One of the hazards of even the most scrupulous and careful reporting on extremists is lawfare.
Hate preachers may have no case at all but they often try to use the law anyway to intimidate their opponents.
It works a treat when the opponents know they are right but don’t fancy six figure legal bills.
Hopefully the BBC with all its resources will prove to be made of sterner stuff. Here’s the latest lawfare thuggery:
A hardline imam at a mosque where the killers of soldier Lee Rigby worshipped is suing the BBC, saying it described him as an ‘extremist’.
Shakeel Begg, 37, is taking legal action after presenter Andrew Neil said on the Sunday Politics Show that the imam had praised jihad as ‘the greatest of deeds’.
Mr Begg, head of the Lewisham Islamic Centre in South-East London, is demanding libel damages and that the BBC doesn’t again call him an ‘extremist’ who ‘encourages religious violence’.
Mr Neil said the East London Mosque in Whitechapel was ‘a venue for a number of extremist speakers…who espouse extremist positions’.
The presenter added: ‘This year Shakeel Begg, he spoke there and hailed jihad as the greatest of deeds.’
Mr Begg has said he cannot recall making such a speech at the East London Mosque. But in 2011 he told guests at a charity dinner elsewhere that ‘jihad in the path of Allah is one of the greatest deeds a Muslim can take part in’.
Asked about that speech, he explained that by ‘jihad’ he had meant ‘spiritual struggle’.
Ho ho. Let’s have a look at the speech Begg appears to be referring to. It was delivered at an event for Hhugs, a charity entirely dedicated to helping the families of terrorists arrested and convicted here in the UK.
Helping the families of brothers who are in prison, giving to those families, supporting those families, coming to their aid when they are in times of need and help, is like as if we are making jihad in the path of Allah. And we know jihad in the path of Allah is of the greatest of deeds that a Muslim can take part in.
The jihad of these “brothers” is rather, um, practical. As is the support of Mr Begg.
Here’s Mr Begg at another terrorist cheerleader event. Its Cageprisoners this time, the fans of al-Qaeda preacher and recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki. Begg hails former Guantanamo inmates as “inspiring” and worthy of a divine salute.
…[it is] inspiring to be amongst some of our brothers who made hijra [migration] in the path of Allah, who made jihad in the path of Allah, who suffered in the path of Allah, our brothers from Guantanamo Bay. May Allah have mercy upon them, may Allah accept all their good deeds and all their fasting especially in the month of Ramadan, and may Allah grant them Jannah [paradise].
Here he is at yet another rally for terrorists, this time outside Belmarsh prison. It holds some of the most dangerous terrorists in Britain. Begg calls them “brothers” once again and rails against their “oppressors”.
Or see him standing up for Aafia Siddiqui, an antisemitic felon connected to al-Qaeda who is now in prison in the USA, where she belongs. Her cause attracts the very worst in the UK. In this speech Begg lies about the case and incites furious hatred against America at a rally outside the US embassy in London.
And what goes on inside Begg’s Lewisham Islamic Centre? Try this. Former Guantanamo inmate Omar Deghayes, speaking at a rally for Hhugs, praises terror suspects as “the best among us”.
And those people who are accused of terrorism, usually, brothers, are the best among us. Usually they are accused of terrorism because they stand and speak the truth. They usually are accused of terrorism because they uncover the falsehood and they are active. And they are angered by what happens to our ummah, and they strive in the cause of Allah. And because of that they are targeted as examples to make everybody else as a community scared.
You can see Deghayes’s whole talk here.
There is more to say about what has been happening at the Lewisham Islamic Centre. Further posts will tell the story.
For now, let’s turn back to the East London Mosque. Its building houses the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). The mosque and the IFE are closely intertwined.
The IFE has a youth wing called the Young Muslim Organisation (YMO). In December 2013 the YMO invited Shakeel Begg to speak at the mosque. Excited, they produced this promotional video. Watch it to see an open celebration of religious warfare.
The man speaking on the tape is none other than Khalid Yasin, a notorious hate preacher who wants gays executed. Yasin is also a source of great inspiration for terrorists. You can see the whole talk Yasin’s quote in the YMO video comes from here.
This is what Shakeel Begg inspires. This is what he is all about.
For its part, the mosque appears to have been so embarrassed that it decided not to host Mr Begg, even though it has worked with Begg for years. The event was shunted to the Waterlily, the pressure valve for East London extremists. The Waterlily has a roaring extremist rally trade and no principles at all.
As for Mr Begg, if he had a speck of dignity or the most meagre sense of decency, he would withdraw his threat against the BBC.
I suspect he doesn’t, so the evidence will come out.