There have been two fascinating developments in the case of Shakeel Begg, the Imam of the Lewisham Islamic Centre. As I described here on Friday, Begg sued the BBC for describing him as an extremist, only for the judge in the case to last week dismiss the claim and confirm for the whole world to see that Begg is indeed an extremist.
On Friday I mentioned that industry of clueless klutzes and sinister beards who make up much of the ‘interfaith’ racket in this country. Paragraphs 33 and 34 of the judgement in the case of Begg vs Beeb might serve as the purest distillation of this phenomenon.Under the heading ‘testimonials’ we read :
33 - The Claimant [Begg] also adduced an impressive number of testimonials from local faith and other leaders attesting to his inter-faith work and commitment to work in the local community. Each said that they had never heard the Claimant espousing any form of support for extremism or violence.
34 - These testimonials were from the following figures. First, Chief Inspector Graham Price of the Lewisham Police spoke of the Claimant’s work with the local police. He described the Claimant’s objection to the Government’s PREVENT programme as ‘principled’ (see further below). He said he believed the Claimant to be a valuable contact for Lewisham police who is actively involved in the local community and a well-known local figure within partnership circles. Second, Reverend David Rome of the Catford and Bromley Synagogue spoke of the Claimant’s significant inter-faith work.
Third, Father Charles Pickstone, vicar of St Laurence Church, Catford, said that to the best of his knowledge the Claimant adhered to and taught to others a moral code that seems entirely ‘unimpeachable’. Fourth, Reverend Malcolm Hancock, who headed up the Chaplaincy Department at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said that the Claimant had played a key role in fostering good multi-faith and multicultural relationships and said that he could not imagine the Claimant inciting anyone to act in a way that would be considered irresponsible or a threat to the wider community.
Fifth, Dinah Griffith, former chair of the Lewisham SACRE, spoke of the Claimant’s valuable work with different schools. Sixth, Gerald Rose, a retired schoolteacher, also spoke of the Claimant’s valuable work with different schools, including Jewish schools.
Seventh, Peter Brierely, the lead organiser for South London Citizens, said that the Claimant was ‘passionate’ about ensuring that the Mosque and young Muslims were integrated into British life. He said that he had never heard the Claimant espouse extremism. On the contrary, he had heard the Claimant speak against radicalisation, isolationism and extremism.
Eighth, Simon Marks, a teacher and community and charity worker in Lewisham, said that the Claimant and the LIC shared his belief and passion in creating an inclusive community for young people in Lewisham
That’s a very useful summary of the idiot brigade in modern Britain. The Darwin awards are given each year for people who have died in such stupid circumstances, having assisted the human species by taking themselves out of the gene-pool. Perhaps we should come up with a new award to give to all the Inspector Plods, Revd Dims and Citizen Know-nothings who endanger the long-term harmony of our country by giving cover for figures like Begg about whom they turn out to know (at the most benign reading) absolutely zilch.
The second development is even more telling. In a statement published on Facebook the trustees of the MCB-affiliated Lewisham Islamic Centre have decided to ‘Stand by your Imam’. Though that isn’t the title they give their actions, obviously. It seems that the Lewisham mosque has no problem being led by a man who has been proved in court to be an extremist. I wonder where that leaves the MCB and their new alternative Prevent strategy which they are trying to roll out. There are all sorts of problems with the government's Prevent Strategy, to be sure, but at least the British public know it's not run by or supportive of people proved in the British courts to be 'extremists' and two-faced liars.
Hilariously, among other justifications for keeping on a proven extremist as their head Imam, the trustees of the MCB-affiliated mosque brilliantly state:
‘We remind the reader that it was Imam Begg, having nothing to hide, who brought this case against the BBC, not the other way around.’
Wow! What a slam-dunk point. The trustees of Lewisham Islamic Centre would appear, among other things, never to have heard of the celebrated case of Oscar Wilde. I am not wholly surprised. For their information this was a man who also brought a libel case against someone for saying something about him that was true, only to find once in court that the tables had turned. I’m sure there are no other similarities between Imam Begg and Oscar Wilde. Not least because Britain now rightly celebrates Oscar Wilde.
One big question is whether in a hundred years Britain will celebrate a figure like Shakeel Begg. If the useful idiots and the Muslims who support Lewisham Islamic Centre have their way then I suppose we will. But I would prefer to bet that with cases like Begg vs Beeb behind us history will increasingly see people like Begg and his beards as the dangerous extremists and fools that they actually are.