Monthly Archives: December 2009


   

The President and Provost of University College London, Malcolm Grant (pictured), has written an article for the Times Higher Education website in which he has defended his college from the many scurrilous allegations that have been made against it in recent days following the failed terrorist attack by the alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. 

Grant writes:

‘What induced this behaviour remains a mystery. He has not emerged from a background of deprivation and poverty. He came from one of Nigeria’s wealthiest families. He was privately educated, and to a high level. He gained admission to University College London, where he studied mechanical engineering with business finance between 2005 and 2008, and was president of the UCL student Islamic Society in 2006-07…

‘…According to The Daily Telegraph, “[e]ven though Abdulmutallab is not even a British citizen, he was still allowed to be elected president of the Islamic Society at [UCL]”. And more: “It is easy to imagine that the authorities at UCL took quiet pride in the fact that they had a radical Nigerian Muslim running their Islamic Society. You can’t get more politically correct than that. They would therefore have had little interest in monitoring whether he was using a British university campus as a recruiting ground for al-Qaida terrorists such as himself.”

‘This is quite spectacular insinuation. And without so much as a shred of evidence in substantiation. The Telegraph blog that follows the publication of this piece displays quite disturbing Islamophobia, anti-immigration rants and even postings calling for the bombing of UCL itself.

‘Other UK newspaper comment accuses us at UCL of being “complicit” in the radicalisation of Muslim students; and, again, of “failing grotesquely” to prevent extremists from giving lectures on campus. Mr Abdulmutallab’s presidency of the UCL student Islamic Society is further condemned for having provoked debate about the war against terror. It is a delicious irony that a theme that has sold so many national newspapers should now be declared by them to be unacceptable for student debate…

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    The Independent published a letter yesterday from the East London mosque concerning the paper’s article on Monday ‘Nigerian in aircraft attack linked to London mosque’, linking ELM to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s radicalisation. 

The article in Monday’s edition stated that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab ‘visited the East London Mosque, which has attracted criticism for hosting Muslim hardline preachers, three times.’

Bloggers at Harry’s Place and the Spittoon quickly followed the Independent’s lead in casting aspersion over the mosque with both reproducing the Independent’s claim of Abdulmutallab visiting the mosque three times so as to reinforce their suppositions against the ELM. Their style of McCarthyite witch-hunting of Muslim groups and institutions rarely requires more than this sort of flimsy allegation and a deep-seated prejudice has often clouded more rational analysis.

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It was only likely to be a matter of time before the usual suspects were invited to contribute their simplistic explanations on the suspected causes of Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab’s radicalisation.

Stephen Pollard (pictured), editor of the Jewish Chronicle, contributes a comment piece in today’s Daily Express citing the work of Douglas Murray and Anthony Glees, while Douglas Murray is also cited in the Daily Telegraph article, ‘Detroit terror attack: British university ‘complicit’ in radicalisation’.

Murray tells the Daily Telegraph:

‘“UCL has not just failed to prevent students being radicalised, they have been complicit. If any other society at UCL invited someone to speak who encouraged killing homosexuals, that society would be banned immediately, but academics are afraid of taking action when it involves Islamic societies in case they are accused of Islamophobia.

‘“It’s time that Islamic societies on campus were treated like everyone else and by everyone else’s standards, and by everyone else’s standards they have failed grotesquely to clamp down on extremism.”’

While Pollard repeats the results of the CfSC poll last year, claiming that ‘almost one in every three Muslim students in the UK said that killing in the name of religion was justified. ..The same number also believed in a worldwide Islamic caliphate (a united Islamic state), based on sharia law’.

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  Melanie Phillips (pictured) in her column in yesterday’s Daily Mail offers her usual mix of hyperbole and hysteria as she comments on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected terrorist who allegedly attempted to ignite explosives aboard a plane bound for Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day.

She writes:

‘Britain remains – to its eternal shame – the biggest hub of Islamic radicalisation outside the Arab and Muslim world.

‘Radicals flocked to the UK, attracted by Britain’s toxic combination of criminally lax immigration controls, generous health, education and welfare benefits and the ability to perpetuate their views through the British veneration of the principle of free speech….Extremists are still slipping into the country. The courts are still refusing to deport terrorists in order to protect their ‘human rights’ abroad.’ (original emphasis)

‘London boasts the shameful reputation of the world’s premier money-laundry for terrorism, which shelters behind a label of ‘charity’ that the authorities choose not to challenge.

‘Not only is no action taken against extremist mosques and madrassas, but many British universities have been turned into terrorism recruitment centres.’

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  The Muslim community of Cradley Heath, in the West Midlands, is appealing for help to catch arsonists who set the Cradley Heath mosque and Islamic centre ablaze and burnt it to the ground on Boxing Day.

It is the second time in five years that the building has been targeted by arsonists and police are hunting the culprits. The mosque and Islamic centre have been completely destroyed along with the stock of religious texts and children’s schoolbooks.

Vasharat Ali, secretary of the mosque and education centre, said: “This is not the first time we have been targeted, there was a similar attack four or five years ago.

“The building has been completely destroyed and all the books we use with the children have been damaged by water.”

Hat-tip: Islamophobia Watch


    The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg (pictured), heads the list of signatories of an open letter published in the Observer today calling on ‘the British government and the international community to apply meaningful pressure upon Israel’ to lift its suffocating blockade on the people of Gaza. 

The letter in the Observer reads as follows:

An appeal for the victims of Gaza

One year on from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government continues to imprison 1.5 million Palestinians and prevent the rebuilding of its shattered infrastructure.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, described by the UN fact-finding mission as “collective punishment”, stops reconstruction materials and humanitarian aid from reaching those who so desperately require it.

As a result of the blockade, many Palestinians, now suffering in the grip of winter, are forced to live in temporary shelters or partially destroyed homes. More than two-thirds of the population require United Nations aid merely to survive.

We call upon all parties to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza and specifically the British government and the international community to apply meaningful pressure upon Israel to abide by UN security council resolution 1860, to end this flagrant abuse of international law and lift the blockade. The confinement and punishment of an entire population is no way to bring about peace for all the people of the Middle East. Continue reading


   

The MCB’s letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, criticising his proposed suggestion to amend UK laws to protect suspected Israeli war criminals from facing arrest, has been picked up by international news organisations.

The Associated Press have covered the story here.

‘Britain’s flagship Muslim organization on Wednesday attacked a government pledge to reform a war crimes law used to try to arrest visiting Israeli dignitaries, saying the move could hurt Britain’s image in the Middle East.

‘The Muslim Council of Britain said it was “deeply disappointed” that the country’s foreign minister, David Miliband, promised to change the law so that judges could no longer issue secret arrest warrants against Israeli officials or military officers, saying the move was biased toward Israel.

‘”You appear to be committing the government to the path of selective compliance with the enforcement of international law,” the council’s Secretary General Muhammad Abdul Bari wrote in a letter to Miliband. “This is surely not in the best interests of our country as it will add a further dimension to the double standards that our government is seen to have in relation to the politics of the Middle East.”

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The war of words between the Quilliam Foundation and the Green Lane Masjid (Birmingham) continues.  Today saw the Quilliam Foundation issue an open letter to Faisal al-Jassim – who is due to speak at the Winter Conference at the GLM – and whom Quilliam had described in a previous press release as being a ‘fellow-traveller’ with al-Qa’ida.

 

Meanwhile, Green Lane Masjid have issued a new press release saying:

Having met both speakers on previous occasions, it is very clear to us that these statements [quoted by Quilliam] do not fairly reflect their views.  The aforementioned are acutely aware of the problems terrorism and extremism present in the world today.  They are passionate opponents of such dangerous ideologies – a point which the Quilliam Foundation has conveniently chosen to ignore.

‘Neither of the speakers condone disseminating divisive and destructive message, nor do they consider it permissible to break the law of the land.  In light of the above, Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre is satisfied with the clarification given by the invited speakers.
   
‘Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre has always condemned incitement to terrorism, extremism, racism and intolerance. We ask others to join us in this struggle to free our society of such evils. At the same time we ask those who are unfamiliar with the ethos of Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre to communicate with us, before jumping on the bandwagon of those whose goal is to demonise the Muslim community and its institutions.
    
‘Unfortunately, it appears that the Quilliam Foundation has set out with a pre-determined agenda to create mischief and portray us in a negative light, in order to foment divisions amid British Muslims along sectarian lines and generate mistrust amongst the wider public.  We believe that the press release issued by the Quilliam Foundation will play into the hands of those who wish to exacerbate tensions within society, and portrays Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre in a defamatory and negative light.

  A year on from the devastation of the Gaza strip by the Israeli army, a consortium of 16 aid agencies, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, have released a report on the meagre progress in Gaza’s reconstruction caused by Israel’s continuing blockade.

The report, ‘Failing Gaza’ states:

‘The Israeli government’s blockade, imposed in 2007 after Hamas took control of Gaza (though long preceded by regular closures and restrictions), not only forbids most Gazans from leaving or exporting anything to the outside world, but also only permits the import of a narrowly-restricted number of basic humanitarian goods. Desperately-needed reconstruction materials are not counted amongst these. So the civilian population and the United Nations and aid agencies that aim to help them are prohibited from importing materials like cement or glass for reconstruction in all but a handful of cases.

Indeed, since Operation Cast Lead, only 41 truckloads of construction materials for all purposes have been permitted into Gaza. Thousands of truckloads are required to rebuild all the houses destroyed. And this is to say nothing of all the remaining reconstruction desperately needed to put right damage to all the schools, hospitals, other buildings and water network because of previous military action or serious dilapidation caused by lack of repair materials due to the blockade. The rest of this paper sets out other evidence of the blockade’s continuing and devastating impact, based on the experience of the authoring agencies and data from the UN.’’

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  David Wearing (pictured), graduate student in political science at UCL, contributes an article to the Guardian’s Comment is Free section on UK foreign policy making and its democratic deficit. He writes: 

‘In February 2003, more than 90% of Britons opposed Tony Blair’s government joining the invasion of Iraq in the absence of a second UN resolution. As we know, the invasion went ahead the following month without such a resolution being passed.

‘Three years later, 63% thought Blair had tied Britain too closely to the Bush White House. In the same poll, 61% opposed the assault on Lebanon that Israel was undertaking at that time – an assault that was nevertheless effectively supported by Britain.

‘At present, both main parties plan to renew the Trident nuclear system, despite opposition from 63% of voters. Fifty-four per cent of Britons express support for the rule of international law yet, last week, Gordon Brown’s government began discussing “safeguards” to exempt suspected war criminals from the reach of British courts.’

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