Sunday 26 May 2013

Justifying Islamic terrorism and the murder of Lee Rigby: Asghar Bukhari and MPAC UK

Asghar Bukhari, MPAC UK

Asghar Bukhari, leader and a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC UK) featured quite widely in the mainstream media in the aftermath of the shocking attack on Lee Rigby, a twenty-five year old soldier, in Woolwich (London, England) on May the 22nd 2013.

Despite awareness that both Bakhari and MPAC UK possess extremist views, they nonetheless tend to be presented by the media as moderate mainstream representatives of British Islamic society.

Bukhari/MPAC hit out at British Muslim organisations

Asghar Bukhari was interviewed by the BBC on the day of the Woolwich attack. He was first asked for his response to the news of the brutal murder:
Well it’s a depressing cycle of violence, and its not going to end anytime soon. I can see some Muslim organisations have condemned the killing, and rightly so but the problem with this is that Muslim organisations have been condemning it for years, and what have they actually done…
Initially Bukhari sounds like a critic of Muslim organisations for failing to teach young people about the harmful impact of violence, perhaps, one would assume, with reference to teaching a deeper respect for the wider society in which they live. Sadly that turned out not to be the case:
Muslim organisations have failed to teach young people that there is another route for the grievance, the anger, the frustration that they feel about this government’s policies in the Muslim world… They will never teach their young people that there is a democratic way to bring a change to the foreign policy they are so aggrieved about, justifiably so.
Therefore, first and foremost Bukhari was taking issue with the way in which mainstream Muslim organisations were not attempting to focus the Muslim youth on trying to change government policy! His focus was not on addressing the disharmony between Muslims and others within British society but rather to seek a better way for Muslims to obtain their goals, a way that will hurt their interests less.

Indeed, other members of MPAC UK actually made statements criticising those Muslim organisations that condemned the slaying of Lee Rigby! For example, one Facebook statement by senior MPAC member Maryam Yaqub:
By apologising in such a stupid way these pathetic Muslims are reinforcing the enemy’s narrative, which is telling the world that these murderers did what they did because their religion makes them inherently violent and evil… Muslims are the most oppressed people on earth, we have been denied our freedom, we have been denied our equality, we have been denied any justice…
Another MPAC member posted a FB message, justifying the killing of Lee Rigby as well as explaining that the condemnations by mainstream Muslim organisations, which he characterised as apologies, were to assist Islamic preaching and conversions:
All day yesterday I hear Muslims apologising and condemning this act as if it was the most abhorrent act ever committed on British soil, and “we are sorry because yes it is our fault that a man reacted to tyrannical oppression”… They are only cowards worried about their own reputation and image. “Oh no brother this is really bad for ‘the dawah’, we must publicly condemn these acts, Islam means peace.”

Singing from the same hymn-sheet

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Asghar Bukhari’s BBC interview was the way in which he echoed the demands of Lee Rigby’s killers and other extremists:
The government can condemn it [the murder] all they want, and they can say Britain’s got to stand strong, and all the rhetoric in the world but until the government admit there is a direct link between this radicalisation happening and their foreign policy, how are we ever going to end this? There’s two culprits here.
Laying substantive blame at Britain’s door echoes almost exactly the views of Anjem Choudary, the notorious 9/11-praising Islamic cleric, who is likely to have played a part in radicalising the killers. He said:
We must concentrate on why this incident took place. That is the presence of British forces in Muslim countries and the atrocities they’ve committed…
Like Bukhari, Choudary expressed some lesser disapproval of the violence of Lee Rigby’s killing:
What he did was unusual and it’s not the kind of view that I propagate and I do not condone the use of violence…
Michael Adebolajo and other Islamists clashing with police
at the Old Bailey, 2006 (Daily Telegraph)

Bukhari’s views also resemble the remarks made by Michael Adebolajo, one of the terrorists who spoke to a video camera moments after he severed the unarmed soldier’s head. Adebolajo asserted that there would be more violence until there was a change in British foreign policy, a view Bukhari had also pushed:
You think politicians are going to die? No it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.
Adebolajo also stated at another point at the scene:
I apologise that women and children had to witness this today but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you.
Thus even the killer himself expressed some form of regret at the violence of the act minutes afterward.

Parsing a justification of terrorism

During the BBC News interview, did Asghar Bukhari provide an “explanation” for the killing or a justification? Explanations and justifications are easy to confuse because they can sound very similar.

The context of Bukhari’s points demonstrate he tried to pass off the justification of the terrorist atrocity as merely an explanation, by placing equal or greater blame on the conduct of the British government for the murder. This was unmistakable when he stated “There’s two culprits here.”

Notably, rather than condemning the slaying outright, he chose to place the barbaric attack within a context of “a depressing cycle of violence”, which he would of course deem the British to have begun.

Maryam Yaqub, another senior MPAC member, justified the killing of Lee Rigby more overtly despite including the adjective “horrific”, which would of course be self-evidently true of any beheading:
This incident today was horrific, but it was not because Islam teaches barbarism, it happened because it was an extreme reaction to an extreme situation. These people did what they did because they wanted to get a message across, a message that tells the world that they are sick of being oppressed, colonised, demonised, killed and murdered, simply for being Muslim.
Moreover, Bukhari’s mild criticism of the killing should be understood in a context of his past statements. He has praised terrorism, against Israel in particular:
The concept of Jihad is a beautiful thing, and logical to those with a sincere heart. It tells the human being to stand up and fight against those who bring evil and oppression on this earth, and by standing up — roll back that oppression until the people are free from it.

MPAC UK's Twitter icon, invoking Islamic rebellion and Arab terrorism

Selective condemnation

Are the claims by Bukhari, the killers and other extremists true to any meaningful extent? Are British troops in Afghanistan slaughtering civilian men, women and children en masse? No they are not.

The Taliban and other Islamist insurgent groups are responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, as they were in the Iraqi war. For example, in 2011 the United Nations issued a report affirming that 75 percent of civilian deaths were due to insurgents. NATO and Afghan government forces were responsible for 16 percent of civilian deaths. Much of that 16 percent would be due to unintentional death as a result of bombing and drone raids, whilst the Taliban and other insurgents intentionally targeted civilian locales.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired former Commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, stated of his time fighting these Islamic insurgents:
The Taliban in southern Afghanistan are masters at shielding themselves behind the civilian population and then melting in among them for protection… The use of women to shield gunmen as they engage NATO forces is now so normal it is deemed barely worthy of comment. Schools and houses are routinely booby-trapped. Snipers shelter in houses deliberately filled with women and children.
It is quite simply a falsehood to blame the death of civilians, particularly women and children as noted by the killers of Lee Rigby, on NATO troops in Afghanistan. It should be noted that Bukhari, and his ideological partners, rarely if ever criticise the Taliban or other Islamic insurgents, despite the intentional butchery of a vastly larger number of their fellow Muslims. Those attempting to explain Islamic terrorism, reserve their ire for Western non-Muslims who kill far fewer, and typically in error.

If there is truth to the claim that foreign policy issues are the reason behind Muslim violence, then one has to wonder what are the motivations for the six days of rioting by the immigrant Muslim population in Sweden. Sweden only has 500 men in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force, attempting to train the Afghani security forces.

"Political Jihad"

Whilst MPAC UK presents itself as Muslim civil rights group, it has gained notoriety for its extremist views. It openly advocates a “political Jihad” against enemies of Islam and the West which apparently harms the Muslim world. In fact they claim any Muslim who’s not politically motivated in this way is a traitor to Islam!

Thus, MPAC UK’s criticism of other Muslim organisations, for not politicising the Muslim youth sufficiently, should be understood as an advocacy for what they term “political jihad”. Likewise, their attempts to minimise and subtly justify the slaughter of Lee Rigby is indeed a form of “political jihad”.

Also published at Crethi Plethi.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it was terrorism... because they went after the military. came on an article that argues it was an act of war, which is closer even though it was a barbaric killing...

Rob Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Harris said...

Anon, I don’t know if you wrote the article you cite but with respect it is quite the whitewash even when it comes to basic well known facts, for example “The two assailants... Neither made any effort to escape following the attack. One, Michael Adebolajo, even allowed himself to be videotaped as he justified his action to bystanders - referring to assaults on Muslims by western forces. He apologized that passing women and children had been exposed to the killing of Rigby. He spoke out knowing arrest was pending... possibly even death or injury at the hands of the security forces.”

The two butchers waited to attack and kill the police, rather than wait for them as if good little law abiding citizens. Moreover, they didn’t “allow” others to video tape them, they exhorted civilians to get involved (to take pictures etc.) to spread the horror of the attack.

There wasn’t a clear racial motive to covering the story, despite what the article suggests, at least not in the mainstream press I saw. The opposite was the case, where extensive coverage was given to Muslim leaders strongly condemning the attack. If the media can be accused of anything, it is being too timid with regard to the Islamist motive. The article is a good example of the kind of apologism I object to.

The article also suggests the attack was not frenzied. It was by all accounts a frenzied horrific assault, and Adebolajo’s hands were so covered in blood I first thought he was wearing red rubber gloves.

Yet the article does make one good point, which I agree with. It is related to your point, namely that it does not correspond with a terrorist attack because the attack was on a soldier rather than a civilian. Indeed terrorism tends to focus on soft targets, and civilians are clearly the softest targets of all. Yet the killing civilians is not the sole signifier of terrorism. For example, the IRA often targeted buildings and infrastructure. They often made threats that were not real either. The London Underground was beset by bomb threats during rush hour. The point being that Woolwich still conforms to it being a terrorist attack because it was made to intimidate the civilian populace to effect change as his statements made clear. That is the overriding aim of “terrorism”. This was particularly the case where the attack was made not only in a civilian space (inevitably perhaps) but during a time of day when civilians were milling around in a busy area of the community. Lastly Adebolajo declared to one civilian’s video-camera “you and your kids will be next”, no doubt expecting it to be broadcast to the world.

danny said...

I oppose Western foreign policy and think everyone including Muslims has the right to speak out about it but the line is drawn when anyone kills people. It is just wron