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More Views on the Al Muhajiroun Re-Ban

Shiv Malik in Prospect thinks it will be counterproductive:

But now Islam4UK—run by Choudary in London and Bakri from Lebanon — no longer poses a threat in the way that Al Muhajiroun once did. Islam4UK has been whittled down to a few members, it no longer recruits en masse, and its ideas are no longer fresh. Also, given the broader rise of the post 9/11, English-speaking radical Islamic preacher, aspiring young jihadis no longer rate Omar Bakri’s theological standing in the way that they once did. Rather like a Trojan horse, Al Muhajiroun/Islam4UK served its primary purpose years ago. To proscribe the organisation now seems akin to attacking the wooden horse after its contents have already ambushed you. It’s not just futile, it’s dangerous.

The first danger is the most obvious: Choudary and his followers will thrive on their newly-acquired victim status and draw even more publicity than before (as evidenced by Choudary’s appearance on Newsnight immediately after the ban was announced). There is also the possibility that in a few weeks Choudary will simply create another group with a different name but the same ideas, and the process will begin all over again. In that respect, if the home office has specific criminal concerns relating to Isalm4UK, they would be better to prosecute its members for such offences rather than try to impose a blanket proscription. After all you can’t ban Choudary from being Choudary. …

Alex Hitchens, in Standpoint, is unimpressed – but in a different way:

[The ban] begs a question: if ‘a group cannot avoid proscription simply by changing its name’, why has ASWJ/AM/Islam4uk been able to do just that for over three years?

The answer, I’m afraid, is that Labour has become a ‘party of press releases’, by which I mean it does not act out of the best interests of the state but instead at the behest of the latest media frenzy. It is no coincidence that this ban has come after the public outrage the group caused when it protested against returning soldiers in Luton and recently planned a march in Wootten Bassett, the town now synonymous with the return of fallen soldiers.

This poorly timed ban has needlessly given ammunition to the pro-Islamists who argue that the move is an attempt to silence Muslim critics of the government’s foreign policy …

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