The banning of Islam4UK – and the lessons that should be learned by governments everywhere
ICSR is launching a great paper today. It deals with Islam4UK, an off-shoot of the extremist Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, which was banned by the British government earlier this year.
Written by Zara Raymond, it provides an overview of the group and its activities – based on in-depth interviews with some of its leaders, including Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Equally important, it looks at the government’s decision to ban the group. Very reasonably, it takes the position that the government had valid reasons for banning the group but that its decision to do so was undermined by the timing of its announcement.
Islam4UK was proscribed shortly after the group had announced their intention to stage a march through Wootton Basset – a town which regularly holds funeral processions for British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The group could have been banned earlier – given that Islam4UK was merely another name for a group that had already been banned under British law.
In waiting until the Wootton Bassett protest, the government unintentionally added plausibility to Anjem Choudary’s tirades against the double standards of Western liberal democracy and the limits of free speech.
Furthermore, the government seemed to act on short-term political considerations rather than long-term security imperatives, which won’t make counter-terrorism legislation more plausible or legitimate in the public’s eye.
All in all, the paper provides an excellent case study of how difficult it is for governments to deal with this kind of group. It also includes a number of valuable lessons that should be learned (and heeded) by governments everywhere.
The paper will be published on ICSR’s website later this afternoon (British time). A launch event with Zara Raymond will take place at King’s College London at 5pm.