My attempt to protest Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky

Recently I wrote:

An anti-Semite by the name of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky will be addressing an otherwise very respectable Mosque tonight in my local area of Kilburn.

He is the head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the website of which has an article clearly demonstrating the extent to which he views Jews as plotters. An article on that website details a recent seminar given by a deeply dubious character Sheikh Yusuf Ali who talks about the Zionist plot against Muslims; then clearly details Zakzaky noting “the Jewish plot against Islam is manifested in Iraq as they sent Bush to capture Iraq for them”. There is of course the obligatory reference to the “protocols”.

According to his biography on the official website of the IMN:

The goal of the Islamic movement is to enlighten the Muslims as to their duties as individuals and as a community. The movement owns more than three hundred primary/secondary schools located in different places mainly in the northern part of the country. They are known by the name of Fudiyyah Schools. This is in addition to many Islamic centers and other institutions. The movement also owns the Nigeria’s most widely circulated newspaper, Al Mizan, in the Hausa language.

It also details Zakzaky’s arrests, which the site claims were “for his ideas”.

The Jerusalem Post – one of the few publications with details of Zakzaky’s visit – mentions details of the host of the conference, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). They say:

The IHRC is a Hezbollah and Islamic Republic supporting organization. At an anti-Israel rally in Hyde Park during the Second Lebanon War, its chair Massoud Shadjareh wore a Hezbollah flag as did research director Reza Kazim, who was seen chanting phrases like “We are all Hezbollah” and “Bomb, bomb Tel Aviv.” At a pro- Israel rally in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2008, Kazim was ejected by the police for filming within the roped off area.

According to an article written by the Middle East Strategic Information written in 2009:

  • Zakzaky’s IMN is growing popular among impoverished Nigerian Muslims
  • He believes Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden do not exist, acts of terrorism in the west are organised by western intelligence services, and that Tony Blair was behind the 7/7 bombings
  • He claims Nigeria’s secularist leaders perform ritual sacrifices removing unborn babies from their Mother’s wombs by ripping them out
  • He believes Jews are “”dastardly infidels” and draws inspiration from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the deceased Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin

He has been and gone now, but came almost unnoticed.

I hate to come across all Eustonite or “decent” but if Geert Wilders or Le Pen or someone dreadful like that came to our town, we’d be all over them like a rash, but with figures such as Zakzaky – who is not small beer by the way, he is the head of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) – we give it a miss.

Some may say that Zakzaky has never committed terror himself, which is why it is not important, but this does not disprove his threat. Some may say, in his words, he does not cause terror. This is questionable, but I’m careful not to make claims I cannot substantiate. During the conference season, the Quilliam Foundation held an event on how non-violent extremism can be just as dangerous as violent extremism. Whether directly or indirectly, Zakzaky has sounded off to the tune of racial discrimination and religious violence, and this should not be sniffed at.

Some will perhaps accuse me, and have done before, of making straw man of whom to knock down. The point here is that I’m not accusing anyone of supporting Zakzaky – though there obviously are some who do – and I’m certainly not saying that in the absence of an anti-fascist picket of him, that I should therefore deduce the anti-fascists in fact support Islamic fascists. It is not true. But I have difficulty understanding why people like Zakzaky don’t wind them up to the point of protest, whereas smaller targets like David Irving, do.

Now let me quickly qualifiy this before I get myself into trouble. Of course Irving is bad news, and has dangerous ideas, but at least he is an army of one; him and maybe some idiots in the National Front or Combat 18. His words are largely ignored by the vast amount of thinking human beings, and are taken on board by a small group of twits that if they express their counterfactual opinions, land themselves in court. Zakzaky, on the other hand, is the head of a church, has many followers and is fiercely anti-Semitic – context, here, is all.

In my quest to get more airplay on Zakzaky, I wrote to three individuals/organisations that I thought could maybe help; Peter Tatchell, Hope not Hate and Unite Against Fascism.

I requested their help in numbers to picket the arrival of Zakzaky and ask questions of the mosque why they felt it responsible to invite someone with a evident history of anti-Semitism and crime.

I saw something on him at the Jerusalem Post and some bits on Harry’s Place blog here and here, as well as a cross-post on the Spittoon website, but when I read next to nothing about him in the mainstream press I wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Chronicle – as well as tweeting Martin Bright and Stephen Pollard – Hampstead and Highgate Express and the Kilburn Times.

The only response I got from any of these places was Peter Tatchell to tell me he was ill and had no campaign funds. Tatchell in his email recommended I contact the Board of Deputies of British Jews and contact local news sources – which I had done. It is a great credit to the man for at least writing back to me and taking my email seriously; there indeed is someone who will not allow sentimentalities affect his principles, and I can’t talk highly of him for doing so.

Tatchell’s first line said it all: “I share your anger about Mosques hosting extremist clerics and preachers. It is no better than having a right wing white racist speaking.”

There is no such thing as a “decent” left. There are leftwingers and rightwingers, with some mixing in the middle, and there are hypocrites and those who allow confused politics affect principles. I do not level this charge at anyone in particular, but in the fight against fascism in all its forms, we can’t just sit on our hands, we should be pulling our fingers out.

In the end I went down to the mosque by myself, and I was ineffective and nervous about getting on the wrong side of anyone. But were I backed up with the same level of energy certain organisations reserve for other far rightwingers, we could have told a number of people what we think about foul ideas infiltrating vulnerable communities.

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