Why Cameron is Right on Multiculturalism
8:00 AM, Mar 2, 2011 • By MICHAEL WEISS
The most notorious example is the Finsbury Park Mosque, which has slowly evolved into a convenient gathering-point for global jihadists. Following 9/11, the mosque’s religious services were taken over by Abu Hamza al-Masri, the one-eyed and hook-handed cleric whose congregants have included Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui. Arrested in 2004, and convicted two years later on 11 out of 15 indictments brought against him—including soliciting murder, “stirring up racial hatred” and possessing a “terrorist encyclopedia”—Abu Hamza was replaced as primus inter pares of the Finsbury Park Mosque in 2005 by a management committee made up of Muslim Brothers. Four out of five committee members were former directors of the MAB, including Mohammed Sawalha. In 2007, Prevent gave £20,000 to the mosque.
Then there’s the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, which was identified in 2009 by a British government report as being the “key institution for the Bangladeshi wing of [Jamaat-e-Islami] in the UK.” Between 2007 and 2009, the East London Mosque received £43,800 from Prevent streams despite the fact that Anwar al-Awlaki was invited to speak there on two separate occasions. At the first, in 2003, he urged Muslims never to report or turn in their brethren to the British police. The second, which took place in January 2009 and was billed as the “End of Time” lecture complete with a poster showing Manhattan destroyed by fiery celestial projectiles, Awlaki had to attend via a prerecorded video because of the international dragnet out on him. When informed by both the Daily Telegraph and a member of parliament that Awlaki was wanted by the US Department of Homeland Security for his connection to Al-Qaeda, East London Mosque chairman Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari refused to nix the event, insinuating that only anti-Muslim bigotry could cause anyone to question the mosque’s slate of speakers.
The Alice-in-Wonderland-like paradox of the Prevent program -- eliminating hate by feeding it -- was starkly exposed last July in a Sunday Telegraph report based on a leaked classified Whitehall documents. One of these was titled, “Government Strategy Towards Extremism” and explained the Communities Department’s view that “We do not believe that it is accurate to regard radicalisation in this country as a linear ‘conveyor belt’ moving from grievance, through radicalisation, to violence.” They identified two non-democratic Islamists movements that they felt adhered to this pat prognosis: Hizb ut-Tahrir and its offshoot Al-Muhajiroun. The latter group led the protests in the UK against the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in 2004 and has produced leaflets referring to the “magnificent 19” terrorists of 9/11. Although repeatedly banned by the British government, Al-Muhajiroun has reformed and rebranded itself several times.
That the “inclusive” Communities Department should attempt to sanitize this outfit or even color it “nonviolent” is of peculiar interest since, as the Sunday Telegraph reporter Andrew Gilligan helpfully pointed out, 19 terrorists convicted in Britain have been tied to Al-Muhajiroun including Omar Khayam, head of the “fertilizer bomb” plot of 2007 and Abdullah Ahmed Ali, head of the airliner “liquid bomb” plot of 2006.
The Communities Department has also tried to facilitate British MPs’ attendance of the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) conference, an annual London “festival” that draws around 50,000 visitors. The GPU conference is organized by the Islam Channel, a television station headquartered in Central London that Ofcom, the independent regulator of the UK’s communications industry, chastised for its repeated broadcasts of salafist preachers advocating marital rape and violence against women.
In 2008, the GPU conference received a letter of support from London’s newly elected Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson—correspondence that he might have later regretted given that speakers included 9/11 and Holocaust deniers. Even the foreign officials who turned up did so without much regard for their host country. Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister, used his platform that year to declare that Queen Elizabeth’s awarding of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie in 2007 was itself grounds for Muslims to commit suicide bombings.
GPU exhibitors typically sell t-shirts and headbands celebrating Hezbollah and Hamas and glorifying the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. In 2008, one stall hawked a curious little volume titled, Women who Deserve to Go to Hell, written by Mansoor Abdul Hakim. Cited by the author to be among the hell-bound were wives who “complain against their husband[s] now and then” and “arrogant” or “quarrelsome” members of the fairer sex. Even still, the Metropolitan Police Service gave the GPU close to £26,500 in sponsorship money in 2008.
The 2010 conference this past October was a bit tamer, although tracts by Maududi and the Egyptian theorist of jihad Sayyid Qutb were distributed to attendees free of charge. Two members of Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islam were invited to speak, Abdul Rashid Turabi and Qazi Hussein Ahmed. But only the former showed up after the latter was denied a visa by the UK Home Office.
State multiculturalism in Britain has meant six years of funding Islamist organizations in the hopes that they’d be a safeguard against violence. The Cameron government has now begun to make the right noises that a fundamentally new approach is needed. Rather than be criticized for eroding Britain’s liberal and tolerant civil society, the prime minister ought to be encouraged for seeking to restore it.