On Friday 17th September, Anas al-Tikriti’s Cordoba Foundation and Robert Lambert’s ‘European Muslim Research Centre’ will host a debate on the ‘Ways forward for UK counter-terrorism’ at the East London Mosque’s London Muslim Centre.
Unfortunately, the event’s line-up of panelists is – how can I put this – not exactly fair and balanced.
One speaker is Junaid Ahmed, from Islamic Forum Europe, the Islamist organisation which controls East London Mosque. Last year he spoke at an event on Gaza which was organised by Easy-Talk, the IFE’s online radio station.
Ahmed told the audience there that:
“Every single Palestinian is a role model for the believers around the world. Every single resistance fighter is an example for all of us to follow. And every child that dies we wish that our children would be in a similar position in order that we would wake up to the aggression that is taking place against the believers.”
Just so that there is no misunderstanding about his politics, Ahmed then goes on to specifically praise Hamas members. In particular, he cites “many heroes who we know such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin”, a reference to the former leader of Hamas who was the leading advocate of the use of suicide bombers against Israeli civilians.
Another IFE member, Azad Ali is also on the panel, speaking on behalf of the Muslim Safety Forum. Ali, a civil servant working in the Treasury who is also closely involved in Islamic Forum Europe, will be well known to regular Harry’s Place readers, principally for his apparent support for jihadist attacks on British troops in Iraq and his praise for Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s mentor.
I can’t imagine what either of these individuals have to add to a debate about ‘counter-terrorism’.
Also due to speak is Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, a writer who formerly worked at the pro-Iranian ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’. Ahmed’s particular speciality is conspiracy theories. He appears to believe that the 7-7 bombers may have been carried out not by British jihadists but by the British government.
However, Ahmed appears to be torn between rival conspiracy theories. For instance, in one youtube video, he asks why the British government ‘failed to anticipate this attack’. Less than a minute later, he refers to Mohammed Siddique Khan and his co-conspirators as the ‘alleged bombers’. Finally, he hints darkly about the ‘shifting stories’ that he believes surrounds the 9-11 attacks. ‘Someone’s lying’ he intones, ‘was it negligence, or was it something far worse?’
Ahmed, clearly, is a nut-job.
Also on the panel are Jamie Bartlett and Robert Lambert. Both believe that radical Islamism is a defence against violence radical Islamism. Their positions are subtly different however. While Bartlett seems to be a well-meaning chap who is just a bit naive, Robert Lambert is something different altogether. Recently, he appeared on the Iranian propaganda channel Press TV where he defended not only Yusuf Qaradawi but also banned Indian preacher Zakir Naik, saying:
“Not only is it [i.e. banning Naik from the UK] wrong, I think it’s hugely counter-productive. Because just as I think Yusuf Qaradawi is a voice against violent extremism, against the threat that this country actually faces – it’s known as the al-Qaeda movement – I think Zakir Naik is also a very powerful voice against the real threat that this country faces.”
It is possible that Lambert makes such absurd claims because he is paid to do so. As was revealed previously by a Harry’s Place poster, during the last academic year Robert Lambert’s European Muslim Research Centre received its entire income, a total of £100,000, from just two Islamist organisations – the Cordoba Foundation and Islam Expo. Both these organisations have a decidedly dubious record on issues of extremism and their leading lights have been vocal in their support for Islamists like Qaradawi. Is it co-incidental that Lambert does the same at almost every opportunity?
Fortunately, the final panellist at the event, Marie Breen-Smyth from the University of Aberystwyth, may be able to help with this problem. She has previously decried ideologically-driven research into extremism, singling out the centre-right Policy Exchange think-tank for particular criticism:
‘Sound research is essential for developing an intelligent response to problems such as the radicalisation of some Muslims. However, it is essential the research is undertaken by scholars – including in thinktanks – who are not interpreting data to promote a preconceived political agenda.’
Hopefully, and in a similar manner, Marie will take Lambert to task for accepting funding from two Islamist organisations – including from one, the Cordoba Foundation which has been busted for co-sponsoring an event at which the al-Qaeda agent Anwar Awlaki was originally scheduled to speak.
One piece of good news, however, is that this silly event is being chaired by an impartial and balanced moderator, a man who will surely be able robustly challenge any extremism and who will bring some much-needed sanity to proceedings…
Only kidding. The event is actually being chaired by Anas al-Tikriti, CEO of the Cordoba Foundation – part-funder of Robert Lambert, attempted co-sponsor of meetings involving Anwar Awlaki and former spokesman for a variety of Muslim Brotherhood front-groups, some of which were themselves promoters of Awlaki.
This event is clearly bonkers. It seems unlikely to help elucidate ‘the way foward’ for UK counter-terrorism policy in any way as its title implies. However it is perfectly legal. Nutters like Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed are perfectly entitled to meet with other nutters and swap conspiracy theories with discredited pro-Islamist lackeys like Robert Lambert if they choose. This is, after all, a liberal democracy where such eccentrics should be tolerated, if not indulged.
What I can’t understand, however, is why government-funded institutes such as Warwick University and the Economic and Social Research Council are listed as ‘supporting’ this absurd event.
Public money is desperately tight at the moment. Why is it being squandered on supporting nutcases and Islamists?