By Patrick Goodenough — Originally published in CNS News
A British Islamic group known for its provocative publicity stunts says a borough in northeast London will be the first target of a campaign to establish “emirates” in the country – Muslim enclaves where shari’a law is enforced.
Waltham Forest, an area identified in the most recent census figures available as having the fifth-biggest proportion of Muslims – 15 percent – of any local authority in England or Wales, has been singled out by radicals behind the group calling itself Muslims Against Crusades (MAC).
“As part of our Islamic Emirate Project, Waltham Forest is to be the first borough to be targeted for an intense shari’a led campaign, introducing the prospect of Islamic law for the Muslim community to abide by,” MAC said in a statement this week.
The project aims to “gradually transform Muslim communities into Islamic Emirates operating under shari’a law,” the group said.
“You are entering a Shariah controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced,” declares a poster supposedly to be distributed as part of the campaign.
The poster, depicted on MAC’s Web site, warns that alcohol, gambling, drugs, smoking, pornography, prostitution and music concerts will be prohibited.
MAC notes that Waltham Forest boasts a large number of Islamic businesses, schools and mosques, “making a transition into a thriving Islamic emirate, very real and plausible.”
It also describes Waltham Forest as “a borough that has gained notoriety in recent years, with draconian counter-terrorism measures forcing many Muslims to feel the iron fist of democracy and man-made law. The alleged liquid bomb plot of 2006 still serves as a piercing reminder of this.”
(Several of the Muslim men convicted and imprisoned for their roles in what became known as the transatlantic bomb plot, including ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali, hailed from Waltham Forest. The plot’s exposure in August 2006 triggered a global security scare, travel chaos and the introduction of restrictions on taking liquids onto aircraft.)
“There is no way that the British government is going to allow independent Islamic states to be set up in any of our towns or cities. It’s just not going to happen,” said Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, a nondenominational British charity.
“But this does show that some British Muslims want to impose shari’a law on their communities.”
Judge said the Christian Institute was backing an initiative by Baroness Caroline Cox, a prominent member of the House of Lords who last month introduced a bill that would outlaw the use of shari’a where it conflicts with English law.
“Her bill will stop shari’a law taking root as a parallel legal system, and ensure that there is equality before the law – particularly for vulnerable Muslim women.”
MAC seems to be the latest in a string of radical organizations – or the same organization with different names – built around Anjem Choudary, who describes himself as a lecturer in shari’a and “manager” of the UK Shari’a Court.
Choudary and a close associate, Syrian-born cleric and UK Shari’a Court “judge” Omar Bakri Mohammed, ran a group called al-Muhajiroun (“The Emigrants”) until it was proscribed and Bakri was barred from Britain after the 2005 London bombings for his vocal support for jihad.
Bakri is now based in Lebanon but has been linked, together with Choudary, to various other groups – essentially al-Muhajiroun under different names – including al-Ghurabaa (“The Strangers”), the Savior Sect, Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah and Islam4UK.
When the British government in January last year banned Islam4UK under that name and that of its earlier incarnation, al-Muhajiroun, the Associated Press quoted Bakri as saying “Tomorrow we can call ourselves whatever we think is suitable for us.”
Muslims Against Crusades emerged shortly thereafter, calling itself “a non-violent body of Muslims that was primarily set up to tackle the West’s continued interference in Muslim lands.”
Its publicity-focused protests have included burning poppies in Central London on Remembrance Day (the Nov 11 British and Commonwealth equivalent to Veterans Day) and shouting abuse at British soldiers returning from Afghanistan.
MAC said it planned to rally in central London during the royal wedding on April 29 and to burn effigies of Prince William and Kate Middleton, although the protest never took place. On May 7, it demonstrated outside the US Embassy in London to protest the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile Choudary last March also supposedly planned to hold a “Shari’a4America” rally in front of the White House although that, too, was “postponed” at the last minute.
The foundation for MAC’s emirates campaign was laid out in a document released in response to recently-announced changes to British government anti-terrorism policies designed to tackle home-grown extremism.
Apparently drawn up by Choudary, whose name and contact details appear on the back page, the pamphlet is a fundamentalist blueprint for Muslims living in Britain.
“It is time that areas with large Muslim populations might declare an emirate delineating that Muslims within this area are trying to live by the shari’a as much as possible, with their own courts and community watch and schools and even self sufficient trade,” the section on emirates reads in part.
“In time we can envisage that the whole of the shari’a might one day be implemented starting with these enclaves.”
Citing injunctions from the Qur’an and other Islamic texts, it says Muslims in Britain must, among other things:
– reject democracy
– not have non-Muslim friends
– not celebrate non-Muslim festivals including Christmas and Easter
– not join the police or armed forces
– not vote for lawmakers, or stand for election
– demand the release of “all Muslim prisoners in the hands of the disbelievers”
– reject integration with non-Islamic society
– abide by shari’a and not any “man-made law”
“A Muslim must believe that all Christians or Jews will be destined for the hellfire and that only Muslims will be eligible to go to paradise,” the pamphlet says in an entry on why Muslims must reject interfaith activity.
“Any Muslim who opposes any policy in this pamphlet should be confronted.”
Barnabas Fund, a British charity that supports vulnerable Christians in Islamic societies, warned on Thursday that the proposals contained in Choudary’s document “would be a first step towards the creation of a separate state within a state.”