A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: July 2017
July 1. Two men, both aged 21, one from Leicester and one from Birmingham, were arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of terrorism offenses after arriving on a flight from Turkey. Two days earlier, a 21-year-old woman was arrested, also on suspicion of terrorism offenses, at the same airport, as she arrived on a flight from Istanbul. In May, a 30-year-old man was arrested at Heathrow, on suspicion of preparing for terrorist acts after he stepped off a plane from Istanbul.
July 2. Sahnoun Daifallah, a 50-year-old Algerian chemist, sentenced to nine years in prison for contaminating supermarket food with his own excrement, avoided deportation for seven years. Daifallah came to Britain in 1999 and was granted refugee status two years later. In May 2008, he used a weed killer spray bottle to contaminate food with a mixture of urine and feces at several supermarkets in Gloucestershire. Damage to the businesses was estimated at £700,000 ($900,000). Daifallah was told he would be deported in 2010, but apparently bureaucratic incompetence has kept him in immigration custody since February 2013. The 54 months he has spent in detention have cost British taxpayers around £155,000 ($200,000), not including his legal bills which have added at least another £100,000.
July 2. A new report — "The Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All" — concluded: "It is of great importance that British-born imams, who have a good understanding of British culture and who fluently speak English, are encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives." The 18-month inquiry — commissioned by Citizens UK, a community organizing charity, and chaired by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP — was set up to examine ways in which the participation of Muslims in the public and community life, outside of their own faith groups, might be improved. Imams were told they must take a "stronger stance" against persecution of others, including Jews, Christians and other Muslims. "The Commission has heard a great deal about the need for better leadership within the UK's Muslim communities," the report said. "The management committees of the UK's mosques need to better understand, and respond to, modern British life."
July 3. BBC One broadcast a documentary — "The Betrayed Girls" — about the Rochdale child exploitation ring, in which dozens of underage girls were raped and trafficked by a gang of men from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 90-minute film, which featured interviews with individuals from the case, including some of the victims, former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver and Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, provided insights into the failings of police and other official bodies to investigate the large-scale sexual abuse, which occurred between 2008 and 2009.
Oliver, who resigned from the Manchester police force after claiming that hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse by Muslim grooming gangs were mishandled or ignored, criticized police for failing to tackle the abuse. Appearing on Lorraine, a television show, Oliver said:
We are 15 years on now and there is not one senior police officer that has been held accountable. Most of them have retired with big pensions. I think it has gone way beyond the racial debate, I see it as a class debate also....
These girls had no voice, just like the people that they stuck in Grenfell Tower. They are not living in big fancy apartments in the West End of London so those in positions of authority they have got an attitude and an arrogance that they can do what they like. It shouldn't matter where anybody's from, a rapist is a rapist.
What puzzles me is at what point in the life of police officer...at what point in that climb up the slippery pole do they lose sight of why they joined and what is right and what is wrong, and what has happened is wrong and nobody has been brought to account.
July 3. Haroon Syed, 19, from West London, was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years in prison for plotting to attack an Elton John concert in London on the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Syed admitted to researching potential targets on the internet, including an Elton John concert in Hyde Park and Oxford Street, a busy shopping district. He also used the internet to try obtain weapons to use in a possible attack, and used social media to contact people he believed were supporters of Islamic State. In one message, he wrote: "So after some damage with machine gun then do martyrdom...that's what im planning to do."
July 3. Armed police swooped down on a Megabus from London after a "disruptive" man, shouting "praise Allah" and "something's about to happen," caused a driver to pull over and evacuate worried passengers. A Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police spokesman said: "The bus stopped on Central Park Drive where a 47-year-old man from Manchester was detained under the Mental Health Act. He will now undergo a mental health assessment."
July 3. Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, reportedly has deployed agents to Ireland to monitor jihadists there. A source interviewed by the Irish Star said:
Ireland is a major area of concern for the British there is no doubt about that. They are here specifically to watch jihadis. They are here because they think we are a weak link in terms of their security. They want to know about potential threats to the UK from extremists living here. The British think our security here is too lax and MI5 are here to try and spot any problems in Dublin before they get to England.
July 4. The National Health Service (NHS) recorded 5,391 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) during the past year. Almost half of the victims involved women and girls living in London. One-third were women and girls born in Somalia, while 112 cases were UK-born nationals. Although FGM was banned in the UK in 1985, not a single person has been convicted of the crime. Many victims are said to be reluctant to report offenses because it would require them to give evidence against members of their family. This has made it difficult for authorities to secure prosecutable evidence.
July 4. Sally Jones, a former punk rocker who became the leading female recruitment officer for the Islamic State, married a now-deceased jihadist and moved with her son to Raqqa, reportedly wants to return to Britain. In an interview with Sky News, "Aisha," the wife of a Moroccan jihadist in Syria, said: "She was crying and wants to get back to Britain but ISIS is preventing her because she is now a military wife. She told me she wishes to go to her country."
July 4. Haleema Butt, the 28-year-old sister of the London Bridge terror attacker Khuram Butt, was fired from her job at Heathrow Airport after an internal investigation. Her husband, Usman Darr, was suspended from his job, also at the airport. Both were security staff. A Heathrow spokesman said: "Heathrow took appropriate action in close cooperation with the authorities in relation to two colleagues employed at the airport."
July 4. Northern Ireland's lead prosecutor, Barra McGrory, said he has no regrets about charging Pastor James McConnell for hate speech for making "grossly offensive" remarks during a May 2014 sermon in which he said that Islam is "satanic" and "heathen." McConnell was acquitted of the charges in January 2016. McGrory said:
The remarks were sufficiently offensive in my view to bring it over the prosecutorial threshold, as did those who worked on the case here. The fact that the district judge didn't think that the remarks were over that threshold is not something I've any great issue with.
It's not OK to offend people, but it's not a criminal offense to offend people in the context of using language to get across a doctrinal point. The case was taken on the basis that we believed there were points in the sermon where he strayed outside the strict doctrinal debate and used language which we considered to be offensive beyond the doctrinal context.
The judge in the end decided that it was all within a doctrinal context and only on that basis, the remarks weren't considered to be grossly offensive. So, it was a very fine judgment.
There are laws which control and limit free speech in certain contexts. It's a prosecutor's nightmare trying to make these finely balanced decisions on whether or not such comments do or do not stray across the line.
Northern Ireland's lead prosecutor, Barra McGrory, recently said he has no regrets about charging Pastor James McConnell (pictured above on December 16, 2016) for hate speech for making "grossly offensive" remarks during a May 2014 sermon in which he said that Islam is "satanic" and "heathen." (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
July 5. A new report — "Foreign Funded Islamist Extremism in the UK" from the Henry Jackson Society — highlighted the need for a public inquiry into the foreign-based funding of Islamist extremism. The report's conclusions include:
The foreign funding for Islamist extremism in Britain primarily comes from governments and government-linked foundations based in the Gulf, as well as Iran.
Foremost among these has been Saudi Arabia, which since the 1960s has sponsored a multimillion dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.
In the UK, this funding has primarily taken the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions, which have apparently, in turn, played host to Islamist extremist preachers and the distribution of extremist literature. Influence has also been exerted through the training of British Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, as well as the use of Saudi textbooks in a number of the UK's independent Islamic schools.
A number of Britain's most serious Islamist hate preachers sit within the Salafi-Wahhabi ideology and are apparently linked to Islamist extremism sponsored from overseas, either by having studied in Saudi Arabia as part of scholarship programs, or by having been provided with extreme literature and material within the UK itself.
There have been numerous cases of British individuals who have joined Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria whose radicalization is thought to link back to foreign funded institutions and preachers.
July 5. Several of the most dangerous and radicalized extremists in the British prison system were moved into the first of three special "jihadi jail" separation units across England and Wales. The first specialist center is at HMP Frankland near Durham; two other centers, at HMP Full Sutton near York and at HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, are due to open in the coming months. The three centers combined will hold up to 28 of the most subversive extremist prisoners in the system, far short of the 186 prisoners convicted of terrorist or extremist offenses.
July 7. A 17-year-old boy who grew up in a Christian family and converted to Islam allegedly plotted a "lone wolf" attack on a Justin Bieber concert in Cardiff. Counter-terrorism police said the boy, who was not identified because of his age, was radicalized in less than a week online. The attack was to take place on June 30 as more than 40,000 fans descended on the Principality Stadium for the concert. The boy was arrested during a raid on his rural home hours before the performance.
July 8. Nazim Ali, a director of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), claimed that the victims of the fire at the Grenfell Tower "were murdered" by Zionists who fund the Conservative party. Ali said:
As we know in Grenfell, many innocents were murdered by Theresa May's cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology. Let us not forget that some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.
It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high rise blocks.... Careful, careful, careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We received an allegation of anti-Semitic comments and it is being investigated by detectives from Westminster. The inquiry continues."
July 9. Zohair Tomari, 20, was sentenced to 12 years and nine months years in prison for raping a 17-year-old girl and sexually assaulting two other girls, aged 13 and 14. Tomari, who claims to be from Morocco but is believed to be from Syria, raped the 17-year-old after plying her with alcohol. He was granted bail and went on to attack the two younger girls.
July 12. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the government would not publish a much-delayed report into the funding of Islamist extremism in Britain. The review was commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2015. Rudd said:
It gives us the best picture we have ever had of how extremists operating in the UK sustain their activities.... Having taken advice, I have decided against publishing the classified report produced during the review in full. This is because of the volume of personal information it contains and for national security reasons.
Opposition parties condemned the government for not publishing the report. They said that the decision appeared to be intended to bury any criticism of Saudi Arabia. Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said that the public "has a right to know if any governments, foreign or domestic organizations or individuals are funding extremism in this country." She added:
There is a strong suspicion this report is being suppressed to protect this government's trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full.
Caroline Lucas, the Green co-leader, said that Rudd's "utterly vague statement" was unacceptable:
The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from, leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said the decision to not publish the report was "utterly shameful." He said:
Instead of supporting the perpetrators of these vile ideologies, the government should be naming and shaming them, including so-called allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar if need be.
July 12. British Transport Police released a CCTV image of an elderly Muslim man suspected of having sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl on a train between Preston and Blackburn. A police spokesman said: "We do not tolerate any form of unwanted sexual behavior and we are working to identify and trace the offender. The victim was understandably left distressed and shaken by what happened."
July 14. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Britain's most senior police officer, said that a "very large number of plots" have been foiled over the last few years. "Some of them were very close, we would say, to an attack, very close." Pressed on exactly how many attacks have been thwarted, she said that five had been averted in "just the last few weeks." She added:
Overall I think it is well into the teens in the last couple of years, where we know people were intent on attacking and that has been stopped. In addition, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of arrests of people who are radicalized, and are either spreading hatred or supporting terrorism, or want to carry out a terrorist attack.
July 14. Muslim leaders filed a complaint with the organizers of London's Pride festival after placards allegedly bearing Islamophobic messages were spotted at the event. Banners bearing slogans such as "Allah is gay" and "F*** Islamic homophobia" were carried at the event by members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for CEMB, said the group was protesting the treatment of LGBT people in states under hardline Islamic leadership, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a capital offense. She added:
Pride is full of 'God is gay' and 'Jesus had two fathers' placards as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet hold a sign saying 'Allah is gay' — as we did — and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing offense.
July 14. Jahed Choudhury, 24, thought to be one of the first British Muslims to be in a same-sex marriage, said that since his wedding, he had received death threats online and abuse on the streets: "The worst messages say, 'the next time I see you in the streets, I'm going to throw acid in your face.' Even if I walk down the streets, I have people spitting on me and calling me pig." He added: "I've been brought up Muslim and the Koran mentions you cannot be gay and Muslim. But this is how I have chosen to live my life. I will never get rid of my faith."
July 15. An investigation revealed that Imran Miah, a 27-year-old ISIS supporter who threatened and mocked non-Muslims on Facebook, has been working as a teaching assistant at several state schools in London. Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terror legislation, said Miah's online statements warranted a police investigation. Lord Carlile said they may breach the Terrorism Act of 2006, which bans indirect encouragement of terrorism, as well as hate crime laws. "It is alarming that somebody was being employed as a supply teacher, given that this type of internet activity was not compatible with someone being a supply teacher," Lord Carlile said.
July 16. Aniso Abulkadir, 18, from Harrow, London, claimed that she and her friends were racially assaulted at the Baker Street Tube station. After reporting the incident to the police, Abulkadir shared a photo of the alleged attacker online and described how he attempted to remove her headscarf before hitting her. When the picture went viral, the man in the image identified himself on Twitter and refuted the allegations. Pawel Uczciwek, 28, from London, said he was protecting his girlfriend and attempting to defuse what he called a "racist attack from three random females." Uczciwek wrote: "The police is fully cooperating with me and will be able to obtain CCTV footage showing the three women attempting to attack my partner because we are in an interracial relationship."
July 19. Jihadists linked to the Islamic State called on supporters to carry out "lone wolf" attacks on Jewish businesses and places of worship in Britain. The threat, posted on a pro-ISIS social media site called Lone Mujahid, included a list of every synagogue in Britain, as well as a list of Jewish shops and delis across the country.
July 20. Rachida Serroukh, 37, a single mother of three, filed a lawsuit against her daughter's school, the prestigious Holland Park School, dubbed the "socialist Eton," after being told she could not wear a face veil on its premises. The school said it is a safety issue to be able to identify all of those on school premises. Serroukh's lawyer, Attiq Malik, said it was a "straightforward" test case of religious discrimination. "The government constantly talks about British values. To me, those values include diversity and multiculturalism."
July 21. The British government lacks reliable immigration statistics and has no way of accurately tracking who is entering or leaving the country, according to a new report released by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee:
The available data on migration are extremely poor. They fail to provide an accurate number of migrants entering or leaving the country or the number of migrants in work. The data, based upon flawed sample surveys, are wholly inadequate for policy making and measuring the success or otherwise of the policies adopted. The margin of error for the latest net migration statistics was 41,000. The Government must prioritize plans to improve the longstanding flaws in the data if it is to take effective control of migration.
July 22. A freedom of information request revealed that Anjem Choudary, an Islamist who is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for urging support of the Islamic State, has received more than £140,000 ($180,000) in taxpayer-funded legal aid for his unsuccessful bid to avoid prison. The figure is set to rise as his lawyers continue to file claims. The father-of-five has claimed up to £500,000 ($640,000) in benefits, which he has referred to as "Jihad seeker's allowance."
July 22. Zana Hassan, a 29-year-old Iraqi who has been living illegally in Britain for nine years, avoided deportation after he stormed into a Methodist church and threatened churchgoers. "I will kill you and kill all the English," he shouted. The Crown Prosecution Service deemed the offense a "low-level disorder," which allowed Hassan to avoid time in jail. Hassan walked free after Home Office officials failed to take the opportunity to seek a deportation order. Ukip MEP Mike Hookem asked, "Do we really need this sort of person in our country?" George Richardson, Conservative county councilor for Barnard Castle East, said, "It seems someone needs to be killed before they get a bigger sentence."
July 25. Mujahid Arshid, 33, was charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering Celine Dookhran, a 19-year-old Indian Muslim, in a suspected "honor killing" in London. Prosecutor Binita Roscoe told the Wimbledon Magistrates' Court that the teenager was of Indian Muslim heritage and had started a relationship with an Arab Muslim man.
July 25. An inmate at a prison in Norfolk shouted "this is for Allah" before slashing the throat of a guard. After being moved to another prison, the man attacked a second officer. An official source said that the suspect was not serving a sentence for a terror-related offense, a statement that raised the possibility that he had been radicalized in prison.
July 26. A 15-year-old girl was raped at a railway station in Birmingham. She was then raped again by the driver of a passing car she flagged down to help her. Police described the first attacker as an "Asian" man in his early 20s and of a skinny build. Police said the second man was also "Asian" and in his 20s and of a large build.
July 27. Victoria Wasteney, a Christian NHS worker, lost an appeal in her legal battle which erupted because she shared her faith at work with her Muslim colleague, Enya Nawaz. Wasteney, the former Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at St. John Howard hospital in East London, was suspended in June 2013 for "gross misconduct" after Nawaz complained that Wasteney had been attempting to convert her to Christianity. Wasteney said she was surprised by the allegations because she thought she and her colleague had become friends over the 18 months they worked together. Wasteney lost the case when she took the trust to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In October 2015, Wasteney won permission to appeal on grounds of religious freedom. After losing the appeal in April 2016, she decided to challenge the decision, but lost once again.
July 27. An official report revealed that Omar Deghayes, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay who was paid £1 million ($1.3 million) in compensation by the British Government for the time he spent at the detention center, passed some of the money on to teenage jihadists who later died fighting in Syria. Deghayes is alleged to have paid young Muslim boys to attend a gym where children were "vulnerable to radicalization." The Serious Case Review revealed that police and other authorities were warned about a network of teenage jihadists attending the gym, but that those concerns were ignored.
July 27. Four members of the Rochdale sexual grooming gang received £1million ($1.3 million) in taxpayer-funded legal aid to fight their deportation to Pakistan. Lawyers for Shabir Ahmed, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Abdul Rauf, paedophiles who raped and abused girls as young as 13, are leveraging Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to family life. David Spencer, of the Center for Crime Prevention think-tank, said:
These men have been convicted of some truly abhorrent offenses and it beggars belief that they are now able to run up even bigger taxpayer-funded bills making spurious appeals in an effort to extend their stay in the UK.
July 28. Iman FM, a radio station in Sheffield, was taken off the air by Ofcom, the media regulator, after it broadcast 25 hours of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, a former leader of al-Qaeda who was killed in an American drone strike. Ofcom said Iman FM was guilty of "extremely serious breaches" of the broadcasting code by airing material that "was likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder." Iman FM said it "fully accepted" that breaches had taken place but insisted they were due to "recklessness, but not deliberate intent."
July 28. The government appeared to abandon its two-year-long attempt to ban teachers caught up in the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham, after those in the remaining cases were told that disciplinary action against them has been halted. Fifteen teachers and senior staff were accused of trying to Islamize schools in Birmingham, but letters from the National Council of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) — an arm of the Department for Education — to lawyers for the remaining teachers involved were told that the proceedings have been discontinued. The decision means that only one teacher out of the 15 who faced proceedings by the government has received a classroom ban, while the other 14 have had their cases dismissed, overturned or dropped.
July 30. Mubarek Ali, the ringleader of sexual grooming gang in Telford, was told he would be released from prison just five years into a 22-year sentence. Ali was one of seven men convicted at Worcester Crown Court in 2013 for preying on girls as young as 13. Telford MP Lucy Allan condemned the decision, which could allow Ali back into a community where his victims continue to live. She said:
Victims and members of the public would have expected a 22-year sentence to mean that the community could have time to heal and victims would be able to get on with their lives. What we see in this case is that the one of the main perpetrators is being released into the community only five years after the trial....
What is unacceptable is that in this case there was no attempt by the authorities to reach out these young women and prepare them for this wholly unexpected event. Worse still is the prospect that this person may be returned to Telford and naturally this has caused huge anxiety to victims.
July 31. Amin Mohmed, 24, Mohammed Patel, 20, and Faruq Patel, 19, were sentenced to between 18 and 42 weeks at a young offenders' institution after rampaging through Liverpool city center attacking strangers because they were white "non-Muslims." One of the men stopped Gary Bohanna and said, "I'm a Muslim, what are you?" When Bohanna answered, "I'm a Christian," the attacker shouted, "Why aren't you a Muslim?" before punching him twice, breaking his glasses and causing a 2-cm cut above his left eye. The group then encountered St. Helens councilor Paul Lynch and his girlfriend. Faruq filmed Mohmed punching Lynch with a "sickening blow" that could be "seen and heard." The judge said: "References to the fact he was not a Muslim were made and you appeared to justify your actions because of certain beliefs you held."