Andy Hull Writes to the Papers

Jews and Muslims are familiar with it. The pig’s head desecrating the place of worship.

That’s what happened at the Finsbury Park Mosque, last month. The perpetrators of this criminal and disgusting act have yet to be caught. However, the mosque has a very good idea of who is to blame. Not neo Nazis: but rather their former trustee, the Labour MP Khalid Mahmood: abetted by Hansard, James Forsyth of the Spectator, and me.

That conclusion may surprise you. It certainly surprised me. However, as Andrew Gilligan points out, this does appear to be their explanation.

The slur against the MP is repeated in the Islington Gazette:

The current trustees, who took over in 2005, believe the pig’s head incident happened because Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood, himself a former trustee, recently cast fresh aspersions on the mosque.

What are these aspersions? They relate to the suggestion that the Finsbury Park mosque may have hosted – one assumes, by video link or video – a talk by the Al Qaeda recruiter, Awlaki, which Abdulmutallab the Undiebomber may have attended. I don’t know how likely that is. My guess is: vaguely possible.

I say that only because one of the trustees of the mosque is Mohammed Sawalha, who the BBC Panorama identified as a fugitive Hamas commander,  who is identified on the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islam-Online website as the Manager of the Political Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain and who has spent the last year or so as a prominent activist in the Gaza “aid” campaign. I am pretty sure that Sawlaha was formerly the President of the Muslim Association of Britain. The Muslim Association of Britain hosted Awlaki in December 2003, on what Alex Hitchens describes as “a remarkable “grand tour,” which saw Awlaki championed by the MAB over the length of the British Isles, from London to Aberdeen”.

So, was Khalid Mahmood’s question about a possibly Awlaki-Abdulmutallab link the cause of the racist attack on Finsbury Park Mosque? Hugely unlikely, for the reasons Andrew Gilligan set out below:

Something about that rang alarm bells with me. It turns out that the blog was only published by the Spectator at 8.49pm on the night of the 19th. Do racists of the kind who would carry out such an attack obsessively read the Spectator blog? Could they have been so outraged by this relatively obscure and moderately-worded post that they immediately decided to rush out and attack the mosque? And how did they managed to get hold of a pig’s head in a few hours at 9pm?

Let us be charitable and assume that Finsbury Park mosque is innocently conflating and reversing the events of those two days. Because it would be very cynical indeed, were it the case that they were using a racist attack on a place of worship, to engage in a vendetta against their former co-trustee.

Which brings me to Andy Hull. Andy is policy wonk at the IPPR, who is quite keen on the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” thesis: the notion that we need to ally with “non violent” Islamists to defeat Al Qaeda. He is also a Labour councillor in Islington. Perhaps he hopes to be a Member of Parliament. He might well be, one day.

As a councillor, Andy quite rightly wrote to the Islington Gazette, to express his horror at the racist attack on the mosque. This is what he said:

HALF a decade on since the days of Abu Hamza, a lot has changed in Finsbury Park. North London Central Mosque is now a beacon in the north Islington community. The management and congregation are doing sterling work in the area, not just for local Muslims but with their non-Muslim neighbours too. What was once a place of hatred and division is now one of pride and progress.

The cowards and criminals who stuck a pig’s head on the mosque’s railings in the dead of night last week should be ashamed of themselves. There is no place for such bigotry and sacrilege in our ward, which is home to people of every culture and creed, and is brighter and better for it. – Councillor Andy Hull, Labour Party member for Highbury West, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, N1.

The parts of the letter that I have not highlighted are excellent.

Those that are in bold, contain the example on which the Moderate Muslim Brotherhood argument rests: the replacement of the Al Qaedaist, Abu Hamza, with the “non violent” Islamist trustees. So, how well do you think that has worked?

Recall that “non violent”, in this context, means “supporting the targeting of civilians, but only outside the United Kingdom”. Consider  the sum of the various scandals alleged by Khalid Mahmood, and the politics of Mohammed Sawalha. Remember, also, that even if Awlaki was not broadcast at the Finsbury Park Mosque in 2007, it does appear that in 2003, the Muslim Association of Britain was promoting Awlaki’s tour around Britain. Two years later, trustees who included activists with the Muslim Association of Britain were ‘gifted‘ the mosque, in furtherance of the Moderate Muslim Brotherhood thesis. These are the men who are supposed to protect us from Al Qaeda!

Knowing all that, ask yourself whether Andy Hull was right to describe Finsbury Park Mosque as a beacon of “pride and progress”.