'Sharia-Controlled Zones' Sweep UK
Only days after a deranged Anders Breivik claimed creeping Islamization of Norway as an excuse for cold-bloodedly murdering 76 people, the majority of which were children, a group of British Muslim extremists have seemingly mocked the tragedy by hanging bright yellow posters in several London boroughs declaring them "Sharia-controlled zones."
One has to wonder about the timing.
Pasted on bus stops and street lamps, the posters have appeared in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham. The message they convey is that there is to be "no gambling," "no music or concerts," "no porn or prostitution," "no drugs or smoking" and "no alcohol" in the areas where the posters are displayed. The warning at the top reads: "You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone -- Islamic rules enforced." The messages are going up in both Muslim and non-Muslim-majority areas and are expected to appear country-wide.
"We now have hundreds, if not thousands of people up and down the country willing to go out and patrol the streets for us," said Anjem Choudary, 41, the Muslim "preacher" claiming responsibility for the poster campaign.
A former lawyer, Choudary says that besides addressing "the sort of thug life attitude you get in British cities," the campaign's goal is also "to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term." Choudary heads the banned radical Islamist group Islam4UK and has advocated for a Sharia-ruled Great Britain.
Choudary has a long association with radical Islamic politics in Britain. He was the co-founder of the Salafist group al-Muhajiroun ("the emigrants") with Omar Bakri Mohammed. Bakri, a Lebanese citizen, once headed Great Britain's Sharia law court and was prohibited from returning to Britain from Lebanon in 2005. The British government banned al-Muhajiroun last year.
Choudary also has a record for provocative behaviour. He once called the 9/11 terrorists "magnificent martyrs" and said the 2005 London subway bombings had been only "a matter of time." He has also called for the execution of Pope Benedict, saying the Catholic leader had insulted Islam.
But Choudary is probably best known for a statement he made on a British television show after the interviewer suggested he should move to a country that already had Sharia law if he did not like Great Britain. Enraged, Choudary told the interviewer: "Who told you … that Great Britain belonged to you. The country belongs to Allah! If I were to move to the jungle, I would also not live there like the animals."
One of the London areas targeted by the poster campaign, Tower Hamlets, has also seen "gay-free zone" warnings pasted on its walls in recent months, as well as women threatened by Islamists if they were not wearing headscarves. As a result of his extremist views, Choudary has received little support from Great Britain's mainstream Muslim groups.
In a way, Choudary's Sharia poster campaign is similar to the plan a Muslim group in America had to build a mosque at Ground Zero. With the Ground Zero mosque, the location was very suspect, while with the sharia posters, it is the timing. The possibility of a connection between the posters and the Norwegian tragedy may or may not exist, but the cultural and spiritual insensitivity of both initiatives, however, is great, especially with respect to the Ground Zero mosque plan.
But in the case of the poster campaign, just when Europe -- and the rest of the world for that matter -- is trying to come to grips with the senselessness of Norway's tragedy, to promote Sharia law so soon after the event, whether deliberately or not, and claim it is part of a long-term plan to turn Great Britain into an Islamic state, is as unfeeling as it gets. Indirectly, with their posters the British Islamists are supporting Breivik's evil, indicating his analysis was essentially correct concerning both the Islamization of Europe and multiculturalism. After all, the Sharia posters are obviously not an enlightened multicultural exchange.
Columnist Thomas Sowell described the planned mosque at Ground Zero as a big middle finger being given to America. The same can be said about the poster initiative vis-à-vis the Norwegian massacre. There is a human impulse to commiserate with Norwegians at this time, but the Sharia posters are not only devoid of compassion but also strike at our basic human sensitivity. And it is useless to think the Islamists will ever stop to think about some of these things. They have long used our tolerance to promote their intolerance and now are using our sense of decency and compassion against us to mutilate our world. Perhaps the more important question concerning this matter is why the community of moderate Muslim leaders is not condemning this offensive behaviour?
To their credit, the British police are investigating the posters with the intention of prosecuting the people who put them up. Part of the reason is to prevent any escalation. If Choudary's Islamist thugs are allowed to walk the streets and enforce Sharia rules, frightening and intimidating people, the police know it would only be a matter of time before there would be a very unpleasant counter-reaction.
Ironically, because of the Oslo massacre Choudary says he is organizing a march against the English Right. Never ones to miss an opportunity, it is obvious that Islamic extremists like him will now cynically use the Oslo tragedy to deflect attention away from their own extremism.
"The Muslim community needs to be vigilant," he said. "There is an undercurrent against Islam. I do believe a Norway-style attack could happen here."
Contrary to Choudary's belief, a Norway-style attack has already taken place in Great Britain. The 2005 London subway bombings by Islamic extremists took 52 lives and injured more than 700 people. Therefore, due to this home-grown tragedy, perhaps the most fitting prohibition symbol Choudary could put on his posters is one of a crossed-out bomb.