Anti-Jewish Screed on Luton Mosque Website

With the Muslim community in Luton forcefully repudiating the handful of belligerent “anti-war” Islamist extremists who protested a military parade in March, local anti-Muslim blogger Paul Ray has been looking around for some other reason to keep the heat on  following the recent football hooligan rampage through the town. And none other than Robert Spencer has come to the rescue, by pointing out that the local mosque  – the  recently-firebombed Masjid al-ghurabaa’ – carries on its website a number of unpleasant documents, the most egregious of which is “The Prophesy Of The Utter Destruction Of The Yahood Will Only Occur At The Hands Of The True Worshippers Of Allaah” . It is a summary of a discourse by Shaykh Saleem Al-Hilaalee (var. Salim Al-Hilali, known as a Salafi reformist), and the pdf gives the impression of being actively endorsed by the mosque.

The author takes several verses from the Koran and constructs a grimly fascinating mirror-image of apocalyptic Christian Zionism, but with “the Jews” as the bad guys. Discussing Israel:

We recognise that this return to grandeur [of the Jews] shall be short lived, by the leave of Allaah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). When Allaah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) speaks about the destruction of Bani Israel after the second occurrence of corruption He uses the letter “faa” to imply that soon afterwards after their return to grandeur, their destruction shall come about. The faa indicates that it is a short, defined period of time wherein they shall gather in the Holy land and assemble uniformly so as to meet their demise together at the hands of the soldiers of Allaah from the ‘Ibaad ur-Rahmaan.

Thus the establishment of the modern state of Israel is read into the ancient sacred text – exactly the same hermeneutic that is used by Christian Zionists regarding the Bible. Also:

All the different initiatives that have been put forth to solve the Palestinian Muslim Arab-Jewish conflict have all failed miserably since this matter is with Allaah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and not by the directives of the UN or other councils.

John Hagee himself wouldn’t phrase that very differently – for apocalyptic Christian Zionists, there must be a future battle of Armageddon, and the idea that peace can be achieved by other means is simply a deception from Satan.

And just as Jews are idealised in Christian Zionism, so “the Jews” are here objectified in the opposite direction:

The Zionist expansion grew with the aid of Communist manpower (European Jews) and Capitalist monetary reserves. The Jews suddenly became a formidable force and attained grandeur never before achieved by their predecessors…

The Zionists strategy will not stop extending its malicious hand, gesturing peace, while simultaneously plotting extermination of those it is courting. This has always been the attitude of the Jews, past and present.

Also, we’re asked:

Is there greater deviance than setting the Masaajid wherein Allaah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) is worshipped ablaze?

This is a reference to the 1969 arson attack on the Al-Asqa mosque in Jerusalem. But the perpretrator wasn’t Jewish, nor was he acting on instructions from Israel. In fact, he was a mentally-ill Australian tourist who subscribed to a heterodox form of Christian Zionism promoted by Herbert Armstrong.

Certainly there are plenty of reasons to criticise Israel, but this document is anti-Semitic, conspiratorial, crude, and eliminationist. Despite being himself Palestinian (born in Hebron, according to one source I consulted), the author is completely uninformed about the real complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he appears to lack any ability to understand the human dimension. This kind of material undermines community relations, and nothing good can come of failing to challenge it.

Simon Singh Case Leads to Calls for Libel Reform

Once again, the cry has gone up demanding the reform of libel law in the UK. And as ever, I’m more than happy to join the chorus – although I’m not expecting much to actually happen. For two years now now, the world has been disgusted by judgements and threats that have hampered the critical scrutiny of Saudi billionaires; however, despite various meetings and complaints, no reforms have so far been undertaken.

This year it’s science journalist Simon Singh, who is supposed to have committed libel by suggesting that the British Chiropractic Association promotes “bogus”  treatments. According to Justice Eady, this amounts to saying that chiropractors are involved in deliberate deception.

A high-profile statement has now been released:

…Singh holds that chiropractic treatments for asthma, ear infections and other infant conditions are not evidence-based. Where medical claims to cure or treat do not appear to be supported by evidence, we should be able to criticise assertions robustly and the public should have access to these views.

English libel law, though, can serve to punish this kind of scrutiny and can severely curtail the right to free speech on a matter of public interest…Freedom to criticise and question in strong terms and without malice is the cornerstone of scientific argument and debate, whether in peer-reviewed journals, on websites or in newspapers, which have a right of reply for complainants. However, the libel laws and cases such as BCA v Singh have a chilling effect, which deters scientists, journalists and science writers from engaging in important disputes about the evidential base supporting products and practices. The libel laws discourage argument and debate and merely encourage the use of the courts to silence critics.

Indeed – and if even scientific enquiry can be curtailed in this way, where does that leave argument and debate about other matters of public interest? Even if you’re confident that your writing is truthful, non-malicious, and in the public interest, if your subject is wealthy or has access to friendly lawyers who can fire off letters on his or her behalf (as Donal Blaney did for Paul Staines against Tim Ireland, in typical Tory pseudo-libertarian style), then holding your ground can be a huge risk.

In the USA, there is a “public person” distinction, which protects critical scrutiny of anyone who chooses to enter a public controversy. That would be one very specific measure that could be taken.