Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why banning Islam4UK is a very good thing

Democracy does not mean that you can call for the stoning of all homosexuals or the massacre of those who insult Islam.

Isn't it touching to see the chiefs of Islam4UK , the same people who once famously held placards that read "FREEDOM GO TO HELL", whingeing and moaning that "freedom is turning into a dictatorship" on the day the government finally decided to ban them?

Isn't it stunning to savour the contradictions of a man, Anjem Choudary, who calls for a fundamentalist Muslim regime in Britain where every single citizen should convert to his particular brand of Islam, while at the same time crying for his "freedom of expression"?

Isn't it pathetic to read that "Muslims merely stand up and say that we are being oppressed, that our brothers and sisters are being murdered", while not a word is ever said about the thousands of Muslim brothers and sisters who are butchered every month in the name of Islam in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries (see this)?

True, in theory the ban on Islam4UK and its sister organisations al-Muhajiroun and al-Ghurabaa may be a bad day for freedom of speech.

But their track record is just intolerable. Democracy does not mean that you can demonstrate in central London waving banners such as "Massacre those who insult Islam", "Be prepared for the real holocaust" and "the Fantastic 4 are on their way". You can't call a press conference and call for the "stoning of all homosexuals" without facing the consequences.

Anjem Choudary, current leader of Islam4UK, is the same man who went on BBC Hardtalk (and shame on those who invited him) and said that the victims of the 7/7 atrocity were fair game because "only the Muslims are innocent" and if you don't accept Islam "that is a crime against God". He refused to condemn the London bombings, called the 9/11 attack "magnificent", publicly remarked that "Islam is not a religion of peace" and said that "the Pope should face capital punishment".

A year ago, his mentor Omar Bakri, now in Lebanon, said at a public meeting "Do not obey the British law" and "we must fight and die for Islam".

If all of the above (and that's just a brief summary) isn't incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism, than what is? How can normally commendable bloggers such as A Very Public Sociologist write that "[Islam4UK] do not intimidate their opponents" and that the ban is "indefensible"?

Even the idea that the ban may "force some people underground" is ill-informed. To start with, you have to balance it out with the effect that Islam4UK's ultra-inflammatory activities can have on community cohesion and the stirring up of tension and violence.

Second, one assumes that security forces would be keeping an eye on those groups anyway, the only notable change being that their odious public glorification of terrorism and abuse against sexual minorities and other religions (which is illegal) will have to stop.

The fact that Islam4UK isn't a "white" or "christian" brand of nazism does not make it any less dangerous. To quote journalist Johann Hari, "the real racism would be to hold non-white people to lower standards, as if their bigotries were less real or less deadly".

19 comments:

Acidfairyy said...

I'm a bit undecided about them banning the organisation. Why not ban the BNP whilst they're at it? Where is the line drawn?
However, Anjem Choudary is a complete prick and he doesn't deserve to live here. To be honest I wouldn't be surprised to find out he was mentally ill. He certainly comes across as delusional!

socialist sam said...

Another sign that this blog is veering to the right like I've been suspecting for a while. What a pity.

Charlie said...

In the end whatever happens Choudhary gets exactly what he wants, which is more free publicity. And the papers get a pantomime villain

claude said...

socialist sam,
what are you on about?
I don't know why you keep saying that!
Perhaps you think that allowing people to shout in favour of the stoning of homosexuals is left-wing or progressive?

Highlander said...

Claude, don't get my comment on AVPS wrong. I am not defending Choudary or Islam4UK or indeed anybody who wishes to attack the rights of others under the banner of "my religion says it's OK".

But, and it is a big but, once the state starts to clamp down on opposition to it - wherever that opposition may come from - then any political course that deviates from the (mythical) middle ground is under threat. For example, I am currently on strike and the company I work for has a number of large, important government contracts. If our industrial action begins to bite then, as an extreme solution, what is to stop the government banning trade unions, thus allowing my employer to force me back to work or sack me, on the grounds that it is affecting their 'business'? That isn't going to happen but once you start down that line then where do you stop?

claude said...

Highlander,
thanks for passing by.

I understand your point and I used to be of a similar opinion myself..

However, with respect, your analogy is very far-fetched.

We're not talking about, like you say, "any political course that deviates from the (mythical) middle ground".

We're on about incitement to (and the glorifying of) terrorism, violence, religious and sexual hatred which is what the groups in question have been doing - with the complicit work of the tabloid media.

That's the line and it's a pretty clear one to me.

JJay said...

“The same people who once famously held placards that read "Freedom go to hell””

Claude can you not see the irony in this statement. I know they are fundamentalists but the point is clear enough to anyone not blinded by their politics. They are showing a healthy cynicism for US ideas of ‘freedom’ & ‘democracy’. A socialist should spot this.

“isn't it stunning to savour the contradictions of a man, Anjem Choudary, who calls for a fundamentalist Muslim regime in Britain where every single citizen should convert to his particular brand of Islam”

But he has a right to persuade people to his viewpoint, just like I have the right to say ‘Abolition of the wage slavery system’. If you believe otherwise then where do you differ from his fundamentalist position?

“Isn't it pathetic to read that "Muslims merely stand up and say that we are being oppressed, that our brothers and sisters are being murdered", while not a word is ever said about the thousands of Muslim brothers and sisters who are butchered every month in the name of Islam in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries”

No it isn’t pathetic it is right on the money. The only people not talking about the carnage unleashed by the war on terror are those responsible for the war on terror, unless of course it is an allied troop that has been killed. Then we get the obituary, smiling picture in uniform, interviews from grieving relatives and live action from the funeral. An unpleasant spectacle considering it is all about propaganda for these criminal wars.

”Democracy does not mean that you can demonstrate in central London waving banners such as "Massacre those who insult Islam", "Be prepared for the real holocaust" and "the Fantastic 4 are on their way". You can't call a press conference and call for the "stoning of all homosexuals" without facing the consequences.”

No but freedom does. And there are laws against inciting hatred, a number of Muslims are serving prison sentences for this. Not many who incite hatred against Muslims are in jail though. Strange one that.

“To start with, you have to balance it out with the effect that Islam4UK's ultra-inflammatory activities can have on community cohesion and the stirring up of tension and violence.”

In that case all news channels should be banned (incidentally nobody glorifies US and British terrorism more than them) and Blair should be in prison for stirring up tension. All we should be left with is 24/7 Vicar of Dibley repeats.

“The fact that Islam4UK isn't a "white" or "christian" brand of nazism does not make it any less dangerous. To quote journalist Johann Hari, "the real racism would be to hold non-white people to lower standards, as if their bigotries were less real or less deadly".”

No it doesn’t but who is calling for the white Christian anti homosexual fundamentalists to be banned?

Overall a useless article, promoting the one law for them one law for us, they are all terrorists; we are all liberators line of argument.

About as right wing as it gets really.

claude said...

JJay
"They are showing a healthy cynicism for US ideas of ‘freedom’ & ‘democracy’".

Sorry JJay, god knows how critical I have been of US politics but, as fucked up as it may be, give me the American idea of freedom anytime over a world run by Choudary and his likes.

At least women would not be forced to be fourth class citizens. And that's just for starters.

Those from Bakri and Choudary's brand of Islam routinely say that they care so much for their Muslim "brothers and sisters", but then at the same time they are quite happy to turn a blind eye (to say the least) when a 7/7 takes place in Pakistan at least twice a week, killing their own "brothers and sisters". This is never spoken about.

"But he has a right to persuade people to his viewpoint, just like I have the right to say ‘Abolition of the wage slavery system’."

But how can you not see the difference?

When you say "Abolition of the wage slavery system" you're not advocating any violence, nor are you inciting terrorism, hatred or singling out a sexual minority for discriminatory purposes. The difference is as blatantly fat as Tony Blair's purse.

"No but freedom does"
This is how I see it. Islam4UK actively and openly said that their aim is to subvert democracy in the UK, overthrow our parliamentary sytem, abolish freedom of speech and impose their Sharia law upon the entire population. Right?

Now, we live in a society, I like to think.

The moment you decide that your organisation is based entirely on destroying and undermining the same democracy that allows you to be and exist in peace, then you choose to pull out of your social contract - in other words you forfeit your rights to freedom of speech.

Which is why I believe banning Islam4UK was the right decision.

Stan Moss said...

The way I see it is this.

Imagine society as a commune of 50 people. They have their daily discussions, debates, sometimes rows, sometime even heated ones, over how to carry out daily stuff: the shopping, what time the kids go to bed, swearing, how loud music should be played, who does the chores, etc.

Out of those 50, 5 campaign on a platform that says: if we take over, either you support us 100% or we kill you, behead you, subjugate you: we want to overthrow the entire thing.

Needless to say, the community would most probably kick the 5 fuckers out as they pose a direct threat to the health, harmony and welfare of their society/community.

Only an absolute prick/masochist would stick up for their right to destroy the community.

And that's my contribution.

ALex said...

"give me the American idea of freedom anytime over a world run by Choudary and his likes."

Meet my friend, the First Amendment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

You obviously haven't met.

"Needless to say, the community would most probably kick the 5 fuckers out as they pose a direct threat to the health, harmony and welfare of their society/community."

They could just not vote for them. I mean 45 vs 5, who do you think will win?

"Only an absolute prick/masochist would stick up for their right to destroy the community."

No-one is sticking up for "their right to destroy the community". We're sticking up for their "right to SAY they want to destroy the community".

The difference may be too subtle for you to see it.

Alex said...

"impose their Sharia law upon the entire population"

Wake up. We already live under religious law. Never heard of the Church of England? Should Rowan Williams be sent to jail?

"Islam4UK actively and openly said that their aim is to subvert democracy in the UK, overthrow our parliamentary sytem, abolish freedom of speech and impose their Sharia law upon the entire population. Right?"

I could say that my aim is to steal that loaf of bread over there, but should I be arrested for saying it?

"The moment you decide that your organisation is based entirely on destroying and undermining the same democracy that allows you to be and exist in peace, then you choose to pull out of your social contract - in other words you forfeit your rights to freedom of speech."

Argument by assertion.

(Btw, this is thought crime you're talking about.)

This is also hypocritical. You can call for someone else to have less freedom of speech, but they're not allowed to undermine our values?

And you can't "forfeit your rights to freedom of speech" if it wasn't a right in the first place.

So essentially, if I said, "I don't want this country to be a democracy", I should go to jail? For an opinion?

(I'm also interested: would anarchism be illegal? Would calling for Cornish secession?)

There is no freedom of speech unless you are free to say you don't want it.

There is no religious freedom unless you are free to call for everyone to become part of your religion.

There is no democracy unless you are free to stand on a platform opposed to it.

There is no right not to be offended. Full stop.

Stan Moss said...

People like Anonymous "ALex" are obviously playing into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists or the far right.

They want a world where people can be freely abused on the basis of their gender, sexual preference, creed or political belief.

Be ashamed, Anonymous "Alex". You obviously dont give an absolute damn about the victims and targets of fundamentalism. You obviously believe their right to live without fear of ending up like Theo Van Gogh counts less than that of allowing Choudary to spurt out his venom. Oh you are so "left wing"

You obviously think it's fine for a "liberal" society to have a vile terrorist atrocity (7/7) followed by people glorifying it.

Anonymous "ALex" thinks it's fine that a writer like Sebastian Faulks may have to live in fear after the open threats by Choudary's thugs i.e. “Sebastian Faulks on a Death Wish?” purely cos he penned something Choudary himself didnt approve of.

Anonymous "ALEx" thinks this is just a game. After the tragedies of Theo Van Gogh in Holland and Kurt Westergaard in Denmark, "ALex" tells us that it's our fault if we don't tolerate statements like the following:

"[Mr Faulks] cannot provide himself an excuse for not being aware of the repercussions of such careless comments, which is a great cause for concern”.

or, worse "Mr Faulks was extremely na├»ve for what he said and it could have some grave consequence for him”...
“He’s not the first person to insult the Prophet. You can see with Theo van Gogh and Salman Rushdie and whole host of other people that it does have those consequences.
"

Freedom of speech for those scumbags? You've got to be joking.

I'm no fan of Rowan Williams but it's an insult to basic intelligence that you compare him with a thug like Choudary.

You should spend two weeks in Taliban Afghanistan and then we can have this conversation again.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Claude-

However, with respect, your analogy is very far-fetched.

It really isn't. To give you just one example, the stated reason that the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was brought in was to protect people against stalkers. Which is something we'd all agree is a good thing. But increasingly it's being used by corporations to ban peaceful demonstrations. On the grounds that the demonstrations are 'upsetting' to their employees. (Ironically, some of us suggested the act was vague enough to be used in that way at the time. And the government denied it outright).

And, if anything, that's less open to interpretation than the current state powers to ban organisations. At the end of the day, your interpretation isn't necessarily going to be the one that is followed. To support this ban you have to have absolute trust, not just in this government, but in every single government that could be in power in the future. I'm afraid that's not something I see as sensible.

We're on about incitement to (and the glorifying of) terrorism, violence, religious and sexual hatred which is what the groups in question have been doing - with the complicit work of the tabloid media.

I assume you know that a significant proportion of the Conservatives saw the ANC as a violent terrorist organisation back in the 80's. Under these kind of wideranging powers, what is to say that anti-apartheid groups wouldn't have been banned as 'glorifying terrorism'?

And then you make a comment which illustrates my concern about how this could be interpreted.

The moment you decide that your organisation is based entirely on destroying and undermining the same democracy that allows you to be and exist in peace, then you choose to pull out of your social contract - in other words you forfeit your rights to freedom of speech.

Well, as an anarchist, I'm screwed then. And, actually, so are all of the far left, even the ones who stand in elections. All the Irish Republican parties, even the SDLP don't support our current democracy. The New Age Travellers again, poor sods. Possibly people who campaign for the abolishment of the monarchy. The Scottish National Party don't support the current system either, so they'll have to go. And the people who call for a written constitution, that's not how our democracy works.

I could go on, but you get the point. And I really haven't had to stretch there, a good argument could be made that all the groups I mention fit in your category. While I'm sure you wouldn't include most of them in your call for a ban, the acceptance of the principle means that it really is down to the individual government to ban as they see fit.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Stan Moss-

People like Anonymous "ALex" are obviously playing into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists or the far right.

They want a world where people can be freely abused on the basis of their gender, sexual preference, creed or political belief.


You seem an intelligent guy. Surely you know that's a straw man argument? It's perfectly possible to be utterly opposed to everything Choudary stands for, while still being against a state ban. Whether because of a philosophical attachment to the concept of 'free speech' which seems to be where Alex is coming from, or my tactical opposition to state bans.

As an aside, have you considered some of us may have reason to remain anonymous? Particuarly those of us who actually do have a long history of antifascist activity. While I don't take Redwatch particuarly seriously, I don't feel like making it easy for them either. Just thought I'd clear that one up as I'm also quite obviously not using my real name.

To sum up my position.

I don't think a state ban is a good idea. The precedent this sets is dangerous for all of us outside the political mainstream. It gives the state way too much power. I also don't think it will work on its own merits. I'm hardpressed to think of any case where this kind of ban has been successful. It certainly won't be in this case. Choudary is a self-publicist who thrives on the kind of 'outlaw cachet' this will give him. What's worrying is that it might actually have a knockon effect and allow him to recruit people who actually are a problem. Because Choudary is just a gobshite and Islam4UK are not a serious force on the street.

That doesn't mean that he shouldn't be opposed, but keep it in perspective. And in terms of how to oppose him, Stan Moss said something interesting. A community has the right to tell anybody they aren't welcome, as forcibly as necessary. That's how to deal with him. Don't give him the credibility of a state ban. Work out the best way to organise against him. As opposed to standing behind the bigger boys shaking your fist.

claude said...

Waterloo Sunset 11:26

"Well, as an anarchist, I'm screwed then. And, actually, so are all of the far left, even the ones who stand in elections. All the Irish Republican parties, even the SDLP don't support our current democracy. The New Age Travellers again, poor sods. Possibly people who campaign for the abolishment of the monarchy. The Scottish National Party don't support the current system either, so they'll have to go. And the people who call for a written constitution, that's not how our democracy works."

Not at all. Because they campaign and exist on a platform that does not include constant intimidation and incitement to hatred and violence. Why do you have problems picking this up? None of the groups you mention aim at "destroying freedom of speech", or do they? That is the key point.

To clarify.
If, for the sake of the argument, the SNP started demonstrating with banners such as "Behead the English", or made open death threats to writers who are guilty of calling Braveheart "one-dimensional", or repeatedly branded an anti-English bombing campaign "magnificent", then I'm afraid they would step out of their rights to freedom of speech.

Incidentally, thanks Stan for highlighting the Sebastian Faulks controversy. For the record, last summer Islam4UK issued proper Mafia-style threats for all to see online, purely cos the chap had called the Qur'an "one-dimensional".

I'm sorry but in my ideal world there would be no room for this type of "politics". I am STUNNED, still, that self-professed 'progressive' people think death threats and similar should be allowed by rights.

By the way. Thanks for your civilised tone. It doesn't happen very often online these days.

JJay said...

Claude,

It doesn’t matter what these people represent the fact is the sign, “Freedom can go to hell” was ironic. Which makes your original response to it inadequate imo.

“When you say "Abolition of the wage slavery system" you're not advocating any violence, nor are you inciting terrorism, hatred”

That’s what you think!!!!

Stan Moss,

“People like Anonymous "ALex" are obviously playing into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists or the far right.”

You are mixing anonymous Alex up with the very public Tony Blair and all the advocates, anonymous or otherwise of the war on terror. If it is the far right or fundamentalism you really are worried about I would conserve your anger for them.

Why do the likes of you never do this I wonder?

“Anonymous "ALex" thinks it's fine that a writer like Sebastian Faulks may have to live in fear after the open threats by Choudary's thugs”

If that were true he would have been arrested and put on trial by now. Do you know the law or what?

“You should spend two weeks in Taliban Afghanistan and then we can have this conversation again”

That should be US controlled Afghanistan, there was a war you know.

This probably explains your ignorance of the current political climate. We went to war with Muslims abroad, inevitably the war starts on them at home. I mean name me a single UK based Muslim organisation that was banned in the Britain before the war on terror?

Oh and Stan, this commune you invented, were they bombing the shit out of the poor people on a regular basis and carving up the world for their own interests? If so then the five don’t look so bad, do they?

claude said...

JJay,

First off I have the distinct impression that you've created your own kind of virtual narrative of what Choudary and Bakri's groups stand for.

This total delusion that the "Freedom Go to Hell" bit was ironic- This is unbelievable. There are tons of interviews in which Choudary reiterated why he is against and will fight against freedom of speech.

About the death threats against writer Sebastain Faulks:
"If that were true he would have been arrested and put on trial by now. Do you know the law or what?".

This is frankly quite insulting and it shows your contempt for the victims of intimidation.

Not my fault you've decided not to find out more about much about Choudary's group. Again, it says a lot about the fact that you are biased. Pull that wool from over your eyes and you may become a little more objective.

Just go on Google and find out for yourself.

As for "put on trial by now", you make a good point there: the authorities have been far too tolerant with Choudary and his mates for too long.

The fact that they were allowed to demonstrate with banners saying "Behead those that Insult Islam" and "The Fantastic Four are coming" etc says it all!

And yet I'm sure the death threat bits (which were later removed from their site) did play a part when the decision to ban them was taken.

You speak about Islam4UK and Al Mujaeroon as if it was a simple anti-war organisation with a Muslim tinge. We're not talking about The Respect Party here, this is a group which is even more obnoxious than the NF!

I think your opposition to US foreign policy is blinding you to be honest.

You can be against the war in Iraq and Bush's notion of the "axis of Evil" and also condemn totally and unequivocally the Taliban and the atrocities they commit against innocent people.

Yet everytime something is said about Islamic fundamentalism and their tactics and the atrocities committed in the name of their extreme interpretation of a religion your reflex reaction is to say something about America.

You remind me of Omar Bakri when he said :
"Why I condemn Osama bin Laden for? I condemn Tony Blair, I condemn George Bush. I would never condemn Osama bin Laden or any Muslims"

You seem to have forgotten about 9/11 ("We went to war with Muslims abroad, inevitably the war starts on them at home. I mean name me a single UK based Muslim organisation that was banned in the Britain before the war on terror?") and the end of the so-called "covenant of security" which Choudary himself talked about in a lengthy shitty interview on BBC Hardtalk.

In fact, can I ask you a simple straight question: do you think 9/11 was a bad thing at all, because I'm beginning to suspect that you may not find it repulsive at all...simply because it was aimed at the US.

JJay said...

Claude,

Look I have no time for Choudary’s group anymore than you and believe they are hell bent on causing division but I have no time for hyperbole either.

Let me remind you of what you wrote,

“Isn't it touching to see the chiefs of Islam4UK , the same people who once famously held placards that read "FREEDOM GO TO HELL", whingeing and moaning that "freedom is turning into a dictatorship" on the day the government finally decided to ban them?”

You use the freedom can go to hell sign as proof of their antagonism to freedom and this simply misses the irony of the statement. To spell it out, The US invaded in the name of freedom and what we end up with is carnage and corruption. That kind of freedom can indeed go to hell.

On the intimidation and threats, if this is all true then the police will no doubt be investigating and action will follow. I mean are you saying this group are above the law, or maybe some kind of establishment tool? Me thinks maybe it is you who needs to be objective.

“You seem to have forgotten about 9/11”

I certainly haven’t but 9/11 wasn’t the first atrocity, it didn’t appear out of nowhere. Stan’s commune analogy makes this mistake, not once did he explain why the five were antagonistic to the rest, pretty vital information for us to have made an informed opinion surely. And 9/11 was an attack on the US, not the UK. We should have stayed out of the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. We should have seen the error, not to mention criminality of these attacks.
Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, in fact you could argue Saudi Arabia was the source of the attacks, remind me what happened to them.

“In fact, can I ask you a simple straight question: do you think 9/11 was a bad thing at all, because I'm beginning to suspect that you may not find it repulsive at all”

I thought it was horrific but no more horrific than the US litany of crimes before it. And I think the response was even more horrific. I suspect secretly, deep down you cheered Bush on his great revenge mission and saw 9/11 as the great turning point in history, conveniently forgetting all those US atrocities that preceded it.


Anyway, the issue is to ban or not to ban. IMO The way to tackle groups like the BNP or IslamUK or the Tory party for that matter is to provide real arguments, not authoritarian illiberal bans. I have had enough of the erosion of civil liberties, give them an inch and they will take a mile, introduce anti terror laws today and they will inevitably get used against protestors tomorrow. Wake up man.

BlairSupporter said...

Thanks for the link to my site.

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/transcript-anjem-choudary-hardtalk-interview-77-london-bombings/#transcript

I believe it is the only place online (unless they have now copied mine) where you can get a copy of the HardTalk interview of Anjem Choudary. It wasn't available from the programme makers. I tried. They said they did not do transcripts.

I have been calling for Choudary to be arrested on many occasions since we can't deport him as he is British born. He is clearly inciting violence and has done for years. But a ban will have to do, even though I am not keen on banning, in principle. For instance I abhorred this government's banning of Geert Wilders, a decision which they later retracted.

Whether or not we will be able to ban his group remains to be seen. There is a suspicion that this announcement is no more than populist electioneering. Time will tell.

We need to get out of this Denial condition. It is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are, or so they tell us, Muslims. (Notwithstanding ETA in Spain and groups in a few other countries. But none of those have declared jihad on ALL infidels, worldwide.)

Btw, it is NOT right-wing to notice what is going on around you and to suggest ways forward. I, for instance, have NO idea yet which of the parties to vote for, and I belong to none. It certainly won't be the BNP or even UKIP.