Are Patrick Mercer MP and the College of Law about to legitimise an extremist?

This is a guest-post from Hasan Afzal of StandforPeace.

The Conservative Party has been rather good at tackling Islamist extremism. A number of journalists and organisations on the right have been on the ball in respect to fighting extremism, and more importantly, framing the debate on our terms and not on the terms of extremists. The Labour party is, sadly, far behind, but writers like Nick Cohen and John Rentoul and organisations like StandforPeace are paving the way for some moral clarity on the left.

It then comes as a surprise to the staff of StandforPeace that Patrick Mercer MP of Newark is to share a platform with Asim Qureshi of Cageprisoners. They are to talk about ‘terrorism legislation’ at the College of Law, Moorgate on Monday 19th March. Asim Qureshi is amongst the worst extremists in Britain. The organisation he works for, Cageprisoners, is notorious for promoting extremists and apologias for terrorists, including those tried and convicted in open courts.

Most notably, Cageprisoners continued to promote al-Qaeda preacher and recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki long after Awlaki had made it abundantly clear for all the world to see that he was in the business of terrorist mass murder. Awlaki’s “wins” included motivating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit and inspiring Roshonara Choudhry, the British woman who attempted to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms.

Yet when a US drone killed al-Awlaki, Qureshi tried to rewrite history by painting him as a peaceful religious man.

Terrorists who are still free are well served by Cageprisoners. Consider its advice about MI5 operations:

The goal of MI5 is to gather intelligence and they will try their hardest to extract as much as they can from you with each meeting. Anything they may offer, in terms of monetary incentives/jobs, is solely for their own benefit and not yours – and it is worth remembering that. Again, never think that any question they ask is innocent. Don’t give away any personal details about yourself or anyone else, however harmless they might seem.”

Now have a look at Qureshi shouting out his solidarity with the murderers of British troops and so many more at a rally of the extremist party Hizb ut-Tahrir outside the US embassy in London:

We embrace the mercy. We embrace every single thing that is set upon us and we deal with it because we have no fear. So when we see the example of our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan then we know where the example lies. When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is and where the victory lies. We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the west.

Finally, consider what Qureshi tells students on campus (as reported here). These are remarks he made to the Queen Mary Islamic Society, one of London’s most extreme Islamist student groups, in 2007:

Dying for al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem:

I said to myself this is definitely worth dying for, you know, that’s how important this place is [al-Aqsa].

It’s a flagrant instruction to commit violent extremism to young impressionable Muslims.

Glorifying the al-Aqsa Brigade:
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (not to be mistaken by the al-Aqsa mosque, above) is a terrorist group and has been designated as such by the United States, Canada, EU and Japan. Qureshi exhibits high praise for the group saying:

For the remainder of the two days that we were there [in Jenin] we were taken around by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, around Jenin and its refugee camp, in order to see what the Israelis had actually done and for him [al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade commander Zubaydah], for them, to invite us to lunch and dinner and all the hospitality that they give people. And these people were amazing.

Glorification of Hamas:
Being a peaceful law-abiding Muslim is wrong to Qureshi, but Hamas? This is what he has to say about them:

If you went out to Palestine right now, and you were to go to Ramallah, or to many of the other major cities, you would think there are no Muslims in Palestine. And that’s a fact. These people have lost their deen [religion] to a great extent. Not all over. You have to go to the northern regions, you have to go to places like Tulqarem and Jenin and areas like that in order to find people who actually practice their religion. It’s sad but it is the truth. You know, the whole time I was in Ramallah, I didn’t think that I was in a Muslim country

There are a lot of good Muslim out there. Mashallah [God has willed it, an expression of joy], the Hamas brothers were amazing. You know, they are people who genuinely care about society, who work very, very hard to establish social structures and to help feed the needy. Things that the Palestinian Authority was just not doing whatsoever.

Yes, you read that correctly. Those law-abiding, peaceful Muslims aren’t practising their faith, but those brothers who fetishize Jew killing? Bravo.

On suicide bombing:

Don’t call them suicide bombings; call them ‘martrydom operations’.

Incitement to commit violence:

The worst part of the talk is where Qureshi gives his instructions to the young students to go out there and finish the job for themselves:

From the perspective of international law, you can go out there and you can fight right now. There’s nothing that stops you from doing so, because the principle of self-determination says that it is the inalienable right of all people to fight against alien occupation, colonial domination and racist regimes.

To make things worse Qureshi provides a further justification:

Now the question is, is it [going abroad to fight] a correct, sensible, pragmatic thing for somebody from the UK to do. That is what is debatable, Islamicly I’m talking about. What’s the masfaha here? Are you somebody who is capable of doing something like that for a start? Have you got the imaan [faith] to do something like that? Do you know the land so well over there that you are able to do something like that?

You’re talking about people, not just in Palestine, we’re talking about Chechnya, Iraq, all of these places, who require the lie of the land in order to help them fight their wars. Are you a hindrance or are you actually able to help them? … In terms of the law, there’s no problem with doing it though, whatsoever. And in terms of Islamicly, of course not.

Cageprisoners and Qureshi will use this event to legitimise their work and court support amongst moderate Muslims and the general public.

Patrick Mercer, who before the General Election was Shadow Minister for Homeland Security should know better. He should pull out and have a word with the College of Law about giving a platform to an extremist like Qureshi. It doesn’t just raise serious issues concerning the prevention of violent extremism. It is neither moral nor necessary to have a propagandist for terrorism give a talk on ‘human rights’.

Update: I can confirm that the College of Law has postponed Monday’s event so they can “look into the matter further”.

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