Britain’s best known Islamist, Anjem Choudary, is planning to hold a conference in Pakistan on Friday where, among other things, he will issue a fatwa on Malala Yousafzai. She is the schoolgirl from Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal areas who was shot in the head for defying the terrorist group by demanding an education. Yousafzai survived the attempted assassination and was later flow to Birmingham for specialist medical treatment (the bill is being picked up by the Pakistani government).
Choudary plans to hold his conference – ‘Shariah for Pakistan’ – at the Red Mosque in Islamabad which was the scene of a notorious standoff in 2007. Radical students of the mosque had begun imposing vigilante justice in surrounding neighbourhoods: harassing women, kidnapping foreigners, and burning down music stores. The government was forced to confront it in a standoff that became a Pakistani version of the Waco siege.
Remarkably, even the ultra-conservative authorities of the mosque have now sought to distance themselves from Choudary. A spokesman told Pakistan’s The News:
The whole mosque administration condemns the inflammatory statements used by this group, clearly seeking publicity. We are not aware of any conference in the mosque on 30th November and it’s for the government of Pakistan to take action [against] anyone who enters Pakistan.
The mosque’s leader also described Choudary’s views as ‘wrong’ and argued ‘people like him create problems for Muslims in Europe and Pakistan.’ Along with the fatwa on Malala Yousafzai, Choudary also wants to issue a fatwa on the current President, Asif Zardari, and intends to brand Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the country’s founder, a ‘traitor of Islam.’
There are calls to ban Choudary from entering the country. A columnist for the Express Tribune, Vaqas Asghar, expressed his exasperation at the way Choudary has been able to live off benefits for years while spouting his bilious views. ‘To thank the British government for putting a roof over the heads of his six-member family,’ Asghar writes:
He routinely makes controversial statements such as demanding the burka be made compulsory for all British women, Muslim or not, and has proclaimed himself the head of Britain’s ‘Shariah Court’ …More worryingly though, Mr Choudary has referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “magnificent martyrs”, he has refused to condemn numerous terrorist acts and has said non-Muslims cannot be considered innocents in the context of being victims of terrorism.
British authorities have consistently warned of the threat extremists in Pakistan pose to the security of our country. Two of the 7/7 bombers trained there, and scores of thwarted plots are also known to have originated in the country’s tribal areas. But, Pakistani authorities have also long complained of the converse – British Muslims contributing to the destabilisation of their country. Choudary’s conference demonstrates the veracity of that belief.
Asghar notes that Choudary chose ‘to live in a “pagan” land, abuse its trust and defy its laws…[because he] knows there will be no consequences.’ He couldn’t be more right. When Omar Bakri left Britain shortly after 7/7 after abusing our hospitality for years he was barred from returning and was briefly arrested by the Lebanese authorities. I suspect few would shed any tears if Choudary and his cohorts were to share the same fate as their spiritual leader.