Recently some of us have been debating on Facebook whether to take part in a forthcoming coutner-demo to an al-Muhajiroun front group demo, which was to take place on the 31st. The event was titled “Say no to Andy’s fanatics!” (Andy being the nickname of Anjem Choudhary of al-Muhajiroun from the time when he wasn’t practising) and had the fingerprints of “British Muslims for Secular Democracy” all over it (as this website demonstrates), although there were some other elements involved as well. If the event was to be dominated by that group, I wasn’t prepared to be involved in it.

Actually, I wasn’t too happy about the whole idea of Muslim counter-demonstrations against al-Muhajiroun anyway. The problem is that any demonstration would have been seen as too small, and even if the tiny number of fanatics who turn up with Anjem were outnumbered by 400 Muslims, that would still have been 400 out of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in London alone. However, besides that, there was the issue of BMSD being influenced by Shaaz Mahboob, who is well known to Muslims on Facebook as someone who likes to slander Muslims and particularly scholars, commonly using the word ‘mullah’ as if it were a term of abuse. Their board of trustees includes Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Taj Hargey, both of whose anti-Islamic viewpoints have been discussed amply here in the past.

The Facebook discussion also led to some woman referring to the Muhajiroun as “fake Muslims”, a manner of speaking much more typical of extremists like al-Muhajiroun than of moderate Muslims. However, in response to some of us saying we wouldn’t march or demonstrate under the BMSD banner, someone linked a YouTube video containing a clip of the “Judean People’s Front” scene from Life of Brian. That was a send-up of left-wing groups in the 1970s and 1980s, in which small groups with nearly identical politics, at least as far as outsiders were concerned, fell out over minute differences. Perhaps outsiders would think my differences with the BMSD were insignificant, but the level of contempt they show for practising Muslims and scholars doesn’t seem that way to me.

In any case, it later appeared that the so-called English Defence League were jumping on the bandwagon, and I can understand that nobody wanted a three-way confrontation between the Muhajigoons, the thugs from the EDL and various disparate groups of “moderate Muslims”. Despite being an “administrator” for the event’s Facebook group, I wasn’t certain I was going, but neither was I consulted about pulling it off Facebook; it just disappeared some time this afternoon. Perhaps cancelling was the wisest thing to do, but I thought “democracy” meant that there was a bit of discussion before an event is deemed to be on — or off.

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