The release of the Islamic State-supporting preacher Anjem Choudary will fuel extremism
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The impending release of convicted Islamic State-supporting hate preacher Anjem Choudary could heighten the threat from both Islamists and the far-right, counter-extremism experts have warned.
The Faith Matters counter-extremism network, quoted in the Independent, warned Choudary is a part of a “dance of hate where the only ones to profit have been the extremists.”
Not only will British Islamist activity increase following his release but far-right extremism too, the group forecasts. Faith Matters noted that already far-right activists have launched petitions and are planning protests focused on Choudary’s release.
“It may also embolden enablers of Islamist extremism who continue to promote a ‘them and us’ mentality that seeks to mentally marginalize British Muslims from mainstream society,” the group said.
Choudary, one of Britain’s most high profile supporters of Islamic extremism, came to prominence in the early 2000s during the UK’s so-called ‘war on terror.’ The preacher and his group of Muslim extremists, Al-Muhajiroun, toured the country carrying out talks and protests targeting the government and promoting a ‘clash of civilisations’ narative between Islam and the West.
Al-Muhajiroun, now listed as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department, claimed the murderers of Lee Rigby and the London Bridge attack ringleader Khuram Butt were among its followers.
Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, told the Independent that Choudary’s extremist point of view must be “disrupted, challenged and pushed out of the public space at every point.”
He added that “Choudhary was regarded by many as a clown in the 1990s and with no real traction, yet we can see now just how mistaken this belief was.”
“He systematically preyed on vulnerable young men while inculcating them with messages of alienation and disaffection for our country. When groups like Isis and al-Qaeda came along, Choudhary’s warped beliefs bore fruit as the young men he helped brainwash headed out to areas such as the Middle East, while other associates such as Westminster attacker Khalid Masood sought to wreak terror on our streets.”
The preacher was mostly careful not to break Britain’s hate speech laws, but in 2015 he was convicted with inviting support of a proscribed organisation, namely Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and sentenced to five years and six months in prison. Despite only serving a fraction of that time, Choudary is expected to be released on licence (parole) in October 2018.