Today, we can dip our lids out of gratitude to a native of the United Kingdom, a former medical student (failed first year and promptly changed faculties) and lawyer (chairman of the UK Society of Muslim Lawyers for a time, but then removed from the official register of legal practitioners in 2002) of Pakistani ethnicity, who went on to become a community leader and minor media personality in the UK and now the world. Additional aspects of his otherwise-undistinguished life are here.
Mr Anjem Choudary, who regales in the quasi-religious title 'imam', appeared a week ago in an interview on CNN. The man's cold-blooded message of hatred is despicable, but the interview demonstrates that he is clear and relatively articulate on matters that civil society needs to hear expressed clearly and with articulation.
Choudary was a founder of Islam4UK and al-Muhajiroun, both of them eventually declared illegal under the UK's counter-terrorism laws on 14 January 2010. Yet he remains free, unconvicted and able to express his jihadist views [see this BBC transcript] pretty largely at will. Such views as this one, expressed on one of the BBC's most prominent television programs five years ago:
"Look, at the end of the day innocent people - when we say 'innocent people' we mean Muslims - as far as non-Muslims are concerned they have not accepted Islam and as far as we are concerned that is a crime against God." [BBC HardTalk, 8 August 2005]Speak clearly and articulately is what he does in the CNN clip below. The question is: is anyone listening? They should. We all should.
Given what we know about the devastation that the jihadists seek to bring upon the heads of most of us, it remains a source of painful astonishment that such men continue to thrive unhampered in the free and open societies that have extended welcoming arms to them. This speech, among many others like it, is a wake-up call.
No one should think, or say, that men like this vile practitioner of racism and of world-scale religious intolerance is a mainstream spokesman for Islam. Equally, no one should think that creatures like Choudary are entirely marginal to Islamic society, or that the vast differences between him and us are religious or doctrinal. Like Choudary, they are neither dreamers nor visionaries. Jihadist terrorists have action on their minds. If you look carefully you can see the evidence of their handiwork in the news every single day, with the certainty of much more (and worse) to come.