This is a guest post by Anon
Mehdi Hasan likes to play the role of the principled left-wing journalist/defender of Muslims against the hordes of Islamophobes and self-hating Muslims. In fact, he is constantly accusing people of being Islamophobes or racists when they dare to question anything he says, as he did when he accused novelist Jeremy Duns of racism here (only to retract). I have sat back and watched Mehdi berate everyone that stands in his path in his typical self-righteous and arrogant fashion for long enough and am fed up with his hypocrisy and lies.
It is for this reason that I have decided to expose his work with me on ‘Undercover Mosques the Return’ – a programme that involved doing exactly what he attacks other Muslims for doing.
Mehdi was a little known but very ambitious researcher when he convinced Channel 4 and Hard Cash Productions that he would be able to go into Wahhabi mosques and institutions undercover in order to obtain footage of extremist preachers as well as get literature that would support their claims.
One of the first things that I noticed was that his reason for wanting to do this was not based on a principled objection to extremism, rather he just did not like a particular brand of extremism, namely Wahhabism, due to the way they treated Shias like him.
The institutions he had in mind were: The Regents Park Mosque, The East London Mosque and The Muslim World league HQ on Goodge Street. His back story and security protocols were put into place to help him infiltrate these places, secret cameras were attached to his clothing and off he went into the lion’s den.
After a number of weeks of coming back empty handed, Mehdi had wanted to widen the net and go into other non-Wahhabi institutions to, as long as they were not Shia ones. He told us all Sunni’s basically believe the same things, i.e. in Abu Bakr, Uthman and Umar (who he particularly hated) and that they were all ‘closet extremists’. However, during his undercover missions he did manage to buy some books from one of the institutions that promoted extremist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and intolerant messages.
The documentary makers Hard Cash Productions decided that a different approach was needed and that a female may be more effective. They hired a young journalist to go undercover but then there was the issue of potential leaks if Mehdi was sacked, so Channel 4 decided to retain him as a researcher/consultant for the remainder of the project.
Again a back story was built for the new journalist and she had much better luck. Every day she would bring back the footage and Mehdi and others would review it to find the bits that were extremist. There was plenty, including secretly filmed sermons given to the women-only congregation in which female preachers espoused extremist and intolerant beliefs.
The female researcher had gone into two of the same institutions that Mehdi had visited previously and brought back literature and Mehdi’s job was to sift through and find verses that promoted intolerance for non-Muslims, an extreme version of sharia law and teachings which support discrimination against women.
When teased about why she had better luck than him, he claimed that it was due to the fact that she was better looking and that one of the imams wanted to marry her. Both of these things happen to be true but she actually went to these places wearing a niqab (veil) so perhaps she was just better at this than him – a suggestion that made him very angry. He also got very angry when sectarian extracts that had been selected from the books that were anti Shia was not chosen for the final edit. The main reason for this was that we had been commissioned by Channel 4 to look for extremism and not to get involved in a sectarian dispute between Muslims.
As a result of his work on this project, he was awarded another contract to work on a subsequent Channel 4 Dispatches programme – It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim. After landing the Political Editor position at the New Statesman, a position that he used to promote himself and massage his huge ego, Mehdi went mainstream.
I am pleased for Mehdi and the success he has found in recent years. However, if he had approached his work with a little more humility and not been so janus-faced I would not have felt the need to expose his involvement in the Undercover Mosques project. Personally, and as a non-Muslim, I am proud of my involvement and I still believe the programme shed light on some important issues. The difference is I don’t pretend to be a liberal and I don’t pretend to defend Muslim reactionaries with view to winning favour amongst British Muslims.
Mehdi has become duplicitous in his claim to be the great hope for British Muslims and has been exposed for what he truly is – another chancer looking to plump his bank account and win the adulation of the masses without standing by any firm principles.
I am saddened that someone claiming to be “David Henshaw” has commented below that I am lying but in actual fact has also stated that Mehdi Hasan has lied.
EDIT Comment from David Henshaw as follows: I’m afraid most of this is incorrect. I was the executive producer of Undercover Mosque – The Return, and I was responsible for the film from beginning to end. Mehdi Hasan was at the time a junior commissioning editor at Channel 4, but the film was nothing to do with him – it was commissioned by Kevin Sutcliffe. All the undercover filming was undertaken by a courageous young female reporter, who recorded some very questionable and hate-ridden preaching at Regent’s Park Mosque. Hasan’s only involvement with the film came when he was invited by Kevin to a late viewing to comment on any possible theological inaccuracies in the script. Apparently, there were none.
In Mehdi’s twitter comments that I have been following, he has denied that he had any involvement on the programme. His denials may be valid technically as the specific questions that he replied to were:
- Did he work for Hard Cash Productions? I am not privy to who paid his wages but “David Henshaw” has confirmed that Mehdi did indeed have involvement on the programme and he could have been working for Channel 4.
- Did he spy on Muslims – again from a sectarian perspective, I suppose that he could answer “no”, if he does not regard the followers of Muawiah as Muslims.
The comments below from “David Henshaw” say that Mehdi Hasan was involved on the programme but only to check theology. Why on earth would someone who is not from a Sunni background with no formal training or expertise in that area, and who does not speak Arabic be asked to validate Sunni theology? And who is telling the truth – “David Henshaw” or Mehdi?
I also understand that some people will feel that this is made up. I could go into more details about the programme but this would put at risk the life of the brave young girl with the posh voice who had an “accident” where she claims that she was pushed in front of a bus by someone – after informing the producers that she thought that she was being followed. The girl had to be resuscitated at least three times.