Opinion

‘Criticism of Islam or Islamism is not anti-Muslim bigotry’

‘Criticism of Islam or Islamism is not anti-Muslim bigotry’

East London mosque has filed a formal complaint regarding the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s presence in Pride in London and stated that our placards, including ‘East London mosque incites murder of LGBT’ were ‘inciting hatred against Muslims’  and that the mosque had a ‘track record for challenging homophobia in East London’.

In fact, though, the very reason CEMB was at Pride was to combat hate and to highlight the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men (14 if we include Daesh-held territories). We included placards on the East London mosque to bring attention to the fact that there are mosques here in Britain that promote the death penalty for homosexuality and apostasy.

As ex-Muslims, we are at risk from hate preachers that speak at some mosques and universities; our  gay members are at an increased risk.

The East London Mosque has a long history of hosting hate preachers who incite against blasphemers, apostates and homosexuals so we felt naming and shaming them was very apt.

In our experience, whenever incitement to hate and violence has been exposed, it is explained away as mere “theology”. Here, too, the East London Mosque spokesperson says:

Yes, there might be theological topics dealing with homosexuality in Islam, but that’s clearly very separate from promoting hatred and homophobia.

We beg to differ.

Given the context of executions for homosexuality and apostasy in many countries and the threats, violence and shunning that ex-Muslims, including LGBT, face here in Britain, the hate preaching can be considered incitement to murder though it is ignored because it is done under the cover of the “right to religion”.

Moreover, the East London mosque is merely using double-speak. Their supposed “track record for challenging homophobia” only seems to extend to white gay men in East London and never to Muslim and ex-Muslim LGBT or LGBT persecuted outside of Britain in countries under Sharia.

This is because the mosque is part and parcel of the Islamist movement. The East London Mosque (and its affiliate, the London Muslim Centre) share the ideology of the Jamaat-e-Islami – the Salafis of South Asia so their promotion of an Islamist worldview that imposes the death penalty for homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy is business as usual.

Why are we inciting hatred by exposing their incitement to murder?

And why is criticism of Islam off-limits?

Self-appointed “Muslim leaders” say our placards were “Islamophobic”.  But in our point of view, Islam, like all religions, is homophobic. Why is it not possible to say this without accusations of Islamophobia?

The only reasons our signs are seen to be “provocative” are because criticism of Islam is deemed to be impermissible, because there is the constant threat of violence by Islamists against ex-Muslims but also dissenting Muslims and others in order to silence and censor, and because criticism of Islam and Islamism is erroneously conflated with an attack on Muslims.

The author of this piece, Maryam Namazie, pictured second from right among the CEMB contingent at London Pride.

Pride is full of placards saying “God is Gay”, “Jesus had two fathers”, as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet CEMB members hold signs saying “Allah is Gay” – as we did – and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing “offence”.

Offence has become the catch-phrase to impose de facto blasphemy and apostasy laws here in Britain. Yet aren’t we all offended at least some of the time? Some of us are offended by religion but we don’t ask believers to stay away from Pride or stop praying because of it. Why is it that what offends us is irrelevant? Because we do not back our offence with threats and violence?

The politics of offence is a politics that rewards bullies and blames victims.

Critics say our presence in Pride is a provocation in the weeks following the attack at Finsbury Park. But why must our criticism be linked to an attack on a mosque? Did anyone tell those holding “Jesus had two fathers” signs that it was a provocation given that a priest was murdered in Normandy and Christians killed in Egypt? There is no connection, except of course it seems when it comes to Islam.

Believers are not told to stop any expression of their beliefs because of an attack on children at a concert in Manchester but our placards apparently have some link with an attack on Muslims and a mosque. Why?

This is the Islamist narrative that equates criticism with an attack on Muslims. Its aim is not to stop bigotry but to silence dissent.

And by the way, bigotry affects us too. We were Muslims once; our loved ones are Muslims. And fascists and bigots cannot tell any of us apart anyway. We all look the same to them.

But as a minority within a minority facing serious threats to our lives, shunning, ostracisation, discrimination (and that’s only in Britain), is it fair to ask us to remain silent because of other forms of persecution or bigotry? Why can we not confront racism AND homophobia, bigotry AND hatred against apostates, women, blasphemers… To do that, we have to be able to criticise the far-Right (including our far-Right – the Islamists) and religion and regressive beliefs.

We ex-Muslims, including LGBT ex-Muslims, are fighting for our lives. We too have the right to live, think and love as we choose. And to fight for that right, we have to be able to confront apostasy and blasphemy laws as well laws that criminalise and execute apostates, LGBT, and freethinkers.

We owe it ourselves but we also owe it to those living under Islamic rules who are in prison, on death row or being murdered by vigilantes for doing just that.

The right to religion is a basic human right that must be defended but what is often forgotten is that there is a corresponding right to be free from and to criticise religion. As long as we can be killed for being ex-Muslims, LGBT, apostates and blasphemers, we have a duty to speak up – especially for those who cannot.

As an aside, the Pride spokesperson has said that the East London mosque’s complaint has been referred to the community advisory board to assess whether CEMB can join Pride next year and added:

While our parade has always been a home to protest, which often means conflicting points of view, Pride must always be a movement of acceptance, diversity and unity. We will not tolerate Islamophobia.

A note to Pride: There were for sure some Muslims who were offended by our presence and others who supported us, as there were some Christians who were offended by placards poking fun at Christianity and others who found them funny. This is what real diversity looks like.  For too long, self-appointed Islamists feigning to represent the “Muslim community” have stifled dissent via threats and accusations of offence and Islamophobia.

CEMB has fought for ten years now to bring real diversity into the debate, which is a matter of life and death for many of us.

Criticism of Islam or Islamism is not anti-Muslim bigotry just as criticism of Christianity or the DUP is not anti-Christian bigotry. CEMB plans to be at Pride next year and every year and hopes the community advisory board sides with dissenters and those fighting for LGBT rights and not those inciting hatred against Muslim and ex-Muslim LGBT.

For those on the community advisory board who are interested in finding out more about the East London Mosque beyond the double-speak, there is a wealth of information on their links to Islamism and their incitement to violence, hate and yes murder:

In this piece: Almost immediately after Jamaat’s  arrival in government, attacks against religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh began to be reported. A British peer and parliamentary human-rights representative, Eric (Lord) Avebury, said that:

Bangladesh is an increasingly dangerous place for women, minority faiths and ethnic groups, opposition parties and secular organisations.

He argued that at the root of these problems lies the “cancer of a maverick branch of Islamism” that aims to “transform the country into a Taliban-style dictatorship”.

The ELM/LMC’s reaction to requests to ban these hatemongers was to “go quiet” for a few months, and then return to hosting the worst of Britain’s extremists. It is pretty clear that promoting hatred is part of the ELM/LMC’s core mission. Ibrahim Hewitt: – a “reformed” white racist, who now works for the Hamas fundraising charity, Interpal. He wrote  “What Does Islam Say?”, a pamphlet explaining what he sees as the Islamic approach to several social and political issues. Apostates and proven adulterers get the death penalty.  Sexually active gays must face “severe punishments” for their “great sin”, possibly including death.

An open letter posted online by 12 LBGT campaigners, including writers Julie Bindel and Paul Burston, which lists a series of events hosted by the East London Mosque allegedly attended by  anti-gay Muslim clerics. These included Abdullah Hakim Quick, a supporter of the death penalty on gays and Abdul Hattin who incorporated a “Spot the Fag” contest into his sermon in 2007.

Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph:

The East London Mosque’s response to accusations of extremism has three stages. First there are the injured protestations of its deep commitment to community cohesion, democracy, etc, often accompanied by straightforward lying … Then there are silly legal threats from its libel lawyers, again often based on lies: tedious, but perfectly easy to see off if you know what you’re doing. Finally, if none of that works and their backs are absolutely against the wall, the mosque will crank out one of their statements claiming they’ve banned hate preachers. The supply of bad guys will dry up for a month or two, then as soon as the coast is clear they’ll start creeping back again. Let’s hope it’s different this time. But you’ll forgive me, I’m sure, for being a little sceptical about the East London Mosque’s “good faith.”

The charity Oxfam cancelled an event at the East London Mosque after it learned the headline speaker had declared gay people should be “severely punished” under Islamic law.

At the East London Mosque, the Friday sermon was delivered by hate preacher Assim al-Hakeem who teaches that apostates must be killed (“As long as they have been Muslim, once they reject it, their Devine punishment is execution. This takes place on the instruction of the ruler after a panel of judges talk to him and try to convince him. His execution is due to his betrayal to Islam which is like grand treason.”)

In Police “covered up” violent campaign to turn London area “Islamic” it says:

Khalid Yasin, a hate preacher who describes Jews as “filth” and teaches that homosexuals must be killed has spoken at least four times since 2007 at the East London Mosque. Although the mosque claims to be against extremism, discrimination, and violence, it has hosted dozens of hate, extremist or terrorist preachers and also hosted a “Spot The Fag” contest.

In the same week that it issued a press release condemning the anti-gay stickers, the mosque was also due to host a ‘gala dinner’ with Uthman Lateef, a homophobic hate preacher. The mosque is controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which says that it is dedicated to changing the ‘very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.’

According to “Nationalism, Community & the Islamization of Space in London“, see page 219:

The East London mosque was more closely aligned with Arab states, in the Middle East and Pakistan. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia contributed over 1 million for the building of the new centre and ambassadors of Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the mosque management.

According to “Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK: socio-cultural dynamics, religious trends and transnational politics” page 5:

The East London Mosque – this claims to be the oldest mosque in London going back to the early 1940s. It has maintained close links with the Jamaat i Islami, largely through the Islamic Forum Europe and the Young Muslim Organisation, whose offices are located nearby. The ELM’s leaders and other local activists have been highly successful at building alliances with local government officials through campaigns against drug abuse, family breakdown, anti-social behaviour, school truancy, etc.

The Spirit of ’71: how the Bangladeshi War of Independence has haunted Tower Hamlets.

Jamil Iqbal and Richard Phillips – “Taking Stock: Respect, SWP and Islamist politics in Tower Hamlets“.

Communities & Local Government – ‘The Bangladeshi Muslim Community in England Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities’. See pages 42, 61

Bangladesh Genocide: what human rights, anti-racist and peace organisations won’t tell you“, at 54 mins Chowdhury Mueenuddin/IFE, at 1.10 mins MCB/Iqbal Sacranie, 1,13 mins Chowdhury Mueenuddin and at 1.20 SWP/Left/Muslim Brotherhood.

Siding with oppressor: the Pro-Islamist Left, London“, One Law for All, pages 27-29.

Jamaat-e-Islam links to East London Mosque & Darul Ummah. DeHanas, Nilsson (2013) “Elastic Orthodoxy: the Tactics of Young Muslim Identity in the East End of London“, Farnham, Ashgate, Pages 15, 16.

East London Mosque admits Chowdhury Mueenuddin’s involvement. The East London Mosque has confirmed Mueen Uddin was involved with the mosque from 1978 as honorary secretary, and was until recently vice chairman, but has not been a trustee since 2009.

East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre link to Jamaat. Policy Exchange’s “Choosing our friends wisely” (2009), p 36

Channel 4 Dispatches programme investigated fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami headquartered in Britain, and its network in the UK. Using undercover recordings, investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan reveals the group’s ambitions to create a worldwide “Islamic social and political order”,  and the concerns of a mainstream party that they are being “infiltrated”.

Britain’s jihadi bride groomer: Schoolgirl radicalised in East London mosque recruited her three classmates to join ISIS in Syria

How Jamaat’s UK wing IFE infiltrated Tower Hamlets Council youth service 2016.

Facing Jamaat-e-Islami by SADF 2017 See page 16.

10 April 2017 Azad Ali, a Jamaati Islamist who has said that he supports killing British soldiers, was named a director of Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a group which advises the British government. Ali recently said that the jihadist attack at Westminster on March 22, 2017 was not an act of terrorism.

11 April 2017. The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, asked Islamic Relief to explain why it invited a hardline Muslim preacher to star in a fundraising tour of Britain.

Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated American academic, has been recorded telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of Islam. Qadhi, who featured in an eight-city tour, described Islamic punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves as “very beneficial to society.” The commission also questioned two other charities, Muslim Aid (Jamaat charity founded by Chowdhury Mueenuddin) and Read Foundation, about their sponsorship of a speaking tour by Qadhi in 2015.

Thanks to Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Gita Sahgal and Daniel Fitzgerald for the above information.

• This piece was first appeared on the CEMB website on July 14, 2017.

8 responses to “‘Criticism of Islam or Islamism is not anti-Muslim bigotry’”

  1. […] In a piece published in our op-ed section below, Maryam Namazie provides an in-depth explanation as to why the CEMB had joined the Pride […]

  2. DE Baker says:

    Wonderful, well said Maryam Namazie.It is VITAL that CEMB march at next years Pride & every year from now on. & whats more are made welcome by Pride in London who need to do a bit of groveling. xxx

  3. Sankari says:

    Thank you, Maryam,for your in-depht analysis of islamists tactics of spreading liberticide ideas (i.e. homophobia, misogyny and atheophobia) which seems to concern the Western democratic countries in general, not only the ELM in GB. I wonder how – in this context – should be assessed the credibility of the recent very liberal declaration made by the Grande Mosquée de Paris.

  4. George Broadhead says:

    Re the complaint made by the East London Mosque, please see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/09/gay-rights-london-mosques?CMP=share_btn_fb.

    Please also see https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/may/07/muslims-britain-france-germany-homosexuality.

    Please note that criticism of Islam, notably the anti-gay text in the Koran and the barbaric punishments for LGBT people set out in its Sharia Law and put into practice in Islamic theocracies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, is perfectly justified, despite being condemned by some as islamophobic. By the same token so is the islamic death penalty for apostasy.

  5. Cali Ron says:

    George Brodhead : Not even one single death in the name of any religion and their non-existent god is acceptable or justifiable. The real crime is that apostasy is a crime in any country. The one thing religion has always excelled at is death. Those “loving ” gods hand’s are drenched in the blood of millions. What needs to die is religion and belief in god.

  6. andym says:

    About as comprehensive a rebuttal as you can get. It’s just further evidence that Islamists know they can’t win a debate, therefore will try to make the debate illegitimate.

    They’re just doing what all fascists do. Possibly more dangerous is the idiotic,”left-wing” that always comes out to support them.