Fundamentalist Fun and Games
This was first published at the Gatestone Institute
Most extremists probably do not, understandably, like to be accused of extremism. They might find, however, that in the eyes of the public simply denying the allegation is enough to counter all evidence to the contrary.
Denials, even if not necessarily sincere, can be successful, perhaps because so many people have been persuaded to regard religious extremists as victims of prejudice — a view they rightly do not ascribe to political activists, such as members of neo-Nazi organizations.
Sahib Bleher, a spokesperson for the Islamic Party of Britain (IPB), for instance, claims that, “never and nowhere did the Islamic Party of Britain advocate the killing of homosexuals.” The IPB’s website, however, explicitly states that “Islam condemns and outlaws homosexuality. As far as Islamic law is concerned, the rules are that the state does not interfere in the privacy of people’s homes, but it would need to safeguard public decency by preventing any public advocacy for homosexuality. Such activity would come under the heading of public incitement. The death penalty … only applies to a public display of lewdness witnessed by several people.”
This policy is also archived on Bleher’s own website.
Further references to homosexuality found within the IPB’s publications include mention of the “organized homosexual movement,” in which homosexuals are compared to “thieves, murderers and adulterers” and described as “spiritually sick.”
In addition, Bleher claims that the IPB did not wish “to transform Britain into an Islamic state.” Again, the IPB’s own publications demonstrate otherwise. In a piece published 1997, the IPB discusses how to turn Britain into an Islamic state, and laments “Muslim communities in the West … neglect[ing] the political and the economic dimensions of Islam, reducing Islam to a merely cultural expression.”
The Islamic Party of Britain is denying these allegations, despite the evidence still available on their website, possibly because they wish to gain the approval of the general public by portraying themselves as victims of a witch-hunt.
The Islamic Party of Britain is certainly not the only extremist group to use such methods. Leaders of the East London Mosque, for instance, recently tried to claim that their refusal to allow Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari to speak on their premises in February 2014 was an illustration of their uncompromising stand against extremism.
Al-Kawthari is a Deobandi preacher who calls for the stoning of adulterers, claims it is permissible for a husband to rape his wife, and tells Muslims to push Christians and Jews out of the way while walking in the street.
Although the Mosque claimed to have banned Al Kawthari from speaking, a note published on Al-Kawthari’s Facebook page, tells a different story. Al-Kawthari quotes a communication from the East London Mosque, which states: “The ELM has not banned Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. We have no issues with matters, as clearly defined in Islamic jurisprudence raised by the Mufti.”
Al Kawthari added: “ELM management have assured me that some miscommunication may have taken place, and that they will do a press release very soon stating that I am not banned from speaking at their venue.”
No such press release, however, has ever been sent out.
Moreover, just a few months later, in May 2014, after both publicly distancing themselves from Al-Kawthari and privately reassuring him of their support, representatives of the East London Mosque hosted a “six-week evening course” with Imam Fadel Soliman, an extremist Egyptian preacher who has called for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. Soliman also claims that the punishment for “fornication” is “100 lashes” and supports the amputation of thieves’ hands.
There are countless other examples of such goings-on. Imam Abdul Qayyum, for instance, the Chief Imam of the East London Mosque, has been accused of signing the Istanbul Declaration, which advocates attacks on British troops and Jewish communities across the world.
Qayyum is also part of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, an inter-religious dialogue group the trustees of which recently included the British peer, Lord Ahmed, who, in 2012, while a trustee, was suspended from the Labour Party, and has since resigned. He had claimed on Pakistani television that he was only jailed for dangerous driving in 2008 because of pressure on the courts from “Jews” who, he said, “own newspapers and TV channels.”
Both Qayyum and the head of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, Mehri Niknam, claim that Qayyum is not a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration — even though his name clearly appears on the original Arabic document.
This hollow denial, in the face of evidence indicating otherwise, nevertheless appeared good enough for Mehri Niknam to dismiss the accusations as trumped up, and it has evidently been good enough for publicly-funded umbrella bodies such as the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom, of which Niknam’s Joseph Interfaith Foundation is a leading member body.
Sahib Bleher and his Islamic Party of Britain, like others, seem happy to contradict themselves publicly — possibly in the hope that where there is contradiction, there is uncertainty; and where there is uncertainty, there is room for fundamentalists to claim victimization at the hands of their allegedly “Islamophobic” critics, while at the same time reassuring their Islamist supporters that their dogma has not been dampened.