What’s this? Hope Not Hate endorsing racism?
Hope Not Hate has reproduced an article by Shiraz Maher from the Spectator, titled “Few would shed tears if Britain barred Anjem Choudary from returning”. Choudary is currently in Pakistan attending a conference of extremists at the Red Mosque in Lahore, where he is expected to issue a “fatwa” (which is not qualified to do, but anyway) against the teenage education activist Malala Yousufzai, who was recently shot by the Pakistani Taliban and is receiving treatment in the UK. He quotes a number of local religious leaders and secular columnists who say that Choudary should be barred from entering Pakistan, but concludes by referring to Choudary’s “spritual leader” Omar Bakri Muhammad who left “shortly after 7/7 after abusing our hospitality for years”.
The obvious differences with Omar Bakri are that he is not a British citizen, and left the country of his own accord and was never planning to return. The fact that he is able to live freely in Lebanon means he should never have been eligible for asylum, but perhaps he misled the British state over this issue; in any case, it is entirely legitimate that refugees should not be allowed to make trouble in the countries where they seek refuge. Choudary is not a Lebanese or Syrian, or even Pakistani, citizen (he may at most hold a “Pakistan origin card” if his grandparents are or were Pakistani citizens).
It is, of course, understandable that a right-wing political journal with a history of hostility to Islam should post an article suggesting keeping a Muslim troublemaker out of the country despite his citizenship. For Hope Not Hate to republish it suggests that they have forgotten part of what they were set up to oppose. It would not even be considered to exclude a BNP or EDL leader from the country when they went abroad to attend a conference or a demonstration, despite the fact that the EDL have caused more disruption to people’s lives here with their violent demonstrations and fights than Choudary has in his 15 years or more of activity. The reason, of course, is that Griffin, Yaxley-Lennon et al are white and therefore “proper” Brits, while dark-skinned Brits with foreign grandparents are lesser Brits and can be assumed to have a bolt-hole somewhere. To exclude a British citizen from the country for merely troublesome behaviour because he had foreign grandparents would set a very dangerous precedent, and is something Hope Not Hate should recoil from publishing.
Update: I have amended this to take into account the fact that HNH is no longer connected with Searchlight but now has its own, self-titled, magazine.
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