Andrew Gilligan continues to beat his drum on the unsuitability of Lutfur Rahman for the post of Mayor of Tower Hamlets drawing this time on reports that Roshonara Choudhry, the woman found guilty of the attempted murder of Stephen Timms MP yesterday, was ‘self-radicalised’ listening to online lectures by Anwar Al-Awlaki.
Gilligan writes,“Some of the latest coverage has noted that Awlaki “lived in London” for a time – but with only one exception, yesterday’s Sun, the media has steered surprisingly clear of his close links with that well-known home of tolerance and moderation, the East London Mosque, and those self-proclaimed “democratic Muslims,” the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), who control the mosque.”
It’s a bit of a stretch for the rational mind to lump the lot together and conclude that “There could be no clearer illustration of why the East London Mosque and the IFE should be beyond the pale of democratic politics. Yet these are the people who provided backing for the man who is now mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman,” as Gilligan does, but let’s indulge him for a minute.
His argument appears to rest on the following:
- Awlaki spoke via video link at a conference held at the London Muslim Centre in 2009 but which was hosted by another organisation which hired out the premises for the occasion.
- Awlaki gave a sermon in person at the East London Mosque on December 26, 2003
- Azad Ali of Islamic Forum Europe has expressed admiration for Awlaki in the past.
The actions of Roshonara Choudhry in lunging at her local MP, Stephen Timms, during a surgery meeting and the claim that her radicalization was the product of Awlaki’s online lectures therefore, Gilligan argues, stands as proof of the dangerous subversive elements at play in the London Muslim Centre, East London Mosque and Islamic Forum Europe.
ELM/LMC have been here once before in terms of accusations of “radicalism” (read: terrorism sympathisers) leveled against the institutions when newspapers reported on Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab having visited the centre on three occasions, presumably for the daily prayers.
At the time, ELM/LMC secured an apology from the Sunday Express, reproduced below:
“Our article of December 27, 2009 “Jet bomb ordered by 9/11 spiritual leader” stated that Anwar al Awlaki, the Yemen based cleric said to have inspired the failed plot to blow up a plane bound for Detroit, had spoken at the “radical” East London Mosque (ELM).
“We would like to make clear that ELM works tirelessly to promote religious and social tolerance and to oppose violent extremism in all its forms. ELM tells us that it was not aware of any credible allegation of violent extremism against Anwar al Awlaki prior to the single occasion on which he spoke at the London Muslim Centre (LMC) at an event organised by an external organisation. ELM does not promote or support Anwar al Awlaki. ELM would not now permit Anwar al Awlaki to speak at ELM or the LMC.”
The fact that individual Muslim speakers, like Awlaki, have gone to advocate more strident views than they have previously articulated and that their audiences have not traveled with them, has not stopped particular lobbies (the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange are two Osama Saeed, a previous target on the same subject, mentions) from slinging this mud unearthed from lectures and blogposts of yesteryear.
Saeed on Rolled up Trousers is right to have observed that “It's one of the sad hazards of being Muslim that agreeing with someone at one point in time will come back and bite you years later, and even after it is clear that the subject in question has changed his views.”
The blowback Saeed refers to concerns one of his own blogs on Anwar Al-Awlaki (link broken) and the latter’s journey to radicalization following his incarceration in Yemen in 2006 for 18 months before being released without charge. The BBC in its profile of Awlaki states:
“Since his release, Mr Awlaki's message has been overtly supportive of violence, railing against the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the killing of Muslims in covert operations in Pakistan and Yemen."
A view shared by Moazzem Begg on Cageprisoners who writes:
“A cursory look at Awlaki’s pre-incarceration lectures would clearly show just why he became so popular. He was not a radical preacher of hate by any stretch of the imagination. Whilst teaching Islamic principles in an erudite and articulate way he neither shied away from talking about the Islamic concept of jihad (in military terms) nor from condemning the September 11 attacks and terrorism in general.”
Useful to note that the CfSC and PX tradition of establishing questionable causal relationships and shoddy research continues in the blog postings of Gilligan and the tenuous links he attempts to establish between Awlaki, Choudhry, the ELM/LMC and IFE and the mayoral election of Lutfur Rahman.
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