Imtiaz Ameen was Conservative candidate for Blackburn at the 2005 general election and is a former councillor in Dewsbury, where he will be standing for the council again in May. Writing as a British Muslim, he explains why Islam4uk's proposed march through Wootton Bassett should be banned. Click here to read his blog.
The decision by the extremist group Islam4uk to plan a march through the streets of Wootton Bassett is an act of deliberate provocation not designed, as alleged, to honour "innocent Muslims" killed in the conflict in Afghanistan – but simply to antagonise people who have had the decency to regularly honour returning soldiers killed in battle.
The proposed march is distasteful propaganda which all right-minded people, regardless of the religious affiliation, will abhor. And on this occasion, the Home Secretary must exercise some of the numerous powers at his disposal and prevent it from taking place.
Islam4uk is a marginalised and potentially dangerous group of Muslims led by the notorious Anjem Choudary which, among many things, attacks the “polytheistic anathema that is democracy” and declares Muslims who actively participate in the democratic process as out of the fold of Islam. Its members, however, are more than happy to live within such a system and enjoy its benefits including the right to protest.
The organisation is a platform for the global front Al-Muhajiroun and its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Islamist radical and former head of Hizb ut Tahrir in the United Kingdom which allegedly had numerous links with would-be terrorists and Al-Qaeda operatives. Islam4uk’s aim is to "propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law" and advocates "complete upheaval of the British ruling system, its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari'ah in Britain" – in other words to introduce and implement Sharia Law according to its warped definition in the UK.
Perversely, Islam4uk wants its members to be allowed to walk through the streets of Wootton Bassett chanting political slogans and displaying their tasteless placards by relying on the principles of democracy which give people the right to voice their opinions wherever they choose – no matter how unpalatable these opinions are; yet at the same time it believes that democracy and secularism is apostasy as it is man-made and not by God and should therefore be rejected by all Muslims. Islam4uk seeks to remove democracy as a system of governance, but in order to achieve that goal is nevertheless content to use the philosophy and values of the democratic system.
Mr Choudary and his associates are either short-sighted or don’t have any qualms about adopting such a hypocritical stance, but the vast majority of Muslims in this country and elsewhere will see through this deceit and find the proposed actions of Islam4uk to say the least, utterly obnoxious. There are other places where the killed “innocents” could be remembered but to attempt to do so in Wootton Bassett is a cynical and feeble attempt by Mr Choudary to use the deaths of these “innocent” people to publicise the propaganda of his group and of course have another day in the media spotlight.
Allowing this march to take place has the potential to damage community relations in many parts of the country by, for example, giving far right groups as well as others the opportunity to lump all Muslims together with Islam4uk and show it as their representative. More importantly, it is disrespectful to the soldiers (and their families) killed in Afghanistan who have passed through RAF Lyneham. While ideally, as James Gray MP has said, we should "ignore it, treat it with disdain, contempt, or even mild humour", the reality is that the press and media will not allow this to happen and will give the marchers the oxygen of publicity they seek.
Islam4uk and others of their ilk need to understand that democracy has its boundaries and provocatively marching in a place synonymous with caskets containing bodies of soldiers killed in conflict is undoubtedly crossing these boundaries, for which there should be severe consequences. For these reasons the Home Secretary should act firmly and decisively and not allow the march to take place in Wootton Bassett.