What Idiots are thinking – Roshan Salih and 5 Pillars

This is a guest post by Amjad Khan

Roshan Salih, current editor of 5 pillars has had quite a career in the field of community politics and counter-extremism discourses. Roshan came to prominence as the head of news at Press TV, a news organisation that has direct ties with the Shia-supremacist Iranian government. However, although these connections are explicitly understood, here is Roshan defending PressTV’s “independence.” Previously he worked at Islam Channel which has also been accused of hosting extremist preachers. Not a great start!

Like many activists in the Islamist scene, and empty vessels in general, Roshan is very keen to be heard yet has very little to offer in the way of intelligent analysis or commentary. His analysis is as limited as his worldview, which revolves around denial, deflection and conspiracy theory. In his worldview, Muslims can do no wrong unless they are the wrong kind of Muslim in which case they do nothing but wrong.

In a recent debate with Adam Deen, Roshan first stated that “terrorism is overblown and is not a major threat.” He then followed this up with “it may be in Paris, but not in the UK.” As someone working in the media, maybe Roshan somehow missed media reports that covered over 40 serious terrorism plots since 7/7 that targeted the UK. Or maybe this was all part of a Zionist conspiracy theory to make Muslims look bad.

Confusion on the threat-level aside, Roshan does offer a clear and concise solution to tackling terrorism – work with extremists! That’s right, Roshan has made no secret that the solution is to work with “non-violent extremists.” This would mean, for example, working with Wahabbists who dehumanise the Shia Muslims as heretics as a means of combatting a potential ISIS recruit’s blood thirst for Shia Muslims (a narrative that is explicitly propagated in ISIS propaganda).

What of another narrative, what of tackling ISIS and Al Qaeda’s blood thirst for apostasy killing? Below is a video of Roshan being dumbfounded when asked if apostasy killing constitutes extremism, and instead attempting to meander around the question claiming he has a lack of Islamic knowledge to truly answer. Watch below (from 12:30).

(LINK TO VIDEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x02Romk41A)

For those that are not hesitant on this issue and want to tackle it head-on, they are called “Islam haters” or “anti-Muslim.” Roshan in the above clip claimed he does not believe Adam to be anti-Muslim for questioning apostasy, however Roshan’s colleague Dilly Hussain had publicly called Adam one before joining Quilliam and after appearing on a BBC programme denouncing apostasy killing.

If apostasy killing cannot be vehemently confirmed to be extremism, if preachers like Haitham al Haddad are not distanced away – is it any wonder that extremism is not an issue for Roshan? In fact, Roshan and 5 Pillars deliberately have an agenda that is set on demonising the Muslims that do work to counter extremist narratives.

The use of dehumanising language and racial slurs are commonplace at 5 Pillars, for example calling Maajid Nawaz a ‘coconut’ – a racial term that describes how one is ‘white’ on the inside and ‘brown’ on the outside. They have also gone out of their way to demonise Sara Khan of Inspire and Fiyaz Mughal of Tell Mama. In other words, any Muslim who does not conform to their notion of what a politically engaged Muslim should be like is ruthlessly attacked and vilified. Ironically, 5 Pillars are constantly complaining about how the media giving Muslims a bad name, when in fact their antics and amateur journalism do more damage to Muslims than any tabloid.

When Sadiq Khan began offered a more balanced perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict during his campaign to get elected as Mayor of London suddenly a video emerged of him using the racist term ‘uncle tom’ in reference to Quilliam. The person who was interviewing him and pressed him to comment on Muslims who challenge extremism was none other than Roshan Salih whilst he was at Press TV. Either this was just a coincidence or Roshan himself is quite happy to generate negative stories about Muslims when it suits his agenda.

Furthermore, he calls for an end to the media’s dehumanisation of certain communities, yet does not see the irony of 5 Pillar’s bullying of minorities. Here are three examples of 5 Pillars’ Dilly Hussain’s dehumanising Ahmadiyya Muslims, the Jewish community, and the Shia community.

Roshan is a man who has always been embedded within extremes, whether working for Iran’s Press TV or the extremist apologist 5 Pillars organisation. Therefore, it is understandable that his barometer of what constitutes extremism may be off. However, the recent debate showed a shocking new low – is it really that difficult to call the act of apostasy killing a form of extremism, and an extremism that we as all communities should face?

Tribal politics – namely deflecting all blame away from fellow tribal Muslims in the UK towards the Western-Zionist bogeyman – is a common vein throughout 5 Pillars. In fact, 5 Pillars had published a piece defending Tarik Hassane & Suhaib Majeed claiming the arrest was politically motivated. The pair who had planned to do an ISIS-inspired shooting of soft targets (including the police) took pictures of themselves with a pistol next to a picture of Bin Laden. This demonstrates the lack of due diligence that 5 Pillars takes in researching its pieces and the general amateurish nature of the website whose arrogant strapline is ‘what Muslims are thinking’. I hope Muslims are thinking ‘when will these arrogant and incompetent prats stop claiming to represent us?’ I really think their new strapline should be – ‘what idiots are thinking’.