And we can together take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

So let me conclude by wishing you all a slightly belated shana tova and let us hope that it will be a sweet year for the British Jewish community and the Jewish people in the State of Israel. And one which brings us closer to the peace and security for Israel that its people so richly deserve.”

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A 21 year old Bangladeshi man going by the name of Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis has been arrested on terrorism charges after attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank today

At first Nafis drove a van with what he thought was a 1000lb bomb near the building, then walked to a nearby hotel to record a martyrdom video and then phoned a mobile phone designed to detonate the bomb. It failed and Nafis was promptly arrested by the FBI in a sting operation.

Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI, said “Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasise that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant’s ‘accomplices’ were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism.”

Although I am happy that this attempt failed and no innocent human being lost their lives, the points emboldened above expose some rather worrying facts.

According to some information released by the FBI Nafis came to the US intending to commit acts of terrorism, attempted to recruit for Al Qaida to assist in carrying out his ambitions in US soil. But one of his recruits tuned out to be a source working for the FBI and it was actually an FBI agent who sold Nafis the material needed to make his fake bomb.

It seems that the FBI, faaar from preventing acts of terror, are actually facilitating acts of terror in order to make arrests. Cases like these should make one question, how many of these ‘Extremist’ Muslims are actually working on behalf of the intelligence services? how many of these intelligence operatives have assisted in radicalising vulnerable Muslims in order to make arrests?

Now as I wrote before, I’m glad this plot failed but let’s not forget reason why the US government is one of the most hated governments in the world. In the past 50 years the US has bombed several countries, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, governs corrupt institutions like the IMF and World Bank, intervened in many elections throughout the world, supports terrorist states like Israel and also is the #1 arms dealer in the whole world.

If anyone wants to understand why the US is so hated, read William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds only Superpower