BMSD: Taking a stand against ‘Stop the Islamisation of Europe’

It is very encouraging to see secular, pro-democracy Muslims take on the anti-Muslim nutters on their own terms. Read the BMSD’s (British Muslims for Secular Democracy) open letter (pdf) to Stephen Gash of the anti-Muslim hate group, ‘Stop the Islamisation of Europe’ in anticipation of SIOE’s planned demo outside Harrow Central Mosque on December 13.

The administration of the Harrow Central Mosque has some very dodgy affiliations.

YMOUK is the youth wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. The Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) is also Jamaat-e-Islami linked, and also runs a blog on which senior IFE people praise the likes of the jihadists, al-Awlaki and Abdullah Azzam. Islam Channel is run by a convicted Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood/an-Nadha terrorist, and broadcasts material by Hizb ut Tahrir, and Yasir Qadhi, and a host of other vicious and extreme bigots. Islam Expo is run by Mohammed Sawalha, who is a fugitive Hamas commander, who has been named in US court documents as a key Hamas fundraiser. And finally, Islam Online is al-Qaradawi’s website.

However, the overriding point that has to be made is that the vast majority of people who attend and use HCM do so not because they explicitly support these Islamist organisations, but simply because the mosque is their local facility.

We are obliged to oppose any group which plans a demonstration which intends to obstruct and harass ordinary Muslims on their way to pray. And which is why we oppose Stop Islamisation of Europe.

Dear Mr Gash,
We are a group of Muslim democrats who are committed to the values that define the British state, including legal and constitutional equality for all, equal rights for women and minorities, and religious freedom, including the right to be free of faith.

We take such pride in these virtues that we actively seek to defend them against any individual, political group or organised religious outfit which seeks to impose their religious beliefs upon others (thereby infringing the right of all people to practice any religion or to be free of any religion).

As an attendee at our counter-demonstration against Al-Muhajiroun on 31st October 2009, you would have seen for yourself how we thwarted their attempts to portray themselves as representatives of the British Muslim community. Not only did they abandon their “March for Sharia” at the last minute, but we were joined by pro-democracy activists of all faiths and none, and from a wide range of backgrounds (including he English Democrats).

This was hailed by both Muslims and non-Muslims as a victory for freedom and democracy. We have come to know about your proposed demonstration outside Harrow Mosque on 13th December 2009, opposing the building of the mosque extension. According to your letter to the Harrow Times on your website – which appears not to have been published in the paper as yet – you believe that, “Muslims are attempting to make Islam the dominant theocratic-political system across the world and are actively eradicating democracy, non-Islamic cultures and all other religions.”

To counter this assertion, we would like to point out that just like the majority of law-abiding British Muslims and non-Muslims, we too are extremely concerned about the rise of extremism and political Islam
in Britain, which has been used to justify or demand non-democratic practices. On this issue, I am sure your organisation and ours share a common concern and would like to see a halt to the spread of these. We acknowledge that in the past several mosques and madrassahs have been involved in anti-democratic activities and extremism, through the political and religious leanings of their management and patrons. This undermines the confidence of the peace-loving British public and results in fragmented communities. It is clear that mosques and madrassahs should not be used as a vehicle for hate-preaching and spreading discord within society. In this vein, we would like to point out that just because Muslims attend certain mosques out of pure necessity, this does not mean that they subscribe to the views of the mosque committees and management. More likely, it signifies that they have no other choice and are not organised enough to be able to challenge such community leadership.

We also maintain that the vast majority of British Muslims are law-abiding citizens who are happy with secular democracy and do not wish to Islamicise Britain or Europe. We would like to fight for the rights of ordinary British Muslims to practice their religion, free of any coercion by organised hard-line groups who follow a particular brand of Islam based on rigid interpretations of Islamic teachings.

By demonstrating outside a mosque under the banner, “Stop the Islamisation of Europe,” ordinary peace-loving British Muslims end up feeling threatened and have begun to believe that their fundamental right to practice their religion is being curtailed. In any case, Harrow is an exemplar of good community relations, facilitated by strong communication and co-operation between different faith communities and various agencies such as the police and the local council. Our Director Tehmina Kazi can testify to this, as she has lived in Harrow for over 20 years. Individuals affiliated with Harrow Central Mosque joined our counter-protest against Al Muhajiroun and their leading members wholeheartedly support the merits of secular democracy alongside bmsd.”

Your campaign is also fuelling the notion that somehow organisations such as SIOE are against all Muslims and the religion Islam in itself. This is being used by the extremist elements within Muslim communities to enhance their recruitment.

We therefore urge you to call off your protest and start open dialogue with British Muslims for Secular Democracy and other pro-democracy groups, so that we could jointly work together in reducing the spread of fascism and extremism from our communities. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Shaaz Mahboob
Vice Chair
British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Also read Shaaz Mahboob’s supporting article on CIF.

This entry was posted in Activism, Anti Fascism, Anti Muslim bigotry. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

23 Comments

  1. Private R
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Great piece. Shows the dilemma of trying to defend the image of Islam ad Muslims, when Islamofacists do their best to prove that these extreme right wing facists are right….

    This is a start in the right direction!

  2. Posted November 22, 2009 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    The more I find out about the courageous and excellent stance of BMSD, the more they are all in my prayers.

  3. Gerrit Smith
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    Islam is an ideology of total combination of state and religion, which does not allow for an inch of tolerance or freedom.

    Shaaz Mahboob and all at BMSD, I would like to point out to you that you cannot be a Muslim and at the same time be supporting secular democracy.

  4. Abu Faris
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    Gerrit,

    It was fun to read exactly the same post from you on HP, incidentally.

    I think you are engaging in exactly the conflation of religion and politics (and of exactly the same order) as Islamism. To correct your position:

    Islamism is an ideology of total combination of state and religion, which does not allow for an inch of tolerance or freedom.

    you that you cannot be a Muslim and at the same time be supporting secular democracy.

    Now repeat after me the Shahada and your membership card for Hizb ut-Tahrir is in the post.

  5. Posted November 23, 2009 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    Gerrit

    Some two million Hindu and Muslim Bengalis were slaughtered in a genocide in 1971 in a war of independence so that the nation of Bangladesh could be created as a secular democracy.

    It is a shameful mark of disrespect to those Muslims who were killed to suggest that that it is not possible to be Muslim and at the same time be supporting secular democracy. I think they have done more for the cause of secular liberal democracy than you ever have.

  6. qidniz
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    However, the overriding point that has to be made is that the vast majority of people who attend and use HCM do so not because they explicitly support these Islamist organisations, but simply because the mosque is their local facility.

    Connections with shady organizations don’t seem to be particularly relevant here. My understanding is that SIOE chose HCM for their demo because of the plans to expand the facility, which they view as a patent instance of Islamification.

    Be that as it may, the argument, that ordinary Muslims use the HCM because it’s local, actually applies to any and every mosque, and could therefore be advanced regardless of the mosque SIOE happened to choose. Your protest is thus against choosing a mosque at all.

    But, as a comment on CIF put it:

    Outside a mosque…??? .

    Well yeah. Where else? If you’re demonstrating against lap-dancing clubs, you protest outside a lap-dancing club. If you demonstrate against a government policy, you demonstrate outside Westminster. If you’re demonstrating against a by-pass, you demonstrate at the proposed by-pass site. Where do you think a demonstration against Islamification should take place? Outside Sainsbury’s?

    In short, your real argument is that you really don’t want anyone protesting against Islamification, period. You should then say as much.

  7. Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    If you want to oppose “Islamification”, it would be possible to demonstrate in any public space where it is permissable to demonstrate.

    Demonstrating outside a mosque, a temple, a synagogue or a cathedral/church against the religion of the adherents within it is just highly obnoxious, bad form and exceptionally bad manners. Not to mention highly provocative.

    But for Stephen Gash and SIOE, that’s the whole point, I’m sure.

    And provocation is exactly the same reason why Anjem Choudary chose to demonstrate outside Westminster Cathedral.

    If you want to be classified in the same species of ‘Extremist Wanker’ as Anjem Choudary, protesting outside a temple, church or mosque should achieve that for you.

  8. qidniz
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    Not to mention highly provocative.

    Which is precisely the point. They are, after all, trying to raise an issue. Otherwise the SIOE could find garden tea parties to harangue. Or play tiddlywinks to amaze the onlookers.

  9. Abu Faris
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    qidniz

    I do think there is a distinction to be drawn between being provocative and being deliberately offensive.

  10. Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    “Which is precisely the point. They are, after all, trying to raise an issue. Otherwise the SIOE could find garden tea parties to harangue. Or play tiddlywinks to amaze the onlookers.”

    Why bother with any of that when you can harangue ordinary Muslims on their way to the mosque?

  11. qidniz
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    Why bother with any of that when you can harangue ordinary Muslims on their way to the mosque?

    Because to the SIOE, all Muslims, ordinary and otherwise, are the agents or means, even unwitting, of Islamification.

    It should follow from protesting outside a religious building that the essential objection being voiced is to the religion itself (or to some inherent aspect of it). Adherents of the religion will obviously find this offensive. But that by itself cannot and does not negate legitimate reasons to stage such protests. The notion that mosques, temples, churches, etc are somehow magically exempt is absurd.

  12. Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    qidniz

    Because to the SIOE, all Muslims, ordinary and otherwise, are the agents or means, even unwitting, of Islamification.

    That is to provide an explanation for SIOE’s behaviour – not an excuse.

    I am puzzled why you seem to be so insensitive to the distinction between (valid) provocativeness and (invalid) deliberate offence.

  13. Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Protesting and harassing members of a congregation outside the facility they are using is not just offensive to the adherents of the mosque. It is universally objectionable. But also ridiculously stupid and self-defeating in provocation value – it is straight out of the Anjem Choudary book of popular dissent.

    But if that is what the SIOE want – that’s what SIOE must get. :-)

  14. qidniz
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    I again am puzzled why you seem to be so insensitive to the distinction between (valid) provocativeness and (invalid) deliberate offence.

    Because in this context it’s a distinction without a difference. Neither is an essential argument either for or against staging a demo outside a religious building.

  15. abhijit
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    faisal,

    I expect it to be a slanging match between the goat-fuckers from Islam4UK vs the sheep-shaggers from SIOE. Should be great!

  16. alf
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    DEFEND HARROW’S DIVERSE & UNITED COMMUNITY
    “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” and the
    “English Defence League” a group of racist
    football hooligans with links to the fascist
    BNP are threatening to invade Harrow on
    Sunday December 13th to demonstrate
    against the Harrow Central Mosque. We
    cannot stand by and let these racists attack
    any section of our community. An injury
    to one is an injury to all.

    Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims – is
    as unacceptable as any other form of
    racism. Its aim is to divide us by making
    scapegoats of one community as the Nazis
    did with the Jews in the 1930s. Today they
    threaten the mosque, tomorrow it could be a
    synagogue, temple or church. Today they
    threaten Muslims, tomorrow it could be
    Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, blacks, gays, travellers
    or any other minority.

    Fascists have been beaten before by
    people standing united against them: at
    Cable Street in the 1930s, Lewisham in the
    1970s and in Derbyshire this Summer where
    black and white, young and old, Hindu,
    Christian, Muslim and Jew, gay and straight
    all came together to oppose the BNP’s
    fascist rally. In September we made it clear
    that these thugs are not welcome in
    Harrow. Now we must make Harrow a
    No-Go Zone for Nazis.

    Please sign the statement of support for Harrow Central Mosque
    Join the demonstration on Sunday December 13th
    We are black, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jew
    Assemble 12 noon Sunday December 13th on the wide pavement
    outside Harrow Civic Centre opposite the Central Mosque
    Called by UAF Brent & Harrow ● uafbrentandharrow@googlemail.com and National UAF:
    unite@ucu.org.ukhttp://www.uaf.org.uk ● PO Box 36871 London WC1X 9XT ● 020 7801 2782

  17. alf
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 5:48 AM | Permalink

    We wish to bring to your readers attention that the community of Brent, and Wembley, is a peaceful, harmonious and united multi- cultural and multi-religious community. We totally abhor and condemn the racist and Islamaphobic statement put out by members of the fascist BNP from South Wales in their on line video.

    The diversity of the Borough has enriched us all, with people from all backgrounds playing an important and essential contribution to all our daily lives as workers in various sectors delivering key public services, providing employment opportunities for many and supporting others throughout our communities.

    Brent is proud of its long traditions of welcoming those who escaped from the horrors of Nazism and the Concentration Camps in the 30’s and 40’s. We recognize the important contribution to our NHS and public transport services by members of the Afro-Carribean communities. We are proud that we provided a place of safety for the Ugandan and Kenyan Asians and later on for many others escaping the ravages of war and destruction in Dharfur, Somalia and elsewhere.

    The BNP fascists seek a scapegoat to blame others for the problems arising from the present day economic crises . Do not blame the weak and innocent. We say blame those who caused the crises not those who are its victims.

    To seek a mythical Wembley of pure white aryians is nonsense. Wembley, like Brent, has a long standing record of Jews, Muslims, Hindhus, Christians, Buddhists, Gays, Women, trade unionists, young and old people playing a key part in our Borough, and long may it do so.

    We will not allow the fascists and racists to divide us and they will be opposed where ever they are. That is why we will stand together with our Muslim brothers and sisters at Harrow Central Mosque on Dec 13th in solidarity with all against racism. We urge your readers to join us there and show their abhorrence at this latest insult to our community.

    Brent and Harrow Unite Against Fascism

  18. atheism?
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    I think what worries alot of people I know is this: how many more mosques will there be? And why?

  19. Shireen
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    BMSD are doing great work. Keep it up.

  20. atheism?
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

    I am still trying to understand why nobody cares about female circumscision. It’s one the nastiest things I ever saw, sadly it’s Sharia. For more info., see the link just below, it has information on the left hand column >

    http://sheikyermami.com

  21. Slayer
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    I’d like to know what the Mosques are doing about these protests!

  22. web page
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

  23. site
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

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