Rashad Ali is a Director of CENTRI, an organisation that specialises in countering extremism
Robert Lambert yesterday mistakenly criticized the government for its position on excluding and subsequently arresting the hate preacher Raed Salah, as reported on Newsnight , not for his political views, but for violating his notice of exclusion under UK immigration law. Lambert refers to Saleh as "Sheikh" and presents him as merely a persecuted Palestinian activist. In his piece, Lambert tries to say that the controversy is about Israel and nothing to do anti-semitism, extremism, support for Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, or in fact any connections with officially-designated extreme or terrorist groups.
Lambert is either ignorant of the facts, incompetent or simply not concerned with them at all. He states that "anger and frustration with Israeli oppression is hardly the same as unwarranted hatred of a minority or majority community of any kind." But Salah has said: "We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood," he said. "Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread." Clearly for Lambert this was nothing to do with hatred of Jews!
Salah also wrote: "Jews knew about the attack on the twin towers, left the building and did not inform anyone. 9/11…A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”
There is no mention at all by Lambert of support for extremists such as al-Qaeda, in fact he claims that Salah is like "Nelson Mandela". Well, here is the website of the movement which Salah heads, describing Bin Laden as the "the sheikh, the martyr, bin Laden" and the US forces who killed him as the forces of "Satan"!…"We in the Islamic Movement condemn the assassination operation against the sheikh, the martyr Osama Bin Laden, if [reports are] true, at the hands of the American security arms. The assassination, if true, proves collusion of mercenaries who have sold their consciences to cursed Satan."
Lambert goes on to say: "It is difficult to find anything in Sheikh Salah's so-called hate speech that would not have occasioned an entirely opposite response from the British Home Secretary had the words been uttered by a non-Muslim visiting Britain." Again, let’s examine the evidence and see if Lambert is correct.
- Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner) was banned from entering the country for his views on Islam, immigration, rape and autism.
- Fred Waldren Phelps, the Christian Baptist, (when last I checked he was not a Muslim), was prevented form entering the country for his anti-gay views. (He celebrated the deaths of US soldiers and picketed funerals of AIDS victims).
- For a list of some other racists and extremists that have been excluded for spreading obnoxious views, have a look at this list in the Guardian.
The Salah decision is self-evidently nothing to do with Israel, but is about extremism, support and praise for the al-Qaeda terrorist leader, anti-semitism of the most vile kind, and a rabble-rousing hate preacher. It is incidental that this hate preacher happens to a Muslim. Lambert insinuates that this is not about terrorism but Saleh was arrested, sentenced and served time though subsequently released after plea bargaining for funding Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization which targets and attacks civilians and is listed so by the EU. One would have assumed that a former police officer, specializing in counter-terrorism, would be aware of this.
However, if Lambert is unaware why doesn't he ask a few questions of his funders? Among them is an organisation named and shamed by David Cameron as a Muslim Brotherhood front – the Cordoba Foundation. Is it be a coincidence that Lambert also praises another sheikh – the Muslim Brotherhood- groomed "cleric", Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a man who is reported to believe that terrorism is a religious duty, including killing American civilians working in Iraq".
These beliefs are not just immoral and illegal, but also in direct contravention of the UK Government's policy and stopping terrorism: you would think that an expert, former police officer would know this, wouldn't you? Entering our country is not a right for all people: it is a privilege, and one which should not be extended for people who support terrorism. A view which I would have thought did not require justifying – and hence the exclusion of Salah is nothing to do with free speech.
I would hasten to add that I am sure that our courts will uphold justice. Lambert threatens the coalition government with UK justice, but neglects to mention that another person whose entry to Britain he supported, Zakir Naik, also tried to challenge his exclusion but the decision to exclude him was upheld by a UK High Court. Oh and guess what – Naik is another one of Lambert's “Cause Celebs”. I have confidence in our judicial system, and believe that it will reject the claims of Lambert's current "Celeb", Salah, as well. A question remains: will our civil service still take what Lambert says with any seriousness, when the facts are diametrically opposed to his "analysis"?