Last week, the man called “Jihadi John” by the world’s media was unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Muslim and naturalized British citizen from London. Not only that, but the Islamic State’s most notorious Western recruit was identified as a graduate in computer science from the University of Westminster.
Majid Nawaz claims that the University of Westminster is well known for being a hotbed of extremist activity. He states that the university’s Islamic Society is heavily influenced, sometimes controlled, by the radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir and regularly gives a platform to preachers of hate. On the very day of the Emwazi revelation, the university was to host a lecture by Haitham al-Haddad — a man accused of espousing homophobia, advocating female genital mutilation and professing that Jewish people are descended from apes and pigs. The event was suspended not by the university authorities, but by the Islamic Society, which pulled it only because of security concerns.
The leap from being an ordinary British teenager to joining the Islamic State is huge. But it is a much smaller step for someone raised in a climate in which dreams of resurrecting a caliphate and enforcing a distorted form of Islam are normalized. Until we confront this seeming legitimacy of Islamist discourse at the grass roots, we will not stop the scourge of radicalization.
The Mayor of London complained that he had been criticised by the moderate Muslim group after he made comments about Islam in January. In a discussion about Islamist fighters, Mr Johnson had told The Sun newspaper that “this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases”. In the same set of comments he also argued that Isis jihadists were driven to violence by an obsession with pornography.
He said, “I was astounded to be denounced, on the front page of The Guardian, by the Muslim Council of Britain,” he wrote in his regular Daily Telegraph column, released this morning. “A spokeswoman said that I was somehow attacking Muslims as a whole. Why on earth would she say that? Why is the MCB effectively claiming these porn freak jihadists for mainstream Islam?”
In his January comments to The Sun Mr Johnson had described jihadis as “literally w*****s”, arguing “They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”
At the time, he also told the newspaper: “I often hear voices from the Muslim intelligentsia who are very quick to accuse people of Islamaphobia.
“But they are not explaining how it can be that this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases. They are not being persuasive in the right way with these people.”
With many Islamic Societies at British universities mostly under Sunni leadership, the sectarian divides so bitterly apparent in much of the Middle East between the Sunni majority and the Shia minority are making themselves felt here in the UK.
The two main branches of Islam emerged following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, in 632, and a battle for influence across the Middle East between mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran is involved in much of the conflict.
However a Sunni student believes that the bigger divides in the UK are within Sunni Islam, rather than between Sunni and Shia. “I don’t necessarily know if the tensions have spilled over from the Middle East, as essentially that’s 1,400 years’ worth of disagreement,” she says.
At Leicester Central Mosque, Dr Ather Hussain al Asri – a Sunni Imam and writer – also believes that the increase in tensions here is caused by a particular strand of Sunni Islam. “Wahhabism is very small in terms of its numbers, but unfortunately in terms of finances, Wahhabi Islam is very strong in this country and that is because they are getting direct funding from the Middle East.
“So what they lack in numbers, they are making up for it in terms of organisation. Unfortunately, they are operating in universities and through social media, and they prey on the vulnerability of our youth.”
Two charities have agreed to no longer fund the controversial advocacy group Cage, which has faced questions over its links to Mohammed Emwazi, the Briton identified as Islamic State killer ‘Jihadi John’. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust joined the Roddick Foundation in agreeing not to give any more money to Cage, despite its initial reluctance to go that far.
The commission said it was acting on concerns it held before the revelations relating to Emwazi and that its unease had been exacerbated by Cage’s response to media questioning over its links to the west Londoner. In a press conference after reports that he had been identified first surfaced, Cage’s Asim Qureshi said it had been in regular contact with Emwazi in the past.
It was keen to point out the role of the British security services in his radicalisation and reluctant to directly and explicitly condemn his actions.
Speaking after it emerged that the charities had agreed to sever their ties, a Cage spokesman said they respected the decision. Amandla Thomas-Johnson said: “We thank them for their past support. Both of these charities have played a significant role in contributing to the development of Muslim civil society here in the UK.”
The government’s anti-terror strategy has become “a toxic brand”, a Muslim former senior police officer has said. Dal Babu, a chief superintendent until 2013, said many Muslims did not trust the “Prevent” strategy and many saw it as a form of spying.
The Home Office says there are now Prevent programmes in place in all key sectors, including local government, health, education, prisons, immigration and charities. But Mr Babu, who retired from the Metropolitan Police two years ago, said cases like those of the three London schoolgirls who have gone to Syria had caught the authorities unaware.
He said because police counter-terrorism units were mainly white, with few Muslim officers, they did not fully understand issues of race, Islam and gender.He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Prevent, when it was introduced, was a good idea. It is about engagement of local communities. But over the years it has become less and less trusted.Cameras were implemented, without the community understanding them, in Muslim areas of Birmingham.”
Mizahur Rahman, who underwent a deradicalisation programme after serving a prison term for soliciting to murder, told the BBC that the Prevent programme was never going to work as there was an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
The Home Office spokesperson defended the programme in a statement: “This Government fundamentally revised the Prevent strategy in 2011 to ensure it challenges terrorist ideology, supports people who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and works with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.
A teenager who appeared in Islamic State (IS) propaganda claiming he was ‘Britain’s white Jihadi’ has been identified as a “really bright” Australian teenager called Jake. Jake, described as a quiet youngster but “really bright” student who was especially good at maths, is believed not to have come from a Muslim family but converted to Islam.
Abu Zaid, a committee member of the Hume Islamic Youth Centre, said: “He was a very quiet guy, he stuck to himself. We weren’t close to him. I didn’t see any of the people [getting] close to him.
During his final year at school, Jake reportedly began communicating with an individual that he believed was a journalist working in Turkey. It is now thought that this “journalist” was in fact a recruiter for IS. Jake – who now calls himself Abdur Raheem or Abu Abdullah – went on to purchase a one-way ticket to Istanbul in Turkey, before he apparently made his way to Syria.
According to federal doctor organization (KNMG) more attention needs to be paid on how to deal with Muslim-patients and other patients from different faiths. Because it happens often that doctor and patient are not communicating on the same level.
An example: a doctor wants to give a dying Muslim patient more morphine to bring him asleep, but his children do not agree, because their dad cannot appear in front of Allah while under the influence of a strong medication.
The working group advises doctors to not tell a Muslim straightaway that he is going to die. “For a Muslim, the doctor places himself in Gods’ position”. Richard Starmans, GP, advises doctors to say: “You are sick and there is big chance you won’t get better”. He further advises them to check if the patient has understood the doctor clearly, for example by asking questions about possible last trip to the home-country.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated in a debate that he would rather see a jihadist die in Syria or Iraq than return to the Netherlands. According to him they leave to commit the most horrible attacks and he doesn’t want them back in the country.
Other politicians disagrees heavily with him. According to Alexander Pechtold (leader D66 – Democrats 66) it doesn’t suit a Prime Minister to talk like this. Whereupon Rutte answered that he has to protect the country and ‘I will do this to the very end’.
Pechtold himself wants returnees to be held accountable in court. Sybrand Haersma Buma (leader CDDA – Christian Democratic Appel) wants returnees to be arrested and says that upon return they too easily can go ‘underground’. Emile Roemer (leader SP – Social Party) says there should be more focus on de-radicalization of jihadists.
National Coordinator counter-Terrorism and Safety (NCTV) is working on a blacklist with Islamic (hate) preachers: those who are on this list cannot get a visa for the Netherlands. Reasons to be put on this list are for example the preaching of intolerance or preaching anti-integration and anti-democracy messages. Even preachers that already received a visa can have it revoked.
The list comes in reaction to a charity event in the city of Rijswijk where some radical preachers were invited, which caused a lot of commotion in the Netherlands. The visa of three preachers were there upon revoked.
In January this year the Contact body Muslims and Government already stated to work on a black list. However this list has not the above restrictive force, but is mainly advisory.
The municipality of Rotterdam is in favor of a ban of homeschooling. It is said that homeschooling forms a hindrance for the social and emotional development of children. But what clearly also plays a role is the fear for radicalization. 33 children from the city are being homeschooled. It is said that based on a salafi ideology they are ‘exempted’ from the obligatory (Dutch) education system. The city council fears these children will become radicalized and become a danger for the society.