Pakistani Christians and the EDL

Last month the British Pakistani Christian Association held a protest outside the Pakistani Embassy demanding freedom for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman whose recent death sentence for blasphemy has provoked international revulsion (since exacerbated by the murder of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who had opposed the sentence). The BPCA’s Wilson Chowdhry wrote up an account of the protest, which has only now come to my attention:

Our protest on Saturday though small was very effective.  Since distributing leaflets and informing the BBC, Premier Christian Radio and other media of our protest, we have noted that there have been an additional 200 signatures to our electronic petition. Directly after the protest we noted 6 new comments on our blog and last night on the BBC 10 O’clock News (closer to 10:15), for the first time ever, a Pakistani Christian Minority concern featured on mainstream news.

That’s right a full 5 minute feature including an interview with Ashiq Masih the husband of Asia ensued.  We have been plugging the BBC with stories since the outset of the scandal and cascaded Ashiq’s contact details (via solicitors working on the Asia Bibi Appeal) to BBC Reporters) and believe wholeheartedly that our group has been a main trigger for the BBC coverage, that occurred last night…

Five guest speakers are listed:

  • Stephen Green (Christian Voice)
  • Alan Craig (Leader Christian Peoples Alliance)
  • Ranbir Singh (Hindu Human Rights Group)
  • Ruby Akhtar (Christian Wing EDL)
  • Samuel Noel (Heston URDU Fellowship- Southall Baptist Church)

Two of these will raise eyebrows: the idea of Stephen Green opposing a blasphemy law is incongruous, since he has himself tried to use archaic British blasphemy laws to destroy those whom he finds offensive – he is also notorious for his sanguinary anti-gay views and ineffectual public protests. Ruby Akhtar, meanwhile, is also activist with the Christian Party (an organisation which I blogged here), but the association with the EDL is of course going to be controversial: the organisation remains generally thuggish, and its animus against Islam and Muslims is expressed in the crudest terms. In comment from May on a website called the Last Crusade, Akhtar explained that

My birth place was Pakistan and alway’s been Christian.

Islam is Evil and every muslim is evil indeed.

Makind teach every muslim must kill Christians,Jews and rest of the Nation.

We christian must join hand and show muslims that west belongs to Lord JESUS and his followers only.

Akhtar has a curious background: in 2008 she appeared in a newspaper story as a “homeless disabled woman” let down by her local council and reportedly coping with a number of medical conditions including, by her own account, Down’s Syndrome; in June 2010 she was convicted of running an unregulated immigration advice business. She has also had various other business interests; her website for these has now gone, although a YouTube video remains.

Chowdhry explained the EDL presence at the protest in response to expressions of dismay in the comments:

The BPCA held a peaceful protest and without invite 10 members of the EDL joined us. One of whom is a Pakistani Christian and heads their Pakistani Christian Wing. All the demonstrators were peaceful and when we asked the Police if the group was high risk or racist they did not believe so. The 10 members that joined us all helped with setting up and deconstruct of our event. No wrong words were spoken and overall their demeanour and support was much appreciated. It was the Christian wing and Jewish Wing of the EDL that joined us and as such we could not see how there presence conflicted with our event. Moreover, they joined us in our chant for freedom of Asia Bibi and signed our petition and did not use our event to promote any personal agenda. We will not be inviting EDL to our next protest, however if they choose to come and demonstrate peacefully with us we will have no issue. These words are spoken having discussed the group in detail with the Met police.


I am sure elements of the group are far right and I understand your reservations. However, if anyone wants to join our peaceful protest and join in with our shout for change in Pakistan. We will allow them to dos so. The EDL will not get a direct invite, however, any members who are in sypathy with our concerns are free to join. Any rabble rousers will be controlled by the Police and removed from the protest.

l blogged on the EDL “Jewish Division” here.

Chowdhry’s strategy appears to be to get as broad a base of support as possible: he is himself an activist with the progressive Green Party, and the BPCA has the support of Green MEP Jean Lambert.

Nadine Dorries Uses Blog to Out Boyfriend’s Estranged Wife as Alcoholic

From the Daily Mail:

Tory MP Nadine Dorries has been accused of being a ‘marriage wrecker’ after confirming she is having an affair with a friend’s husband.

John Butler’s tearful wife Rachael said she learned of the romance only yesterday morning after he had repeatedly denied there was someone else.

‘I just want everybody to know that Nadine Dorries is not the saintly person she appears to be’ she said.

‘Because she’s an MP people think of her as a pillar of society but in fact she’s a marriage wrecker. I’m shocked and hurt. I know it takes two to tango but she shouldn’t have gone after a married man.’

…Mrs Butler admitted: ‘My marriage hasn’t been in good shape for some years. It died a death some time ago. But this doesn’t excuse Nadine for what she did.’

Dorries has featured on this blog a number of times: she has close links with the lobby group Christian Concern, and she is notorious for her blustering attacks on critics, whom she maligns with accusations of stalking and benefit fraud.

It’s clear from the above that Rachael Butler is slightly rambling, angry and distressed: on the one hand, Dorries is a “marriage wrecker”, but on the other hand she concedes that the marriage had “died a death” anyway. If Dorries wished to deflect the ephemeral criticism (or, more likely, mockery) that is likely to come her way, she could simply have pointed out this discrepancy and added (as she maintains) that the relationship in fact began after John Butler’s marriage had formally broken down. However, it seems that in Dorries’ mind the embittered reproaches of a broken ex-friend require maximum retaliation, and Dorries’ blog consequently pre-empted the article with statements from John Butler and from the Butlers’ adult daughter, denouncing Rachael as an abusive alcoholic and bad mother; Rachael Butler has admitted to alcoholism in a piece in the Telegraph, although it seems this was in response to the statements rather than through choice.

We all know that alcoholics often behave in ways that end up alienating even the closest friends and family; doubtless Rachael Butler’s family has suffered, and it is not surprising that there is resentment against her. Her family can’t be judged harshly for that, although it’s sad to note that the statements don’t contain even a formulaic expression of hope that Rachael Butler will overcome her illness and move on with her life. But Dorries’ post leaves a very unsavoury taste in the mouth – in particular, trumpeting an attack by Rachael Butler’s own daughter, whether justified or not, is overkill and repels with its ruthlessness.

On Twitter, Dorries explains that “I would never have discussed but was boxed into a corner”, and that she “Hated doing that, but had to to defend the kids from horrible lies”; the latter statement is a classic example of her self-serving hyperbole.

UPDATE: At the end of her blog entry, Dorries assures us that “I wont [sic] be making any further comments”. Alas, what she meant was “…aside from an article in the Mail on Sunday“:

…The appalling situation under which John was living began to show.

…I am a Christian and struggled to understand how the God I knew would think this was a good situation.

…Just before this Christmas, John told his close friends that he had made the decision to finally leave, once and for all . . . something we had been urging for literally years.

Later that week, he walked into a pub where some friends and I were having a meal.

As the pub door opened he was framed in the light and, as we looked at each other, I realised for the first time we were looking at each other in a different way. Maybe it was because he was now a free man and we could.

Dorries adds:

I hope Rachael and I can one day become friends again and she may understand it wasn’t me who wrecked her marriage.

Until she does realise this, she will be unable to accept the real reason and seek the professional help she so desperately needs.

But in the meantime, Dorries feels the need to tell us that Rachael has been violent, and that when they were friends she had “confided in me… that she had been seeing a man, an Australian, without John’s knowledge” [UPDATE: This in turn obliged the man concerned to make a statement of his own, denying the claim].

An accompanying article has further background, including a quote from Butler’s other adult daughter:

Amy, 24, said: ‘I am not against my father having an affair. But I am against the person he is having an affair with. I’ve never had a good relationship with Nadine Dorries.’

How long before we read an article by Dorries attacking her?

There’s also commentary from conservative moralist Anne Atkins, who is unimpressed:

…There is also the lack of dignity. Once you decide to satisfy your desires no matter whom you hurt, the least you can do is keep your mouth shut.

You have another woman’s husband, Mrs D: no need to ruin her reputation as well. Friends, families, those who should matter most will know whether there are extenuating circumstances. Why the need to justify yourself so tastelessly?

New Report on Conversion to Islam in UK

A new report published by the think-tank Faith Matters, entitled A Minority within a Minority: A Report on Converts to Islam in the United Kingdom, has garnered some media attention for its claim that there may be 100,000 converts to Islam in the UK. Although this is higher than expected, the author, M.A. Kevin Brice, explains that this is “an estimate only, and as such should not be given a high level of confidence”. Further, “it is not claimed that this figure represents the number of current practising converts to Islam in the United Kingdom” – Brice notes that some will have lapsed or since converted to other religions. Brice also makes clear that, at most, converts make up 4% of the Muslim population and 0.2 per cent of the British population:

There is no evidence of a mass conversion of the population and this is hardly the beginning of the “Islamification” of the United Kingdom as is suggested by some groups (both pro- and anti-Islam).

… which is why the Independent decided to unleash its inner tabloid with this headline about the report:

The Islamification of Britain: record numbers embrace Muslim faith

Brice also has a section on how female converts have modified their dress:

Of females who change the way they dressed, 25% wore more ‘modest’ clothing (covering arms and legs), 55% immediately wore more ‘modest’ clothing and later adopted the hijab (covering the head and neck), 15% immediately wore more ‘modest’ clothing and adopted hijab and 5% adopted the burqa (although later stopped wearing it and wore ‘modest’ clothing).

The Mail chose to illustrate the fact that 95% of women converts never took the burqa and that those who did went on to reject the practice with the following photograph, under the headline “How 100,000 Britons have chosen to become Muslim… and average convert is 27-year-old white woman”:

With the average age of conversion being 27.5 years, the Daily Star went with the headline “Rise and Rise of Islam’s White Girl Converts“.

I looked at conversion to Islam in the UK in the very early days of this blog – see here. One factor I considered then (early 2004) was conversion for the sake of marriage to a Muslim partner (I did once meet a white British man who had converted for this purpose); Brice sees this as something of a “myth”, and he claims that his figures are for “converts of conviction” rather than of convenience.

Walid Shoebat Wishes “Nukes” Would “Take Care” of Muslim World

This is rather crude, even for Shoebat:

I would wish that the whole Muslim world would listen to Mr Bakri and fight by the sword literally. This way the nukes will take care of the whole problem once and for all.

Shoebat was speaking on Bassim and Haifa Gorial’s ABN, an evangelical TV station which seeks the conversion of Muslims to Christianity – an aim with which the more sanguinary-minded Shoebat appears to have little patience, despite his supposed adherence to Christianity.

Shoebat was in the news just recently, when the Washington Post noted that he had addressed law enforcement in South Dakota as a supposed expert on Islamic terrorism; Chip Berlet followed this up with a report that Shoebat had given advice at an anti-terrorist conference in Las Vegas about countering extremists that amounted to “Kill them…including the children” (although this wasn’t – as some sources have claimed – a quote by Shoebat himself). Shoebat also claims that Obama is a Muslim working for Islamic terrorists, and alongside his “terror expert” gravy-train he also visits churches to explain that the Bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ.

Later this month Shoebat will be taking part in a TV event organised by Jeremy Gimpel (whom I blogged here), alongside Jackie Mason, Allen West, and Israeli consul general in Florida Ofer Bavly. In 2006, Mason reportedly judged Shoebat to be the “new Martin Luther King Jnr”. MLK and Shoebat seem to have rather different dreams, though.

(H/T: The Facts about Islam)

Helen Ukpabio Receives “Indomitable Principality of the Lord Merit Award”

Back in 2009, I received a comment from a certain “t.ukam” in defence of Nigerian evangelist Helen Ukpabio:

May I ask the educated illiterates something:Does Helen billboard conspicuously displayed on this page suggest that Helen Ukpabio organizes programs and invite them for a “kill” or “deliverance”? Why are people mischievous and blind to naked truth.Ita Uma is a ripe off,and smilling to the bank daily because he knows how to get you guys cheap,but I bet you no Nigerian can fall prey to him,and his falsehood.

As I have blogged on numerous occasions, “Apostle” Ukpabio believes that children can become “infected” with witchcraft and cause harm to other people; she teaches that such children require “deliverance”, which she provides at her church. However, the idea that children can be witches has resulted in children coming to harm or being abandoned by their parents. Sam Itauma runs a hostel that looks after such stigmatised “witch-children”, much to Ukpabio’s fury: she has declared that he is a wizard and that attempts to educate the public against the idea that children can be witches is an attempt to infringe on her religious freedom (she recently lost a legal action on this point). In 2009, she sent her followers to disrupt a local conference on the subject.

“t.ukam” is Tony Ukam, a lawyer of some reputation in Nigeria; in 2001 Ukpabio provided the foreword for one of his publications (from a cache of his website, which is no longer on-line):


First published in 2001 (148 pages) FOREWORD by Evangelist (Mrs.) Helen Ukpabio

It is generally believed that Lawyers are liars, and will not stand the test at the gates of heaven. This 148 pages Christian Literature offers hope to this “condemned” sect of professionals. This mind chilling novel reveals that “the facts” which contains the lies comes from the client or litigant, and the “excuses or defenses” to offence/crime comes from our statutes and case laws; thus, the role of the lawyer is merely to present the facts and the law: if there is any lie in the facts or the law, it is not the product of the lawyer. In the words of Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio (who wrote the foreword to this interesting book in 2001): “Lawyers definitely can make heaven if they do not call evil good nor good evil” she stressed further thus: “Lawyers must note that if they are not hypocritical about the law, and do not owe any man anything, but restores that which was wrongfully gotten, remains purged by the blood of Jesus, believes and fears the Lord, such a lawyer will definitely go to heaven.”

Ukpabio has in turn just received an award from Ukam; the Nigeria Daily Independent reports on an event held in Calabar on 4 December:

21 prominent Nigerians Ukam identified as hard working were on that day given honours for contributing to the development of the Nigerian society in various capacities. They included Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Aloysius Katsina-Alu honoured with Pillar of Justice in Nigeria; Walter Onnoghen of the Supreme Court honoured with Pioneer Jurist of Cross River State; Francis Felode Tabia with Pioneer Justice of Bayelsa State and Ibrahim Tanku Mohammad with Defender of Justice.

Apostle Helen Ukpabio, film producer and senior pastor of Liberty Gospel Church was awarded the Indomitable Principality of the Lord Merit Award; Enebong Ephraim, bishop of Pentecostal Fellowship of the World Inc. and chairman of the ceremony was awarded the Indefatigable Warrior of the Lord; Emmah Isong, bishop of Christian Central Chapel International, Calabar,  got the Dynamic Preacher; Rev. Theodore Effiong of Assemblies of God Church and co-founder of the renowned Prayer City, Calabar, was awarded the Fearless Orator of Divine Assignment.

Rev. Sylvanus Tommy, senior pastor of Endtime Ministries, Calabar, got the Righteous Must Reign Preacher Merit Award, Emmanuel Nsan, politician and former Health Minister was honoured with Pathfinder Politician of Cross River State while King Clement Uwemedimo, the King of the Wealth of the Ocean got the merit award of the Black African Champion Inventor.

Ukpabio has boasted about her powerful connections, and she has even cautioned Akwa Ibom state governor Godswill Akpabio to “remember the fate of Saddam Hussein”. Obviously, receiving an award alongside the Chief Justice and a member of the Supreme Court sends out a message.

The “Pentecostal Fellowship of the World” is a mistake: Bishop Enebong Ephraim is actually with the “Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc”, an American denomination based in Indianapolis. There is no indication that Ephraim shares Ukpabio’s belief in “child witches”, although his part in this event is clearly an endorsement of what she stands for. As I have previously blogged, Ukpabio has a number of religious allies.

(Incidentally, King Clement Uwemedimo of Comandclem has been involved in a dispute with Mobil over royalties for the use of an anti-corrosive paint; “King of the wealth of the ocean” appears to be a reference to that. Ukam was his lawyer.)

EDL Rabbi Wants Debate with Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

From the Jewish Chronicle:

The rabbi who spoke at an English Defence League rally two months ago has apparently challenged Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks to a televised BBC debate on “Is Islam a religion of peace?”

…In an email seen by the JC, Rabbi [Nachum] Shifren says he has set rules for the debate structure, to be followed by the Chief Rabbi and the BBC – despite no known interest in such a programme from either party.

The JC saw the email because it was sent to them; the text was published on 23 December on a blog devoted to the Rabbi’s exploits:

Dear Sir,

I, Rabbi Nachum Shifren, Director of The California Security Council, who,having been the first person in the history of England to be banned from excercising [sic] freedom of speech at the home and pivot of British free speech at Speaker’s Corner in London, Hereby challenge Rabbi Lord Jonathon [sic] Sacks; Chief Rabbi of the Hebraic congregations of The United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, to a one hour televised BBC debate on a number of topics including “Is Islam a religion of peace?” The Islamification of Britain. Cultural Marxism in Western liberalism, Multiculturalism and it’s [sic] effect on the host society; education, religion, laws and culture.

This is the first time I’ve seen Shifren complain that he was supposedly “banned” from Speaker’s Corner; a video of his appearance there merely shows him arguing with a Muslim about how “fags” can’t be executed in Judaism because there is no religious court in Jerusalem where they can be put on trial. The only people who seemed to be keen for him not to continue in this vein were his EDL handlers (I blogged on the incident here, and on Alan Lake’s response to my post here).

The blog where the “challenge” was published has the encouraging name of Newworldorderuk, but there is no information about who runs it or how the message was passed to them; presumably the blog owner is someone with a personal link to Shifren. However, given that Shifren has a background as a schoolteacher in California, the spelling is strangely poor, and one wonders if he has actually written it himself.

There is also a list of conditions for the debate, including  the demand that

The programme should not be advertised or announced using such inflamitory [sic] labelling as ‘far-right, ‘extremist.’ i.e. not served up in terms that suit the marxist-Islamist agenda of the BBC.


That the usual practice of selecting a carefully chosen hostile audience to the guest deemed to be ‘politically-incorrect’ according to BBC Trotskyist strictures [sic – the JC misquotes this as “Trotskyist structures”] be avoided by having no audience at all, ditto questions from emails or phone-ins.

Of course, this is transparent publicity-seeking – it’s a common crank strategy to demand a public debate with someone who has a higher profile, and then to insist, when the “challenge” is ignored or rebuffed, that this is clearly evidence that the crank views cannot be refuted.

Newworldorderuk has some commentary of his or her own – the writing style is the same as that of the challenge itself:

Rabbi Sachs [sic] has not responded to the challenge. Though the Chief Rabbi often makes important statements against secularism and the atheist attack on religion he inevatably [sic] risks a second Holocaust by supporting the Islamification of Britain, something which does not much worry the mass of the British political and religious class, still basking in the heritage of Bolchevism in the land where Karl Marx lived and died, wrote Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, and where Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery remains a holy shrine. The land whch has been a socialist state since 1945.

…It appears that as is normal with all news emanating from the EDL or other opposition to the one party state, Rabbi Shifren’s challenge was referred to either Yasmin Alabhai Brown or Mehdi Hasan, the ‘Anti-fascist enforcers’ for the Communist National Union of journalists, where one of these two distinguished British Muslims has slapped a ‘No Platform’ on it’s [sic] publication across all British print and televised media.