Prominent Muslim activist Azad Ali from the Muslim Safety Forum issues a clarification about the numerous media slurs against him, including accusations that he has links to Al Qaeda and supports the killing of British troops.
As many of you will know – I have a Wikipedia page – yep I do! Quite a popular one as it turns out given the trouble some individuals take to rehashing oft-repeated lies about me.
I’m just not sure which one of my greatest “fans” dedicates their time to set this up (someone needs to get a life) but let me make some corrections on the content there as well some other comments that are regurgitated about me all too frequently as if repeating them will give them the force of truth.
I have made these clarifications on numerous platforms and programmes but I realised that I still need to put this down on paper, so to speak. So here goes:
1. Muslim Safety Forum
“Ali left the post of chairman in 2008, then resigned entirely from MSF in 2009 after publicity over his extremist comments. In July 2010, he was reinstated as MSF’s chairman.”
My term as Chair of the Muslim Safety Forum (MSF) ended in 2008. I never resigned from the MSF, as minutes from the MSF meetings will prove, as well as minutes of meetings with the Police at New Scotland Yard which took place around this time.
I guess to have been re-elected in 2010 is a form of reinstatement! The lie about my resignation was to add credence to the smear that I had done something wrong and was forced to resign. That was not the case at all as the facts will bear out.
2. Links to Al-Qaida
“Ali has stated that he has attended talks with Abu Qatada of al-Qaeda. In a 2008 IFE blog, Ali called al-Qaeda’s Anwar Al-Awlaki “one of my favourite scholars and speakers”. Ali has denied that the 2008 Mumbai attacks were terrorism.”
Yes I attended a seminar in the late 80’s/early 90’s where Abu Qatada was one of the speakers. FYI – Abu Qatada was not a representative of Al Qaeda but just a Muslim speaker. He was not under any suspicion nor was there any criminal investigation about him at the time which might have merited caution.
More importantly, attending a public meeting is no crime no matter who is on the speaker’s platform. This lazy and nefarious link by association is a desperate attempt to smear my character and the work I have been doing.
What shall we make of those journalists that had lunch, dinner or worked with Jimmy Saville or attended parties he hosted, do we label them as paedophiles, simply due to them being there? Of course we don’t and rightly so.
Anwar Al-Awlaki was an imam and religious scholar who at one time served as a chaplain at George Washington University. He has been the subject of some controversy following his imprisonment in Yemen in 2006.
This is the same Al-Awlaki who respected by the US Government who engaged him on a number of the outreach initiatives after 9/11 participating in various programs which culminated in him being invited to lunch at the US Department of Defense.
So it would seem the US government once thought highly of him, just as I did. I have distanced myself from his comments following his incarceration in Yemen in 2006, like many others who knew him, including the US government, yet this context is missing and not referenced in any of the remarks since published about my having spoken highly of him.
The omission of my public disassociation with the person Al-Awlaki later became is a deliberate attempt to tell one fragment of the truth not the “whole truth”.
This comment refers to an article where I discussed the quick and easy labelling of the Mumbai atrocity as a terrorist incident. The impression given is that I did not condemn this incident, which I actually, categorically did.
My remarks about the kneejerk labelling of some atrocities as “terrorism” but not others is not new nor is it unique to Muslims. When others have questioned the media’s labelling of an incident as “terrorism,” for reasons good or ill, their views are regarded as a legitimate contribution to the debate on nomenclature and its uses.
Why am I, as a Muslim, not permitted to contribute to this debate and why, when Muslims question if “terrorism” is the correct appellation for an atrocity are we demonised as diminishing the significance of a heinous crime? What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander – unless you’re a Muslim of course.
Killing of British troops:
I have never called for the killing of British troops. I challenge anyone to produce the evidence that suggests I have uttered any such words.
What is used to smear me is the fact that I quoted from Abdullah Azzam’s son in a reference to the Iraq war and the resistance to the allied attack against Saddam Hussein.
He said: “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq I would kill him because that is my obligation. If I found the same soldier over the border in Jordan I wouldn’t touch him. In Iraq he is a fighter and an occupier, here he is not. This is my religion and I respect this as the main instruction in my religion for jihad.”
Compare this his original statement as found in the Irish Times to what Andrew Gilligan writes “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq, I would kill him because that is my obligation … I respect this as the main instruction in my religion for jihad.”
He completely misrepresents the statement and the point I was making in my article about war, the concept of the “theatre of war” and combatants and non-combatants. I was making no such claims to the legitimate targeting of British soldiers.
Nor was I defending, in citing from Abdullah Azzam’s son’s comments, the killing of British troops in Iraq.
Again, this is another tedious act of smearing by association, in this case by quoting someone without a disclaimer but perhaps Mary Fitzgerald, who wrote the article for the Irish Times, is saved from having to offer such a disclaimer because she isn’t a Muslim?
Okay so that covers the Wikipedia page. Now to other oft repeated smears:
In an article dated July 2010, Andrew Gilligan writes that I said “Democracy, if it means not implementing the shari’ah, of course nobody agrees with that.”
This was broadcast on Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, where an undercover reporter followed me around for 8 months. Lucky me!
For those who haven’t seen it, the secretly filmed scene is of myself with my colleagues broadcasting our live (let me say that again LIVE) radio show which was being streamed online.
The comment was in response to a caller who asked a question about democracy in a Muslim majority country and whether I support it. I answered yes of course and I gave the example of how some of the Muslim rulers were elected in history.
The caller then asked would people, that is Muslim people in a Muslim majority country accept democracy if it didn’t implement shari’ah – to which I answered of course they wouldn’t. You see, the context here is missing in the smears Gilligan puts about on me.
There is a more significant dimension to the question of applying religious law and it isn’t specific to Muslim majority countries, it occurs in debates in non-Muslim majority countries too.
During the passage of the Same Sex marriage Bill the Christian churches organised a campaign (Coalition 4 Marriage) to reject the legislation citing Biblical references on the definition of marriage (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31) in opposition to the Government’s proposals to “redefine” marriage by permitting same sex unions.
Some Christians also circulated leaflets during the 2015 general election encouraging voters not to elect those incumbent MPs who supported the Same Sex Marriage Bill.
If Christians are free to espouse views about laws in a democratic society that they feel go against Biblical law, why not Muslims? And surely the purpose of a democratic society is to allow for different points of view to be expressed within the law?
What exactly is wrong with Muslims who live in a Muslim majority country electing someone who will implement Shari’ah? Or are Muslim countries not allowed to make their own choices in governance and Muslim voters not allowed to express their support or disapproval through the ballot box?
Another favourite attack on me is that I support Hamas. Apparently Hamas is a “terrorist organisation” – not so according to the proscribed list of Terrorist organisations on the Home Office website.
Indeed, as we speak our ministers and mandarins are meeting with Hamas on a regular basis. And a previous select committee on Foreign Affairs has actually advised Her Majesty’s Government to engage “moderate elements” within Hamas in peace talks in order to assure a lasting, durable peace in the resolving the Middle East conflict.
The President of the International Crisis Group, Louise Arbour, made a similar argument 5 years ago after the Mavi Marmara incident.
The EU was forced to remove Hamas from its list of “terrorist organisations” last year after the EU’s general court ruled that its designation was “based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”
It is quite pitiful that “investigative” journalists cannot even be relied upon to corroborate their claims about “terrorist” organisations instead of taking their cue from lobbies who actively pursue the delegitimisation of Hamas’s electoral victory.
What’s it all about?
The purpose of smearing me and other Muslim activists and organisations is best explained in the report titled “The Cold War on British Muslims” by Tom Mills, Tom Griffin and David Miller of SpinWatch – have read of it here.
Look out for the seminars on this subject coming to a place near you, soon!