I attended a ‘Question Time’ event [not hosted by BBC] on the topics of ‘radicalism’, ‘extremism’, Muslim national identity within Britain, and other topics. We also covered the issue of Muslims going to Syria to fight, and the women’s driving ban in Saudi Arabia.
The event featured panelists responding to topics that were raised by the organisers, the audience, and also by the presenter, Ajmal Masroor.
The event was set-up by the Annoor Masjid, who kindly invited me to attend, and were professional and good intentioned in the organising of this event, to which I thank them deeply.
Along with me, the panellists were Nazia Matin, a co-ordinator for the UK government’s ‘anti-extremism’ program ‘PREVENT’, Richard bailey (former British military) who was a former-advisor to the current Somali president, and is now working with the Libyan government, and Professor Danjuma Behari, who is a historian.
I soon discovered that the event’s presenter, Ajmal Masroor was working with UK government’s regional PREVENT co-ordinator [Nazia], and consequently the event seemed hijacked towards a notably government-approved agenda. The host, Ajmal Masroor, who was meant only to be the moderator, and not a panellist, then became the ‘5th panellist’ who controlled the panel, expressed his own opinions, and challenged me a number of times, asking me that ‘shouldn’t Muslims be proud of ‘our’ island, it is an island?’ (i.e. UK), to which I responded that the argument is absurd due to the fact that it would ignore Northern Ireland which is UK territory on a DIFFERENT ISLAND. He didn’t like my argument for the universal humanitarian equality for all humans regardless of nationality, where all humans are morally of equal concern regardless of borders and artificial lines drawn on a map.
Ajmal then gave his final thoughts at the end of the event where his comments could be said without being contested by the panelists. Under the excuse of summarising the ‘two or three things that came out very clearly from our discussion today’ [sic] he made a number of statements which were NOT what the panelists agreed to, nor were these thoughts ‘very clearly’ coming out from the discussion .
To counter an earlier point I made, that the West falsely and hypocritically accuses Muslims going to Syria to fight for Islam, as being terrorists [a point I made, which the audience agreed with, which included a Syrian sympathetic to the opposition] Ajmal said ‘I’ve been to syria myself, and I tell you, syrians don’t need you and I to go fight for them, we’re a liability on them, you need to do other things’ [sic], by which he meant merely contributing financially only to officially sanctioned and government approved aid agencies which supply food to Syrian.
I found this suprising, considering that Ajmal HIMSELF said on his facebook post (here) advertising [and summarising] a Huffington Post article he wrote just after he got back from Syria earlier this year: ‘Syrians do not need our meagre handouts to defend their lives from the bullets, bombs and chemical weapons used on them by their evil dictator. They either need a political solution championed by the international community or military solution to topple the brutal regime’
Spot the contradiction…I suppose the only ‘solution’ for Ajmal is Western military solutions, or aid (according to whatever is the current mood/benefit in the West’s foreign policy game) – but not an indigenous and Muslim based military solution…
Ajmal also put his spin on the ‘radical vs moderate’ [false] dichotomy, and urged Muslims to be ‘moderate’ and avoid ‘extreme politics’ [sic].
I exposed the pathetic use of the term ‘extremism’ by Western governments and media, as basically meaning any Muslim that believes and calls to a holistic Islam, but it was what I said next that cause Ajmal to react very strongly.
Ajmal during the debate made repeated claims about how Muslims need to tackle ‘extremism’, and then he engaged in shamelessly milking how he got ‘death threats’ from Al Shabaab terrorists [he kept re-iterating it again and again].
We’ve all been told recently, in the media (1,2,3), that a number of Muslim speakers who condemned the Woolwich attacks have received death threats from an ‘Al Shabaab video’ publication. Apparently, in response to the video, the police went to the houses of these individuals and ‘warned’ them of these threats, and gave them a special number to call. One of the individuals was Ajmal Masroor. Of course, some of these speakers have been milking this attention for all its worth, and adopted a ‘brave’ and ‘fearless’ public persona, and have publicly accepted sympathy messages from members of the Muslim and non-Muslim community.
However, the strange thing is, when I saw the video, I SAW NO DEATH THREATS made, or even implied! I checked a number of times – in disbelief! Surely the media and the government couldn’t be trumping up these claims?!
But alas, all I saw was a number of clips of Ajmal, along with many other speakers who denounced the Woolwich attack, with the narrator implying that these Muslims had ‘sold-out’, but there was not a jot about urging people to kill them.
I then put this to Ajmal at the event, that I didn’t see any death threats on that video towards him at all. Suffice to say, he was quite flustered, but then strangely claimed on the spot, that the threat wasn’t in the video, but that Al Shabaab had actually tweeted the threat!
Wow! The media, police and every public statement that I’m aware of, even those issued by the ‘threatened’ Muslim speakers up to this point, made no mention of a Tweet threat that started this at all. I replied to Ajmal that I can only go by what the multiple reports I’ve read, say, and none mentioned Al Shabaab using twitter to make a threat that the Police responded to.
Of course, its rather strange that Ajmal Masroor suddenly claimed that the threat was on a twitter tweet, when HE himself said on his facebook page:
‘As soon as they [the Police] left my house I started digging further and found an Al-Shabab video has been uploaded on the Internet and in it they name me as a Muslim who is an enemy of Islam and should be eliminated. They name a few others in their video message and encourage people to resort to using knives to behead people like me. I spend some time today to verify the threat and it was confirmed to me that it was this video that had spurred our security services to action’
[Facebook post: October 17 – 20:45] – or in case it gets ‘mysteriously’ edited or taken down, you can read the dailymail’s screen shot.
I’m thinking of a phrase to describe this, and it ends with ‘pants on fire’. When the video of the ‘Question Time’ discussion/debate comes out, you’ll see him say that the threat was on twitter. And if for some reason that part of the video is mysteriously edited, I’ve recorded the audio of the full debate – for just such contingencies.
Ajmal’s story aside, this leaves us asking ourselves a question: If the government and Media made a hoo-haa about the ‘threatened’ speakers Ajmal Masroor, Mohammed Ansar, Usama Hasan and Mohammed Shafiq, why didn’t they also turn up to the house of Hamza Tzortzis, who was also featured on the Al Shabaab video, for virtually the same amount of time as Mohammed Ansar [alongside him even!]?
Hamza Tzortzis and Mohammed Ansar were depicted side by side in the Al-Shabaab video. Why does one get Police protection, and was described by the media (Dailymail) as having been ‘singled out’, yet not the other? Is it something to do with the fact that Hamza is unjustly considered an ‘extremist’ by the media due his ‘daring’ to present Islam as a holistic way of life? Why didn’t anyone come to his house and warn him as well?
Why do the media and the police (and presumably government) want people to sympathise with particular Muslim public personalities, and not others? Why say that they were threatened, when the video clearly didn’t threaten them? Was this a case of capitalising on terrorism for a publicity stunt?
For information, I too was publicly quoted on a number of media outlets (1,2,3), as condemning those participated in the Woolwich attack. And I have also condemned the Al Shabaab attack on civilians in Kenya, and condemned the use of Terrorism in general – but for some reason, I won’t be expecting an Al Shabaab affiliate to accost me on the street with sharp and pointy things.
The government wants to promote the named particular speakers in both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, but why not Hamza Tzortzis and the other speakers mentioned in the video?
The answer can surely be found in what the ‘threatened’ speakers Mohammed Shafiq, Usama Hasan, Mohammed Ansar and Ajmal Masroor do, and what does Hamza Tzortzis and others do/don’t do, which merited the police, media and government selectively ‘protecting’ [i.e. promoting] one, and not the other.
I could speculate as to why, but this time round dear readers, I’ll leave it up to you.
Categories: EVENT REVIEWS, Muslim Debate Initiative, NEWS COMMENTARY, The Muslim Debate Initiative, UK. Europe, North America & Muslim communities in the West, WRITINGS
Fear Allah brother and stop slendering about others.
May Allah swt guide you to straight path
Please inform me, who was I slandering? My article contains nothing but facts pertaining to an issue of public concern.
You effectively call ajmal a liar in this article. I’m pretty sure this is bordering on slander, whether it be true or not. Your pieces are usually good brother but I have to say it looks like you wrote this article just to vilify ajmal masroor.
Please check the Islamic rules on slander. If my points are true, they are not slander. Secondly, this article concerns statements and events in the public eye, concerning UK politics, the Muslim community and Islam – I am within my full Islamic rights to highlight the valid concerns. If Ajmal said that he was mistaken about the video threat, then I would have accepted that, but the fact that he is perpetuating it, and mentioning it again and again throughout the debate, required me to at the very least, raise the question.
I have nothing personal against Ajmal Masroor, but I would be failing my duty if I do not account him for his widely expressed public statements. I do not call him a liar in general – perhaps he is trustworthy usually, but his answer that the death threats were on twitter was a clear and obvious contradiction to every single one of his previous statements up to that point.
Before judging my intent, I’d humbly request you offer me the same excuses you are willing to make for Ajmal.
one think im free of thank to Allah im not sheikh, da’i or islimic lecturer.whew ….. May Allah unite you All ameen
Brother it was a public debate and Abdullah is publicly sharing his views.Anybody disagree or has concern then point out specifically what exactly is the concern.
Thank you for this article bro. This Ajmal Masroor guy has no knowledge of deeni affairs, and keeps coming up with one stupid view after the other.
Firstly – Memri is a Mossad front – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker It is designed to sow division within Muslim Ummah. I would not use such a source on principle.
Secondly – Regardless of their “intentions” – it must feel quite intimidating to receive a death threat. I would not mock people who had received them.
Thirdly – Three people were mentioned on an Al-Shabab twitter account which is “protected”. I know two of the names Mo Ansar & Ajmal Masroor. I don’t know the third. But if someone says they received a threat, I wouldn’t accuse them of lying.
Maybe some people err in their behaviour towards us. We can’t change that. We can only be good examples.
I think your argument is pretty lame against this article by Abdullah. Memri maybe a Mossad front, but the video is reproduced in full, plus EVEN Ajmal Masroor doesn’t deny that the video doesn’t make the death threat! [read the article]. So that point falls flat on its face.
Abdullah’s article wasn’t mocking Ajmal, he is clearly just drawing attention to the PUBLIC contradictions and inconsistencies of this whole affair. The Quran tells us to be witnesses to truth, and also witnesses to justice even against ourselves!
Lastly, both Ajmal, the Police and the Media all initially reported that the threat came from the video, not some phantom twitter account.
Check out the youtube video by channel 4, where a somali correspondent asks the Shabaab about their ‘death threat’, and they denied it. Considering that they are proud of their attacks, I highly doubt they would be embarrassed regarding a death threat, unless they didn’t make one.
I think Abdullah is being a good example in this, by asking questions and raising the issue of something that was already a widely known public matter.
Looks like his cheerleaders are out. I can’t believe he has followers.
Anyway shabab twitter account not official. Jamal Osman (@JamalMOsman) tweeted at 2:40 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013:
@abbz2024 @AjmalMasroor Currently, #al-Shabab do not have official Twitter account.
Do I look like his cheerleader??? If you ain’t got nothing good to say, don’t say it. Sit in silence, cos i’m not being offensive but that is offensive to those who it is directed towards.
As for someone who is pro-porting to defend Islam and Muslim, please have the dignity to respect the nature of the debate you were invited to and respect the chair who was probably doing his job as per the people i assume the Masjid that organised the debate. Slandering AM after the event is a sign of very poor standards.
IF this was a Government organised event then why would they invite you!! It’s a little silly don’t you think!!
and if it was organised by them them, give them credit for allowing diverse views to be heard which shows their level of maturity and standards of organizing a debate.
In the future why should anyone invite you to a discussion or debate if you are going to behave like this …
The organisers of the event were not the government, but Annoor Masjid. Annoor Masjid kindly invited me, not the government. But Annoor had nothing to do with the event’s proceedings under Ajmal, who took control as the moderator, and requested direction from the government liaison, Nazia Matin.
My comments about Ajmal Masroor’s public statements are true and valid, and concern a matter of widely known public and political import. I am within my full Islamic rights to raise it up, and address the way I did, please read the Sunnah regarding my methodology in this.
As for whether people who disagree with my positions should invite me onto their platforms for a debate, that is up to them, but if they want a debate, they should invite someone that at least can bring a different perspective.
Perhaps we should both fear Allah (swt), sister.
Excellent points raised Br. Abd Allāh, keep it up, and don’t fear the blame of the blamers.
Jazāk Allāhu Khayr.
People need to remember this;
The Prophet PBUH said, Whomever raises arms (weapons) against us (Muslims) is not one of us. Sahih Bukhari 7070, Sahih Muslim 101
Please don’t get me wrong brother Abdullah, if Ajmal Masroor had alliances with PREVENT, then I would be wary of him. They are on par with the Quilliam Foundation. But I’m not offering up any excuses for him, in fact I don’t even hint towards it. I’m saying your article is written in a manner where you seem to be attacking him. “Pants on fire”??? Doesn’t matter how cleverly worded even a five year old knows what you mean by that. Plus you keeping mentioning PREVENT and how he is liaising with them. It certainly will create disdain for him from the reader. This is something I would refrain from. The reason is because he is highly influential amongst Asians, namely Bengali’s and he is trusted by them. Straight away you are disregarding these people. That wasn’t your intention but it will certainly happen. You want to explain to these people why they should be wary of him. Your article didn’t do that. Also if any of your points are untrue, then it does become slanderous and we know it is a grave sin. This is indeed an area to tread lightly. Just giving you some advice brother.
In my humble opinion Br Ajmal Masroor wears to many hats, Imam, moderator, fundraiser, would-be MP, community spokesman,,, and the list goes on, I give credit to his desire to contribute and engage, however he needs to avoid areas where he holds no credibility or specific knowledge, one of these is Islamic Theology, he is not an Imam just because he leads prayer in a few Mosques…Br Abdullah, you should have avoided this srticle unless you knew that the organisers would be releasing the evenings programe online for others to view and make up their own minds, on whether the Br Ajmal broke the fundamental rule of hosting a debate, to stay as dispassionate and neutral as possible…and whether he is using the death threats for self-publicity purposes…may Allah (swt) protect us from all kind of pride and arrogance..
I must be seeing things. How is it that at the end of an article exposing a public figure there are more comments in his defence then to at least express some displeasure at what is at the least dishonest behaviour.
I thought this is well written. Many so called Muslims who are well spoken but have no Islamic qualification to speak as Islamic leaders etc take advantage when their on platforms such as channel S etc and say things etc that is not part of Islam. Ie their views on Niqaab rather then what Islam says about Niqaab.
So it’s important when questioned or exposed that they either rectify their mistakes or defend themselves. Otherwise the layman aka the average joe bloggs would take their views as the Islamic view, or like me would steer away from some of the good work they have done because they have not been able to answer important questions.
I saw the vid, didn’t see any direct threat to anyone. hamza tortis and shams ad duha where on the vid and Shams Ad Duha delivered many Kutbahs such as on Muslim Patrol etc (how come there was no threat mentioned by him). I respect both this writer and AM but have to agree I did not see a threat. And also agree the pants on Fire comment was bit too personal. Perhaps the brothers is frustrated with AM? Remember we’re all the children of Aadam and no one is perfect
Lastly it’s quite blatant that the govt and police are favouring some Muslim community members. It is worth remembering that post 9-11 many Muslim speakers in US were invited to Whitehouse and yet a decade after they were made the “enemies of the state”. So those that are becoming sell outs it will only be a while until there asked to do something that they cannot compromise on. They will only have themselves to blame at that point
@your right to know, I agree with your comment 100%.
At the end of day brother Abdullah is not slandering Ajmal Masroor so please do not get emotional for nothing.
If the individual is using the so called As-Shabab video in order to gain some publicity then in all honestly such a person cannot be trusted to represent the Muslims.
Allah protect all the Muslims and disgrace all the khwana.
Assalamu alaikum brother Abdullah,
Masha’Allah great article…Keep it up akhi.
In regards to Ajmal Masroor, he is a failed politician now trying his hand as a government lackey.
As a member of the Tower Hamlets community and of Bangladeshi origin, I will confirm that the majority of the Muslims here see him for what he is – especially since he started working for the PREVENT initiative. He holds no significant influence or respect amongst the local community and I think brother Arif must have mistaken him for someone else (one khutbah, and subsequent interviews, on the evil of Shahbag does not make one an authority on Islam and muslims).
Once again, Jzk for your efforts bro Abdullah and I look forward to hearing more from you.
Gosh Muslims must be the most narrow minded shallow thinking individuals. AM is working for the British government through prevent strategy he is a clear enemy of Muslims. Why are people telling brother abdullah that he’s slanderous etc.
No wonder we’re in this st
ate. Fools are our imams. Allah help us and guide us to be thinkers and real Muslims who understand Islam for what it really is.
Great article brother Abdullah, keep it up!! 🙂
Brother Abdullah be steadfast for truth and keep your good work for the sake of Allah. Disregard all evil people supported by the establishment and so called enlightened Muslims (Secular Muslims).