If you want to challenge Islamist extremists, one of the hazards you will face is aggravating lawfare.
Some will aim very high indeed.
Take Salman Butt, Chief Editor of the Islamist website Islam21C. In 2015, Downing Street named him as one of six people “on record as expressing views contrary to British values” when it launched new “Prevent” anti-extremist guidance for universities. Stung, Butt went to court to challenge the guidance and the operations of the Home Office’s Extremism Analysis Unit (EAU).
One line in the full judgment struck me. It is presumably based on submissions from Butt’s legal team. The language is plain:
He did not regard his views as “extremist” and did not support ISIS or any other extremist group or terrorism.
So what’s this then? Why, it’s Mr Butt supporting Hamas. Posting a picture of a bloodied IDF soldier, he writes:
Alhamdulillah the ground invaders got a good hiding by the resistance.
But what about Hamas attacking civilians? No, this is a lie! Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation only says this for his “paymasters”.
Mr Butt has also compared Mark Regev to Goebbels. That seems rather extreme to me. It also falls foul of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which includes “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”. That definition was formally adopted by the government last year.
And here is his Middle East peace plan – move Israel to the United States. This is of course the image that got Labour MP Naz Shah in so much trouble.
This short promotional video for Islam21C provides a useful glimpse into Butt’s world. It features Abu Abdissalam, leading Islam21C writer Haitham al-Haddad, Moazzam Begg and Asim Qureshi of Cage, Sulaiman Ghani, Uthman Lateef, Abdur Raheem McCarthy, and Adnan Rashid.
A brief recap of the views one will find in this set of nasty figures:
– Jihad is at the heart of Islam. Never, ever give it up.
– Do not help police officers investigating terrorists. Actually, go out of your way to make their working lives difficult.
– Even if terrorists have been given full due process in open court and are found guilty, reject the verdict and stand up for them.
– Go Hamas! Jerusalem will be taken!
– Osama bin Laden was a “martyr”.
– And should we back Islamic State? No. Why? Because it is a conspiracy of the enemies of Islam, designed to make the religion look bad.
– Democracy can be used as a tool to advance Muslim interests but a caliphate enforcing sharia law is best.
– So, on sharia, what about stoning adulterers, killing apostates from Islam, and punishing homosexuals? Yes, yes, and yes!
Mr Butt has also filed a “defamation” suit against the government. That case is still pending.
As the old saying goes, I don’t think Mr Butt has a reputation to defend.