Mike Freer M.P. for Finchley and Golders Green came to our mosque yesterday. This is the third visit in what is advertised as an “advice clinic” for local constituents. I have written much about why Mike Freer is an open enemy to Muslims so I don’t intend to go over that again, in fact my issue has never been with Mike Freer as he is just a cog in the wheel of a system that I wish to have no part of. My issue has always been with the Mosque Committee.
From the first time that it was announced that Mike Freer was coming to Finchley Mosque last year, there were objections amongst some members of the committee and the community. The committee believe in democratic solutions (on those occasions when it suits them) so they took a vote amongst themselves. The majority voted to allow his first clinic to go ahead on the condition that a committee member must discuss with Mike Freer our concerns about his pro-Israel stance and particularly the false allegations that he had recently made in the House of Commons about Sheik Raed Salah. The discussion led nowhere – no surprise when you consider who is buttering Mike Freer’s bread.
The second visit by Mike Freer to the mosque saw the beginnings of a campaign to expose what he stands for by leafleting the congregation outside the mosque. Many people read the leaflet and were dismayed by the story, but rather worryingly, many said they felt the mosque committee was too intimidating to approach and that in the past they had shown themselves willing to ban or even go to the court to exclude those that they felt were against them. People also emailed and contacted the President and most importantly, a group of women asked to have their concerns heard by the committee but were told no. No discussion was allowed between the concerned people of the community and the committee, in fact the President tried to deny that there were any concerned people, something that was clearly untrue.
The committee like to believe welcoming Mike Freer to the mosque might cause him to become Muslim. At Mike Freer’s second visit to Finchley mosque, I invited Adnan Rashid who is a scholar of Islamic history, a senior fellow at the Hittin Institute, a speaker who travels and lectures worldwide on comparative religion and hadith but is most well known as a daaee with the Islamic Education and Research Academy. Despite the mosque committee’s claims that they are hoping to make Mike Freer a Muslim, they had not allocated anyone to speak to Mike Freer about Islam but if they had Adnan Rashid would have been the best person to try to engage with him. (Here a recent paper by Adnan Rashid “One State Solution – A Jewish Dream“) But of course it is a clear and obvious lie that Mike Freer is coming to learn about Islam. The mosque committee have no chance to discuss Islam with Mike Freer and they in fact do not put forward anyone to do so. If the reason that Mike Freer was coming to the mosque was really for the purpose of dawwah (invitation to Islam), then every Muslim in the community would support that initiative, but it is not. It’s a a complete red herring and an attempt to appease the community and pull the wool over their eyes.
Finchley Mosque committee consists of people who can be trusted to balance the books but they do not have much understanding of either Islam, Middle Eastern politics or the effects of pro- Israel lobby groups on British Muslims, and this really throws into question their role as suitable leaders of the community. They are though, on the whole not uneducated people and have had enough time to research the facts themselves if they had a will to, which leaves open the question as to just why they want Mike Freer in the mosque and who exactly benefits? Yesterday we had the third visit of Mike Freer to the mosque and it is clear that the committee have polarised and consolidated their position as facilitators and protectors of a guest that many do not want. Now Mike Freer is escorted into the mosque by the police and by one committee member, who seems to have a penchant for wearing badged reflector jackets displaying his credentials as a mosque official on the back (and as usual behaving like he missed his vocation as a night club bouncer)! Sadly this official seemed determind to prove his devotion to Her Majesty’s M.P. Mike Freer by not only protecting his person on the premises but also walked a long way down the road with him and his police escort, literally going the extra mile in the line of duty. In my opinion this is a sad display of how some British citizens of former colonies are still mentally enslaved. Less sad but more comical was the appearance of a man who I know only as Nougou and who on Mike Freer’s second visit was the only man ever who actually managed to throw any punches in a physical fight with another Finchley man outside the mosque. Nougou wore his official badge signifying his position as a mosque official representative around his neck although he is not an elected representative at all. Nougou is the kind of man who could start a fight in an empty room. Nougou’s rudeness is legendary, (we women used to dread him imposing himself and his imagined organising skills into the women’s hall during Ramadan). By his assuming the role of chief agitator he was merciless in irritating everyone with his attempts to impose his authority, loudly clapping his hands and shouting. However, Alhamdulilah, we were lucky that the people yesterday were completely unmoved by his antics and had the presence of mind not to be provoked into any violent act, no matter how rudely they were spoken to.
Another committee member tried his hand at provoking the crowd into violence by coming outside and telling the people to leave the premises as they were trespassing. This did not go down well with the men, both young and old, who come regularly to the mosque to pray and who had just recently finished Friday prayers. It is the donations of such people that keep the mosque running and vote committee members in as public servants to the community. The committee would do well to remember that. Needless to say despite the threats of that particular committee member the men and boys did not respond, and quite right too since they were not causing any trouble. One local young man tried to get in to talk to Mike Freer but one committee member signalled to another that he was not to be allowed in. So only those whom the committee approve are allowed to see Mike Freer. The mosque committee has often been called a mafia and such actions can only reinforce this.
Perhaps the only positive thing to come out of Mike Freer’s visit yesterday was the fact that men of every age and ethnic background discussed the mosque committee. Good natured debates continued all afternoon around the mosque and on the street, no group showed any aggression and points of view were made and listened to. I went and listened to a lot of the debate and there were two main points that the committee had put across as to why Mike Freer should be allowed
1/ Mike Freer was the one who got planning permission allowed for the mosque, therefore he is our friend/on our side/without him we would have no mosque
The answer to this is of course it was Mike Freer’s job as former leader of Barnet council and lately as M.P. to do so. We are not in awe of his beneficience just for doing his job. A Muslim can benefit from a business transaction or from a service provided by a non-Muslim without needing to believe that the person is necessarily on their side. Perhaps because the old guard in the mosque come from countries where things like planning permission only happen when officials are given bribes and corruption is rife, they are blind to the fact that in the U.K. people perform jobs sometimes without bribes and we are allowed to disagree with them on other issues without endangering our future requests, it is after all some kind of democracy in the U.K. even if a deeply flawed one.
2/ We must be courteous to the guests who enter our house (or mosque)
I agree, but Mike Freer should definitely not be in the mosque in the first place. His office is just around the corner.
So, Mike Freer is to hold his advice clinic in Finchley mosque every quarter and he will most likely request additional numbers of police in his escort as the number of people objecting to his visits increases and he increasingly perceives a physical threat even though there is none. Mike Freer will come to the mosque on his terms, to discuss only what he wants to discuss – that is, local, small issues and no foreign policy. The committee have solidified their position as protectors and facilitators who allow non-Muslims into the mosque even when they have a history of being against Muslims on various issues. Worse still, the committee have proved yet again they will prevent Muslims from entering the mosque, as all doors to the mosque were locked. They can ban and refuse entry to Muslims but allow in Mike Freer. Such lack of wisdom can only serve to further entrench the “them and us” feeling in the community.
I was able to ask Mike Freer one question yesterday “Mike Freer – are you going to apologise now to Sheik Raed Salah after you made those false accusations against him, for which he has now been cleared on all counts? Mike Freer replied that he will stand up in the House of Commons to speak about it. Those who have followed Zionist blogs since Judge Ockleton’s verdict will know what to expect.
Ironically our mosque committee and Imam are advocates of the “no politics in the mosque” school of thought, so is Mike Freer not a politician? Even worse when we are so painfully aware of the suffering of our Muslim brothers and sisters both in the U.K. and especially in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, and our non political Imam does not even say prayers for them. We are so non political, that our hearts are closed and our tongues silent on the suffering of the Ummah, yet the advocates of this message feel very self righteous about their non political stance. Yesterday’s friday sermon was about good manners, as usual the attention is to focus on the individual perfecting themselves and away from the reality of what Muslims and their families are really suffering from both in the community and beyond and for which we all have a collective responsibility.
I have the greatest admiration for the orthodox Jews of Naturei Karta who walk the 8 miles into central London on the sabbath to participate in protests against the State of Israel, and they are to be found at every initiative to free Palestine. Such dedication to any cause is rarely found amongst Muslims. A former Jew who converted to Islam once told me that in his opinion the Muslims don’t want Palestine enough, or at least not as much as the Israeli Jews do. His opinion is based on the lack of participation in any kind of organised and effective pressure to end the occupation by Muslims. What can we do if our leaders are telling us not to participate in politics and to perfect ourselves before we think of others? People refer to Israel as a colonialist enterprise, yet I have seen the victims of colonialism and they are completely enslaved by their colonisers, this is hardly something anyone can say about Israelis.
The only hope we have for the Ummah is the youth. I was impressed by the willingness of the youth yesterday to take a stand against what is a clear injustice, for doing it with good manners and for debating with people of all levels in a reasonable way. I have come to believe that Muslims in this country can only progress when the elders from the colonies with their slave mentality let go of power to the new generation of Muslims who were born here and grew up seeking Islamic knowledge free from cultural taint, free from “back home village politics” and free from the fear to use their right to speak the truth. It has been my pleasure to travel with many such young men on aid convoys to Gaza before and to me they are the hope and the future of Islam in the U.K. and beyond. There is hopefully a generation coming up who can see beyond the self and accept the responsibility we have towards others in the Ummah.
And when they meet those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers.”
The German writer Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum) had already predicted the response to his poem in SdZ. There is no reason to be surprised, but there is every reason to be disgusted. Within Germany both the elite and a layer of the population by their words and actions appear to have accepted the disgraceful Goldhagen thesis whereby all German were guilty for the crimes of the Third Reich. This thesis has now been developed further: all Germans are guilty for eternity for the crimes of the Third Reich.
Behind this thinking is the Zionist and Zionophile argument that the crime against the Jews of Europe was unique in the annals of history. This was true as far as the method of extermination was concerned, but not in any other way. The Belgians massacred the Congolese in greater numbers: over 10 million according to the historian Adam Hochschild. The killing of Armenians during the First World War was systematic and we could go on and discuss the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but comparing one massacre or genocide to another is a futile exercise. Raul Hilberg the most authoritative historian of the Judeocide was angered by the uses that were being made of that crime today.
Some members of the extreme-right government and Lieberman in particular, that rules Israel today have used proto-fascist language against the Palestinian Arabs. Are we not allowed to point that out? That the Israeli government pushed the Bush administration to make war on Iraq is hardly a secret. Nor is the statement of the Israeli Ambassador to the US the day after the fall of Baghdad: “Don’t stop. Move on to Damascus and Teheran.’ Are we not allowed to rebuke him? The targeting and killing of young Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere is fine, is it?
Gunter Grass was very mild in his criticisms. He concentrated on Israeli warmongering in relation to Iran. He could have said a lot more. The fact that it needs political courage to say even what he did in Germany or France is a sad reflection on the political culture of both these countries. As for the attacks on Grass for his wartime activities, these are beneath contempt. The Israelis were delighted when the former Italian minister, Gianfranco Fini, whose party is in lineal descent from Mussolini, went to Israel and praised the Wall. He was forgiven his party’s past. So the past only matters if a person is critical of Israel. The former Nazis in various positions in the postwar Federal republic who pushed through reparations and backed Israel, they were never criticized either.
German citizens should ponder the following: it was not the Palestinians who were responsible for the murder of millions of Jews during the Second World War. Yet they, the Palestinians, have become the indirect victims of the Judeocide. Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return to others. So why no sympathy for the Palestinians?
Tariq Ali is the author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.