Islamist extremists score their first political success in the UK – moderate muslims abandoned by home secretary


By Dr Axel Klein, an internationally recognised expert on khat who works at the University of Kent

KhatAt last a well orchestrated campaign by a small group of Islamic zealots has succeeded in closing the licit importation of khat, the mild naturally occurring stimulant that has been used in Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen for millennia.

Since large number of Somali refugees arrived in the UK in the 1990s, the trade in khat picked up significantly. Several times a week planes fly in from Nairobi and Addis Ababa to supply hundreds of mafrishes – khat cafes – and green grocers all over the country.

The trade has provided hundreds of UK Somalis with a livelihood, and their countrymen with a peaceful and agreeable past time.

For Islamic campaigners this has long been a thorn in the flesh of the community. Mafrishes are public spaces, where discussion ranges widely and freely, as friends gather to relax and enjoy. At a time of rising hostility and nationalism making the assimilation for even second or third Generation British Somalis more difficult, such spaces come at a premium.

In Somali neighbourhoods like Tower Hamlets of Lambeth these mafrishes were the strongest organised opposition to the grip held by Islamic organisations over the community.

Different attacks on the health hazards or the social harm all failed to yield a result. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of drugs reviewed the evidence on three different occasions and recommended that it did not merit the status of a controlled substance. What finally convinced the home secretary was the alleged link between khat use and terrorism.

The idea was ingeniously floated by Abukah Awale – who signs off as ‘a leading anti khat campaigner’ – a couple of years ago, with stories of Islamic radicals recruiting followers in the mafrishes. When questioned in 2012 by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) subcommittee he had to admit that he knew of a single incidence, and that happened to the son of someone he knew – in Kenya.

Undeterred by lack the evidence Awale developed the theme after the Woolwich attack on Lee Rigby, telling the Mail on Sunday that one of the attackers had been a khat chewer.

This time he had a national audience and a government crisis to advance his cause.

As he has admitted many times, Awale is no expert on pharmacology, medicine or policing, but he is a self proclaimed former addict on a mission.

Like many crusaders Awale is undaunted by trivial complexities like missing evidence or distorted facts. Instead he just carried on, complaining about the evils of khat to all who’d listen until a brutal murder in South London provided him with the opportunity.

“This is the tool for me, I will put this on the table and say, ‘Now you must act’. When this country hears terrorism, they will act,” Awale admitted to the Independent last year.

Precedence over the determination of the ACMD makes a mockery of evidence-based policy making.

As serious is how it unwittingly plays into the hands of Islamic extremism and leaves moderate Muslims high and dry. The radicalisation of the young will now be reinforced by two predictable trends: Muslim men stopped, searched and arrested for khat offences by zealous police officers; and the outraged siblings of those, who with no legitimate alternative, will embrace the most indulgent aspects of western culture.

Sadly, the slow, painful path towards criminalisation was inevitable once khat had been framed as a ‘drug’. It demonstrates that many policy makers are undeterred by evidence or consequence as long as they fall into line with standard practice.

These reflections on malfunctions in the democratic process will not trouble the orchestrators of the anti-khat campaign. A Conservative home secretary with backbench support has just handed radical Islam their first political success in the UK. Let her be remembered in Friday prayers.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

    Very good article but this was made easier by the spinelessness of the last administration. Particular blame should be apportioned to the lightweight Alan Johnson who sacked David Nutt and upgraded cannabis so he could look tough.

  • Yakoub Islam

    You can gain something of the place of khat in East African Culture (and Islam) — good and bad — in Camilla Gibb’s beautiful and enthralling novel, ‘Sweetness in the Belly’. Gibb is an anthropologist by training and the novel was researched in depth.

  • Stop Risk

    David Cameron has betrayed our HEROES by supporting Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in Syria and this has also caused UK unemployment by damaging our Russian and Chinese trade relations. We need a coherent foreign policy to stop terrorism and this means we need to work together with Russia and China and not be a USA or EU muppet state.
    Far too many victims have suffered and we must act to stop the war now.
    Please lobby your MP to address our foreign policy urgently as we can
    protect Afghanistan by working with Russia to stop risk.

  • Tehmina Kazi

    I
    run a secular Muslim charity, and am strongly in favour of the ban,
    which flies in the face of the writer’s conclusion! Sorry, but many of
    these “experts” need to come down to Harrow or Brent and spend
    significant time with diaspora Somali communities… They seem to have
    no idea of the destruction this drug has inflicted upon families, and
    the serious mental health issues that it engenders (or exacerbates).

  • JackyTreehorn

    If Islamic supremacist have any political success in Britain it will be thanks to the tacit and moral support of the left. The naïve left think they can ride the Muslim tiger, they will find out that they can only count on the Islamic vote up until the demographics get to a tipping point in any given area (see Galloway in Bradford) then the ‘community leaders’ will decide where the Muslim vote will go. Do the left really think they can rely on Muslim postal votes forever?
    Labour invited a alien culture into Britain thinking they could count on Islamic voters to replace the indigenous British working mans vote who had ‘ideas above their station’ and had turned to the Tories like many people I grew up with had.

  • Guest

    We wouldn’t have to worry if there were no Muslims in the UK

  • Peter Kreig

    Even the timid sheep that is the british people, will one day say “enough”. And when that happens, those riots the comrades talk about in hushed tones as rebellions against evil capitalism, when actually its just thievery and thrill seeking, will be like a walk in the park.
    When The Clash finally get their “white riot”, by sheer force of numbers its not going to pretty. The lefts hand wringing and blame diversion will be the only amusing part. Then of course there is the lefts problem on what to do when homosexuals start getting strung up. Gaybashing is on the increase, massively so, and like child grooming and rape, when its committed by a certain group, the media, the state, the police, et al conspire to hide it.

  • perdix

    Have you been chewing khat?

  • JFKDem1

    In answer to your questions: Yes, the left DOES think it can rely on Muslim postal votes “forever”. And no, the left doesn’t worry about the “tipping point” because the anti-western civilization left welcomes the introduction into Britain of an ally.

  • http://sadbutmadlad.com/ SadButMadLad

    “secular muslim charity”. Now there is a series of words that are totally oxymoronic.

  • John Smith

    The Islamists are winning full stop

  • Trofim

    I understand that qhat is compounding what is now a permanent water shortage in the Yemen, since qhat cultivation uses a large amount of water in a very dry country. It’s a question of having qhat or having water to drink and cook with.

  • Lap Dog of the Sheffields

    This is what you wanted. The Left invited them into the UK, protected them from any criticism and arrested any one who object to their Islamist vision. Well tough, you sowed the wind, now reap the whirl wind.

  • Lap Dog of the Sheffields

    And the editors father.

  • Phil Kelly

    This is utter nonsense. Somali organisations – particularly Somali womens’ groups – are in favour of the ban, because of the harm Khat does in the community and particularly to families. In Islington, it is the groups that most favour active Somali participation in civil society that have been most in favour of a ban. They are working closely with the police and public health to explain how the ban will work, minimise any confrontation and provide alternatives