Last year, the British Islamist and all-round comedian Anjem Choudary (“Fox’s Favorite Muslim Radical”) popped up alongside three of four local Islamists in Walthamstow, East London to declare, before of a press audience pushing double figures, the instigation of Sharia law in the surrounding borough of Waltham Forest! This, to be sure, had as much meaning as would my declaring the legalization of methamphetamine in New York State, but a couple of tabloids duly trotted out the story all the same. Choudary laid it down in his usual disconcertingly suburban tones.
“This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes – the fruits if you like of Western civilization. We want to run the area as a Sharia controlled zone and really to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term.”
A year on, I can testify (as a relatively hard-livin’ resident of Walthamstow) that the Islamic Emirate of Waltham Forest looks a fair old way off regardless of last year’s stunt, while the local Islamist movement remains more depressing than intimidating.
Take my local Internet café (please!) which has the following admonition on the wall: “PLEASE NO MORE LOOKING AT TERRORIST AND PORNOGRAPHY SITES. POLICE WILL BE CALLED IMMEDIATELY.” The impression is of a minority of “armchair Jihadists” –losers paying a pound an hour to haunt chat-rooms almost certainly observed by (and likely moderated and maintained by) Anglo-American intelligence agents.
Many–including many Islamists–consider Choudary himself to be an embarrassingly obvious British Intelligence Asset. You can see why. There’s something distinctly phony about him, while his associated groups (such as the snappily titled Islam4UK) seem solely focused on generating supremely banal controversy rather than advancing any sort of Islamic agenda.
For example, Choudary first acquired widespread notoriety when he led a small group in heckling soldiers’ coffins back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unsurprisingly, this upset a lot of people, among them Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson,” a seething Islamophobe from Luton, who decided, along with some like-minded berks, to surf the wave of public outrage and announce the formation of the EDL, or English Defence League, the self-styled “street protest movement,” predominantly consisting of angry rough white working class men–many of them former soccer hooligans–who up to very recently have regularly descended on various English towns by the coach-load to get pissed and chant about Mohammed being a pedophile (this is literally what they do).
Initially identifying “radical Islam” as the object of its drunken ire, the EDL has since expanded its scope to include Islam in general. (It’s like I always say, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick one with a billion people.) Robinson–a surprisingly baby-faced monomaniac–explained the reason for this on Newsnight a couple of years back.
“I didn’t know anything about the Koran when this first started. I didn’t know wot left wing or right wing woz. I never even turned the computer on. I just knew things were seriously wrong.”
It ain’t every day someone admits founding a political movement in a state of total ignorance! Rest assured that Robinson’s computer has since remained very much on, and his prejudice blossomed into the full-blown Islamophobic ideology recognizable the world over. As such, Robinson publicly eschews many of the traditional hatreds of the British far right–gays, Jews, women–so as to concentrate entirely on Muslims…
Hence the intermittent presence of right wing Californian rabbi Nachum Shifren–“the surfing rabbi”–at various EDL outings. That the fundamentalist Shifren (no less a comedian, in his own way, than Anjem Choudary) advocates the stoning of gay people arguably complicates the EDL’s LGBT pretensions, but then the following extract from a Shifren EDL speech suggests there might be number of crossed wires here.
“I’ve a question for you today. Is there a man or a woman here–I want you to step forward if you are here–if there’s anybody here that wants to forever forgo reading Locke, Chaucer, Dickens or Goethe, can we hear from them now, because that’s what you’re gonna get if the Islamists take over!?!”
Got quite a small cheer, that–the likelihood of any of Shifren’s audience knuckling down to some Locke, Chaucer, Dickens or Goethe (or even knowing who they are) being pretty darn slim.
Tommy Robinson, of course, much better understands the EDL demographic, and began a recent speech with the following, more attuned opening gambit: “At half four this morning, I was in a strip club in Slovenia…” (banging on, you suspect, about Muslims, while a bored blonde wriggled her ass in his crotch). ““I was at my mate’s stag weekend… I got a taxi from the airport.” Got a big cheer, that, the stag weekend representing a kind of hoodlum Hajj, the central pilgrimage of an inverse Islam.
It can seem that there is something antithetical about Islamic and British culture (the EDL’s version of it, anyway). Which is to say that the latter seems founded almost solely on what the former deems haram –“forbidden.” First of all, you’ve got booze… haram. Then you’ve got the fried breakfast, with its fifty-seven different uses for pig flesh… haram. Random naked women (whether in a strip club or the pages of a tabloid newspaper)… haram. The bookies… haram. The gram of sniff… haram. Headbutting your mate in jest… haram. Even soccer (according to many Sharia scholars I came across)… haram.
Might it not be credible that, beneath all the cant about clashing civilizations, beneath even the tacit aversion to anyone that isn’t bright pink, the EDL are motivated by a fear of having absolutely fuck all to do in the extremely unlikely eventuality of a Sharia UK? This, they must figure, is why Muslims pray five times a day. It kills time!
Anyway, obediently following Anjem Choudary’s breadcrumb trail of provocation, September saw the EDL undertake a day trip to the aforementioned “Islamic Emirate of Waltham Forest”… where they were told, by a very wide cross section of locals, to fuck off. In fact so many people turned out to deliver this message, that the whole demo was disrupted, the speeches were cancelled, and the entire “street protest” approach was thrown into contention among the EDL rank-and-file.
Adding to the fall-out was a campaign from Nick Griffin–leader of the British National Party and the traditional big kahuna of the British far right–accusing the EDL of being some kind of dastardly Zionist ploy (the presence of “the surfing rabbi” presumably giving the game away there). Robinson took to YouTube to brandish an assortment of mortgage arrears and unpaid bills, apparently at breaking point. “If I’ve got all this rich Zionist funding,” he shouted, “why’s my phone been cut off for two bloody weeks?”
Shortly after, and with a view to regaining the whole race-hate initiative, Robinson led a bunch of EDL goons in an attempt to occupy a mosque. Fortunately, the cops got wind of it and nipped that scheme in the bud, arresting over fifty potential participants. All were bailed apart from Robinson, who was remanded on a charge for having accessed the US with a fake passport in order to attend an anti-Islam conference hosted by the lovely Pamela Geller. Locked up and facing extradition to the US, Robinson can do little to prevent what looks like the final disintegration of his movement. Ah well, Tommy, at least you were indirectly responsible for the immortal “Muslamic Ray Guns” (see below).
And what of that old fraud Anjem Choudary? He’s got some pretty big fish to fry, let me tell you. Remember that young lady Malala Yousafzai, the fifteen-year-old shot by the Pakistani Taliban after she campaigned for education rights for girls? Well, never one to miss an opportunity to humiliate his supposed co-religionists, Choudary latest organization–Sharia4Pakistan–is reportedly holding a conference in Islamabad to call for her execution! Comedians, the lot of them…