As Islamic extremists declare Britain’s first Sharia law zone, the worrying social and moral implications
As a throng of Muslim families crowd around him, Abu Izzadeen speaks in a quiet voice of his plans for the future of Britain. The tall, bearded 36-year-old — who was recently freed from prison after serving a term for funding terrorism — is telling, in chilling detail, how he wants to impose Islam’s strict Sharia law on this country.
At a shopping mall in Waltham Forest, North London, Muslim passers-by listen intently. Some shout greetings in Arabic from across the street.
Fathers push forward their young sons (wearing skull caps for prayers at the local mosque) so they can get a good view of the man who is plainly viewed by many as a hero.
Determined to defeat Western ‘decadence’: Jamaal Uddin and, below, Abu Izzadeen
Today, Izzadeen, the self-styled ‘Director for Waltham Forest Muslims’, will march with his supporters — many of them new young recruits to Islam — as part of their campaign to make the suburban borough into Britain’s first Sharia-law zone.
Under his brutal set of rules, there would be a ban on alcohol, gambling, drugs, music, smoking and homosexuality, as well as on men and women mixing in public.
This is all part of Izzadeen’s concerted campaign to defeat ‘Western decadence’ and turn large parts of Britain — where, his supporters say, ‘people live like animals in a jungle’ — into an Islamic Emirate.
Already, 20,000 yellow leaflets have been printed by Islamic activists, saying ‘You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.’ The leaflets have been stuck onto lamp-posts, put up in shop windows and on pillar boxes. As fast as the police and council officials tear them down, more go up.
Izzadeen says: ‘This is the first step towards turning Britain into an Islamic state. There are nearly three million Muslims in this country. Islam is a sleeping giant that is waking. We have moved on from the debate about the provision of halal meat to more political issues.
‘Twenty-five areas around Britain have large Muslim populations, including Bradford, Dewsbury, Leicester and Luton. We want to turn them all into Islamic Emirates, where the excesses of Western civilisation are not tolerated.’
Hate preacher: Abu Izzadeen talks to the media after interrupting the speech of Home Secretary John Reid in 2008
Tempting though it is to dismiss Izzadeen as a barmy extremist — which he surely is — the huge influx of Muslims into such areas has turned his campaign into a potentially explosive issue.
One in seven of those living in the borough of Waltham Forest is a practising Muslim. Nearby Newham and Tower Hamlets, where leaflets are also being distributed, have populations where, respectively, one in four and one in three follows the Muslim faith.
Although — and this needs to be stressed — the vast majority of Muslims are moderate-minded, and Abu Izzadeen’s followers remain on the fringe, some of their hard-line policies have started to take root.
According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, every year 17,000 Muslim women in Britain become victims of forced marriages, are raped by their husbands or subjected to female genital mutilation — all condoned by more extreme Islamists.
The campaign to introduce Sharia-controlled zones is being run by a new and radical organisation, Muslims Against Crusades (MAC). Its slick website carries propaganda about why the Islamic way of life is best.
As an example of its attack on British decadence, it was quick this week to post a picture of Amy Winehouse’s body being removed from her house by police, under a coldly-worded caption stating: ‘The tragic end of a Western woman.’
The website says Sharia law zones have ‘momentous’ support from Muslim businessmen, lawyers and community leaders, who are ‘sickened by the alcohol, pornography and downright secular culture of Britain’.
One letter posted on the site yesterday, and said to be from a local man, says (in non-perfect English): ‘Brothers, it is about time we open our eyes to the reality where our own community is being corrupted by the Kaffar (disbeliever) and their so-called freedom.
‘The amount of our sons and daughter who have been affected by the non-Islamic culture is shocking. The Muslim youth today see no problem in having boyfriends and girlfriends before marriage, or walking out of college together.’
Promoting the introduction of Sharia law, MAC explains: ‘In the past 50 years, the United Kingdom has transformed beyond recognition.
Campaign: Muslims Against Crusaders press conference in Walthamstow. Abu Rumaysah, Sayful Islam, Abu Izzadeen and Anjem Choudary all want Sharia law in Britain
‘What was once a predominantly Christian country has now been overwhelmed by a rising Muslim population, which seeks to preserve its Islamic identity and protect itself from the satanic values of the Britain.
‘There are now more than 2.8 million Muslims living in the U.K., which is 5 per cent of the population. At least 5,200 people convert to Islam in the UK each year, 60 per cent of them women.
‘The entire infrastructure of Britain is changing. Mosques, Islamic schools, Sharia courts, Muslim-owned businesses and banks have now become an integral part of the British landscape.’
So how likely are these extremists to succeed with their plans to turn parts of Britain into militant Islamic enclaves?
There are already 100 mosques in Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Across London, 24 Islamic primary and secondary schools teach thousands of pupils the national curriculum, but can devote time to Islamic studies in religious lessons.
Hundreds of after-school classes (where boys and girls wearing robes, skull caps or hijabs and learn to recite the Koran by heart) flourish in the mosques of British cities.
Eighty-five Sharia courts now operate nationwide, parallel to traditional courts, with justice dispensed by Islamic judges on domestic rows, divorce, financial disputes and an increasing number of minor criminal acts, such as theft.
There is also a separate Islamic financial system which conforms to Sharia banking industry restrictions, including a ban on interest payments on loans.
According to this year’s Global Islamic Finance Report, Britain is now the main centre for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world.
Baroness Cox, a crossbench peer and campaigner for Muslim women, has highlighted the dangers of the increasing influence of extreme factions within Islamic culture.
She says: ‘As the Muslim population has grown, and the state-sponsored creed of multiculturalism has become ever more powerful, so Sharia law has strengthened its grip on our society.
‘This is a recipe for disaster, because different legal systems for people of different religions will promote divisions between communities. Not only that, Sharia courts discriminate terribly against women. Sharia treats women as second-class citizens, whether it be in inheritance rights or divorce. In Sharia courts, a woman’s word counts for only half the value of that of a man.
‘Polygamy is also tolerated, with men allowed to take multiple wives. I know of Muslim women being subjected to savage domestic violence, and then refused a divorce, while their husbands are free to enter into further marriages to women from overseas.’
Equally worried about the growth of the pro-Sharia campaign is Alan Craig, a former Newham councillor who has lived in East London for 30 years. He says: ‘This is the public tip of a hidden iceberg.’
He points to the example of street advertisements featuring girls in swimsuits, which are regularly blacked out by Islamic activists who paint burkhas over the models’ bodies. He says Muslim women have also been threatened with violence for not wearing burkhas.
He adds: ‘Islam in Britain is now a political force, and not just a religion. Society in this part of London is slowing being changed. But I am not surprised the campaign for Sharia zones resonates with Muslim families. I’m sure there will be sympathy for aspects of Sharia law with British parents, too. We all know about the town centre behaviour of our young on a Saturday night.’
Mr Craig says he believes the campaign for Sharia zones has more widespread support among Muslims than the authorities are prepared to admit. ‘I would like to think that the campaign is orchestrated by extremists, and is only supported by a small group of their followers; but I fear that it is not the case.’
Ally: Anjem Choudary, a British-born convert to Islam and the former leader of the extremist organisation Islam4UK
A recent poll by research organisation ICM of 500 Muslim families revealed that 40 per cent supported the introduction of the strict religious code in Britain. Another, by the right-leaning Policy Exchange, found that more than one-third of young Muslims would be happy to live under Sharia rules.
No doubt such findings will invigorate Mr Izzadeen and his sidekicks. They include Anjem Choudary, a British-born convert to Islam and the former leader of the extremist organisation Islam4UK, which was banned by the Government.
Its supporters, who included Izzadeen, had called for the Islamic flag to fly over Downing Street, and some of its members burned poppies on Armistice Day last year in central London.
This week, Choudary claimed that Waltham Forest’s proposed Sharia zone would be patrolled by young Islamists. ‘We have hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are willing to go out and make sure our laws are obeyed,’ he says. ‘This is the best way of dealing with drunkenness, loutishness, prostitution and the sort of thug life you get in Britain.’
Of course, it would be easy to dismiss all this as the rantings of a lunatic fringe, but when I met Izzadeen this week, he boasted that scores of young Britons are converting to Islam. Indeed, at substantial number of the girls in hijabs walking past us in the shopping mall appeared to be of white, English descent.
When I approached one, who said she was called ‘Abi’ and was aged 18, she was at first reluctant to speak.
Then, in a Cockney accent, she said: ‘I have not been forced into anything. I was a Christian of sorts, but now I have, like a lot of my friends, embraced Islam. It makes me feel better about my life.
‘I was at school with Muslim girls, and they helped me make up my mind. I think that Sharia law would work here.’
Meanwhile, a British-born 17-year-old Islamic radical, calling himself ‘Jamaal Uddin’ (after a famous Afghan reformer of the 19th century) was busy putting up Sharia posters. The bearded red-head was wearing Muslim dress and said he ‘embraced Islam’ 11 months ago.
‘Allah has told me, and many other converts, that alcohol, drugs, pornography, music and concerts are all forbidden under Sharia. That it is why it is our duty to go out and spread his word.’
Izzadeen, who was released from jail last autumn after serving four years for inciting racial hatred and raising funds for terrorism plots (infamously, he once called for British soldiers serving in Iraq to be beheaded), is proud of all his new recruits.
A former electrician, his real name is Trevor Brooks and he was brought up by Jamaican-born parents in Hackney before converting to Islam at the age of 17. Now married with three children, he lives on welfare hand-outs, though these are frowned on by Islam, which forbids begging by the healthy. Cynically, he calls them ‘the jihad-seekers allowance’.
Warming to his cause, he says: ‘Sharia is a political system which is well-supported by the youth in Waltham Forest. They want to follow the rules of Islam because they are sick of what Western society offers them.
‘Look at the rapes, the brothels near the mosques, the drunkenness on the streets. Do you think the youth want that?’
But the vast majority of British Muslims are offended by such hardline rules. Mohammed Illyas, general secretary of Waltham Forest mosque, has stated clearly: ‘We condemn these kinds of views, and if they come to the mosque preaching this kind of thing, they would be thrown out.’
Such concerns over extremist Islamic influence on all aspects of society in the area are growing among many Muslims.
Nilgin Aslan, a 51-year-old Muslim mother, recently took her daughters to a fete organised by a Waltham Forset Islamic group called Noor Ul-Islam and held at a local cricket ground. At the entrance, the girls, who were wearing vest tops, were given T-shirts to cover their shoulders.
Their mother says: ‘We agreed to put them on, but it was a hot afternoon, and when my daughters later tried to take off the T-shirts, an official told them to cover up or they would be arrested.
‘They took the T-shirts on and off three times before we got fed up of being told off, and left.
‘I was disgusted. It was supposed to be an event for the whole community. I think it gave a bad name to all Muslims.’
Hasib Hussain, one of the fete’s female officials, explained afterwards that the T-shirts were only given to ‘women dressed inappropriately with low-cut tops’.
She said it was an issue about females dressing modestly, as it was an Islamic-run event.’
No doubt, this decision would have pleased Abu Izzadeen and his pro-Sharia zealots.
But as he marches through London’s streets today, waving the banners of Muslims Against Crusades, the great irony will undoubtedly be lost on him that if Sharia law really ever took hold in this country, such public demonstrations would almost certainly be prohibited.
NO SURRENDER, EVER, TO SHARIA LAW IN BRITAIN!!! J xx