My hero, journalist Robert Fisk of The Independent, has chastised the West for maltreating expat Muslims, and praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the way she reacted to the killing of 50 Muslims in Christchurch last month. Fisk was disgusted by Australia’s racist senator, Fraser Anning, who blamed the Christchurch bloodbath on “the immigration programme that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate”.
The Muslim world was impressed and grateful for how Ardern handled the Christchurch massacre. But many didn’t know how to process the actions of this unorthodox prime minister. Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan’s reaction was savage. He threatened to send Australian and New Zealand nationals home “in coffins” after hearing about the killings.
There was a time when Muslims went to the UK and came back “anglicised”, speaking English in an accent unfamiliar in Pakistan. Today, they return transformed into what a medieval Muslim man would have looked like — bearded and clad midway between Saudi Arabia and India, a total stranger to spoken English. The Muslim, now, goes abroad but refuses to assimilate, an unspoken condition once observed by all immigrants. Compared to non-Muslim expat communities, the Muslims are clearly singled out and attacked in the UK and EU.
In 2016, a Muslim lawyer of Pakistani descent was convicted in the UK of promoting the cause of the Islamic State and luring British Muslim youth into terrorism. Instead of the maximum 10 years, he received five-and-a-half years in jail without receiving much comment in Pakistan. In the past, this was how Anjem Choudary, leader of now-defunct radical outfits, Al Muhajiroun and Al Ghuraba, tweeted: “Eventually the whole world will be governed by Sharia & Muslims will have authority over China Russia USA, etc. This is the promise of Allah. Under the Sharia, the false Gods that people worship instead of Allah will be removed, like democracy, freedom, liberalism, secularism etc.”
His previous statements also included, “Allah said very clearly in the Koran ‘Don’t feel sorry for the non-Muslims.’ So as an adult non-Muslim… if he dies in a state of disbelief then he is going to go to the hellfire… so I’m not going to feel sorry for non-Muslims.”
Choudary asked UK Muslims to quit their jobs and claim unemployment so that they could “have more time to plot holy war against non-Muslims”. He believed that this was a form of jizya, a punitive tax that Muslims are supposed to impose on non-Muslims.
Reportedly, in 2010, Choudary took home more than £25,000 ($39,000) a year in welfare benefits. He received £15,600 a year in housing benefits to keep him in a £3,20,000 ($4,95,000) house in East London. He got £1,820 council tax allowance, £5,200 income support, and £3,120 child benefits. Since welfare payments are not taxed, he pocketed the equivalent of a £32,500 ($50,000) salary. By comparison, the average British worker in Britain gets £26,936 ($41,000) per annum.
Choudary’s boss, Syrian Omar Bakri, founder of the now-banned Al Muhajiroun, gouged the UK for £3,00,000 as benefits before being exiled to Lebanon: The money supposedly helped raise his six children including a daughter. Al Muhajiroun was active for a time in Pakistan during the early 2000s.
In Pakistan, the “mainstream” Muslim is growing up under the influence of “radical” clerics spawned by over 25,000 madrassas, most of them funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as the madrassa youths took part in the jihad in Afghanistan. They have the money today and they are powerful. The nation is “mainstreamed” by these radicals and converted away from the values still enshrined in Pakistan’s “modern” constitution, which is often rebuked by the Council of Islamic Ideology for allowing modern banking and for disallowing underage girls’ marriages.
The state wrongly thinks that the now-disabled jihadis can be “mainstreamed” after being “forgiven” for their violence, which the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) says would be disastrous for Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan has come out saying that Pakistan has to get rid of the country’s jihadi organisations, which are still functional. Pakistan actually set up a National Action Programme (NAP) in 2014 to cleanse the country of elements that trespass on the “monopoly of violence” of the state. But the state has been “NAPPING” since then, refusing to accept that the nation has been “mainstreamed” by its tormentors.
The writer is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan