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Islamism: Not the Only Solution for Global Peace & Unity

This is a cross post by Mark Gardner from The CST Blog

Last month, in a post entitled “To Terrorise, Or Not To Terrorise”, CST Blog used the case of Dr Zakir Naik to illustrate some of the confusion around Britain’s anti-Islamist terrorism strategies; and the complexity of the challenges facing those charged with the enormous responsibility of running British counter-terrorism strategy.

CST’s posting included evidence as to why Jews, and those who have left Islam, may oppose Dr Naik’s presence here. However, Dr Naik had an interesting counter-argument, saying that he had twice been invited by UK counter-terror officials to help prevent young British Muslims turning to terrorism. This led CST’s post to conclude:

Staunch, unequivocal anti-terrorism messaging should be led by politicians of all parties, and fully backed by civil servants and security officials…

Opposition to terrorism that says little more than “attack them, not us” may pose as hard-headed realpolitik, but it also shares an alarmingly close resemblance to the path of least resistance, premised upon physical fear and moral weakness.  Furthermore, this supposed realpolitik will always remain at the mercy of events and the whim of others.

Worse still, a counter-terrorism proposal based on this type of thinking leaves those in the firing line feeling especially isolated, vulnerable, and ultimately, disposable.

Happy to report, then, that a judicial review has upheld Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to bar Dr Naik from entering the UK.

This was an important test case of the new Government’s attempts to reposition exclusion orders, whereby the onus of proof passed from those seeking to exclude overseas preachers, and on to the preachers themselves: who now had to explain why they should be permitted.

Dr Naik’s case was hardly helped when his Islamic Research Foundation could not even bring itself to make a straightforward condemnation of Osama bin Laden, saying instead

Many journalists ask Dr Zakir Naik regarding his views about Osama Bin Laden. Due to the fact that he [Osama Bin Laden] has not been convicted in respect of 9/11 and as Dr Zakir Naik cannot verify the claims against him, he neither considers him a saint nor a terrorist.

This might be amusing, were it not so serious, and it provides an entirely appropriate context for the announcement that the Home Secretary is reviewing Britain’s anti-extremism policies. CST supports this decision. To be clear, this is not to criticise previous and existing policies, made as they were under the most extreme and unprecedented circumstances of the 9/11 attacks, and then the London bombings of 7th July 2005.

Nevertheless, the problem remains far too important to escape regular assessment, analysis and appraisal. In particular, the extremely difficult question persists, as to whether or not to engage with political Islamists, who will readily condemn “terrorism”, but are just as quick to support “resistance” in Israel, or anywhere else that suits them. Their ideological, physical and human resources largely emanate from international movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami. They seek political and ideological influence over Britain’s diverse Muslim communities, providing a relatively simple and coherent message of Muslim unity to answer the extremely challenging questions of identity and belonging that are keenly felt by many of their British target audience.

In recent years, the annual debate concerning the Islam Channel’s Global Peace and Unity (GPU) Conference has come to epitomise the arguments surrounding engagement with Islamists. At Conservative Home blog, Paul Goodman MP sums it up as “the Royal Ascot of the British Islamist calendar”.

GPU is an impressive showpiece of strength and organisation, held over two days at London’s Excel Centre, the purpose of which is to enhance Islamist reach into both the Muslim community and the wider political and media sphere. This is not entryism by stealth as practised over the years by highly idealised left wing and right wing grouplets. On the contrary, it could hardly be more explicit about its actions and goals: “Global Peace and Unity” is to be achieved by spreading the message of Islam, as it is perceived, practised and propagated by the global Islamist movements.

Of course, GPU and its drivers have every right to freedom of speech (but not incitement), and they have every right to fully participate in UK political life; but this most certainly does not mean that the British state needs to assist them, nor that the British taxpayer needs to subsidise their activities and front groups throughout the country.

It is sincerely hoped, therefore, that Theresa May’s review of British counter-extremism policies will give further substance to her actions thus far; and that it will provide clear guidance as to what is, and is not, deemed acceptable. The challenge may not be the review as such, but to ensure that the rest of the machinery of national and local Government is brought into line, especially the civil servants, Police and others who face such fiendishly difficult decisions around anti-extremism engagement, dialogue and co-operation on a daily basis.

One of many indicators of united messaging and actions will be to see if the City and Metropolitan Police forces continue to be official “supporters” of GPU. A Met Police spokesman has already said

There was no formal Met Police representation at GPU [2010]. The Commissioner was invited to attend or record a video message but did not.

This is a pointed message, delicately delivered. City Police did, however, speak at the 2010 event, but their spokesman was careful to place this in the most general terms,

We spoke at the event to raise awareness of we were doing to work [sic]with the Muslim community, and to raise awareness of fraud against hajj pilgrims.

Still, images can often speak louder than words, and both the City and Met Police feature amongst the list of “supporters” featured on the homepage of the Global Peace and Unity website. They can be seen just above another loud-speaking image: the photo/weblink that illustrates the inaugural 2005 GPU event. The photo is of Dr Zakir Naik and was most likely taken when he spoke at this, the GPU’s first conference. The weblink to the 2005 event appears to be incomplete, but Dr Naik gave the concluding speech and a video of it can be seen here (it is mistakenly described as GPU 2009). Dr Naik’s speech (as you can see at 1min 15secs into the video) was on “the topic”

Islam is the only solution for global peace and unity

This, then, was how Dr Naik concluded the GPU event.



What, message, however, did Dr Naik’s audience take away?

MPACUK is an Islamist activist group that CST has had numerous reasons to be critical of. (For instance, here.) The forum section of its website features some short but illuminating feedback, in which one member of the audience summarises what he heard. This is what the MPACUK forum contributor wrote (note, in the original posting, it is only the first line and the last sentence that were written in bold).

Dr Zakir Nayak- The Days Main Guest:
Islam is the only way towards Peace and Unity, for it unites beyond race colour and position.
The West accuse Islam of being intolerent, and yet it is today the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America, why are the westernerrs running to the religion of Islam.
The West accuse Islam of being Abusive towards Women, and yet two thirds of the converts in the west are Women, why are British and American Women runnning towards Islam?
the West is afraid of allowing Islam to flurish in the Muslim World bcause they are afraid of losing their Wold Banks and their positions.
They Plan and and Allah also plans, and they need to know that, The Islamic Bomb was dropped on the world with the Birth of the Prophet Muhammed Peace be upon Him.

“The Islamic Bomb” is, perhaps, not the most sensitive turn of phrase for a Muslim leader to be using in a post 9/11 world. Worse, a google search suggests that this is not the only time that Dr Naik has used the phrase. Furthermore, on the Islam Awareness website, Dr Naik seems perfectly happy to acknowledge that the phrase is not his own, writing

Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson rightly says, “People who worry that nuclear weaponry will one day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to realize that the Islamic bomb has been dropped already, “it fell the day MUHAMMAD was born”. (Pbuh)

And, to conclude with an aside – who is this Dr Joseph Adam Pearson, to whom Dr Naik owes the phrase “The Islamic Bomb”? Well, it would appear that Pearson is President of the Christ Evangelical Bible Institute and authored what sounds like a dreadfully Islamophobic book, “The Koran: Testimony of Antichrist” .