So, the Finsbury Park Mosque libel action against Policy Exchange has ended in ignominious defeat for the Muslim Brotherhood aligned institution. Already embattled, as a result of the accusations of misconduct levelled at it by former Trustee and Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, the Mosque is on the ropes.
Policy Exchange is pleased to report that the libel action brought by the North London Central Mosque (NLCM) against it over its report The Hijacking of British Islam has now ended, following the dismissal of NLCM’s appeal against the order of Mr Justice Eady.
NLCM has paid a substantial contribution towards Policy Exchange’s costs
In October 2010 NLCM discontinued its appeal and paid a substantial contribution to Policy Exchange’s legal costs. Following that agreement the appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 5 October 2010.
Policy Exchange has not apologised to either the mosque or the trustees for the publication of the report.
This is an opportune moment for a little perspective on the Lawfare strategy, practiced by a broad range of Islamist political activists.
Over the last few years, individuals involved in extreme Islamist political parties have taken advantage of Britain’s broken libel laws to engage in a spot of gambling: a game where the odds are stacked firmly in their favour.
Here’s the background.
Many of the most prominent activists in Islamist politics in the United Kingdom were involved in attempts to install revolutionary Islamist regimes in their home countries, and were often members of political movements which practiced terrorism and promulgated religious hatred, as part of their campaigns to establish Islamic States. Having arrived in Britain as refugees, they set about remaking themselves as “community leaders”, “human rights activists” and “interfaith champions”. Clueless police officers and activists in centre Left social democratic organisations smoothed their path.
Over the last couple of decades these groups and individuals have managed to make dramatic headway. Take for example, Mohammed Sawlaha, a serial litigant and trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque, who the BBC Panorama programme identified as one of the founders of the racist and genocidal terrorist group, Hamas, and who is a major player in the Hamas-funding and propaganda operation, Viva Palestina. Despite his conduct, the Guardian still describes him and as the “president of the British Muslim Initiative anti-racist group”. That is a pretty impressive achievement for a man with such close links to an organisation whose founding Covenant is a litany of racism built around a hadith that promises that Muslims will murder all the Jews.
The object of this politics is to reposition support for racist and genocidal politics as an acceptable part of the political mainstream. That has been the mission, for example, of the Hamas and Hezbollah lobby group, Conflicts Forum. Similarly, that is why two Muslim Brotherhood front organisations, Islam Expo and the Cordoba Foundation, fund Bob Lambert and Robert Githens Mazer’s European Muslim Research Centre at Exeter University.
The fly in the ointment is the track record of these individuals, which show them to be anything but moderates, anti-racists and opponents of terrorism. Lawfare is the technique by which Islamist groups seek to prevent their opponents publicising and commenting on their vicious politics.
Lawfare defamation actions are a gamble for Islamists. Usually they pay off. Today, they did not.
The starting point is this. Many activists in Islamist groups will have said or written something which shows that they are racists, misogynists, supporters of terrorism, desire an Islamic State, applaud attacks on British soldiers, or want to kill gay people or Jews. However, ironically, the very outrageousness of these views enables these individuals to react with mock shock, when they are condemned for them. A speculative letter before action is fired off to any newspaper or magazine that reprints them, threatening libel proceedings and demanding money. In a minority of cases, proceedings will be issued.
The calculation is that newspapers will think twice before running stories about the disgusting views and conduct of Islamist politicians. Islamists also know that for a newspaper to fight a case involving an individual’s conduct 15 years ago in places like Algeria or Tunisia, will involve huge expense. There is also the possibility, of course, that the newspaper will lose before an unsympathetic London jury, and will have to pay damages, too. Therefore, as Islamists have discovered, newspapers will ultimately settle any case before it goes to trial. This allows people with very extreme politics indeed to claim that their shabby reputations have been entirely vindicated.
Nothing of the sort has happened, of course. There is now a growing understanding, within the Tories and Labour – but sadly not the Liberal Democrats – that those Islamist politicians representing themselves as moderates, are anything but that. No amount of Lawfare can completely disguise their true nature.
Today, both Policy Exchange has won a significant victory. Let’s hope that this success, and the forthcoming reform of the law of defamation, will render Lawfare a thing of the past.
Mohammed Sawalha, Hamas founder and Viva Palestina activist, poses with Kevin Ovenden, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mahmoud al-Zahar. Zahar condemns us for “accepting homosexuality”, and believes that women in the West have “one husband and hundreds of thousands of boyfriends”. He also has argued that Jews are legitimate targets, “all over the world”.