This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman
This was the debate I was invited to take part in on BBC1 TV on Sunday morning (“Sunday Morning Live“)
Those of you in the UK can see the debate on BBC I-Player, starting at 42.26 minutes into the programme. I am on at 49.52. Hopefully it will soon be on YouTube too.
For those of you not in the UK, I said that the answer was both “no” and “yes”. Only Islamists are to blame for the existence of terrorism, just as only the Nazis were to blame for Nazism. I said that I hadn’t heard anyone say that Hitler was a freedom fighter opposing the injustices of the Treaty of Versailles. Islamic Terror can be traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in 1928. So it predates the invasion of Iraq and that of Afghanistan and it even predates the founding of the State of Israel.
But (I continued) we are to blame for the spread of terror. This is because we appease the Islamists, instead of opposing them. For example, the Labour government had a programme called “Prevent” – “Preventing Radical Extremism” to give it its full title. But instead of combating extremists, it actually paid them to do talks. And take Abdullmatallab, the so-called ‘underpants bomber’ who tried to bring down a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day. He was head of the Islamic Society at University College London. Three of the last four heads of this society have been indicted for terrorism offences. The College commissioned a Report on him which was published last week, to see if they could have done anything to stop him being radicalised. The Report was pathetic, a joke. It does not even mention ANY of the speakers invited by the Islamic Society while Abdulmutallab was a student at UCL. They include many extremists – Daud Abdullah for example.
I continued: only last week the government failed to exclude a Nigerian extremist who came to speak in London.
Many people asked for him to be excluded. Ibraheem Zakzaky is on record as saying that Jews are “the lowest of creatures on the earth” and he has called Israeli Jews the “children of monkeys of pigs”.
Only when I watched the replay did I see how uncomfortable Ajmal Masroor became during my contribution. Watch his body language. Well before I finish (at 51:26) he raises a finger (at 51.13) at Susanna Reid, the presenter, in order to speak. The other two panel members, Terry Christian and Dame Ann Leslie, are not looking at me on the screen in the studio when I am speaking, but are transfixed by Masroor.
Masroor gets his way. Reid did bring him after my contribution and immediately he misrepresents me by suggesting (absurdly) that I had attacked all Muslims (“He is painting a very bleak picture of the Muslim Community in this country”). Terry Christian and Dame Ann try to take him to task for this smear (“You are twisting his words, he didn’t talk about the Muslim Community, he talked about terrorists”) but he becomes even more agitated, accuses them of interrupting and manages to keep the floor.
At 52:44 Taj Hargey is brought in (he runs the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford). He points out the importance of the theology (“We have a medieval theology that is homophobic, that is patriarchal, that is misogynous and teaches separation and isolation”).
Also memorable is Terry Christian’s comment (54:30): “I don’t remember the last time a Zionist threw acid in a girl’s face for not wearing a veil”. He agreed with what I said, but had a problem with the Z-word.
But back to Masroor. He is an Imam who advises Nick Clegg on Muslim affairs, so you’d think he would take a stand against extremists. He was also the LibDem candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow at the 2010 election. But then why has his Mosque (Harrow) hosted a series of hate preachers? The latest event at Harrow was on Saturday, just a few hours before Masroor was on TV condemning extremists.
(They also link to Islamic Forum Europe on their website, which is connected with the Islamist party, Jamaat e Islami).
Murtaza Khan was one of the speakers on Saturday. Here are some of his quotes in the past:
We [Muslims] did not take down the Twin Towers. You [non-Muslims] yourselves took them down. So in your disguise of “war on terror”, you will kill your own people, because you don’t care about them.
On women wearing perfume:
Any woman who comes out of her house, perfuming herself, and every man that smells her, then she is just classified, according to sharia, as an adulterous woman.
On “fornicating” non-Muslims:
You don’t have no understanding of life. They’re like cattle, nay, they’re more astray than cattle.
I’m not homophobic. I believe in a natural way of life. I’m repeating you what your Bible tells you. In the hadith you find: “You find the people doing the action of Lot, kill the one who does the action and the one the action is being done to.
Hamza Tzortzis was also at the Harrow event. Here is what he has said:
We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom. We see under the Khilafa (caliphate), when people used to engage in a positive way, this idea of freedom was redundant, it was unnecessary, because the society understood under the education system of the Khilafa state, and under the political framework of Islam, that people must engage with each other in a positive and productive way to produce results, as the Qur’an says, to get to know one another.
Maybe Ajmal Masroor can tell us how his condemnation of extremism on Sunday (“deluded extremists”, 45:52) was consistent with the people hosted by his Mosque on Saturday.