Gina Khan’s Diary

Gina Khan will be reporting regularly on the busy life of an anti-jihadist activist in Birmingham.

June 17 2009

Extracts from Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Birmingham at Democratiya.

Ayaan’s books break the silence about Muslim women’s plight. I was a victim of domestic violence. I thought I had married a modern thinking British Muslim. My brother had warned me not to marry into a particular group of Muslims, mostly from Mirpur or Kashmir, saying to me ‘They will never change. They are controlled by their extended families. They will always be backward in their mindset.’ At the time, I dismissed his advice as discrimination, but it turned out to be true in many ways. Firstly, my husband hid our marriage because he was forced to marry a cousin who was only 16 at the time and he was 25. So I became a victim of a polygamous marriage which inevitably turned to domestic violence. When I asked him why he had come home late one night, he slapped me across the face and shouted ‘don’t question my authority. In our religion you are not allowed to speak to me like that.’ It was a defining moment for me. He had used religion to control me. I once said that it wasn’t him I wanted to challenge, it was the Mullahs and Imams who taught him that women were inferior, should be submissive to their husbands, and could be slapped if they displeased. People don’t want to hear this, but backward theology is being used to underpin women’s oppression in the modern West.

The situation for millions of Muslim women is this: men believe they have the divine right to subjugate and beat them. You only have to watch the debates on Al Jazzeera, and this Arabization is really influencing British Muslims. The mullahs or clerics discuss how not to leave bruises, or how lightly a man can hit a woman. But a slap eventually turns into a punch or a kick. Many Muslim women refuse to go to the police for fear of being accused of dishonouring their family or their husband. The UK now offers Muslim women the support of safe houses. (There is so such place for women in many Muslim countries.)

A lone woman is more vulnerable in the Middle East or Pakistan. They are told that only marriage alone can protect them and save them from the eyes of vultures. A woman is nothing if she is not married. ‘Caged’ as a virgin, not allowed a proper education, coerced into a marriage and told to live as a ‘good’ Muslim woman under the protection of a husband, woman come to believe they have no choices. Ayaan is right when she states that Muslim women can be trained to be docile. I have come across many, many Muslim women who have to live that kind of life. It is one of the reasons many Muslim men seek a wife from south Asia.

Read the whole thing.

May 30 2009

An extract from Gina’s interview in Democratiya:

I still remember the day one of my older sisters was leaving to go to Heathrow airport in the late 70s, Dad lowered his head, put the palms of his hands together and said ‘please keep my honour my daughter’ – almost pleading.

Such were the sacrifices Muslim daughters made because of extended families and the pressure of family honour. Mum objected but she could do nothing as a man’s word is meant to be sacred. It was a Muslim man’s world and still is.

In the 70s, another sister who was in her twenties and has since died became a victim of polygamy. As a child I watched her being sectioned under the mental health act. Mum and Dad had arranged her marriage to a Muslim man who was a driving instructor, homeowner, respectable on the outside. Just after the birth of her second child they all discovered that he was already married. On being found out, he ran off to Holland with the secret wife and abandoned my sister and her two daughters. She fell apart. She knew she was finished in the eyes of Muslims, though we still loved her. Polygamy was the norm – and British Pakistani men hadn’t abandoned the practice even though it was banned under British law…

These family events shaped my mind, my thinking. I left home early after divorce myself and became distant from Islam – but only temporarily. It’s not for me to say but I think I am a good Muslim. I do not conform to outdated norms but that does not stop me from being a good Muslim in Britain today.

I have lived in a hostel, abandoned and alone, I had lost my first child and sister within a few months and post natal depression wasn’t recognised in those days. Certainly nobody understood my plight as a young divorcee, stigmatised by a label, accused of dishonouring the family. Amazing really, because divorce rates are so high amongst British Muslims – the community loses so many of its ‘daughters’ this way.

Read the whole thing.

December 16

Paul Sikander on ‘Islamophobia’

‘Islamophobia’ is a constructed model designed to protect Islam and Islamic politics from criticism. It has little or nothing to do with protecting individual Muslims from discrimination.

Until the late 1990′s, ethnic minorities in this country were conceived of as being susceptible to discrimination on the basis of immutable human factors. That you are black or Asian is a fact that cannot be altered, and you could face discrimination in British society because of it, prejudice sometimes subtle, sometimes violent and visceral. And so, civil and political society sought to counter this by privileging the dignity of the individual in the face of racism. If a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Sikh was to be called a ‘Paki’ it was not because of the religion they actively or nominally belonged to. If a West Indian was called a ‘nigger’ it was not because of any cultural or religious formulation or criticism they were facing. Anti-Semitism when it was expressed, the earlier racism of Europe, that had been present before the post war migration of black and Asian people to the UK, was simultaneously a similar and different mode of prejudice. But crucially, anti-Semitism when expressed and countered was not about defending the theology of Judaism.

The construction of the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ began in the aftermath of the Rushdie affair. The impetus for it was to stigmatise an entire range of individuals and opinions, from those who took issue with religious precepts of Islam, to those who questioned certain values of the religion, certain cultural practices recurrent inside the sub-culture of some British Muslim groups, all the way through to those who critically analysed Islamist politics.

For the first time, ‘racism’ was not considered to be the active discrimination against individuals because of their ethnic background. Now, ‘racism’ was asserted to be anything that remotely offended the sensibilities of religious Muslims, including those from within the Muslim community who dissented from a certain line on any range of issues.

What a victory. To weld together the protection of religion and theo-politics with the whole idea of racism. To no longer privilege the dignity of the individual against racial prejudice, but to privilege the ‘dignity’ of the religion of Islam, and the politics of Islamism, and providing them with an immunity — the righteous immunity of protection from ‘victimisation’.

It has been quite a triumph. Not just because of the limits it sets on intellectual rigour, the limits imposed on ‘outsiders’ (ie: non Muslims) in terms of critical inquiry of Islam and the political stances and dogmas of Islamism, but the Orwellian tint it imposes because of the subjection of language to a bizarre 21st Century kind of Islamic New Speak. More ominously, it is also Kafkaesque because of the horror, guilt and judgment it inspires in those within the fold of Islam who wish to speak freely and subject their religion, and the ideology of theological-politics, to criticism and reform. It has been achieved with startling success, to bring this word and the whole concept behind it to the forefront of public debate and consciousness in Britain. And it is only now that it is being subjected to scrutiny.

How did we get here? You could write a whole book about it. But trace it back to the Rushdie affair, the collective efforts of Muslim activists and organizations, leveraging the tools of politicized multi-culturalism. It can all be traced back to that big-bang moment in modern British Muslim history, the year 1989 and the aftermath of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

The concept of ‘Islamophobia’ not only privileges the communal, and privileges a single religion, it also privileges the ‘grievances’ and ‘plight’ of Muslims over other minority groups in Britain, and it can be seen as an attempt to bully wider British society into submission to certain religious and theo-political norms. It is the strongest tool available for keeping Muslims in a state of denial about the internal issues that cause self-oppression and social failure and dysfunction relative to other groups in the UK, including an inability to take full advantage of the openness and opportunity in British society that proportionally other ethnic minorities who also face discrimination are able to utilize. It also numbs the mind to the signs and signals that the most insidious forms of extremism make when they arise.

Much of the trouble we find ourselves in today can be traced back to this self-perpetuating, self-justifying need to create a hygienic space for Islamism, for whatever any loosely connecting individual or group of activists deems mist to be placed inside this hygienic, uncritical space. The continuing efforts of Islamic activists and extremists, including the most violent extremists, have to be seen in this context.

September 25

I’m amazed and pleased that so-called Muslim leaders have issued a ruling so that a blind Muslim man in Leicester can take his guide dog into a mosque.

For many years, several mosques made no access provisions for wheelchair users or people with physical or learning disabilities. Any kind of inclusion has been almost unheard of. This ruling is a sign of change that must be welcomed. It indicates that when Islamic Mullahs want to demonstrate reason and humanity they can create change.

So should we look forward to the day when a similar ruling is declared so that all mosque leaders stop discrimination against Muslim women and allow them full access, not just to enter mosques but to participate in meetings and management of mosques, which could enhance a more plural Islam in some male-dominated Muslim communities?

However, pleased as I am about this ruling, I still feel that if a guide dog has been given access why can’t British Muslim women be given equal rights and access? Do we still have to wait another 1500 years?

These Mullahs and clerics appear very reluctant to give public rulings to stop discrimination against women, considering they give themselves the authority. Which leads me to believe we are still considered inferior to the Muslim male hierarchy and their control over our autonomy, denying us the right to be treated as full and equal human beings.

Historically the Prophet Mohammed never declared that women could not enter mosques, in fact he nominated a woman as an Imam in the first Islamic community. Ibrahim Mogra stated to the British media that Muslims do not keep dog as pets, but this is not entirely true.

British Muslims do love their dogs…after all a Mullah may not be a Muslim woman’s best friend but a dog can always be her best friend.

September 23

Written with Paul Sikander.

What is the drive behind these courts?

This is the culmination of decades of activism and ideological conditioning by Islamic institutions to incorporate the principles of separate laws for Muslims in the context of British society. More generally, it is a male-led movement, disguising itself under the rhetoric of equal rights and superficial notions of ‘multiculturalism’, to embed reactionary religious laws in our society, and beyond that, to increase the influence and power of Islamic values interpreted by male clerics over the lives of Muslims in Britain. Even the acceptance of the most innocuous forms of arbitration is a big stick in their hands, as they can then act out control and judgment with the sanction of the state, and can use that to intimidate or bully opponents of sharia in the Muslim community into silence, as well as Muslim women or men who do not want to be governed by this system of religious law, but are unable to deny its influence over them when it is used as a tool of arbitration with the tacit acceptance of the supposedly secular state. It is also a starting point to the long term attempts to increase the range and influence of sharia in Britain even further.

How are the courts viewed by the Muslim community? How are they viewed by women?

Most Muslims go about their daily life without thinking about such things, because their most pressing concerns are to feed their families. Amongst conservatives there is support for the idea of basic sharia arbitration, especially when the denial of them is erroneously generalized by activists like Bunglawala as discrimination against Muslims. On the other hand, all sentient non-Islamist Muslim women are horrified by the long-term consequences of ceding power to sharia-ist men. We need to acknowledge that most Islamists are attempting to Islamize Britain and we need to acknowledge that Sharai law is being used to discredit democracy. It is apparent that Sharai law is different in many Muslim countries and very complex. The question we must ask is how will Sharia judges be operating ? There are serious ideological issues to consider as well as legal ones as my friend Paul Sikander pointed out to me. Remember Anjem Chowdery (of al-Mujhajiroun) and Omar Bakri, who claimed to be judges of Uk Sharia law. This is a the impact of Islamists’ propaganda. Right now it’s not the BNP I fear, or militant Jihadists, as much as I fear the ‘soft’ Jihadism creeping into almost every area of our lives at grassroots level. Mr Bunglawala from the MCB seem to have an issue with the Jewish arbitrations Beth Din operating, but they do not impose judgments or contravene British laws and rights. Above all it’s not Judaism that is in crisis, in conflict with democracies, or a threat to Muslims and non-Muslims around the world. Islam has been brought to a crisis and a Sharia legal system is a major issue that cannot be resolved. It’s on-going and problematic.

What do you think government policy should be?

A brilliant Barrister who has written to Muslim newspapers about Muslim marriages, Neil Addison, has already shown how Muslim practice is out of step with every other religious community in Britain, including the other main minority religious communities, in refusing to submit marriage ceremonies to British law. This leaves Muslim women and men beleaguered when marriages go wrong and they do not have the same legal rights as all non Muslims have in a similar situation, all because many parts of the Muslim establishment in Britain refuse to deny the privileging of secular British law over sharia. The British government must openly declare a long-term aim of harmonizing the Muslim community with mainstream British society, and the first step to doing this is to will into action at every level of administration in our country the intent to empower Muslim individuals by denying any religiously inspired legal sanction against them. For the long term emancipation of British Muslims, and for the long term harmony of British society, there must be no legal barriers to hinder national integration between groups in our society. Anything that increases the power of Imams and Mullahs over Muslim women and men, and embeds their judgment and power, must be denied. The government must also be wary of ‘sharia creep’, where sharia is accepted tacitly. An example of this is the decision to allow the wives of a polygamous Muslim man to receive welfare benefits as a spouse. In the long term, the government is going to have to tackle issues like polygamy/bigamy in the Muslim community, which is perpetuated by the reluctance of the Islamic establishment in Britain to submit their marriage laws to secular British law. In fact they need to start listening to Britsh Muslim women like Shaista Gohar, Diane Nammi and ex-Muslim women Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maryam Namazie, who all strongly oppose Sharia law. Plus how are these courts going to be monitored and how can measures be taken to stop discrimination against women in these kangaroo courts, when Islamists make no scope for any kind of progress to create change within their interpretations of Sharia law, in regards to family law and the rights of Muslim women? To me Sharia law is medieval.

Is a failure to recognise Sharia courts de facto anti-Muslim?

No. To suggest that it is anti Muslim is a cheap rhetorical trick employed by Islamists to mask their real agenda of special privileges and social control, and to paint Muslim opponents of sharia as being in some way traitorous or complicit in mainstream society’s discrimination against Islam. The fact remains that many British Muslim women and Pakistani Muslim women oppose Sharia law as it discriminates against them as women, wives, mothers and daughters particuarly in cases of domestic violence, divorce, inheritence and rape/sexual abuse.

Progressive arguments against Sharia law?

All arguments against sharia are progressive. Sharia law is a reactionary system of social control, advocated by people with an agenda to impose their religious codes on the Muslim community in Britain, and to make non-Muslims abide by their worldview and interpretations of how Muslims should have their lives regulated. This is a long-term agenda, it is something that all progressive people should be aware of, and it is something that thoughtful politicians should build a consensus on across parties, so that in the long term, whether the government is headed by the Conservatives or Labour, there can be unity of purpose and intent on this issue. Ultimately nothing can compare to the secular laws of equality and fairness for all.

June 15

Channel 4′s Dispatches documentary ‘Undercover Mosque’ exposed a truth that has gone undetected by mainstream society for at least the last twenty years. In some Muslim communities in the UK a camouflaged campaign against the ‘kuffar’ West has been waged by hate filled extremists spreading ideological poison in our society.

But instead of being congratulated for their bravery and vision, the documentary makers were blamed for ‘damaging community relations’ and became subject to threats from the Crown Prosecution Service, seemingly at the behest of Muslim ‘community leaders’ in the city. The West Midlands Police force found itself in the incredible position of defending the hate-filled propaganda of religious clerics whose very ethos is anathema to a peaceful, tolerant, multi-ethnic city which they are supposed to be protecting. A British police force effectively decided to take upon itself the burden of shooting the messenger that had brought a vital and important truth to light.

This is a microcosm of the situation that many British Muslim women and progressive Muslim men find themselves in today. Islamists and Jihadists who use the Quran as their mandate have been twisting verses of the Quran to brainwash and mobilise the minds of susceptible Muslims inside male-dominated mosques, colleges, universities and study groups. They preach against democracy and equal rights for women, they spread alienation and hatred for all non-Muslims, and they do this primarily by wrongly advocating Jihadism as a compulsory pillar of Islam. It cannot be ignored that Jihadist ideology intertwines the issue of women and their freedoms with their wider ideology of supremacism, separatism and hate. This in turn feeds into the oppression of Muslim women as a social reality. Wahhabi Abu Hamza stated that women are ‘deficient’. Sheikh Jabali states that it’s permissible to hit a woman if she refuses to wear her hijab and that it is permissible to marry a young girl before she reaches puberty. Sheikh Zoheb Hassan advocates polygamy and has planted the first seeds of Sharia law, using the plight of Muslim women seeking divorce.

These extremists get away with preaching supremacy and violence against women and children, under-aged marriage and polygamy, in accordance with their backward theology – regardless of the fact that British law states that domestic violence, child bride marriages, and polygamy are criminal offences. Yet, some Muslim men consider themselves to be above the law because this backward ideology has infiltrated our community, thereby hindering progress, slowing down the emancipation of women, and preventing wider integration.

Whether it’s the male hierarchy of the MCB, Hizb- ut-tahrir, MAB, Islamia Jaamat, Muslim Brotherhood, or any other Islamist organisation, the fact is that they all promote political Islam, they all oppose democracies, they all freeze the rights and freedom of Muslim women, and some of them use historical texts on Jihad to mandate the ideology that Osama Bin laden mandates.

The most dangerous are those like Sheikh Fiaz who preach that we as Muslim parents should inflame the soft hearts of our children and “offer them as soldiers of Islam”, instil the love of martyrdom in their hearts and basically prepare them for jihad as human suicide bombs. Which part of that message did the West Midlands Police force not understand?

May 24

Indoctrination of Converts on the rise

I cannot emphasize enough that Wahhabi and Salafi Jihadists’ mentors are behind the wave of converts emerging in Birmingham. The converts I have come across have been indoctrinated into a political cult, not Islam the religion. Dynamic preachers have been seeking out British black and white men and women for over a decade. It may seem as if Islam is the ‘fastest growing religion’, but it is not..it’s the fastest growing political cult that uses Islam as its mandate. The Channel 4 Documentary Undercover Mosque exposed the truth. Jihadists from Wahhabi and Salafi backgrounds have been using mosques, mini-mosques and madrassas as their recruiting grounds for years, undetected.

I was on a train to London last week, when a mixed race teenager, who couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 years old, sat on the seat behind me. Throughout the whole journey this young convert was reciting the Quran from a book, in a low tone but nevertheless in the quiet zone he could be heard.

After thirty minutes I was annoyed, I watched how others tolerated his behaviour but I had had enough. I’m a Muslim too and never have I seen or experienced South Asian Muslims here or in Pakistan carry the Quran around and recite the Quran in the public arena. He was oblivious to everyone else until I interrupted him and asked him to read quietly just as I was reading a book silently; I pointed out the quiet zone sign, saying he should have respect for other passengers. I was angry but calm.

He did listen but I knew he disliked me for interrupting him, he had no respect for people like me who needed a nap and chose to sit in the quiet zone. ”Read as loud as you like when you get home son, but right now you are making people uncomfortable”.

Being a Muslim I know that this sort of obsession isn’t necessary. It’s not even about being a secular Muslim: the majority have always kept their religion at home or within mosques, but now converts are emerging who are taught to make a public display of their religion. There is a time and place for everything, even the Quran states that. The word is ‘duniyadari’ meaning that ‘worldly affairs’ must continue normally. Most Muslims recite a page or two first thing in the morning after morning prayers…then worldly affairs continue and how you conduct yourself as a citizen on a daily basis is just as important.

In the news recently, a bus driver who was a convert stopped his bus and ordered the passengers off so that he could lay his mat out and pray. Passengers saw his rucksack and refused to get back on – and who could blame them? He should have been sacked. Yesterday another convert tried to blow up a restaurant, and luckily only injured himself. Sadly, a child was starved to death in Birmingham by her mother who converted to Islam. She would have been seen as a pious Muslim woman in her black veil…but now it emerges that she would starved all her children to death. Potential suicide bomber Umar Islam, formerly known as Brian Young, who is on trial, is shown on his own martyrdom video. And let’s not forget Jermaine Lindsey, the suicide human bomb used for the 7/7 carnage – brainwashed into a cult by the same breed of clerics and Imams that Channel 4 exposed. Why weren’t those Jihadist mentors arrested? Reluctance to acknowledge the roots of Jihadism or Islamism, those who proselytise converts, can only hinder the struggle against terrorism.

In 2001, Osama Bin Ladin made a speech on al Jazeera, that as long as he can reach out to the next generation he will be winning the War. He has succeeded. Which part of that message did West Midlands police not understand?

May 16

Green Lane Jihadist preachers get away with ‘murder’

I mentioned the Green Lane mosque in my last diary entry because that’s the mosque (or the cult, more like) that indoctrinated Usman, a former Christian, into extreme Salafism.

Today’s ruling in favour of Channel 4 shows that the media were right when they warned the public about Jihadism being preached in mosques. In fact, some of you may recall that one mullah who preached that it was acceptable to get a daughter married off as soon as she reaches puberty, is in fact the same Wahhabi extremist who heads the sharia council. He appeared on Newsnight and the BBC’s ‘Big Question’ in the debate about sharia law and councils.

‘What will women do, they will either be nuns, prostitutes or be left on the shelf,’ he told Richard Watson on Newsnight, in advocating the practice of polygamy.

The ruling is a small victory against Jihadism, but it’s a crucial one; otherwise Jihadist preachers and mentors would be having a laugh at our expense. Those who were exposed peddling their twisted version of Islam and inciting violence and hate would have got away with it.

The question needs to be asked, who was West Midlands Police appeasing? Could there have been Islamist community leaders who pressured the police to scrutinise the producers of Ch4’s Undercover Mosque in order to camouflage the truth about the Jihadists’ Islamist strategies and propaganda within Muslim communities?

Any Muslim who had listened to their cassettes, watched their dvds, read their interpretation of Islam would have known that Channel 4 had exposed the truth: these imams and preachers have infiltrated our communities undetected for a decade or more.

I hate to admit it, because I’ll be accused of being a Zionist and neoconservative supporter, but the fact is that they have funded mosque after mosque, then opened Islamic bookshops and Islamic clothes shops within a short distance from their mosques, and we British Muslims were their targets, especially in Birmingham. The Jihadists’ web has infiltrated not only Muslim communities but also English and Afro-Caribbean communities, by establishing mini-mosques and Islamic bookshops, as Carol’s story demonstrates.

Resources and time have been wasted on shooting the messenger, when these imams could have been arrested for inciting murder, hate, racism and violence.

It’s not too late: let’s hope someone has the sense to either arrest these hate preachers or close the Wahhabi mosque down. They are not just hate preachers, they are Jihadist mentors. They are the brains behind human suicide bombs being created and seduced into believing they are on a divine mission for God to create an Islamic state and kill the enemies of Islam – the ‘Kuffars’.

So, unlike the rest of us, these preachers will get away with inciting violence, racism, advocating paedophilia and homophobia, and preaching that women are sub-human compared to men and that girls should be beaten if they refuse to wear a headscarf.

There was a time that I had read their translations, their interpretations of the Quran, their theology on the status of Muslim women and nearly walked away from my religion until I re-educated myself.

We have been subjected to an ideology. How many of us had ever checked out the biography of interpreters of the Quran? Muslims have been fooled too because of dynamic imams using the Quran to mandate their ideology.

Even then, Muslim men sat in the crowds knowing that their humanity and intelligence was telling them that these preachers are wrong, and yet how many came forward or reported them to the police? Either they have been successfully indoctrinated or they have chosen silence.

For those Muslims who accused me of ‘putting the community down’ last year after I broke my silence – all I will say is that a time comes when remaining silent becomes a sin itself.

May 14

Heartbroken Mother of a Salafi Convert

Recently I met the mother of a salafi convert to Islam. Carol is a British-born Afro-Caribbean mother from Erdington in Birmingham. A hardworking lone parent, who raised her sons, owns her own home, works a full time job. She was born into a Christan family but she says she isn’t particularly religious.

One of her sons, when he was in his early 20s, decided to convert to Islam. Carol had no objections as at the time; she said she felt it was his choice, and living in a multi-faith city, her experience with Muslims was positive. She was however was aware of the issues strangling the freedom and choices of Muslim women, since she had once worked in a refuge where many British Muslim women and teenagers escaping domestic violence received support.

‘Christopher’ changed his name to a Muslim name –Usman. Initially Carol was pleased: at least he wasn’t drinking, doing drugs or gambling, and he seemed to have found an inner peace. Usman became a more devoted Muslim, spending a lot of time with an Imam – his main preacher from the Green Lane mosque. Usman was either constantly reading the Quran or other Islamic books, or attending Islamic meetings. Usman began to change: he became more extreme in his views about women, he would insist that Carol must stop wearing short sleeves jeans, he started to remove photos and ornaments so that he could pray. Soon the arguments started; as he tried to dictate the life of his mother, the rest of the family were getting worried about him. Basically he told her to convert or else she would suffer in the fire of hell; he told her it was his duty to convert her from a kuffar and submit her into Islam. He stopped eating what she made with her own hands, even when she bought halal meat for him.

Carol told me that this Imam had opened an Islamic book shop on Slade Road in Erdington, where Usman spent most of his days.

This imam held regular meetings in a nearby house where many of the converts were English or Black. Usman had once invited his mum to one of these meetings to reassure her, but the imam kept his distance from her and hastily shortened the meeting.

The worst was still to come. Usman was arrested for physically assaulting someone and gradually his behaviour became more erratic.

Carol told me with tears steaming down her face that by now she knew the imam was behind Usman’s mind being indoctrinated by this extreme version of Islam. She went searching for the imam at the bookshop and warned him to keep away from Usman. She came to realise that whatever he was being taught had created a wedge between mother and son; his constant harassment and peculiar behaviour was irrational to the family. At times she had thrown him out: he had become violent towards her and he kept the whole household awake by reciting the Quran all night.

The imam eventually closed down the shop and avoided the area, afraid of being confronted by other concerned parents as Carol had the courage to confront him.

Usman had on one occasion attempted to strangle his mother, and was arrested and sectioned under the mental health act. Carol had never spoken to anyone about this and doesn’t feel that she had anywhere to turn. Doctors say he has had a mental breakdown. Carol’s analysis falls on deaf ears when she tries to make the doctors understand that Salafi indoctrination had caused him this mental breakdown.

Carol doesn’t feel that he should be let out; she thinks he is a threat to others. But no one is listening and she knows she has lost her son.

Carol had no idea that her son had been converted by Salafist extremists. Salafism is the brand of Islam that Osama Bin Ladin believes in. His mentors, funded by petro-dollars, have been at work in our communities undetected.

When Usman is let out Carol knows she wouldn’t be able to cope with him under her roof. She also knows he will go to the mosque and will find shelter there as a disciplined Salafist; the same Imam will support him. I consider that Usama could also be indoctrinated into becoming a human bomb against the kuffar.

In our religion we are taught to totally respect our parents and it’s an unforgivable sin to be unkind or disrespectful to our parents, much less assault them. This is especially true of the mother who carries you under her heart for nine months and gives you life.

This conversion of an otherwise ‘normal’ young black British man has devastated a whole family.

Many of the female converts started wearing the full black veil and gave up work to be stay-at-home obedient wives. Carol knew a few who had divorced their extremist husbands when the going got tough and have since re-evaluated the teachings they were indoctrinated into.

This is why I do what I do: because I know that this is not some kind of great Islamic revival, nor do we need one. This is political Islam, this is Jihadism. In my experience most converts are converted to an extreme Wahhabi or Salafi version of Islam, by neo Wahhabbis and Salafis who import their Islam with Saudi petro dollars, spreading desert Islam, establishing their mosques, publishing their extreme interpretations and poisoning the minds of our younger generation against the ‘kuffar’.

So when I say that this is not just a Muslim problem, that’s because I know, especially after meeting Carol, that there is a huge issue in the Afro-Caribbean community about conversion, and is causing grave concern to British parents from all races and religions who don’t know where to turn.

When a suicide human bomb walks into a shopping centre, train, bus or airline he doesn’t care what race, religion, or gender we are – he is on a divine mission as a martyr, anyone can be a victim of a suicide bombing. We can collectively stand up against extremism. You just have to break your silence and do what Carol did: confront the extremists. If she can do it, then any of us can.

Men like Usman are used as pawns in this war against the west. It’s the Jihadists’ mentors we need to chase out of our communities.

May 7

The Islamic college on Aston Church Road

This Islamic college is on Aston Church Road in Washwood Heath, yards away from a faith school where girls as young as 13 or 14 wear the full veil. It’s located in an area where the mosques were under scrutiny and where the Jihadist Parvez Khan lived.

In fact this is an area where there should be more sports/art/recreational centres for the youth…or even more housing projects.

The land was unoccupied for ages, and flyers asking for charity were displayed there. Currently there are caravans on the site . It’s a residential area. How does it make sense to create an Islamic college in an area that is already infiltrated with Jihadist propaganda. Mothers in the community recently told me that their children have had radical Mullahs coming into local mosques and preaching anti-west rhetoric to the children; that’s a sure sign of extremists inflaming the minds and hearts of the young children to hate the west and ‘the Kuffar’ and to hate their non-Muslim neighbours. How can any council allow another mosque or an Islamic college to be built when the whole area is deeply concentrated with mini mosques, madrasas and even a Salafi Mosque literally on every corner?!

That’s what I mean when I say that the community is either in denial or afraid to question the way I have why these mosques have mushroomed and who funds them. Could petro dollars have funded the college? We have a right to know. I have lived in these areas and now as I stand back and look in…I see Islamization and Arabization taking over without anybody questioning the speed of this ‘invasion’.

We Muslims have to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s just not normal and I certainly can’t see how the young veiled teenagers will integrate into the wider society behind the veils, living under gender apartheid in the city of Birmingham.

This is not Islam…this is a strong backward and dangerous wave that has manifested itself in our communities.

We don’t need any more huge mosques or madrasas or this Islamic college. No other religion has developed and expanded in the way political Islam has in Britain. This is not an Islmic reveival, it’s a cult that seeks to reverse the order of the community and seeks to radicalise the young into human suicide bombs. Secular Muslims must recognise and challenge the Islamists’ propaganda, especially the mothers in the communities.

Rachel North at the Quilliam Foundation launch

Rachel North is a survivor of the July 7 tube bombing. She spoke of her experience and how after the bomb went off (in the underground carriage that Jermaine the convert attacked), the passengers all reached out for a hand to hold onto in the pitch-dark silence. They didn’t know if that hand was the hand of a Christian, Jew, Sikh, Muslim, or atheist, yet they drew comfort from each other sitting between the dead.

April 2008

Empowering Muslim women

Over the last few months I have become even more optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for British Muslims in relation to opposing extremism and Jihadism. There are Muslim women and Muslim men, mostly British born, who now understand what we are up against and want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem…Thank God.

I attended a five day training session that Hazel Blears initiated for Muslim women to be empowered. This has planted the first embryo towards reform in Islam and for British Muslim women to acknowledge their God-given rights. For me the training provided a key understanding towards how texts and edicts in the Quran are being manipulated by Islamists and Jihadists, and how they use the Quran to mandate their war against non-Muslims and women.

For example Sura 74 verse 31: a text here is being interpreted to Jihadists declaring them as soldiers of God. We often hear suicide bombers declare they are soldiers of Allah…but they have totally twisted this verse. The verse actually translates into ‘Only God knows who his soldiers are.’ Therefore in my understanding that could mean Mother Theresa who believed in God could be a soldier of God…but even then only God knows…And if only God knows, how can Jihadists claim to be soldiers of God?? In fact many verses of the Quran will end stating that only God knows…If only God knows then how can suicide bombers and their mentors lay a claim to knowing what God/Allah wants? We were lectured by Dr Ghayauddin Saddiqui. This fantastic man is all for women’s rights and freedoms. He asked ‘who are the believers in the Quran? Wouldn’t that mean the Jews and Christians, in relation to the Abrahamic link? It is the same God we are claiming to believe in collectively.’ Hence why can’t a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim when the Muslim man can?

A lot of vibrant, intelligent, and modern-thinking women attended. We covered issues on Sharia law and Gender Justice…Not one woman there wanted Sharia law established in this country. There are serious issues around divorce we have to acknowledge…Is the only alternative to go to an extremist who heads the Sharia council in London and believe he really does care about the emancipation of women? I don’t think so; they have used the plight of Muslim women to plant the seeds of Sharia law in this country. This training will empower Muslim women to understand how to read and demystify selected Quranic verses that are used to mandate their status. As I have said before, the fight for the emancipation of Muslim women has to come from within; this training must be the best initiative so far that I have come across…No veil-wearing radical Muslim woman would have had a leg to stand on if she had attended and disputed this training.

The Trainers were fantastic. Dr Ziba Mir Hosseini, who produced the Channel 4 documentary ‘Divorce Iranian style’ was one. Zainah Anwar from Sisters in ISLAM from Malaysia was another, also women who (along with Amina Wadud, the first Muslim woman to lead a Friday prayers in a mixed congregation) defend principles of equality, freedom and dignity for Muslim women, and have done some profound work for the rights of Muslim women.

I made some good friends but I had to question myself. Am I part of the reform, as reform in Islam won’t happen in my lifetime? Or am I part of the transformation of the current mindset in Muslim communities. With the knowledge I gained at this training I have learned to address the texts that Islamists and Jihadists propagate, but I have also learnt that in comparison there are plenty of verses that have been suppressed by the male hierarchy that speak of Justice, non-violence, peace and equality.

Quilliam Foundation launch

I received an email inviting me to the launch of the Quilliam Foundation that Ed Hussain and Maajid Nawaaz have formed.

Obviously security was tight and a lot of important people were in the crowd. I went out of my way to seek Ed and shake hands, he has my utmost respect and admiration for the stance he has taken. He and Maajid Naawaz have launched this organisation as the first think tank to counter extremism.

Ed Hussain has said ‘We do need to recognise the fact that Muslims in Britain are in a new part of History. Never in the history of the West have there been so many Muslims living across so many countries, and this new situation requires new thinking, new responses and a new approach to religion, in particular Islam.’

They discussed hard-line Islamist ideologies in a step forward in the battle of ideas. Obviously no members of the Muslim Council of Britain were invited. The MCB’s Inayat Bunglawala criticized Ed Hussain before the launch. I ask the MCB one vital question: What have they ever done to seriously combat extremism and the radicalization of our young British Muslims? The answer is: nothing.

I have confidence that Ed Hussain and Maajid Naawaz will play a very important part in addressing issues that others have been afraid to address. After watching Majid Naawaz debate the Palestinian Islamist Azzizi on Newsnight the same night, I believe we have the people we need to debate the Islamists and jihadists in the public domain. For far too many years we have not been able to counter the Jihadists’ propaganda machine…So I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have had a busy month; I have been invited to many debates and conferences and will continue to network. Last week I was asked to give an hour-long talk about Jihadism and my experience in front of twenty-odd anti-terrorist police officers, some of high rank. Was I nervous…of course I was, but I received loud applause, so I must be doing something right.

These are the guys who aim to protect us and even risk their lives in the line of duty against a terrorism act. We need to stop demonising the police force, they do a fantastic job, and we have to count on them, as this war will last at least another 40 years. As I told the officers, if I had approached them ten years ago and warned them about this ‘cult’ developing in our communities they would have ignored me…We are catching up with this extreme Islamization and Arabization festering in Muslim communities undetected for over 25 years.

Yesterday it came to my attention that an Islamic College is under construction in Aston in Birmingham. I am also aware of another huge mosque under construction in Worcestershire, where there are more British non-Muslims on the doorstep. As a British-born secular Muslim woman I have the right to ask the questions: Who funded them, what brand of Islam will they teach, will women be part of their committees, and how will they serve the community…??

These are important questions to ask even before the foundation of a new mosque is laid, especially in areas like Aston, where Islamism and jihadism have infiltrated. In fact my question is, do we need any more mosques, do we need an Islamic college?

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