This is a press release from the Centre for Social Cohesion
The Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) tonight urges the Government to ban the radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun after police were called to a sharia law debate between CSC Director Douglas Murray and the newly appointed British al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary.
Al-Muhajiroun hijacked the debate, ‘Sharia law vs British law’, which was organised by a student society. Members of the radical organisation responsible for the Luton protests took over the debate: the SIA – licensed security guards were al-Muhajiroun and members of the group attempted to intimidate and segregate the audience. One member of the public who objected to the segregation was manhandled and assaulted as he tried to enter the men’s section with a woman. He is pressing charges. The Police took statements from eyewitnesses.
The Centre upholds the right to Freedom of Speech within the law – staff from the Centre will debate anyone on an independent platform with a neutral chair. CSC Director Douglas Murray was asked by a student society to counter Choudary’s views at a debate they were organising at a neutral venue. The society assured the Centre that they had no external affiliations, that they had booked an independent chair and SIA-licensed security guards.
When CSC staff members arrived at the debate, however, is was clear the Centre had been misled. The security guards were members of al-Muhajiroun. The student society had neglected to mention that the event would be segregated. The society’s “independent chair” was involved in the assault. It soon became clear that the student society was, if not a front group for al-Muhajiroun, then at least Islamist-sympathisers hijacked by the extremist group.
According to eyewitnesses, present in the audience was convicted terrorist Simon Keeler – one of the six al-Muhajiroun members convicted in April 2008 for inciting terrorism overseas and terrorist fundraising. The CSC previously revealed that these men had been granted early release from prison in May this year.
No employee from the Centre for Social Cohesion would speak on an al-Muhajiroun platform. An unrepresentative fringe organisation, their ideology glorifies violent jihad and calls for the murder of non-Muslims and Muslims who do not prescribe to their narrow interpretation of Islam. Until al-Muhajiroun is banned, however, when Anjem Choudary is given an independent and neutral platform to speak the Centre believes it is important his views are publically countered.
Following al-Muhajiroun’s announcement earlier this month that they planned to relaunch, the CSC revealed that one in seven Islamist-related convictions in the last decade have had links with the extremist group: 15% of all those convicted in the UK of terrorism-related offences were either members of, or have known links to, the organisation.
In 2005 the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair announced plans to ban al-Muhajiroun, originally founded in 1996 by banned preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed. The group disbanded in October 2004 before the government banned it and its two successor groups, the Saved Sect and al-Ghurabaa, were banned in July 2006 for glorifying terrorism. Yet al-Muhajiroun remains legal. Legislation to proscribe the group, however, is already in place: the Terrorism Act 2006 provides that groups operating wholly or in part under a different name may be subject to proscription.
Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, says:
“I am happy to debate anyone’s opinions in a free and fair open debate. It’s what keeps liberal democracies free. It’s what liberal democracy is all about. But under these circumstances – where a mob takes over an event, resorts to violence and forces gender segregation – then such a debate cannot take place.”
“I would be very willing to debate Anjem Choudary’s views at any debate that was secure and impartial. I look forward to debating him.”
There is an account of this rally at the Spitoon.
This is an eye witness account of this evening’s events:
Al Muhajiroun has now reformed, and is holding public meetings. My belief is that this group is proscribed under the Prevention of Terrorism legislation. They may, however, have a defence that it is their ‘successor groups’ that are banned: Al Muhajiroun is not banned by name. It is however the same organisation, with the same beliefs and same officers as the specifically banned organisation.
I attended a “debate” between Anjum Choudhry and Douglas Murray with a mixed group of friends: three women and three men, two of whom were Muslim. The debate was supposedly organised by a netural student society. However, when we arrived, we discovered that the society was a front for Al Muhajiroun and that this was an Al Muhajiroun rally.
When we entered the room, we were told that the meeting was gender-segregated. Women were required to sit upstairs. My friends and I stated that we would like to sit together. We were told that we could not. We then asked the South Place Ethical Society representative whether the meeting was segregated, as it was his hall that was being used. He told Al Muhajiroun that if the meeting was not mixed, then it could not proceed, and that they had not stated that it would be segregated when they applied to use the hall.
I then asked the South Place Ethical Society representative whether the meeting was gender segregated and whether we could sit downstairs in a mixed group. He said that we could. I then entered the hall with a female friend: a middle aged woman.
I was immediately grabbed by about three Al Muhajiroun thugs who dragged me out of the hall. It was a frightening experience. There were present in the audience, a number of Al Muhajiroun members who have been convicted of terrorism related offences.
While I was being assaulted, I stated that I would report it to the police. The police arrived, and took a statement from me. However, the men who I could identify had run away.
The police will look for these men, and if they are arrested, I will press charges.
This would not have happened, were the ban against Al Muhajiroun enforced by the police, or the law amended to ensure that it is banned.