Dear Prime Minister
In the aftermath of the tragic death of Fusilier Lee Rigby, I watched your speech on national TV where you outlined how the government will attempt to deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism.
I was hoping that the atrocity committed would concentrate the minds of those in power on what is a growing menace on our streets, but instead was greeted with a host of soundbytes and platitudes that prove that you do not know what you are dealing with in England today, let alone how to reverse the cycle of violence.
Let me take in order the courses of action you have laid out –
1- TERFOR – The Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force
On the face of it, a new task force to counter the threat seems like a good idea.
Then stand back and look at the reality – We have the assets in terms of security services and Police specialist divisions to do the job, they are just not allowed to get on and do it. Would TERFOR have the teeth to deport radical extremist preachers like Abu Qatada, or would they (Like our current Home Secretary, Theresa May) be thwarted by the Human Rights lobby and the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)?
Your idea of a task force includes senior ministers, MI5, police and moderate religious leaders – If you were really serious about this, how about inviting along organisations such as Quilliam who have ex-extremists amongst their number who can advise you how they were radicalised and how they emerged from that mindset? Rather than sitting in an office with Nick Clegg and Bernard Hogan-Howe , how about talking with real experts such as Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz?
Reports since the atrocity have revealed that MI5 knew who the killers of Drummer Rigby were and had done so for years – What difference would a ‘taskforce’ have made if the security services were not able to close in and pick these people up?
2 – Urging Muslim ‘whistleblowers’ to report extremist clerics
The day after the atrocity in Woolwich, I had a long conversation with a Muslim friend who had phoned me to express his disgust with what had happened.
Not for the first time, he relayed to me how his father in the nineties had reported the extremist preachers at FinsburyPark mosque to the Police and they had done nothing about it.
His was not an isolated case.
My experience of the Metropolitan Police over the last fifteen years is that they are stifled in their duty by the fear of yet another report branding them ‘institutionally racist’, and will not go near anything contentious for fear of bringing down the wrath of the ‘Human Rights’ brigade.
3 – Stamping out extremism on university campus’
You were quite clear about trying to stop preachers of hate on campus at universities, a subject on which Home Secretary Theresa May has also been quite vocal.
Yet FOSIS (Federation of Islamic Student Societies) have invited a number of extremists to speak at universities around the country, including some who have propagated the leaflets of Dr Zakir Naik with the message ‘everyone should be a terrorist’.
Recently, your Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi attended an event in the House of Lords organised by FOSIS as reported in the link below
Previously, Andrew Gilligan also filed this report for The Telegraph about OFSTED inspections
Universities have successfully banned the BNP and National Front from recruiting on campus, surely it should not be difficult to do so with the preachers of hate?
4 – We will look at ways of disrupting people who may be influential in fostering extremism
This is Azad Ali, The Chairman and Treasurer of the Muslim Safety forum.
He is also the community affairs co-ordinator of the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) which in its own mission statement says it is dedicated to changing the ‘very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed….from ignorance to Islam’
Azad has written on his blog of his love for Al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, advocated the killing of British troops in Iraq (He sued the newspaper who reported that and lost) and was filmed by undercover reporters for the Channel 4 programme Despatches stating, “Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, of course no-one agrees with that”
In 2009, The Standard reported that The Muslim Safety Forum received a £30,000 grant from City Hall under the supervision of your colleague, London Mayor Boris Johnson.
This was an interesting development, as Ali had previously donated generously to former Mayor Ken Livingstone’s campaign. Indeed, Mayor ‘Red Ken’ reportedly authorised payment via the London Development Agency of £500,000 to build a new headquarters for the IFE through a donation to the East London Mosque. How much this was influenced by the IFE running a campaign during the 2008 London Mayoral elections called ‘Muslims for Ken’ is not clear.
Mr Ali has also now received a position with the ‘Unite Against Fascism’ (UAF) organisation as Vice-Chairman – UAF is an organisation that supposedly protests against fascists and racists in our society. Their Chairman is a certain Mr Ken Livingstone, and below is a picture of some of their supporters confronting the Police during a St George’s Day parade in Brighton last year.
During the parade, two Police officers were taken to hospital and Police horses were injured, whilst a young girl received head injuries from missiles thrown at the parade by members of the UAF. (Below)
In view of your speech on stamping out extremism, it is difficult to see how the presence of Mr Ali as one of the leaders of an anti-racist organisation can be conducive to good community relations. It is also interesting to see the names on the founding signatory list on the link below to the UAF website, some of which I am sure you recognise
I was also taken aback by Mr Livingstone’s post on the UAF website stating that terrorists would never win and that London would stand up to them – Is this the same Mr Livingstone who whilst leader of the GLC during the 80’s at the height of the IRA mainland bombing campaign invited Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to County Hall? A somewhat Damascene conversion, especially considering his recent history with the IFE.
5 – There is no question of restricting freedom of speech
From my own experiences in London, I would say that freedom of speech has been restricted for years – Only not for the Islamists who propagate hatred.
In 2011, I attended the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at a ceremony outside of the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square – You were there.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get near enough to hear your speech and the flowers I brought to lay at the memorial to the victims could not be laid until late afternoon.
The reason behind this was that the Islamic extremist group, Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) were having a demonstration and the Police would not let any of us through to pay our respects ‘in case we were going to cause trouble’. The extremists chanted through the 2 minute silence and burned flags – Subsequently, their organisation was banned but has re-surfaced again under yet another name. Indeed, their leader Anjem Choudhary was on both Channel 4 news and the BBC on the night of the murder of Drummer Rigby spouting his hatred on national TV.
One of their previous incarnations, Al-Muhajiroon, recruited the extremist who killed Lee Rigby and the pictures have been in the national press of him at a rally with the aforementioned Choudhary.
Yet Choudhary not only remains free to spout his hatred, he claims more in benefits than a British Army squaddie on the front line gets paid in Afghanistan – He seems able bodied (Certainly enough to get around the country preaching intolerance) so why has Iain Duncan-Smith and his team of benefit fraud busters not been after Mr Choudhary when they are so keen to go after the genuinely disabled and injured ex-servicemen?
In terms of freedom of speech – I have been ordered off of Trafalgar Square by the Met Police on Al Quds Day (An annual parade in London sponsored by the Iranian Government) that preaches anti-semitism in case I ‘might cause offence’ by having an England rugby shirt on.
I have also been arrested after a flower laying ceremony for the victims of 7/7 with friends of mine because we were deemed to be ‘too close’ to a segregated conference in Stepney Green held by the Islamist organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Who are banned across Europe but not in the UK) I was subsequently transported to Kent and released without charge so as not to inconvenience those who would promote discord amongst our community.
Extremist organisations in London
You talk of countering extremism, but I have witnessed Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, in the shadow of Nelson’s Column stating that ‘Israeli’s will never have a moments good sleep in their beds’ and praising Hamas on that very same day that the Police ordered me from Trafalgar Square.
During the same event, a speech was given by Abdul Wahid, .the chairman of Hizb-ut-Tahrir saying that he has respect for fighters ‘making jihad’, whilst John Rees of the stop the war coalition praised acts of violence against the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
However, probably the worst speech I heard on that day was from Shabbir Rizvi, using terms regarding President Obama that would have had any Englishman serving a prison sentence under the race relations act.
The link below will give you some idea of the atmosphere, including videos of the speeches
The following year, the same parade was attended by sitting MP Jeremy Corbyn (Who made a speech) and ended up at Grosvenor Square, with the battle flags of proscribed organisations such as Hezbollah being in full view. I wrote letters of complaint to Theresa May (Who you have indicated will be on your anti-terrorist taskforce), Ed Miliband as his party leader and my local MP, John Randall.
I have yet to receive a reply.
I requested that the Police present acted under Section 5 of the public order act when calls for violence against Jews and Homosexuals were invoked, yet was ignored and threatened with arrest myself unless I quietened down (After being served a Section 15 dispersal notice to vacate the area so the Islamists could set up their demo)
I wrote about the day on my blog site as can be seen below
What can be done?
You already have the laws in place to deal with extremism – You just need to enforce them correctly. Over the last few days, the police have used these laws to arrest an 85 year old lady from Gillingham for shouting ‘go home’ at a mosque and various people on line for ‘racially aggravated tweets’.
I deplore the way that this government and the previous one have eroded our civil liberties and curtailed free speech, but if you can arrest people such as the misguided old lady and prosecute people like Emma West for rants on a tube train then surely you can do a far better job with the likes of the Hizb conference speakers and the killers of Drummer Rigby who pose a far greater threat to our society?
You have the tools already in place to combat the preachers of hate if you have the backbone to use them – But will you have the nerve to take on the European courts and restore order to England?
Will you have the resolve to either stop the hate preachers getting in to our education system or, as would be more fitting in a genuine democracy, allow people to speak against them without fear of being branded a ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobe’.?
Your past history suggests not, but I hope this time that the revulsion felt for events will reach you in the Westminster Bubble and you can now prove me wrong – For the sake of all the citizens of England of all faiths and colours.