Let’s treat all bigots equally

After Wilders’s UK ban, blocking Moussawi was the only sane course of action

By Douglas Murray, March 19, 2009

The Home Office decision to bar Hizbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi from the UK is a victory for common sense. It is more than a month since a colleague of mine at the Centre for Social Cohesion noticed that Moussawi was due to come to London to address a seminar on political Islam at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The Dutch MP Geert Wilders had just been barred by the UK from entering the country in case he “threatened community harmony”.  We alerted the government to the story because Mr Moussawi’s job is to threaten community harmony. As a spokesperson for a terrorist group founded on annihilationist anti-Jewish principles his job could be at risk were he not threatening community harmony.

He has been allowed into this country twice in the last two years. Last year he engaged in a tour of our university campuses. This time we discovered that SOAS were due to pay Moussawi and other speakers to “educate” civil servants and police. Attendees at the week-long course — still scheduled for next week — are expected to pay nearly £2,000, a sum likely be picked up by taxpayers.

As a last resort, when it still looked like the Home Secretary might allow Moussawi into the UK, I wrote to her warning that I would instruct lawyers to get an international arrest warrant out to have Moussawi arrested if he arrived on British soil. 

Such international warrants have been sought in recent years against Israeli generals. They have also been sought on the continent against former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks. So far they have been entirely one-sided political tools. 

In the event, we didn’t have to arrest Moussawi. But the first day of the SOAS course will still feature Kamal Helbawy. In a recent interview on the BBC Arabic service, he told his interviewer: “I condemn the targeting of any civilian.” You can hear the “but” coming. Sure enough, he went on:

“But incidentally, I believe that every Israeli civilian is a future soldier.”

“What? Even if he is two years old?” asked the interviewer.

Helbawy: “Even if he is a child.”

So although the main speaker will not appear, SOAS still think it appropriate that the warm-up act should be a proponent of infanticide for Israelis.

Several times a week I find myself speaking to student societies on UK campuses. Sometimes at the invitation of political organisations or unions, sometimes at the invitation of Jewish and other religious societies. In each case I hear the same tone from Jewish students on campus: a sense of bewilderment that the best years of their lives are being taken up fighting international forces way outside their local sphere. We have seen protests, sit-ins, occupations, calls for boycotts and the erection of “apartheid” walls. And the combined effect is a horrifying situation for Jewish students.

If anyone is in any doubt, it’s worth trying the following thought-experiment. Say that, instead of exercising the right to alert people to a real and present danger, Geert Wilders, or some other figure critical of Islamic extremism, called for the murder of Muslims. Let’s also imagine that such a despicable figure not only incited, but was a spokesperson for an organisation which had targeted and killed Muslims across the globe. Would such a person be invited to the UK by a major university? Would he be paid to propagate his prejudices? And if he failed to turn up, would there be a bigot in reserve? Of course not.

What we are seeing is the normalisation of a very particular, vigorous and violent bigotry propelled by militant Islamists.  Most amazing of all— we are also paying for it.  It is taking place at publicly-funded institutes of higher education.  It is time that we did something about this.  The issue is now a long-way past being “academic”.

Douglas Murray is director of the Centre for Social Cohesion

Last updated: 2:21pm, March 19 2009