Shariah4Pakistan: Send in the clowns
Next Friday, a group of controversial religious leaders from Britain are going to visit Islamabad’s Lal Masjid under the banner of something called Shariah4Pakistan to speak about what plagues this country.
The ‘conference’, which the Lal Masjid cleric says is not authorised and has not been discussed with him by the organisers, is ostensibly going to be held anyway because according to Anjem Choudary, “permission to speak in a mosque is not needed”.
Mr Choudary is a law graduate and a self-proclaimed Islamic scholar with no formal religious education, who, according to the British press, lives on state benefits thanks to a loophole in the law.
To thank the British government for putting a roof over the heads of his six-member family, he routinely makes controversial statements such as demanding the burka be made compulsory for all British women, Muslim or not, and has proclaimed himself the head of Britain’s ‘Shariah Court’, which doesn’t even exist (the UK allows arbitration cases to be decided under religious law, but abuses of the system by some arbitrators, many of whom are linked with this pseudo chief justice, could lead to reforms in that law).
More worryingly though, Mr Choudary has referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “magnificent martyrs”, he has refused to condemn numerous terrorist acts and has said non-Muslims cannot be considered innocents in the context of being victims of terrorism because,
“they have not accepted Islam and as far as we are concerned that is a crime against God.”
Apparently Mr Choudary did not bother to comprehend passages in the Quran encouraging tolerance and respect for other faiths and cultures. With reference to pictures from his college years, maybe he was busy doing one of the other things he now condemns.
Next up, Syrian-born Omar Bakri was convicted of terrorism in Lebanon before the sentence was revoked, thanks to assistance from a Lebanese minister. Mr Bakri, like Mr Choudary, has founded a number of right-wing groups such as Al-Muhajiroun, which, like his other groups, was banned for its outrageously hate-fuelled agenda.
Also like Mr Choudary, he leeched the British social security system for years. He has previously threatened the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, showered praise on suicide attackers, and finally, packed his bags and ran off Lebanon when he learnt his toxic speeches might lead to prosecution for treason.
Then he wanted to run back to Britain when the Lebanese picked him up, but the Brits were not as welcoming the second time. Apparently, self-proclaimed lionhearted-leaders leaving the country to avoid men with gavels is not just a Pakistani phenomenon.
The other speakers include Abu Rumaysah, a man who would probably be convicted under Section 295-A for some of his great ‘services’ to Islam, such as putting up posters around Christmas which read
“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an STD, on the 2nd day debt, on the 3rd rape…” and went on with things like exploitation, crime, pedophilia, domestic violence, homelessness and vandalism, before suggesting that none of these things happen in Islamic societies.
I do hope he brings a poster along. It would be nice to see this delusional young man go to jail and fall victim to some of the things he suggests don’t happen here.
This trio, along with other speakers, all chose to live in a ‘pagan’ land, abuse its trust and defy its laws. Like all chicken hawks, they only act like extremists when they know there will be no consequences.
We will have to wait and see what happens, and maybe find out if this is not just an MI6 plot to get these guys to ‘self-deport’ from Britain.
Otherwise, one can only hope that the common man learns how seriously these guys take themselves.
In a documentary and a book titled ‘Them: Adventures With Extremists’, soon after the 9/11 attack, Welsh journalist Jon Ronson quoted a conversation with Bakri. After the latter was interrogated by the Brits for praising the attacks, he called Ronson and said,
“You know I am harmless, don’t you? You know I am just a clown. You know I am laughable, don’t you? … Why don’t people believe you when you tell them that I am just a harmless clown.”
Now let’s wait till Friday and see what the clowns have to say.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.