25th December, 2011
14th November, 2011
Pickled Politics would like to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas.
I think we’d all agree that 2011 turned out to be not only surprisingly eventful but also very unpredictable. A great deal has happened around the world during the past year, and it makes one wonder what is in store for the human race in 2012.
Regardless of whether you regard Jesus as the messianic son of God, a prophet, a saint, or simply a great man, his powerful message of peace and compassion, the need to oppose injustice and prejudice, and the importance of helping the poor, the vulnerable and the persecuted clearly still has great resonance as an inspiring example for mankind.
Some suitable music to mark the occasion:
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing “The Face of Love”, accompanied by Eddie Vedder of the American rock group Pearl Jam and Nusrat’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The song is from the Oscar-nominated film Dead Man Walking.
The simple Urdu/Hindi lyrics mean “What is living without love ? Since you have come into this world, love each other”.
10th November, 2011
More than 170 English Defence League members were arrested in London on Remembrance Day in order to prevent a “breach of the peace”.
The reasons for the arrests were the threats of violence which senior EDL figures had posted on the internet beforehand. Three EDL members who had been arrested were released specifically on police bail, with further inquiries pending.
The most incriminating message of all was posted by Michael Rafferty, a senior EDL leader from the group’s ‘Combined ex-Forces’ (CxF) division. As reported in The Independent, police have confirmed that Rafferty had claimed that the EDL had access to guns and would bring them to London on Remembrance Day.
Rafferty had also claimed that the EDL have snipers and other armed members, and were prepared to open fire against the police. A screenshot of Rafferty’s sinister Facebook message is displayed below, which includes Rafferty’s repeated threats of an armed war being started on the streets of Britain.
Michael Rafferty was subsequently stopped by police in London’s Whitehall area on Remembrance Day and searched for guns, although none were found on him. The EDL had also made direct threats against the Occupy LSX camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, claiming that the protestors had ridiculed what the EDL referred to as “our religion”.
The Guardian have reported that the EDL posted Facebook messages threatening to burn down tents in the Occupy LSX camp if they were still outside St Paul’s on Remembrance Sunday; The Guardian have also confirmed that EDL members tried to enter the camp, with the most recent incident occurring on Thursday night.
Shortly after the arrests of EDL members on Remembrance Day, the EDL released a statement making the following threat against the Police and the British Government:
Of course, making threats is a repeated pattern of behaviour for senior EDL figures.
For example, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), an ex-BNP member who recently claimed that Islam is a “race”, is on record as recently accusing “every single Muslim” of collective guilt and publicly making a direct threat of EDL-led retribution against what he terms “the Islamic community” en masse. Similarly, The Guardian have confirmed that EDL financier & strategist Alan Lake was the author of a horrifying “Final Solution” blueprint targeting the entire British Muslim population and 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. Lake is currently being formally investigated by the Norwegian police to ascertain his ideological influence on the terrorist Anders Breivik.
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.
5th November, 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.”
26th October, 2011
Extremist Muslim group Muslims Against Crusades are planning their annual Remembrance Day stunt again, on 11th November.
The Daily Mail, which always reports on their actions in advance, says the demo, which will mock the charity for injured soldiers Help for Heroes, is due to take place outside the Royal Albert Hall, the same location where a poppy was burned last year.
The Muslims Against Crusades protesters, who have sought permission from police to hold the rally, aim to chant and disrupt the minute’s silence held in honour of the war dead.
Like last time – when we stood against them at their 9/11 demo – a group of us are organising a little protest against Choudhary and his band of monkeys on Nov 11th.
Come down and join us on the day! More details will be posted soon.
27th September, 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:
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.
10th September, 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.
30th August, 2011
The Guardian reports that one opened this week:
The school, which will have compulsory Punjabi lessons for all pupils, has been a labour of love and duty for Birmingham’s 200,000-strong Sikh community. Sikhs as old as 90 and as young as five have helped strip floorboards and paint, says principal-designate Ranjit Singh Dhanda.
He says that one of the core concepts of the Sikh faith is Daswand – donating a minimum of a tenth of your earnings, time, knowledge and prayers to a noble cause or a social service.
Some 130 members of the community have helped, unpaid, on a daily or weekly basis. They include Amardip Singh Suri, manager of a plastics factory, who has come after work almost every day when the workmen leave, to sweep up until the early hours.
Nice in theory, but I’m increasingly against the idea of religious schools – I think they have too much potential to segregate on religious lines. Religious schools should at least have a quarter of students from different backgrounds.
22nd 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.
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.
13th 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.
12th July, 2011
There was a good article in the Guardian yesterday offering background to the recent controversies in East London regarding Muslims and gays.
The article by Jack Gilbert starts off describing the ‘Gay free zone’ stickers that were stuck around East London, and then says:
Coverage of the sticker campaign, particularly online, often seemed ill-informed. Comment pieces from both sides tended towards a rabble-rousing tone, inspiring a torrent of racist and Islamaphobic abuse. I experienced more back-to-my-roots shivers, this time thinking about my grandparents’ fight against Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts.
Acting on Rainbow Hamlets’s advice, a joint statement was issued by Tower Hamlets’ mayor Lutfur Rahman, the Inter-faith Forum, and the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre (ELM). This represented the first public condemnation of homophobia by both Rahman and the ELM.
Both the points: about the tone of the debate online (I wonder which blogs he was thinking of!) and of who were the first to issue a condemnation, should be noted.
Jack Gilbert then highlights two more points. First, that the law is inadequate in dealing with homophobic abuse in the way that it deals with racist abuse for example. I suspect this is partly because tightening that up would instantly render both the Testaments and the Qu’ran as illegal writings. Nevertheless, I believe more needs to be done.
Secondly, he does say that the East London Mosque initially failed to back its initial action with more public statements. But he later says:
Today, moderate communities have a simple unequivocal duty: to be seen to show all their neighbours respect – whether or not they agree or approve of their beliefs or lifestyle. What is needed is a paradigm shift among LGBT and Muslim opinion formers, one that enables the leaders to find a rhetoric that can speak of respect and joint-working publicly, and which addresses patterns of prejudice on all sides without fear
He is right. There is an internal battle going on at the ELM right now between conservative and more moderate voices. Like in the Usama Hasan case, I hope that saner, moderate voices prevail. In fact I’m sure they eventually will.
But the likes of Andrew Gilligan and certain blogs with their incendiary and one-sided reporting don’t help this debate. In fact they poison it.
I hope the ELM will pay close attention to the progress report and listen to local communities in how it can tackle homophobia, regardless of what racists outside of the area say online.
27th June, 2011
Amid the News International scandal, details have remerged about the papal knighthood given to Rupert Murdoch back in 1998 after a donation to a Catholic organisation. Now debate is raging over whether to strip him of it:
In 1998 Rupert Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory. He had apparently been recommended for the honour by Cardinal Roger Mahony, after giving money to a Church education fund. A year later he donated $10 million to help build Los Angeles Catholic cathedral.
Just another group/institution that lined up to pay homage to Rupert Murdoch.
(Via Richard Bartholomew)
21st June, 2011
Man, its a full-time job just fact-checking Andrew Gilligan and his smears.
He says today that East London Mosque has already broken its commitment to banning homophobic speakers from ELM.
This time, however, it has only taken just over a week for the mosque’s bad faith to emerge. The day after tomorrow, 29 June, it welcomes to its premises an organisation called Sex and Relationship Education Islamic (SRE Islamic), one of whose main purposes is to campaign for “the unacceptability of homosexuality which is often portrayed as a lifestyle choice.” That’s a quote from the first sentence of SRE Islamic’s statement of values.
SRE Islamic is run by members of Hizb ut Tahrir, a racist and extremist group which believes that Muslims should not mix with non-Muslims.
I have no love lost for HuT – but perhaps Gilligan should spend more time reading his own mates. The two people mentioned by Gilligan left HuT ages ago.
Second, while its true that SRE Islamic aren’t exactly fans of homosexuality – such is the position of Christian groups too. There is a difference between inviting a preacher who calls for the death of gays, and some intolerant people who say that most Islamic preachers say homosexuality is not acceptable within Islam (which is a fact).
The SRE Islamic event at ELM is jointly with the ‘Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child’ – a Christian group. I wonder why Andrew Gilligan did not include that fact? If Gilligan is going to be fair and balanced on this, I’d like him to campaign for Christian organisations who disapprove of homosexuality to be banned from Churches too.
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.
6th 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.
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.”
23rd May, 2011
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.
20th April, 2011
Further to my recent article highlighting Guramit “Singh’s” ongoing doublespeak and religious hypocrisy in his public statement responding to the excommunication ultimatum, the English Defence League’s “Sikh” spokesman has issued a very long, extremely dishonest “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikh supporters & signatories of the joint statement which condemned the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. I’m not going to link to the EDL’s website directly, but if you Google “EDL open letter ideological opponents” then you’ll be able to locate the letter. Alternatively, you can read it in full via another website here.
As a Sikh myself, I’ll address a series of extracts from Guramit’s rambling letter:
“I’m writing with regard to the document you signed, a document issued to you by members of the turban campaign, something that slanders not just myself but also the English Defence League…..This is me reaching out to all those people who have been hoodwinked into believing slander from the ideological opponents of the EDL…..This was the turban campaigns next lie, as you can probably guess this is getting ridiculous considering that members of the turban campaign claim to represent the whole of the Sikh community, I would never claim such a thing. I only represent those who are sincere to our cause no matter what colour creed or religion”
18th April, 2011
Further to the recent Pickled Politics article highlighting the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh’s admission of hatred towards other South Asians, some further information about Guramit himself is continuing to come to light.
Doublespeak in action
A new Youtube video focusing specifically on Guramit is an excellent compilation and definitely worth watching in full. The repeated juxtaposition of Guramit’s disingenuous assertions about the EDL compared with the ugly reality demonstrates the point particularly effectively. You can watch the video via Youtube here.
“I consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be my Guru”
In response to the recent ultimatum, Gurmait subsequently released a public statement on the EDL’s main blog declaring that he refuses to leave the EDL irrespective of the ultimatum and threatening retaliation (including making a sinister threat to involve unspecified supporters from “outside the Sikh community”) if any attempts were made to excommunicate him.
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Further to the joint statement by numerous major British Sikh & Hindu temples and organisations condemning the EDL and any Sikhs who join them, followed by the recent ultimatum issued to the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh, some more facts about Guramit himself are coming to light.
“I f****** hate the Pakis”
As can be heard in the Youtube clip below, a BBC Three documentary about the EDL included audio footage of Guramit Singh secretly referring to other South Asians as “Pakis” and describing his hatred of them. Perhaps it’s time Guramit actually looked in the mirror.