US

Extremist British Muslim planning rally in front of White House is a ‘publicity whore,’ critics say

Critics say radical British cleric Anjem Choudary is more of a “publicity whore” than a devout Muslim.

In his latest stunt, Choudary is calling for the United States to implement Sharia law and he plans to make the appeal at a rally in front of the White House Thursday. He told The Daily Caller in a phone interview that he is coming to Washington to explain to Americans “why Sharia is better for them.”

“I believe capitalism is dying a slow death right now, as you can see with the recession and with the credit crunch and with social and economic dismay the world as whole and the pandemic of promiscuity, drugs, alcohol and all the other diseases,” Choudary said. “That’s the worst and I believe it’s time for a change.”

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, a research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College in London, told TheDC that while Choudary’s persona has become a “joke” in Britain, what he advocates for is quite radical.

“Here, now, he’s seen as a little bit of a joke,” Hitchens said. “But, really, I should caveat that because Choudary is a part of a movement that’s been going on in the U.K. for maybe 15 or so years, which specifically calls for the establishment of Sharia law in the U.K. They want an Islamic state.”

Choudary co-founded Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Islamist group currently banned in Britain, with Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who was convicted in absentia last November in a Lebanese court and given a life sentence for training al-Qaeda recruits. Choudary is rumored to be traveling to the United States with Abu Izzadeen, who served three and a half years in a British prison for terrorist fundraising and inciting terrorism overseas. Izzadeen was released in May 2009.

Hitchens says the problem is that while Choudary may not fully believe what he preaches, his followers do. And while Choudary and his followers are technically against acts of violence, including suicide bombings, they won’t denounce such acts of terrorism when they occur. Choudary and his followers have repeatedly rejected opportunities to denounce the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the July 7, 2005 subway bombings in London – and in fact have publicly praised them. Al-Muhajiroun, for instance, infamously labeled the 19 hijackers responsible for the carnage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks the “Magnificent 19.”

“They wouldn’t advocate acts of violence,” Hitchens said. “But, at the same time, they do actually glorify it.”

Hitchens said that Choudary’s worldview and mission is similar to al Qaeda’s, “it’s just that they’re not going to carry out a bombing campaign.”

Douglas Murray, the director of Britain’s Centre for Social Cohesion, told TheDC that Choudary’s legal education allows him to be a “chancer” or an “opportunist.” Murray said Choudary knows how to run right up against the line of what is legally acceptable. That’s how Choudary can use his extremist Islamic views to get attention and stay out of trouble.

“This is his way to gain some sort of public profile,” Murray said. “It’s a very strange thing. I think he says things that are deliberately inflammatory in order to get attention. The American media has fallen for it in the same way the British media fell for it.”