Deputy editor of 5Pillars, Dilly Hussain responds to the accusations made against him by BBC Panorama journalist John Ware in The Independent.
BBC journalist John Ware likes upsetting me. At first, he didn’t feel I was important enough to feature in last Monday’s episode of Panorama – ‘After Paris: The Fight for British Islam,’ but conveniently chose a blurred clip from a lecture I gave at SOAS last November. Yesterday all that changed, I was now worthy for Mr Ware to dedicate two paragraphs of his time to address me directly – I’m honoured. But before I go into some of Ware’s accusations, it’s important that I provide some context to how my fellow journalist operates.
Ten days after “The Criminalisation of Islam” event at SOAS, I was contacted by a Panorama researcher named Celia Watson to appear in Ware’s episode on “non-violent extremism”. Initially, I showed interest but after quizzing Celia for information beyond the theme of this episode, and who the other interviewees were, I declined. I was correct in assuming that this episode would be held back to exploit an incident like the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.
Moving onto last Monday’s episode of Panorama, Ware took an uncharacteristic change in approach to the Muslim community by championing four individuals he deemed to represent “British Islam.” I shared my thoughts on this episode on the Huffington Post but did not elaborate into the credentials of his guest speakers, or their significance as commentators on the subject matter. Rather, what I focussed on was the lack of empirical evidence in the research linking an “extremist ideology” to violence. I was pleasantly surprised to find that British Muslims felt the same, as they filed complaints to the BBC and Ofcom for the aforementioned substandard research.
“Mouthy young Islamist”
Now for my moment of glory. John Ware recapped last week’s episode of Panorama in The Independent yesterday. Only this time, he valued me enough to mention me by name – albeit two paragraphs.
I was labelled a “mouthy young Islamist,” and for once, Ware got his research right. If by “mouthy” he meant an assertive and harsh critic of the anti-Muslim agenda hell-bent on redefining normative Islam to suit the militant liberal pallet, that I am.
If by “Islamist” he means a Muslim who believes in the concept of a Caliphate and Islam’s ability to answer all questions, then yes, I am an Islamist. If by “young” he means my age, then yes, I confess, I am 26. Speaking of age, a former BBC colleague of Ware who wishes to remain anonymous told me how he was surprised that John was still at Panorama, whilst many of his contemporaries have either retired or left.
To quote: “The only possible reason I can think why John is still at Panorama at his age, is because he is driven to push a particular agenda which has been commissioned by those higher up in the BBC…” – worth noting.
He then states that 5Pillars “refers favourably to the extremist organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir as “working for the re-establishment of the Caliphate” – many would struggle to understand what Ware exactly means by that, after all, they do indeed claim to “work for the re-establishment of a Caliphate.”
To my delight, I seem to have touched a nerve when I took issue with Ware’s esteemed candidate for Islamic reformation, Sara Khan, who denies that foreign policy has any influence in instigating violence and extremism, amongst other silly and rather unintelligent theories.
This certainly was not one of my proudest moments, and the language I used to refer to her weight and liking for alcohol, was rude and unacceptable. I have apologised to her publicly, whilst she continued to verbally abuse and insult me. Ware conveniently forgot to mention this in his article, however, I feel giving me an opportunity to comment would have countered the image he’s trying to paint of me.
With concern for Ware, his article caught the attention of some worrying individuals. It will be of no benefit to him, or his relations with Muslims to know that the former leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, and the cringe-worthy Adil Ray of Citizen Khan tweeted in support of his article. A “rehabilitated” far-right convicted criminal, and a comedian who mocks the Muslim community for a living – quite the cheerleaders Ware has.
If only Ware took the time to consider the implications of him personally promoting Sara Khan, Adam Deen, Manwar Ali and Dilwar Hussain (not me) as the “Muslim dream team” to counter extremism. Clearly he’s forgotten the infamous reputation he holds within the British Muslim community, as a journalist who witch-hunts prominent Muslim figures and groups of various backgrounds.
Ultimately, Ware and his dream team are minors in comparison to the string-pulling policymakers that are driving the anti-Muslim agenda through legislation – I would much rather spend my time addressing them.