Today, the hate preacher Zakir Naik will bring a legal challenge against the Home Secretary, who excluded him from the United Kingdom in June. However that case goes, one thing is clear. Charles Farr, Director-General, Office for Security and Counter-terrorism must leave his post.
How Naik’s case will turn out is anybody’s guess. Public law is an emerging jurisdiction, and judges have been known to be mercurial in cases involving newsworthy matters. It is possible, for example, that Naik will succeed in a limited manner – for example, by a decision that full reasons should have been given, or an opportunity to make representations afforded. If that is how it turns out, then the proper procedure should be followed, and Naik re-excluded.
This is why.
First of all, there is the matter of Naik’s position on Osama Bin Laden. You will know that he said the following:
“Beware of Muslims saying Osama Bin Laden is right or wrong. I reject them … we don’t know.
“But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him.
“I don’t know what he’s doing. I’m not in touch with him. I don’t know him personally. If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist … I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”
Now, there is some debate about when Naik made this statement. He says 1996. We think it was in October 1998.
Here is Naik’s claim:
With regards to the extract of a quote on Osama Bin Laden taken from a video on YouTube, this clip was taken from a lecture Dr Zakir Naik delivered in Singapore in 1996, almost five years before 9/11
But that isn’t true. Here is the speech in question (at 6:00 onwards):
This is a compendium of Naik’s talks, and it states:
This is a lecture by Dr. Zakir Naik held in P.U.B. Auditorium, Singapore, 17 October, 1998.
His presence in Singapore on that date is also confirmed by this website, which says:
1998 | October 16 – 20
Dr. Zakir Naik visited Singapore for a lecture tour during which he gave several Public Talks and addressed audiences of thousand of people.
It makes sense that the speech was given in October 1998. In August of that year, Osama Bin Laden murdered hundreds of Africans in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. I think that’s why the kid in the audience brings Osama Bin Laden up – he’s clearly horrified by Al Qaeda’s murderous actions. Is this the context in which Naik makes his statement of support? If the date of the question and answer session is 1998, then it is.
Even if the speech were given in 1996, it may well have coincided with Osama Bin Laden’s Declaration of War Against the Americans, published in August of that year. As a Salafi preacher with an eye for sensation, Naik must surely have known about this fatwa?
Although Naik is at pains to explain that he is now opposed to Osama Bin Laden, he craftily qualifies his position by stating:
Many journalists ask Dr Zakir Naik regarding his views about Osama Bin Laden. Due to the fact that he [Osama Bin Laden] has not been convicted in respect of 9/11 and as Dr Zakir Naik cannot verify the claims against him, he neither considers him a saint nor a terrorist.
Ah, right. So 9/11 was a bad idea, but the jury is still out on whether Osama Bin Laden was to blame. Despite the 1996 fatwa. I see.
So, who was responsible for 9/11 then? Oh, George W Bush. Of course.
However, don’t think for one moment that Naik is opposed to terrorism. He’s not. He supports it:
Again, it is a young man who asks the question. Is suicide bombing permitted in Islam? Naik starts by explaining that some scholars declare it haram (i.e. forbidden). He continues:
But there are other scholars, like sheikh Salman al Ouda, mashallah one of the great scholars of this time, he says that under normal circumstances it is haram. But if the situation demands, like in Palestine, every day they are being killed and thousands are being killed throughout the year, so it is rather that they have to fight in self-defence. And if they know that they use an attack in which the chances of dying are there, and if they cause damage to the opponent, as a last resort, with guidance from a scholar, it is not that one person gets up in the middle of the night and says OK fine I will go out there, with the guidance of the Qur’an and sunnah, as a last resort it can be used.
Where does Zaik stand on suicide bombings? He’s for them:
I do agree with sheikh Salman al Ouda, as a last resort, if under certain circumstances you know that the loss that is there is less and the gain is more. Following all the rules of the sharia, following the Qur’and the hadith, as a last resort, under guidance, not that you get up in the morning and take a decision on your own, it is totally haram, killing a human being is haram, in that context as a last resort it can be used and I do agree with sheikh Ouda.
Note the reference to Palestine, where suicide bombing was indeed deployed: the religiously sanctioned murder of innocent civilians.
Let’s take a moment out of the narrative to remind ourselves that the Jamaat-e-Islami dominated Muslim Council of Britain immediately sprung to Naik’s defence, following his exclusion:
The Home Secretary’s action serves to demonise the very voices within the world ready for debate and discussion. The tour would have been a golden opportunity for young Muslims who are eager to hear the true messages of Islam which promote understanding between communities.
Let’s hear that message, shall we?
Here’s a clip in which Zakir Naik is asked by a young French Muslim, struggling to express himself in halting English, for guidance on a Quranic verse. The young man has heard Naik recite a Quranic verse, suggesting enmity between Jews and Muslims. He is worried that this verse might, if read literally, result in some Jews and Muslims regarding each other as enemies. He looks to Naik for guidance.
In response, Naik launches into an extensive racist rant about Jews, in which he repeatedly confirms that Jews “as a whole” are the enemies of the Muslims. Here’s a sample:
Today America is controlled by the Jews. Whether it be the banks, whether it be the money, whether it be the power.
No one can become a president of the USA without walking [sic] the Star of David. Though the Jews are a minority, less than 5% in America, but they are controlling the economy, they are controlling America.
“Understanding within communities” indeed!
How about Naik on Muslims changing religion? You’ll remember this event, where Mohamed Nazim asked the following question:
“Dr Zakir Naik. I am a Maldivian. I am still struggling to believe in religion. That is why I just came to the front of this row. I was born a Maldivian. My parents taught me the religion of Islam. They are good practitioners, actually. I read a lot of books. I have read the translation of Quran. Yet, I still do not believe in a religion. So what do you say, [about] my verdict in Islam? Because Maldives is definitely a Muslim state,” Nazim asked.
Mohamed Nazim, 37, said although he was born to a practicing Muslim family and his parents taught him Islam, he was “struggling to believe in religions,” and asked Naik about his “verdict in Islam.”
When Naik asked Nazim “are you a Muslim?” he replied “I am not.”
When Nazim asked “Does the [penalty] of apostasy come on me?” and “Do you think I was a Muslim because I was born to Muslim parents?” Naik said that according to Prophetic traditions, every child is born as a Muslim and that a Muslim is one who submits his/her will to God. In Islam, death penalty should not necessarily be evoked on every person who leaves Islam, but to those who propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam, he added.
As a result of that exchange, Mohamed Nazim was pursued by a mob, arrested, and later appeared on television declaring that he had re-embraced Islam. I don’t blame him.
So there you have Zakir Naik. A conditional supporter of Osama Bin Laden, who professes a studied agnosticism about culpability for 9/11. An advocate of suicide bombing. An inciter to the execution of apostates. A spewer of racist filth about Jews, who bases his loathing in scripture, to give it that extra punch. All messages given to wide eyed and sometimes horrified young men.
Let’s turn now to Charles Farr, the director of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism.
We discovered in August that Farr and another civil servant, Sabin Khan, had corresponded with Naik, and told him that they opposed the ban and would do “all they could to enable and encourage Dr Naik’s entry to the UK”. This is what the Telegraph disclosed yesterday:
When she banned Dr Naik in June 18, Mrs May cited reported comments from Dr Naik such as “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and, on Osama Bin Laden, that “if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him” when she decided to ban him.
However, later that same day, Mr Farr told one of Dr Naik’s supporters that he wanted to find a way to get the Muslim preacher into the UK.
According to emails, due to be disclosed at the High Court, Inayat Bunglawala, the chairman of lobby group Muslims4UK, asked Mr Farr whether he could “agree a form of words which makes it clear that Naik totally disassociates himself from the kind of extremism that the right wing press have – very unfairly in my view – accused him of, and thereby allow the governments to show that progress has been made in resolving the issue of problematic statements from the past”.
Mr Farr replied: “Of course I agree. We are aiming to do just that. I am getting this process underway next week and will see it through myself. To be frank with you, the more time you can give us to try to get this right in private the better. Any ideas of course please have a word.”
Two weeks earlier, at a meeting on 3 June with Dr Naik’s representatives Mr Farr allegedly said “if necessary [he would] ‘put himself on the line’ as he felt ‘to exclude Dr Naik would be wrong’”.
This is a senior civil servant, conspiring with Inayat Bunglawala – a man whose authority rests upon the fact that he owns a website called Muslims4UK which has not been updated for a year – to subvert the decision of the Home Secretary.
And how they planned to subvert it!
The plan, so it seemed, was for Naik to come up with “a form of words” which disassociates him from the entirely accurate charges of extremism that he faced. That hides the truth of his beliefs. The thing is, you can’t bullshit away the evidence of his character and beliefs that Naik leaves lying around. He makes these statements in public. Trusting people come to him for guidance, and he sends them away with hatred.
As we’ve argued, to side with bigots and extremists like Naik, and to vouch for them, and try to fool people into thinking they’re moderate and mainstream – by Muslim standards – is to defame Muslims as a whole. For Farr to treat Muslims like a colonial governor in the Raj, to be addressed only through their headmen with their funny facial hair, is also disgusting.
But to disobey an elected government, and to try to import a hatemonger to this country – that can mean only one thing.
Farr must go.