Lord Ahmed and racists

November 24, 2016 22:46

I was travelling yesterday morning, so I didn't hear the Today programme. (By the way; why does everyone call it that rather than just Today? No one refers to the East Enders programme.) But David T did:

Lord Ahmed was on Radio 4's Today programme complaining that the Prime Minister has "hijacked" a Cambrige University conference on Islam by preventing what the BBC describes as "mainstream British Muslims" from taking part.

Specifically, he complained that the Government had "deliberately chosen to exclude those Muslims who disagree with government policy" The Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, which organised the Conference on Islam and Muslims in the World Today, denies this slur.

Indeed, if you look at the list of speakers, they include a large number of well respected scholars and other muslims, including:

- Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad

- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson

- His Eminence Shaykh Ali Gomaa

- Asim Siddiqui

- Professor Mona Siddiqui

The groups whose exclusion so aggrieves Lord Ahmed apparently includes "Jamaat". I assume that he is refering to activists the extremist and racist Mawdudist fringe political party, Jamaat-e-Islami: the south Asian sibling of the Muslim Brotherhood. Jamaat's key United Kingdom bases are the East London Mosque and the Islamic Foundation. Its politics are shared by key figures in the now-discredited Muslim Council of Britain.

As David T points out: Disappointingly, Lord Ahmed seems to be developing into something of a champion for extreme racists. A couple of years ago, he hosted a book launch at the House of Lords for the notorious jew baiter, "Israel Shamir". I wonder if Lord Ahmed would insist on the British National Party being invited to a conference on Britishness, and gripe if they were not included in the guest list? He links to a piece I wrote about Lord Ahmed and Israel Shamir:

On February 23 [2005], Lord Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for a man going by the name of Israel Shamir. “Israel Shamir” is, in fact, a Swedish-domiciled anti-Semite also known as Joran Jermas.

The gist of Shamir/Jermas’s speech at the meeting can be gleaned from its title, “Jews and the Empire”. It included observations such as: “All the [political] parties are Zionist-infiltrated.” “Your newspapers belong to Zionists . . . Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of Imperial thinking.” “In the Middle East we have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble — and that is Jewish supremacy drive . . . in Iraq, the US and its British dependency continue the same old fight for ensuring Jewish supremacy in the Middle East.” “The Jews like an Empire . . . This love of Empire explains the easiness Jews change their allegiance . . . Simple minds call it ‘treacherous behaviour’, but it is actually love of Empire per se.” “Now, there is a large and thriving Muslim community in England . . . they are now on the side of freedom, against the Empire, and they are not afraid of enforcers of Judaic values, Jewish or Gentile. This community is very important in order to turn the tide.”

Why would Lord Ahmed have hosted such a man in the Lords? It is, of course, possible that Lord Ahmed had no idea that Shamir/Jermas was a rabid anti-Semite. Yet it takes only a quick Google to discover his views and background. He has worked for Zavtra, Russia’s most anti-Semitic publication, and is allied with the Vanguard News Network, set up by an American, Alex Linder — a man so extreme that he was even ostracised by the US neo-Nazi National Alliance.

...Other figures at the forefront of campaigns against Israel are wise to Shamir/Jermas’s toxic anti-Semitism; Ali Abunimah, for example, who writes for the Electronic Intifada website and Hussein Ibish, press spokesman of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, gave warning in 2001 that Shamir/Jermas was not anti-Israeli but anti-Semitic.

It is surely not unreasonable to expect Lord Ahmed to have exercised a cursory check on his guest. If, however, Lord Ahmed does feel that he made a mistake in inviting him, he has yet to demonstrate it. Shamir/Jermas’s speech was made nearly two months ago.

On learning of its contents, I wrote to Lord Ahmed, asking him two questions. Did he consider the invitation to have been a mistake? Did he condemn the remarks? He did not reply. Yesterday, I phoned him. When I told him that I planned to write a piece drawing attention to his actions in hosting Shamir/Jermas and that I wanted to give him every opportunity to respond, he replied: “I am not even going to speak with you.” He then put the phone down.

Lord Ahmed’s refusal to condemn the remarks seems to indicate that he sees nothing wrong with inviting such a man to speak, or with the words Shamir/Jermas used.

Two years on, I am unaware of any change of heart by Lord Ahmed. I hope I am wrong, and he has indeed condemned Shamir/Jermas. If Lord Ahmed would like to make clear his condemnation of Shamir/Jermas, I am happy to offer to reproduce such a condemnation on this site.

But on the evidence of his remarks yesterday, it seems, to say the least, unlikely that he will take me up on this offer.

November 24, 2016 22:46

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