Rod Liddle

Why Anjem Choudary should not be in prison

He is despicable, but we should not send people to prison for having said stuff, or not having said stuff

Why Anjem Choudary should not be in prison
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It was impossible not to feel rather sorry for the radical Muslim ‘cleric’ Anjem Choudary and his imbecilic henchman Mohammed Rahman as they were each sentenced to five and a half years in prison by a British court. ‘Allahu Akbar!’ his supporters chanted as the sentence was delivered, an invigorating, all-purpose phrase used during decapitations, bombings or just as one is walking down the street. I have taken to using it as well recently, most especially at a critical juncture when I am pleasuring my wife. I think she appreciates it, although I would not be so ungentlemanly as to wake her up and ascertain for sure.

Mr Choudary and his pet halfwit have received their sentences largely, I think, for wishing the complete destruction of western civilisation. I too yearn for this from time to time, such as when I am forced to contemplate a semi-naked Keith Vaz instructing his Slavic rent boys to ‘Treat me like a bitch!’ or whenever I see or hear or smell Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, Emily Thornberry. Wishing for the destruction of an entire civilisation simply on account of these two porky weasels, or because Justin Welby has said something fatuous again, is of course a grotesque overreaction. But we all overreact from time to time. I remember my wife, whom I mentioned earlier, remark while watching an edition of Question Time featuring the comedian Eddie Izzard: ‘Christ help us, please let’s move to Russia.’ That was an overreaction, too.

The important thing is to think these thoughts, by all means, and perhaps share them with friends and family, but not let them teeter over into actual deeds. Indeed, having a retinue of like-minded people with whom we can occasionally divest-ourselves of dark thoughts may help to prevent us from crouching down at the end of a high street with a fully loaded Kalashnikov. Or, for that matter, strapping on a suicide vest.

Anjem Choudary never strapped on a suicide vest. More’s the pity, you might counter — and up to a point, I would agree, provided he had strapped it on and then pressed the button somewhere comatose and desolate and devoid of sentient life, such as Broadway in Worcestershire, for example. It was argued in court, successfully, that he had somehow influenced others to strap on their suicide vests, or pick up their-machetes — and certainly that he had urged other Muslims to take themselves off to Syria to join what the BBC still refers to as the ‘so-called Islamic State’.

Well, again, me too — I was all in favour of precisely that denouement. Off you go to Syria, all you Muslims who are yearning for jihad — and I have to say I was fairly perplexed that our government tried to stop them leaving. That seemed to me very counterintuitive and not necessarily beneficial to the rest of us. So Anjem Choudary’s injunction for all Muslims, including himself, to go cheered me up enormously. He argued that the only reason he hadn’t left is that Theresa May, when she was home secretary, had confiscated his passport. I wrote a letter immediately urging her to give it back to him, plus a few quid for snacks at Heathrow (although not enough for a meal at that seafood bar. That would be stretching it).

If Choudary’s injunction had been followed by the, what is it, ten or 15 per cent of British Muslims who approved of 9/11, Isis, the Taleban etc, it would have been the greatest contribution to internal British security since the Emperor Hadrian decided to do a spot of bricklaying. I’d have given Choudary a medal.

The allegations from the police were also that Choudary had ‘influenced’ other Islamic proto-terrorists to do nasty things to infidels, although there was not a great deal of detail about all of this. It came down to the simple fact that he had said stuff quite often. Or perhaps not even said stuff — perhaps he was found guilty of not having said stuff. During sentencing, the judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, said: ‘You did nothing to condemn any aspect of what Isis was doing at the time. In that way you indirectly encouraged violent terrorist activity.’ Hmm. I wonder how often Mr Justice Holroyde has condemned aspects of what Isis is doing — has he done so enough to escape a five-year prison term? Perhaps he has, and I have missed his comments. The point being that we are now sending people to prison for lengthy terms based upon their failure to articulate clearly that Isis has some questionable methods and may not be deserving of an Investors In People certificate.

Call me a liberal, but I am not sure that this is right, by our own lights. In a way it is our version of the French burka/burkini ban, about which we have all been feeling terribly superior: we wouldn’t do anything like that! No, instead we bang people up in prison for having said stuff, or for not having said stuff, which to my mind is not terribly much-better. And if we imprison Choudary, how many other British Muslims should we lock up for insisting that there should be a caliphate and that the late Jihadi John and his head--chopping friends have got it all dead right? There must be tens of thousands.

What to do about Choudary instead? Keep an eye on him. Tap his phone. Oh, and stop his benefits. Though reasonably well qualified, this loathsome, publicity-seeking primitive did not undertake a stroke of work for a decade. He referred to his handouts as Jihadi-seeker’s Allowance,-following the instructions of a little--known sura of the Koran known to devotees as ‘Taking the piss out of infidels.’

And other than that simply bear in mind that he is very far from being alone in his opinions; the number of Muslims who think likewise are in fact legion.