Interview with ‘Shaikh’ Faisal

BBC NEWS | UK | Hate preacher ‘knew 7/7 bomber’

An interesting headline for an interview with “Shaikh” Abdullah Faisal, the extremist Wahhabi preacher who was jailed in the UK in 2003 for incitement to murder. The fact that Faisal knew someone who carried out a bombing does not mean much unless Faisal encouraged him to do it, which he denies doing. People far more moderate than Faisal knew one of the 2003 Tel Aviv pizza parlour bombers.

After his early release, he was deported to Jamaica where, according to this document released by the Brixton “salafis”, he praised the Jamaican authorities for the warm reception they gave him and compared himself to Marcus Garvey, a (non-Muslim) Jamaican who was deported from the USA. The author of this BBC piece, however, notes that Faisal appears to hate non-Muslims and “assume that they hate Islam”, and did not make eye contact with him during the interview. Perhaps he speaks with a forked tongue; perhaps he was just glad to be out of jail and back in Jamaica when he gave interviews there.

What was more depressing, though, was the ability Faisal has to get a reception in South Africa from the local Muslim community. When he was still preaching in the UK, I remember seeing a reference to “Maulana Faisal of Jamaica” on a South African Deobandi website, so perhaps some people are still under the illusion that he is a scholar even though he certainly does not share their enthusiasm for taqleed to the Hanafi school, even though he claimed he was a Hanbali when I met him. Whether the institutions where he spoke are Deobandi ones I don’t know; the fact is that all Muslim organisations should be wary of giving platforms to extremists like this.

Apparently his next stop is Nigeria. Any country with a recent history of inter-communal strife, which Nigeria has in abundance, should not even think of letting someone with a history of hate preaching in. I have in the past said that I disagree with deporting the likes of Faisal, because they can cause much more damage in a poor country than they can here, where Faisal built up only a small following; to hear of this individual being allowed to preach in places like South Africa and Nigeria, where there has been mob violence, including rape and murder, between Muslims and Christians in some places, reinforces this somewhat.

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