Nick Cohen

The official indulgence of Islamism in East London

The official indulgence of Islamism in East London
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Imagine that the British National Party controls a church and community centre in the East End of London. Imagine that it receives respectful visits from politicians, and grants from local and national government. Imagine that Prince Charles extends his already unhinged beliefs in pseudo-science and homeopathic quackery to include neo-fascist race theory, and signals his approval of the BNP by visiting the church. Imagine that Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson follow him. Imagine that the Lord Chief Justice chooses a BNP church of all places to demand restrictions on the rights off immigrants. Imagine finally that the liberal media stay silent because the BNP has convinced them that it was the authentic voice an ethnic group called the “whites,” and anyone who criticised its political programme was guilty of the irrational hatred of "whiteophobic" racism.

Substitute Jamaat-i-Islami for the BNP and you have a precise description of the official indulgence of Islamism at the East London Mosque. The idiot prince and the alternately sinister and cynical Livingstone and Johnson can't stay away. In 2008, the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips had the extraordinary bad taste to announce that he favoured applying Sharia law to British citizens at the Jamaat dominated mosque, and ignored all the grim evidence that it is “discriminatory against women and children in particular”.

I go too far? Perhaps I do. I need to row back and admit that my comparison is unfair to the BNP. In Bangladesh, the local leaders of Jamaat face allegations of complicity in the mass rapes and mass murders inflicted by the Pakistan army during the War of Independence of 1971. (I probably need to tell younger readers, that the crimes were so vicious they shocked a late 20th century, which thought it had seen it all. George Harrison, the Bob Geldof of his day, organised the Bangladesh concert to help the millions of victims.)

Say what you will about the BNP, prosecutors have never accused its members of involvement in the mass murder and mass rape of British citizens. Not that they would hold back if they had the chance, I am sure.

As my old friend and comrade Shiraz Maher wrote in the Wall Street Journal about a visit by the US ambassador, Louis Susman to the mosque:

"By any measure the East London mosque is a troubling institution. Last year, for example, it hosted an event titled 'The End of Time: A New Beginning,' where pamphlets were distributed showing Manhattan crumbling under a Hadean apocalypse of meteors, which shattered the Statute of Liberty asunder and set the city ablaze. One of the invited speakers, Khalid Yasin, described the beliefs of Christians and Jews as "filth." Most worryingly, the event also featured a live video question-and-answer session with Anwar Al Awlaki, the U.S.-born preacher aligned with al Qaeda."

I am not a BBC basher. I know it has many fine reporters. But this morning it produced one of the its most cowardly pieces of journalism in years. In a report on the mosque for its religious programme Sunday (see here, 30 minutes in) it only allowed one British Muslim to explain that Islamism was a political movement, whose first aim in this country was to regulate the lives and limit the freedoms of British Muslims. That was it. At no point did the tongue-tied reporter dare to stammer out the name of Jamaat, or tell listeners about its connection to the mosque, its ideology or its alleged crimes. I guess he or his producers feared accusations of “Islamophobia” if he did. It was as if a random group of conservative Muslims just happened to be in charge, rather than a sectarian party, striving for ethno-religious power.

As Shiraz concludes:

"Ironically, two years ago Jamaat was virtually eliminated as a political force in Bangladesh, winning just two out of 300 seats. By contrast, their allies in Britain still claim to speak for British Muslims while their 'mother party' has been decisively rejected at the ballot box. In contrast to the determination of the Bangladeshi people to reject extremist politics, Mr. Susman has emboldened their British counterparts. This visit comes as a bitter blow to those secular and genuinely progressive Muslims in East London who have been pushing back against the mosque's extremism."

Nick Griffin must be wondering where he went wrong.

Written byNick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book.

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