The government's decision to ban Islam4UK will only strengthen hardline Islamists—and drown out moderate Muslim voicesby Shiv Malik / January 13, 2010 / Leave a comment
Pictured: Anjem Choudary
Here is a quote: “Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?”
It’s a question worth asking now that the government has banned Islam4UK, a secondary offshoot of the radical Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, and the same organisation that wanted to march through Wootton Bassett to remember the Muslim dead. Al Muhajiroun is also due be proscribed, 14 years after its inception in Britain.
On one hand, the home secretary’s move could be viewed as good housekeeping. In the aftermath of the 7th July bombings, Tony Blair warned that “the rules of the game are changing.” One of his first public acts was to proscribe the Saviour Sect and Al Ghurabaa—other incarnations of Al Muhajiroun. There was plenty of justification for such a ban. For many years Al Muhajiroun’s leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, his deputy, Anjem Choudary and the rest of his lackeys were thought to be nothing more than attention-seeking clowns who lived off the dole. The real problems were thought to be elsewhere—at the Four Feathers youth club where Abu Qatada sermonised, and at the Finsbury Park Mosque, where the hook-handed Abu Hamza held court. However, after the arrest of the Crawley bombers cell in the spring of 2004, it became startlingly apparent just how much Al Muhajiroun’s network of support, mainly through its offices in Pakistan, had helped create and train homegrown terrorists. The most pertinent example is that of Mohammed Siddique Khan, the leader of the 7th July plot. He had learned how to make explosives in an ad-hoc camp set up by Al Muhajiroun’s British and American members in the hills of Pakistan.
But now Islam4UK—run by Choudary in London and Bakri from Lebanon — no longer poses a threat in the way that Al Muhajiroun once did. Islam4UK has been whittled down to a few members, it no longer recruits en masse, and its ideas are no longer fresh. Also, given the broader rise of the post 9/11, English-speaking radical Islamic preacher, aspiring young jihadis no longer rate Omar Bakri’s theological standing in the way that they once did. Rather like a Trojan horse, Al Muhajiroun/Islam4UK served its primary purpose years ago. To proscribe the organisation now seems akin to attacking the wooden horse after its contents have already ambushed you. It’s not just futile, it’s dangerous.