Extremists crash the party again (updated)

This afternoon, after jumu’ah, there was a demonstration outside the Danish embassy in Sloane Street, London, which was supposed to follow a march from the “Central Mosque” near Regent’s Park. I got to the embassy around 2:15pm, to find a collection of what one might call “the usual suspects” outside the embassy: men in kefiyyehs, brandishing black and white flags, with hostile expressions on their faces and yelling stupid slogans. (They had women there as well, although they were markedly less noisy.) Having arrived from the Sloane Square direction, I decided on arrival that I was going over to the other side and joining the media. (Tags: , , , . More: Pickled Politics, Opinionated Voice, IslamicPolitik.)

There, I set about telling various journalists, and some who were not journalists, that the core of the people across the road were in fact “serial demonstrators” who have a history of attending other people’s demonstrations, shouting slogans largely unrelated to the issue at hand, and casting a bad light over both Islam itself and the demonstration. So, last year the media reported that a demonstration had taken place outside Grosvenor Square at which former Guantanamo detainee Martin Mubanga spoke and violent anti-American slogans were chanted ([1], [2]). I later discovered that the demo had been crashed by people the organisers said were al-Muhajiroun. And I suspect that the same was true here.

The slogans included the “highly relevant” “Khaibar, Khaibar, ya Yahood, Jaish Muhammad sawfa ya’ood (Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return - Khaibar was a Jewish settlement near Medina which was defeated in a battle by the Sahaba, radhi Allahu ‘anhum)”, “democracy hypocrisy”, “Denmark go to hell”, “USA go to hell”, and various other threatening and bellicose phrases, coupled with uses of phrases like “Allahu akbar” as shouted slogans. An outsider could be forgiven for thinking that these phrases had threatening meanings given the way these men use them.

Anyway, I had to leave the embassy just after 3pm, as I had other business to attend to down in Croydon. It was, however, later reported by the BBC that “hundreds” of Muslims demonstrated, which indicates that this group were vastly outnumbered by the people who arrived in the main march from Regent’s Park. One wonders if these idiots will be the people who get the column inches, giving the world the impression that the cartoons offended only extremists like those I saw in Sloane Street today and those who invaded the EU compounds in Palestine. Still, let them do a brief Google or Technorati search and this entry may well come up in the first few pages; nobody with access to the Internet has any excuse for not doing some basic research before they publish, but they do anyway.

Update 9:30pm: The Evening Standard is reporting that the main march did indeed involve people with posters declaring “Blair jumps to defend the Jews like a monkey” and “Remember 9/11” and shouting slogans like “USA, you will pay” and “the Holocaust was a lie”. If someone was there and can tell us that nobody shouted these slogans, by all means let them say so here, but if it’s true, the question must be asked why they chose these slogans which are completely irrelevant other than to give gratuitous offence to the locals in the same way as the cartoons gratuitously offended us, although much as the cartoons didn’t do the Danes’ reputation much good, neither did shouting offensive slogans in the streets of London do much for their own reputations. In fact, it would have made them look like asses; dumb slogans really are the bane of demonstrators everywhere. The Standard also showed a picture of a young boy holding a banner with the words “EUROPE You’ll Come Crawling When Mujahideen come” (the rest was below the bottom of the picture, but you get the message). One of the earlier arrivals presented his own banner to some of the cameras, and it read that they would defend Jesus (‘alaihi as-salaam) as readily as Muhammad (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), or words to that effect. The Standard obviously had so much room (they had to fit in the picture of the masked men in Gaza), but let’s see if someone else finds room for that picture. Cage Prisoners and Stop Political Terror, the people behind most of the recent demonstrations, make no reference to this demo or the issue behind it on their websites.

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  • Bikhair

    Yusuf,

    Boy you certainly have your work cut out for you. Take it easy brother.

  • Yahya Birt

    As-salamu alaykum,

    Dear Yusuf, thanks for the informative report. The Sun article published today (Saturday), let me stress not my ususal source of news, has provided pictures clearly showing the slogans they have reported. As for the chants, that’s another story of course. The journalists didn’t have the Arabic to make sense of the ones that you heard.

    Thanks again, Yahya

  • anonymous

    These aren’t extremist, they are zealots and ignoramuses. Their grandfather or something must have been muslims, so they are having some sort of identity realisation.

    Angry faces, burning flags, shouting their throat out, how does this fit into Islamic adab? Historians reported that the face of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was always beaming like a moon and always pleasant to watch. Sahib waj jameel! There are times he would get angry for the sake of Allah in order to impart a teaching. Once he came in and Aisha said - he looked a bit upset, he had to go out of the house and then re-entered with a beautiful face.

    Once the Jews were cursing him, and Aisha replied them with a similar cursing, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped her and told her that Allah do not like such words, that Allah loved gentleness in all matters.

    So, I don’t know where these aimlessly-angry demonstrators get the precedences for their actions. Here, I have to agree with bikhair’s hizbi terminology. Who are they defending now with these crude slogans and marches - their granfather? their tribes? or the Prophet (peace be upon him).

    I think this is a shame and quite embarassing actually.

    At the end of the day, if the law of these countries should legalise such a ridicule of the Prophet (alehi salam), there is nothing you can do. You would have a choice to lobby, or to migrate from those countries. That means they don’t want you here! just as the nazis didn’t want the Jews in Germany. Indeed trade/diplomatic boycott is another viable option. Intimidating people and causing havoc is not an Islamic option whilst you are living under a non-islamic law.

    In this case, hizibutahrir is right, muslims should go and make a caliphate that has teeth; however I wouldn’t want to live in a caliphate run by these angry-sloganistic lots or even by hizbutahrir. They are going to kill everybody that dare frown in their face!

  • Bikhair

    Anonymous,

    Where have you been all my life?

    Except for the Khalifah bit, I agree with you 100%.

  • J.H. Bowden

    People need to stop being so angry all of the time and live and let live. Islam was mocked by silly cartoons. Join the club — it happens to Jews and Christians and Hindus and so forth all of the time. Obviously it isn’t an effort to expel Jews or Christians or Hindus et cetera, or Western countries would not even have these people.

    The western tradition, especially in the English speaking countries, restrains arbitrary authority so citizens can be architects of their own lives. But that means living with people who do what you may not always want them to do.

  • http://opinionated.blogsome.com/ jamal

    Assalamu alaikum

    great article. Good thing you was there to represent a proper perspective, although it must of been disappointing to see the few acting in such a negative way which affects us all.

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  • http://toryconvert.blogspot.com Tory Convert

    Yusuf,

    what do you and other people think of the idea of setting up an internet network of people who would be willing to counter-demonstrate if this kind of thing happens again?

    Perhaps you think these people are just idiots and not worth bothering with - but they are really damaging the image of your religion. They make non-Muslims feel that Islam is about hating people who are different.

    If we could organise a small group of both Muslims and non-Muslims demonstrating peacefully showing that the incitement of hatred and violence in this manner is completely unacceptable then we could dent that impression.

    If we don’t, then the image of Islam that most of the non-Muslim British population get will be dominated by images of nutters like the guy who dressed up as a suicide bomber to go to the protest.

    Please let me know your thoughts. It is so important not to let barbarism win.

  • http://www.blogistan.co.uk/blog/ Yusuf Smith

    TC: I think that is a distinct possibility. The issue here is that people did not foresee exactly what form the demonstrations would take - we expected that the usual morons would turn out, but not that they would form the bulk of the demo as appears to have happened on Friday. The thing is though, these people sometimes turn up and sometimes don’t, and if we bring the counters out and the nuts aren’t there, it might turn out to be a wasted day or even look suspicious (for example, they might look like they have come to join a demo they don’t want to join, rather than demonstrate against the extremists who are trying to hijack the demo). But it’s certainly something to consider.

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  • http://martijn.religionresearch.org Martijn

    Cage Prisoners and Stop Political Terror, the people behind most of the recent demonstrations, make no reference to this demo or the issue behind it on their websites.

    No, but the Al Ghurabaa did. That problably means something.

    Yusuf says: That’s my point. Al-Ghurabaa’ (who are assumed to be the protesters on Friday afternoon) have a history of crashing SPT’s demonstrations; they actually used to call SPT “close to becoming munafiqeen” (hypocrites) on their site. So they despise SPT and don’t care if they are lumped in with the Ghurabaa as extremists.

  • http://toryconvert.blogspot.com Tory Convert

    Anonymous,

    I think yours is a very good post, most of which hopefully most reasonable people would agree with. And as someone who is not a Muslim the story which you tell is very interesting.

    One thing, however:

    That means they don’t want you here! just as the nazis didn’t want the Jews in Germany.

    I find this pretty offensive. Not having a law which bans depiction of the Prophet Mohammed does not mean we don’t want Muslims in our country. It just means we have different laws and different religious and cultural traditions. Please do not insult my country by such a comparison.

  • DrMaxtor

    MPAKUK condemned these fools. Heard they were affiliated with the banned Al-Muhajiroon group.

  • anonymous

    Tory Convert,

    You are right in some ways, that was a bad comparison on it was simplistic too. I take it back.

    But this is my point in verbose (or should have been): You see, a muslim’s (physical/spiritual/eternal)identity is not determined by race, nationality, culture, etc as you probably know…but rather by certain beliefs and principles. Now, if these beliefs and principles would not be respected, effectively the muslim’s identity is not respected (since these beliefs are at the core of his/her identity). So, why hang around in a place where you are a persona non-grata…unless you are happy sacrificing parts of your identity in order to achieve some worthy results (whatever that would be). Please note tho that Islam is flexible and not as rigid as I am probably suggesting, there is prioritisation in principles, there are areas that can be “compromised”, but there are foundational areas that cannot. When you reach those core areas, a choice has to be made as to what you stand for, who you are, etc. This is what I meant by saying that he/she is not wanted in that place, or put differently he/she is not suppose to be in that place…. in the sense that your identity is not guaranteed under the law….because the law allows for trivialisation and ridicule of those core beliefs/principles that constitute your identity. True it may not be inciting to hatred or murder, but such ridicules and trivialisation still has some effect in the society. It is only a matter of time before it culminates in the likes of Jerry Springer’s portrayal of Jesus (peace be upon him), and ultimately mockery of Christianity. The outcome is evident. Religious values and its objectives are destroyed in the hearts of people.

    Now, the idea of beliefs/principles being an indication of your identity is a powerful departure from our western secular conception of identity which is based primarily on race, culture, geography, sexuality… only secondarily on beliefs, etc. This is something that will take time to mature in a secular democratic construction.

    For muslims, identity based on “accidental” attributes such as race, nationality, etc, are recognised and respected, but are seen as short sightedness. A man’s beliefs afterall is the most important determinant of his intent and actions. And what is a man worth if not his actions and intentions.

    At the same time, this is not to demand of someone else to believe as we believe. The Koran says “Let there be no complusion in deen {i.e. way of life, religion}. Truth is clear from falsehood” Even in categories of thought. Man is free to do whatever he wants, even to self-destruct.

    Coming back to earth…:), in some sense the fact that muslims can keep their identity in a majority non-muslim country is indeed a gesture of goodwill from that country. The first muslims to live in a Christian country were the companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself. They lived in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) under King Negus whom the Prophet himself (peace be upon him) described as a just king. They were good citizens and they did not cause him one problem, history records Negus saying they may practise their religion free of persecution even tho he knew that their beliefs were contrary to his beliefs.

    Interestingly, the Koran talks incessantly about contracts/pacts. O you who believe, honour your pacts, honour your contract, honour your vows, etc. The Koran talks a lot about this, right from the first chapter - as if God is trying to telling you that - don’t enter into an arrangment where you will have to compromise yourself. Becareful what you sign your name too. So, if muslims have settled down in a majority non-muslim country, they have entered into an agreement to abide by the laws of that country, and they have to honour that agreement.

    Now, what happens where there is a conflict between their “identity” and the mainstream identities favoured within the law of that country. The muslim will have to make a choice of either changing his identity (to fit in)…and not cause trouble (to honour his word/contract), or go somewhere else. And in between these two extremes, there are ofcourse a lot that can be done, such as lobbying, protests, boycotts, reaching out, negotiation, education, etc.

    In any case, the muslim person has to be straight.

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

    “Whoever deceives is not one us.”

    No leading of double lives or anything of that sort, you either live as a muslim or as something less .

    Sorry I waffled away a bit. The salient point here is that, the muslim identity has to be protected, otherwise is marginalisation. And that is not a problem in itself, so far as we say that we have a marginalist society as opposed to the “free” society we sometimes pretend that we have. This is not going to be solved by talking, there are lots fatal fallacies here which is only resolved by following The Prophets.

  • Saed

    There is an article here http://antagonise.blogspot.com/ which goes towards suggesting that the events were staged.

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