Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for January 12th, 2010

Banning Islam4UK Is Not a Smart Move

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 12th January, 2010

The British government has banned a radical Muslim group called Islam4UK, which gained notoriety recently by suggesting that it would hold a march in the English garrison town of Wooton Bassett to protest the deaths of Afghan Muslims killed in British and NATO military action. Had the group gone ahead with the march (which was far from certain; they never asked for permission for it), there would certainly have been some angry disturbances, as Wootton Bassett has been solemnly greeting the coffins of fallen British soldiers killed in Afghanistan in recent months. Like most Britons — whatever their religion — I find the attitude and behaviour of Islam4UK’s spokesman, Anjem Choudary, repulsive. But that does not mean that I welcome the government’s move against Islam4UK. On the contrary. I think it plays into the hands of extremist groups, as it enables them to portray themselves as victims. Moreover, a core British value — something Mr Choudary and his colleagues firmly oppose — is the defence of the right of free speech. No evidence has been produced that Islam4UK or any of the associated organisations (such as al-Muhajiroun) — several of which have also been banned under Britain’s anti-terror laws — have practised terrorism. Banning them is an essentially illiberal act, but alas typical of the way this Labour government reacts to such situations.

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