10th November, 2011
8th November, 2011
· Reuters news agency are reporting that English Defence League financier & strategist Alan Lake is now being formally investigated by the Norwegian police in order to verify if he was an ideological influence on the mass-murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik.
· The Guardian have formally investigated and independently confirmed Alan Lake’s authorship of a “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population along with anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, including death threats against British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury. You can see a screenshot of Lake’s horrifying “Final Solution” here and here.
· Alan Lake was interviewed by the Daily Mail in 2010 and openly discussed his involvement with the EDL as a financier and strategist.
· Channel 4 News, describing Alan Lake as “the EDL’s chief financier” during their investigation of the EDL’s connections with Anders Breivik, have confirmed that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011. In that interview, Lake confirmed that he has funded the EDL.
· Video footage is available of Alan Lake attending a meeting in London with senior EDL leaders Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), Kevin Carroll and Roberta Moore, in a video released on 20 March 2011.
26th October, 2011
English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) has a history of making statements indicating that his actions are racially-motivated. For example, during an interview on 27 January 2010, Yaxley-Lennon made the following remarks:
“Within 30 or 40 years in this country we are a complete minority to Muslims, because of the Muslim demographics…..Our culture and our race will disappear in this country.”
More recently, Yaxley-Lennon gave an interview to Adrian Goldberg at BBC Radio West Midlands on 22 October 2011. It’s available via Youtube here. Yaxley-Lennon made some particularly self-incriminating statements towards the end:
“The black community and the white community in Birmingham are treated with iron fists. The Islamic community are treated with kid gloves and that’s just the way it is. And it’s not on, You can’t have a two-tier policing system. There can be no master race. And I’m sorry, but there is a master race in certain areas of this country and it’s Islam !”
Therefore, Yaxley-Lennon is now on record as 1) essentially claiming that there are 3 races in Birmingham, namely white, black and Muslims, and 2) describing the religion of Islam as a “race”. Apart from the fact that Yaxley-Lennon’s description of what he claims to be the three communities in Birmingham would raise some eyebrows amongst the city’s sizeable Sikh and Hindu populations, his remarks also make a mockery of the EDL’s claims that their bigotry isn’t racially-motivated “because Islam is not a race”.
The implications of Yaxley-Lennon’s statements are even more disturbing when you bear in mind the following fact: As a result of his speech during the EDL’s demonstration in London on 3 September 2011, Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as publicly accusing “every single Muslim” of collective guilt for 7/7 and publicly making a direct threat against what he terms “the Islamic community” en masse:
“EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM watching this on Youtube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”
16th October, 2011
Pickled Politics would like to wish our Sikh and Hindu readers a very Happy Diwali.
Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali (the “festival of lights”) for a range of reasons, most popularly to commemorate the return of the victorious Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya, as described in the Ramayana. The inhabitants of the city decorated it with lamps to celebrate Rama’s return. The festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil.
Sikhs celebrate Diwali to commemorate the return of the 17th century Sikh Guru Hargobind to Amritsar after he had been imprisoned for political reasons. The Guru had eventually negotiated the simultaneous release of 52 imprisoned kings; his arrival in Amritsar coincided with Diwali, and the overjoyed population adorned the city with lights to celebrate his return. You can see a photo of modern-day Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple in Amritsar at the top of this article. Guru Hargobind’s supporters included Mian Mir, the Muslim saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple and was later the main religious teacher of the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh.
The Golden Temple’s architecture symbolises the core Sikh principles of the unity of God irrespective of the name people call their deity by, and the inherent unity & equality of mankind irrespective of people’s religious background. Like the other 9 Sikh Gurus, Guru Hargobind himself embodied these principles and therefore had a mosque built for the Muslim population of the town he’d founded in Punjab (the mosque was recently renovated by a major joint Sikh-Muslim project in India). Guru Hargobind was also responsible for initiating the militarisation of the Sikh population by raising a standing army, and for founding the Akal Takht, the temporal seat of Sikh authority which now forms part of the Golden Temple complex.
Some suitable music to mark the occasion:
11th October, 2011
This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh.
The music legend Jagjit Singh sadly passed away on Monday in the Indian city of Mumbai. He was 70 years of age and had died of a brain hemorrhage. Like myself, millions had grown up with his music and songs. Many of them he had earlier sung with his beautiful and talented wife, Chitra Singh. Over the years though, the couple have had to endure horrific tragedies, particularly in relation to the deaths of their son and daughter. That pain and loss would cast a shadow on much of Singh’s compositions.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jagjit Singh perform live in London and was immediately captivated by his soft and warm voice and his take on the Ghazal, the musically form of Urdu ‘shayari’ or poetry. Without realising it, he had brought alive the words of the 19th Century poet Mirza Ghalib like no one before him. Such was his impression on me then, that I began to learn to read the Urdu script so to understand fully what was being said.
Yet Jagjit Singh was no ordinary singer from the subcontinent. He crossed borders and faiths in his quest to bring poetry to ordinary folk. From the Urdu verse and the Punjabi poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, to the Punjabi Tappe, Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads. Before his untimely death, he was in the middle of a tour with renowned Pakistani ghazal legend, Ghulam Ali.
27th September, 2011
This is a guest post by Haroon Ravat.
Many observers trace the origin and development of the English Defence League to a poppy-burning publicity stunt staged by the group Muslims Against Crusaders (MAC) at last year’s Armistice Day commemorations. For many British Muslims like myself, the actions of MAC left us in a precarious situation with the tabloid press intent on providing front page publicity to a fanatical fringe and strengthening the EDL argument that we are a minority of fifth-columnists who cannot be trusted in relation to our loyalties to Britain. Muslims who adopted a principled anti-interventionist attitude towards the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also felt that they could no longer articulate their position without being connected somehow to the opinions of Anjum Chaudhry’s band of merry but troubled men.
The recent murders of Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir forced a much needed realignment in public opinion towards Britain’s largest and arguably most visible minority. Brutally run over whilst protecting local shops from looters, the principle of laying down your life in order to protect the innocent was thought to be an archaic concept from bygone eras of conquest and marauding tribes. However, within a moment of tragedy the boys recovered for many thousands of British Muslims the true meaning of the word ‘jihad’, which means ‘to struggle’ in Arabic from the nihilists of Al-Qaida.
12th September, 2011
As recently highlighted by The Guardian, the ugly reality of the English Defence League has been exposed in a newly-published report by Dr Matthew Feldman and Dr Paul Jackson at Northampton University’s Radicalism and New Media Research Group. The report was formally released during a major international conference recently hosted by the RNM; it is based on extensive independent research and is a truly brilliant analysis of all aspects of the EDL. The results are damning to say the least.
The full report can be downloaded for free as a PDF document via the RNM’s website here.
Some of the key findings are as follows (from p.56 of the report):
From the outset, among leaders and followers it is clear that the EDL has had sustained connections with the BNP and other extreme-right groups. Moreover, the EDL might profess itself a single issue, counter-jihadist movement, but its failure to adhere to this line leaves it looking like all previous racist extreme-right groups. This failure makes it even more difficult to ignore the neo-Nazi methods, antecedents and current connections of the EDL’s leaders and its followers.
Consequently, these profiles allow four conclusions. Firstly, the EDL is unarguably connected to the BNP and other far-right groups, whether by previous association or by shared interest. Secondly, some of these far-right individuals have possessed significant weaponry that identifies them as potential ‘lone wolf’ terrorists. Thirdly, EDL leaders and followers have engaged in criminality, especially racially aggravated incidents. Fourthly, the EDL engages in doublespeak that powerfully questions their claim to be a single-issue, non-racist movement.
30th August, 2011
The English Defence League’s leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) recently gave an interview to the Norwegian media and made the following dubious statements about the mass murdering Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik:
“We share some of his opinions, and his fear, but not what he did in Norway 22 July. I do not think he is insane. I think that his approach was insane…Breivik dared to come forward with his opinions, and was tough, in some regards. People need to understand that Breivik is not alone in these feelings.”
Yaxley-Lennon previously appeared to make a threat at the end of his interviews with the BBC’s Newsnight and CNN shortly after the massacre in Norway, which was immediately noticed by Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman and CNN anchor Becky Anderson. Curiously, Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as making exactly the same claim about Far-Right anti-Muslim terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom “within the next 5 years” several months before Breivik’s attacks in Norway.
A detailed Pickled Politics article about the EDL’s links to Breivik can be read here. More recently, British counter-terrorism officers have confirmed that they are now investigating and monitoring the EDL in the same way that they investigate potential Islamist terrorists, and that this is a direct consequence of Breivik’s murderous actions.
Furthermore, Paul Ray aka “Lionheart”, one of the EDL’s original founders who is being investigated by the Norwegian police for his links to Breivik, has now stated that Breivik is indeed part of a wider Far-Right movement, including possible cells in the UK. The Norwegian police are expanding their investigations in conjunction with Scotland Yard to possibly include the questioning of a number of British citizens. Multiple photographs of various EDL supporters brandishing guns have also recently surfaced, and some examples can be seen via Hope Not Hate here.
23rd August, 2011
Pickled Politics would like to wish our Muslim readers “Eid Mubarak”, as today marks the end of Ramadan (or “Ramzan”, as we South Asians pronounce it).
Some suitable music to mark the occasion:
A live performance of an extract from “Man Kunto Maula”, by the Pakistani singers Atif Aslam and Riaz Ali Khan. Dedicated to Ali, this devotional song was written by the Indian Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusrau in the 13th century; it is regarded as the first qawwali in Indian history. Amir Khusrau, the Sufi Muslim saint Nizamuddin Auliya’s most famous disciple, is widely regarded as one of the founders of North Indian classical music as an organised art form. Atif Aslam is the younger singer in the video below; he often contributes to the soundtracks for Indian films, and has become very popular during the past couple of years.
22nd August, 2011
IKWRO, a charity dedicated to helping women of Middle Eastern origin escape domestic/’honour-based violence, is conducting an survey into the experiences of Muslim women who use the courts to settle family disputes. Sunny has written on Sharia courts in the past, and the issues surrounding them.
It is for staff in organisations which have advised women who have used or considered using Muslim Arbitration Tribunals or Islamic Sharia Councils to resolve family disputes.
The aim of the survey is twofold, as it seeks to discover:
1. The experiences of women using Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Islamic Sharia Councils to resolve family disputes.
2. The level of experience and knowledge about Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Islamic Sharia Councils among the women’s sector, and the sector’s information needs.
Relevant individuals can take the survey here.
8th August, 2011
Despite all the violence and destruction that occurred across England during the recent riots, there were also some heartening developments. Most well-known, of course, is the reaction of Tariq Jahan, the inspirational father of one of the young men murdered in Birmingham as they attempted to protect the local population from the rioters. Mr Jahan’s extraordinary dignity and calls for peace on the basis of our common humanity played a huge part in preventing the situation from spiralling into even worse violence.
Tariq Jahan’s actions have effectively resulted in him becoming a national hero in Britain, and some of the most moving articles have come from unexpected sources such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The outpouring of support and praise for Mr Jahan has included commenters who are openly expressing deep regret for their previous prejudice against Muslims.
A prayer event in Birmingham ahead of the funerals of Shazad Ali, Abdul Musavir, and Tariq Jahan’s son Haroon was attended by approximately 20,000 people, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and invited speakers included visitors from one of the local synagogues. An online book of condolence has also been launched by Birmingham city council.
Interfaith unity and friendship
Inspiring examples of interfaith unity and friendship also occurred across the country during the riots. For example, Sikhs were heavily involved in joint efforts to protect the local towns & cities as a whole and the associated places of worship, including the defence of mosques. Correspondingly, Muslims also volunteered to protect Sikh temples. And a joint Sikh-Muslim prayer vigil was held at the site of the murders of the young Asian Muslims in Birmingham, attended by several hundred people and involving both Sikh and Muslim prayers. A photo of the candlelit vigil is displayed at the top of this article. You can also watch an interview of Harpreet Singh, one of the Sikh organisers of the joint vigil, in the video below.
1st August, 2011
Pickled Politics senior editor Sunny Hundal briefly mentioned the following subject in his recent article discussing the fact that the atrocity in Norway highlights “a new form of prejudice”, but it’s worth providing further details. Pamela Geller is the American author of the virulently anti-Muslim blog Atlas Shrugs and the executive director of the organisation “Stop Islamization of America”; like SIOA’s co-founder Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Geller was repeatedly cited in the 1500-page manifesto of the Far-Right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”).
Geller herself, who is originally from a Jewish background but describes mainstream liberal Jews as “lost souls” and “self-hating wretches”, was given a huge public platform by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News last year during the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. She has consistently been at the forefront of promoting extremely bigoted anti-Muslim propaganda; you can read a comprehensive list of examples via Media Matters for America here and here, and via The American Muslim here.
It turns out that Pamela Geller received an email in 2007 from a Norwegian contact who sounds disturbingly similar to Breivik. Geller approvingly published the email on her Atlas Shrugs blog on 24 June 2007 without naming the author; in response to a query from one of the commenters there, Geller confirmed that she was deliberately hiding the author’s identity so that he would not be investigated and prosecuted. After the recent massacre in Norway, Geller quietly edited her article in order to remove the email’s explicit references to weapons, ammunition and equipment; unfortunately for Geller, her actions have been noticed by multiple readers and the original unedited version of the article had already been cached elsewhere. (More details, including relevant URL links, can be found here).
Therefore, this has the following possible implications:
1. Pamela Geller had personally been in contact with Anders Breivik and even promoted his email on her own website, but she deliberately hid his identity in order to protect him (and did not report him to the authorities) despite being aware of Breivik’s extremely violent rhetoric and the fact that he was stockpiling weapons & ammunition;
2. Alternatively, Geller was not emailed by Breivik himself but there is currently another violent Norwegian out there with aims and attitudes which are disturbingly similar to those of Breivik, and whose identity Geller is deliberately hiding.
29th July, 2011
The Guardian have now confirmed that English Defence League financier Alan Lake was indeed the author of a horrific “Final Solution” blueprint targeting Britain’s entire Muslim population, anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, and senior members of the current British government such as Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also included in the list of targets for execution. Lake wanted to open a debate on the subject and therefore requested in his message that supporters should provide further suggestions for people who should be killed.
The millionaire businessman Alan Lake, who wrote “it would be great to see them executed or tortured to death”, posted the message on his “4Freedoms” website on 23 May 2010. According to The Guardian, although Lake removed the references to execution and torture the next day, he still claims that “the fundamental point of that piece is correct” and that he is “holding people responsible for the consequences of their actions”.
As discussed in the Pickled Politics article summarising recent developments involving the EDL’s public response to the atrocity in Norway along with the organisation’s connections to the terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”), during his BBC interview with Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman on 25 July 2011, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) claimed that he does not know Alan Lake despite the fact that Lake himself has publicly admitted to his considerable involvement with the organisation. A detailed overview of Lake’s background, his affiliations with multiple extreme Far-Right groups and Christian fundamentalist organisations, and his extensive activities in both Europe and the United States to further the EDL’s agenda can be read via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight here.
A screenshot of the original message by Alan Lake is displayed below (via EDL News and 1 Million United). Along with the threats of extreme violence, particularly noticeable are the similarities to the virulent hostility towards Muslims en masse and the death threats against politicians which are also present in Anders Breivik’s 1500-page “manifesto”. Incidentally, according to Channel 4 News, it turns out that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011.
25th July, 2011
A compilation of continuing developments focusing on the English Defence League’s public response to the atrocity along with Breivik’s own connections to the EDL :
1. Fresh from his court appearance during which he was convicted of leading a violent brawl involving 100 football supporters, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) was interviewed by Becky Anderson on CNN’s “Connect the World” programme on Monday evening. The anchor noticed what appeared to be a threat at the end of the interview and challenged Yaxley-Lennon about it. The full transcript of the CNN interview (link provided above) also includes the observations of a former Neo-Nazi who was interviewed immediately after Yaxley-Lennon, both in relation to the massacre in Norway and his damning response to Yaxley-Lennon’s own anti-Islam assertions on behalf of the EDL, especially the close parallels with historical Far-Right bigotry towards Jews.
2. Yaxley-Lennon was interviewed in further detail by Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight later on Monday evening. Along with refusing to answer most of Paxman’s questions, Yaxley-Lennon recited almost exactly the same memorised statements that he’d made on CNN, from his “words of condolence” at the beginning to what appeared to be a threat at the end. He became increasingly belligerent and aggressive as the interview progressed, and by the end he was loudly ranting. Paxman also noticed the “threat” and challenged Yaxley-Lennon about it.
· Furthermore, Yaxley-Lennon told Paxman that he does not know Daryl Hobson, despite the fact that Hobson is one of the EDL’s main organisers. A photo of Yaxley-Lennon with Hobson is displayed at the top of this PP article (via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight). Hobson himself has also confirmed that the terrorist Anders Breivik was in contact with the EDL.
· Yaxley-Lennon also told Paxman that the millionaire businessman Alan Lake does not finance the EDL, despite the fact that Lake himself has now publicly admitted to funding the organisation. A detailed profile of Lake can be read via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight here, including details of Lake’s extensive involvement with the EDL and the scale of his international activities to further their agenda.
23rd July, 2011
The Labour MP Tom Harris writes:
I got it wrong and I apologise. I should not have jumped to conclusions, especially not so early on in such a terrible sequence of events.
But (and of course there’s a “but” or I wouldn’t be writing this), the palpable relief that swept through the left when the identity of the terrorist was made known – a 32-year-old Norwegian christian fundamentalist – was revealing. Here, thank God, was a terrorist we can all hate without equivocation: white, christian and far right-wing.
When he first heard about the attacks, he pointed the finger at Muslims. There was little evidence for it but you know, they’re fair game right? When it turned out it wasn’t some Islamist terrorist, he issued a reluctant apology, and was criticised quite heavily for it on Twitter. So in an effort to make himself look further like a prat, he goes ahead and writes the above.
When the recent terrorist bombs went off in Mumbai – I was reading the news on Twitter. As some may recall, I instantly started live-tweeting news from Mumbai even though everyone else was talking about the phone-hacking scandal. I didn’t speculate about who it was, though the Indian govt blamed Islamic militants (I reported this). It is likely to be Islamic militants, though in the past Hindu militants have threatened bombs attacks to counter Muslims (Yes, really). I didn’t speculate however about who would be “relieved” by such an attack because such discussion would be highly insensitive and… well, just idiotic.
The disgusting blog-post by Tom Harris above is exactly that. Apparently people aren’t horrified by the deaths and the bombs. Apparently, people aren’t talking about it because they were horrified by his hate-filled rants and his Neo-Nazi ‘manifesto’.
No, making those kind of assumptions would be to require that sometimes people have benign motives. Tom Harris can’t assume that, he has his pride to think about.
So let me get this straight. If the next terrorist attack was by a Muslim, would it be legitimate to accuse Tom Harris of being “relieved” that it wasn’t a white-Christian terrorist so he could hate with impunity? Is that the level of discussion that a member of Parliament should be at? It boggles the mind.
Update: Melanie Phillips echoes Tom Harris:
The supposed beliefs of the Norway massacre’s perpetrator has got the left in general wetting itself in delirium at this apparently heaven-sent opportunity to take down those who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against those who would destroy it.
He’s in good company.
19th July, 2011
This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs here.
Going through the BBC News website yesterday, I discovered Muslim comedian Humza Arshad, AKA ‘Badman’ for the first time. What I didn’t know then was that he has already had literally millions of Youtube hits, been on BBC Asian Network and will soon be starting his first comedy tour, joined by several well known British Asian comedians including Jeff Mirza.
After a hilarious half hour, during which I was mostly literally laughing out loud, I found out all this and more. Humza Arshad- sorry, ‘Badman,’ has a Youtube channel through which he runs his comedy video diary. It’s called- you guessed it- Diary of a Badman. The caption of his first Youtube video describes him as ‘a badman with seriously good looks.’
According to BBC News, Humza hopes his comedy will not only entertain, but also challenge perceptions of Islam. His videos are filled with moments of fun about everything from the iPhone 4 to the Asian woman’s Tupperware obsession- something that all British Asian children of a certain age know only too well!
But what makes Humza Arshad stand out is that each of his videos ends with a serious message connected to Islamic teachings. In the first, after a fight with his mum, he ends by recalling the Prophet’s words about respecting mothers (by tests forge richards). In his Eid video, he explains that the festival is all about sacrifice and in the latest, he makes sure to thank Allah, along with his fans, for his success.
If Humza Arshad’s comedy sounds like your cup of ‘chai,’ you can watch his whole series of Youtube videos here. He also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. And he now takes bookings- he can be emailed at badmanbooking[at]hotmail.co.uk.
I, for one, can’t wait for his next video.
5th July, 2011
Pink News reports that more homophobic posters have surfaced in East London.
It states: “You are entering a Shariah controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced”
It then depicts pictures illustrating that smoking, alcohol, music, drugs, prostitution and porn are forbidden.
Tower Hamlets council say they are looking into it already, but I hope the East London Mosque will also take a more pro-active stance.
Update: Muslims Against Crusades (Anjem Choudhary’s lot) are behind it.
East London Mosque have got in touch with me to say;
1. Members of our staff spotted the posters (that are stuck on and extremely hard to remove).
2. Photographs of the posters were taken and sent to local Police liaisons.
3. The Tower Hamlets Council was also immediately notified by us and Police to have them removed.
4. Posters were removed the very next day, but since then, some more may have gone up.
2nd July, 2011
Oh check out Andrew Gilligan, he think he has one on me! Says on his latest blog-post:
Almost two years ago, incidentally, one progressive blogger alerted us to the way in which SREIslamic were extremists “putting on a moderate face” and “jumping on a polarising and emotive issue to build their own base and support.” That blogger was none other than Sunny Hundal – the very gentleman who last weekend was denouncing me for making exactly the same point, and cranking out desperate excuses for the East London Mosque.
Uh oh! Hypocrisy? Has Hundal been caught out secretly getting chummy with mad mullahs?
Poor Gilligan, if he only bothered to read what I wrote just a few days ago:
And to be clear: I’m not a fan of SRE Islamic at all. Neither am I of religious bigotry. But here is an example of Gilligan selectively targeting Muslims while saying nothing of Christian groups on the matter. I oppose religiously inspired bigotry – but a belief in civil liberties and free speech requires accepting that sometimes people will say things you don’t like.
Gilligan has of course ignored all the points I’ve made while hysterically accused everyone else of kowtowing to homophobia. But that is the way of the smear-mongers I guess.
It’s funny how people who claim to want more free speech lose their marbles when it comes to Muslims huh?
Update: Oh dear, oh dear. More of Andrew Gilligan’s shoddy journalism comes out in the wash.
21st June, 2011
Last week Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph blogs claimed that ‘East London Mosque breaks its promise on homophobic speakers after just eight days’.
East London Mosque has now released a statement hitting back, which shows how disingenuous Gilligan actually is. Here is part of their statement
14th June, 2011
The English Defence League’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit “Singh”, who recently posted a message on Facebook publicly announcing his resignation, was interviewed by BBC West Midlands radio a few days ago. The issue of Guramit’s potential excommunication was one of the subjects mentioned during his radio interview; it was subsequently discussed in detail by a number of other programme participants, and Guramit received no support whatsoever from any of them. You can read a full transcript of the programme here.
I will highlight a number of relevant extracts below:
Guramit: “At the end of the day I’m not representing the Sikh culture – the religion…..I don’t represent Sikhs, I don’t represent Hindus, Christians, Catholics, Muslims – I don’t represent anybody apart from people who are sincere to our cause. The members of the English Defence League, we represent them and that’s all I’m here to do.”
False. Guramit deliberately uses the characteristically Sikh name “Singh” during his public activities in conjunction with the EDL, even though it’s not actually his real surname. In one of Guramit’s earlier public statements, he explicitly claimed that he considers himself a “servant of the Sikh Nation”; he also explicitly claimed that he considers the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh scriptures) to be his “Guru” and that Sikhism has “taught him a lot”.
Guramit has also now issued multiple public statements, in writing, repeatedly claiming that the EDL are the modern-day ideological counterparts of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh’s historical Khalsa, and repeatedly referencing (and grossly misrepresenting) Sikh theology & history in order to justify his own actions.
7th June, 2011
A group of activists have today sent out a press release welcoming a promise by East London mosque that it will ban homophobic speakers. This is excellent news for two reasons.
First, it shows that a Mosque is willing to listen to the concerns of the wider community in the area that its in, rather than just of Muslims. Second, it shows that debate and negotiation on behalf of activists works better than just slagging them off.
Gay, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim Activists Welcome Mosque Pledge to Ban Homophobic Speakers
* LGBT, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim activists express their support for the East London Mosque’s significant statement promising to prevent its premises from being used as a platform for homophobic speakers.
* The Mosque’s statement is an important step in building trust and goodwill in the local community.
* We urge the Mosque to publicise its commitment through the local, Asian and religious media.
* We celebrate diversity in the community and stand united with our neighbours against anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia.
6th June, 2011
The counter-terrorism think tank Quilliam Foundation, who are broadly supportive of the government’s proposals on the matter, sent out this statement today:
The new strategy is a step in the right direction. It is good that the government has recognised that extremism lies at the root of terrorism and that extremism must be tackled as a result. It is also right that the government has acknowledged the problem of radicalisation at universities and that action is needed against campus hate-preachers.
At the same time, however, the strategy is plagued by muddled thinking that risks undermining its positive achievements. In particular its definition of Islamism is so broad that it fails to distinguish between Islamists and politically active Muslims inspired by Islam, this unnecessarily smears ordinary politically active Muslims and works to the favour of Islamists who benefit from hiding behind such blurred distinctions.
Ouch. That’s fairly harsh, coming even from an ally.
But that gets to the heart of why this review will be ultimately counter-productive.
5th June, 2011
There have recently been a series of further Sikh signatories to the joint statement condemning the English Defence League and any Sikhs who join them. Examples of notable individuals who have recently publicly voiced their support are several popular UK-based Sikh musicians along with Sikh councillors such as Hardial Singh Rai (Barking & Dagenham) and Pavitar Kaur Mann (Slough).
However, the most high-profile Sikh signatory so far has been the acclaimed Indian ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, who was recently in the UK for a major concert tour. Jagjit is extremely famous among more than a billion South Asians worldwide, and continues to have a successful career which has spanned approximately 40 years. Although he is trained in Indian classical music and also occasionally records albums of religious music, he is most famous as a ghazal maestro. In fact, he is widely regarded as the world’s greatest modern-day Indian proponent of the genre. Jagjit regularly performs at international concerts to huge audiences.
2nd June, 2011
Today’s Observer has this nugget:
The Conservative manifesto named Hizb ut-Tahrir as a group it wanted to proscribe; in 2009 the then shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, promised to “immediately ban” the group if the Tories were elected.
But they won’t. The new Prevent review – on how the government deals with counter-terrorism – will avoid anything on Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Its hardly surprising though. I’ve been pointing out for ages that banning HuT is like banning the BNP – idiotic and an attack on free speech. But while banning the latter would have raised hackles amongst Conservatives, attempts to ban HuT have been met with embarrassed silence by Conservatives who claimed to be for defending free speech.
The main observation in the article is that:
Home Office sources say that Cameron has quashed Nick Clegg’s argument for a more tolerant attitude to Muslim groups by insisting on a strategy centred upon the notion that violent extremism is incubated within the ideology of non-violent extremism.
The shift in approach will be outlined when the government’s counter-terrorism strategy is unveiled by the home secretary, Theresa May, on Tuesday. Central to the Prevent strategy is a broader definition of extremism that will be extended beyond groups condoning violence to those considered non-violent but whose views, such as the advocacy of sharia law, fail to “reflect British mainstream values”.
I suppose I’ll have to dust off my arguments on why this is a bad idea and makes us all the more unsafe.
24th May, 2011
Regular readers will be aware of my recent article (Part 1, Part 2) highlighting the full scale of the English Defence League spokesman’s continuous lying in his extremely dishonest, rambling “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. The next day, Guramit posted the following message on Facebook, suddenly announcing his resignation:
Readers can make up their own minds about the accuracy of the “reasons” stated for his departure, considering Guramit’s extensive track record of disingenuously being somewhat economical with the truth.
The EDL’s main website has been noticeably silent about Guramit’s resignation; there were also no tributes to (or mention of) him by the senior speakers at the EDL’s demonstration in Blackpool during the weekend. The lack of a public tribute or any words of gratitude by the EDL’s leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) is also glaringly conspicuous.
However, during the past few days, Guramit’s secretary Hel Gower has posted the following “goodbye message” on Facebook. She uses some — shall we say — interesting words to describe Guramit:
Hel Gower, of course, is also on record as openly supporting the BNP and the neo-Nazi “British First Party”, as per the following screenshot from Facebook:
One of the very few honest public statements made by Guramit included the following assertion about Sikhism:
“My religion teaches that the truth will always prevail.”
Indeed it does. Ironically, it has been proven that Guramit himself was repeatedly lying his head off during his ignominious tenure with the EDL. How unfortunate for the EDL, although some would correctly describe it as poetic justice.
Guramit has posted a characteristically petulant Facebook response to my article:
It’s quite revealing about his own mentality that Guramit assumes that was what I was referring to, not to mention his embarrassingly hypersensitive reaction. And, of course, Guramit once again hypocritically accuses other people of “making up lies”.
Having said that, since Guramit has no objection to his BNP & neo-Nazi-supporting secretary openly referring to him as a “Paki” then he’s clearly taking self-abasing sycophancy to previously uncharted depths.
And once again, Guramit’s unwise public outburst betrays his ignorance of the following very pertinent advice by the late great President Abraham Lincoln:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
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This article is a direct continuation of Part 1, which was published yesterday, and discusses further extracts from the EDL spokesman’s recent open letter to numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read Part 1 first before continuing below.
“One of my closest international allies is Rabbi Shiffren.”
This is the same Rabbi Shifren who has been condemned by numerous senior Jewish leaders for his anti-Muslim fanaticism, ended up having to be forcibly thrown out of a conference by five conservative rabbis after he started screaming abuse at Reverend Jesse Jackson, and is on record as making the following extremely derogatory remarks about Muslims during a speech at an EDL demonstration in October 2010: “In those so-called freedom centres, they plot to destroy and kill us. We’re still waiting for the Muslims to make peace with each other. They eat each other alive, like the dogs that they are…”
It is worth remembering that the EDL also have international links to Jewish convicted terrorists who are not only completely banned from entering Israel, but are also part of groups which the FBI have officially designated as terrorist organisations.
“A Sikh who truly understands his or her religion will understand the true message of the English Defence League. Our battle against militant Islam”
False. As a result of multiple interviews by the BBC (see here and here), Guramit is on record as publicly claiming that there is absolutely no difference between “militant Islam” and Islam in general. In fact, his public speeches at EDL rallies have repeatedly included remarks demonising Islam full-stop along with Allah, the Prophet Mohammad, and Britain’s entire Muslim population, frequently using extremely obscene language (see here, here and here). Therefore, when Guramit uses the term “militant Islam”, he means that Islam itself is by definition inherently militant.