Too many on the Left are continuing to promote Islamist extremists

The Left must not allow a proud history of anti-fascism to be hijacked by alliances with Islamists, which won't help victims of bigotry, reports George Readings.

Evil intent: Islamist extremists on the streets of London

This October will see the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when a coalition of local left-wing and anti-fascist groups prevented Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts from marching through the East End. Mosley has gone, but others have taken his place, tailoring their message to a modern audience.

Searchlight report published in February this year revealed that 52 per cent of British people believe that Muslims “create problems in the UK”, and that around 60 per cent believe immigration has been generally bad for the country.

It should be no surprise then that, where Mosley’s British Union of Fascists were obsessed with Jews, their modern day equivalents in the BNP are  more concerned with immigration and Muslims.

The result of modern fascists’ targeting of Muslims can be seen all around. Earlier this week, a man was convicted in Gainsborough of racially aggravated behaviour for harassing a group of Muslims meeting to plan the creation of a new mosque. Just a few weeks ago, vandals smashed up Muslim graves in High Wycombe.

It is to the Left’s credit, then, that it now stands against anti-Muslim hatred just as it has always stood against anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry. However, some groups are exploiting the Left’s principled stance for their own ends.

This weekend, a group calling itself the ‘Enough Coalition‘ will hold a conference at the London Muslim Centre, adjacent to East London Mosque in Whitechapel, on ‘Confronting Anti-Muslim Hatred in Britain and Europe’. The event will be well attended by academics and left-leaning politicians and journalists such as Tony Benn and Mehdi Hasan.

But they will not be the only ones speaking. Joining them will be three individuals with whom they are likely to profoundly disagree with on a number of key issues. Kamal el-Helbawy, Azad Ali and Daud Abdullah are all UK-based Islamists whose stated views are antithetical to much that the Left holds dear.

Kamal el-Helbawy is a prominent spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood; in the past, el-Helbawy came to prominence after justifying the killing of innocent Israeli children on the grounds that they are “future soldiers”.

More recently, he took part in a discussion on the website about Osama bin Laden’s death. He called bin Laden “a great mujahid [one who fights jihad]” and said:

“First of All, I ask Allah to have mercy upon Osama Bin Laden, to treat him generously, to enlighten his grave, and to make him join the prophets, the martyrs, and the good people…

“We appreciate him as a rich man living in KSA who left this luxurious life and moved to a hard life in mountains and caves. He helped his Afghan brethrens and participated in Afghan jihad effectively…

“I think that what the Americans claim about September 11th was a trick and a bait they accused Al-Qaeda of. All evidences and indications refer that the Americans are the ones who planned this matter, not the Afghans who have weak resources. The plot of 911 story was not tight. It should be reviewed closely and all parties should be listened to.”

The discussion is no longer online, but screenshots of it were saved by the blog Harry’s Place.

El-Helbawy is joined by Azad Ali, an activist with the group ‘Islamic Forum Europe’ and who has praised Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam. When the Mail on Sunday accused Ali of having endorsed the killing of British troops in Iraq, he tried to sue them for libel.

However, Justice Eady ruled that he:

“Was indeed… taking the position that the killing of American and British troops in Iraq would be justified.

Eady declared that Ali’s case had about it “an absence of reality” and was bound to fail, so he threw it out.

Daud Abdullah came to prominence in 2009 after rowing with Hazel Blears, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. During the Gaza crisis of that year, Abdullah signed a declaration endorsing violence against Israel and:

“The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.

“The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as in effect a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation, that must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.”

Abdullah signed his support for this declaration after Gordon Brown had stated that British naval units might be sent to the Israel/Palestine coast.

Blears said that these articles justified attacks both on Jews around the world and on British troops. She announced that she would therefore not be treating Abdullah and any organisation he was part of as though it represented British Muslims. Abdullah’s subsequent threat to sue her has never materialised.

Of course, just like the BNP and EDL, these individuals have a right to their opinions within the law. However, before members of the Left ally with them to fight anti-Muslim bigotry, they should ask whether doing so might be counter-productive.

A key anti-Muslim trope is that Islam is inherently extreme and therefore all Muslims hold extreme views.

Sharing a platform with, and thereby helping to raise the profile of, the extremely small minority of Muslims who are 9/11 truthers, who eulogise Osama bin Laden and/or who support attacks on British troops is therefore badly counter-productive.

Of course, it would be a different matter if this were a debate and Mehdi Hasan had an opportunity to challenge el-Helbawy’s views (with which he does not agree). This does not look likely to happen given the advertised topic of the event.

There is, however, another dimension to the ‘Enough Coalition’ event. Robert Lambert, a former policeman who now works at the Islamist-funded ‘European Muslim Research Centre’ at Exeter University, will also be speaking. His latest report, ‘Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies’ (pdf) does two main things.

On the one hand, it documents genuine and disturbing examples of anti-Muslim prejudice and violence. On the other, it uses allegations of Islamophobia to smear critics of Islamism.

For example, the report contains more references to Ed Husain (39), a prominent British Muslim critic of  Islamism, than Nick Griffin (23). It even mentions another Islamist turned critic, Shiraz Maher (10) significantly more than the noted anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders (6).

Lambert’s report previously contained one section about politics in East London which was so libellous about Jim Fitzpatrick MP and various Labour Tower Hamlets councillors that Exeter University had it removed and issued an apology to them. In this way, Islamists and their allies use the concept of Islamophobia to argue that Islamists must not be criticised because doing so feeds the anti-Muslim atmosphere in the UK.

By appearing at events with prominent left-wing journalists and politicians, Islamists can then present themselves as part of the mainstream, despite their publicly stated views. This then further reinforces the idea that their critics are motivated by hatred of all Muslims, not perfectly rational concerns about their publicly-stated views.

The Muslim Brotherhood (in Arabic, Ikhwan al-Muslimeen‘), the world’s largest and oldest Islamist group, has even launched a website called ‘Ikhwanophobia‘ which argues that the Brotherhood’s critics are inspired by bigotry, not by rational disagreements with the organisations goals and beliefs.

The Left must no longer allow our proud history of anti-fascism to be hijacked in this way. Alliances with Islamists do nothing to help genuine victims of bigotry. All they do is strengthen the hands of extremists on the Islamist and racist far-right.

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  • This machine kills fascists

    “The Left must no longer allow our proud history of anti-fascism to be hijacked in this way. Alliances with Islamists do nothing to help genuine victims of bigotry. All they do is strengthen the hands of extremists on the Islamist and racist far-right.”

    Damn right. Thanks for saying it. I suspect it will fall on deaf ears though.

  • Rob Marchant

    George, good and balanced piece. But this is nothing new. I’m afraid that not only our candidate for London mayor but a number of trade union leaders have the same blind spot for Islamists, other terrorists and anti-democrats.

    The Centre Left blogged about this here
    and about union support for Hugo Chávez in today’s post here.

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  • Ed’s Talking Balls

    Everyone should be united against fascism, I agree.

    The problem I have is the method by which people nowadays express their disdain for fascism. For instance, why does the ironically-named Unite Against Fascism think it appropriate to use fascist methods against a different set of fascists?

  • Liberanos

    These savage, muslim west-haters are simply the BNP with added violence. Given their misogyny, homophobia, anti-semitism and bigotry, that anyone at all supports them is surprising. For members of the left to support them is beyond belief.

  • Bob

    This is just the usual crap from Readings. If anyone bothers to look at the Telegraph report that he links to, they will see that Kamal el-Helbawy did not “justify the killing of innocent Israeli children on the grounds that they are ‘future soldiers'”. In fact he condemned attacks on civilians.

    The statement that Azad Ali “has praised Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam” omits to mention that Ali quoted Azzam’s son as saying that that Bin Laden had tarnished the memory of his father, who had always opposed terrorist attacks on non-combatants.

    And so on. What we have here is a lot of right-wing nonsense based on links to witch-hunting pieces in the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Jewish Chronicle plus reliance on the judgment of Mr Justice Eady of all people.

    Why on earth is Readings invited to contribute to a left-wing blog?

  • Dave Citizen

    I agree with the sentiments of this piece but not the conclusion. I’d much rather have people talking about unspeakable crimes than doing them and, provided lefties keep spelling out their principles on issues like killing people and human rights, why not try winning over as many other people as possible.

    My understanding of human nature suggests people are more likely to resort to madness if other people treat them like they are mad. As J S Mill said:

    “the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race;…If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its colision with error.” (On Liberty)

  • joe kane

    Thanks for quoting Harry’s Place.

    I was under the impression this website was left-wing but after this pile of islamophobic tosh and the recent unvarnished claims published here by Community Security Trust I can see this isn’t the case.

  • Mr. Sensible

    It is important that we condemn extremism on both sides, both islamic extremism and the far right.

  • This machine kills fascists

    “The Left must no longer allow our proud history of anti-fascism to be hijacked in this way”

    seven posts in and they’re trying already.

  • John p Reid

    I’m glad that most comments disagree witrh post 7.

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  • George Readings

    For the avoidance of confusion, ‘Bob’ is Bob Pitt of the blog ‘Islamophobia Watch’, which smears anybody Bob disagrees with as ‘Islamophobic’.

    As for the specific allegation that I have misquoted el-Helbawy, Bob is correct that el-Helbawy condemns attacks on people el-Helbawy defines as civilians. Unfortunately for innocent Israeli children, that doesn’t appear to include them.

    Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: “I condemn the targeting of any civilian, but incidentally, I believe that every Israeli civilian is a future soldier.”

    Interviewer: “He is what?”

    Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: “A future soldier.”

    Interviewer: “Even if he is two years old?”

    Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: “Even if he is a child. A child born in Israel is raised on the belief that [the Arabs] are like contemptible sheep, and that this is a land without a people, and they are a people without a land. They have very strange concepts. In elementary school, they pose the following math problem: ‘In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?’ This is taught in the Israeli curriculum. What would you say about that? Should a child studying this be considered a civilian? He is a future soldier.”


    “Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: “We must first ask ourselves, with regard to the Polish or Russian Israeli, who came with his children to occupy a land and a home that are not his, expelling the Palestinians to America, Britain, France, and Lebanon – what is his status according to international law?”

    For those who are concerned about using Memri as a source, they have posted the recording of the discussion (in Arabic) here so you can verify for yourself.

  • George Readings

    Bob, incidentally, I think your website could be a really important resource.

    In my view, it is absolutely crucial that somebody is documenting all of the vicious attacks which are being directed against innocent Muslims. If we don’t document these attacks then mad right-wingers will argue that nothing is happening, that effort shouldn’t be put into preventing anti-Muslim attacks etc. However, because you also include articles branding as ‘Islamophobic’ individuals who legitimately criticise Islamists, this allows those same mad right-wingers to argue that all allegations of ‘Islamophobia’ are spurious.

    I am perfectly happy to enter into a rational debate with you about the publicly stated views of people like Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Kamal el-Helbawy. However, it is really not helpful if you conflate my rational concerns with the kind of irrational bigotry that so many of my Muslim friends have unfortunately suffered.

  • George Readings

    @Dave Citizen

    Sorry, missed your comment before.

    Nobody is talking about silencing anyone else’s opinions. Was Nick Clegg’s right to expression “silenced” because Yes to AV decided not to invite him to speak on their platform?

    Or consider an entirely hypothetical event. I want to hold a discussion about what it means to be British. Am I somehow engaging in a “peculiar evil” if I choose not to invite the BNP to take part? No, of course not.

    As I said above, it would be a different matter if this was a debate about, for example, el-Helbawy’s views. But this categorically was never what was going to happen because this was a discussion about anti-Muslim hatred.

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  • Russ

    Smearing people who hold different views to your own as fascist or bigoted is a tactic we have seen used by all levels of the Left for may years now. It comes as no surprise to me that those elements of the muslim community that hide their viciousness beneath a cloak of injured innocence have started to use the tactics of their apologist sponsors as a tool to supress debate and criticism.

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