A tale of two prisoners

Free Asia BibiAnjem Choudary

On October 8th Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the final appeal case of Asia Bibi, the farm worker and mother of five who has been in prison on death row for almost eight years. She was imprisoned under the country’s infamous blasphemy law section 295C – “defiling the name of Muhammad”  – a capital offence.

Asia had been harvesting berries when she went to get some water. When she drank from a cup also used by her Muslim co-workers, they objected on the grounds she was a Christian. In the ensuing argument, Asia said “”I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” For this she was sentenced to death. Asia describes that moment:

“I cried alone, putting my head in my hands. I can no longer bear the sight of people full of hatred, applauding the killing of a poor farm worker. I no longer see them, but I still hear them, the crowd who gave the judge a standing ovation, saying: “Kill her, kill her! Allahu Akbar!” The court house is invaded by a euphoric horde who break down the doors, chanting: “Vengeance for the holy prophet. Allah is great!” I was then thrown like an old rubbish sack into the van… I had lost all humanity in their eyes.”

Since then her case has been through numerous appeals; her husband and children live in hiding; two politicians, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, have been assassinated because of their support for her; judges are too afraid to be involved in her case, and demonstrations calling for her to be hanged are attended by tens of thousands. Salmaan Taseer’s murderer was praised by none other than the Imam of Glasgow Central Mosque. “A true Muslim was punished for doing which the collective will of the nation failed to carry out,”he wrote.  (He wasn’t charged with hate speech.) Another cleric, Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, addressing a pro-blasphemy law rally, called the same murderer a ‘martyr’ – he was invited to be a key speaker at a UK anti-terrorism conference in July. Barnabas Fund tried to raise concerns with the Home Secretary about this man; they were told  it wasn’t possible to comment on “individual cases.”

This is Asia Bibi’s last chance. The verdict has been delayed – if it fails she will become the first woman to be executed under Section 295C, unless Prime Minister Imran Khan grants her clemency.

This Friday, Anjem Choudary will be released from prison after serving half of his five and a half year prison sentence for supporting Islamic State. Here are some of Choudhury’s statements, all of which are completely in line with Islamic teaching:

“Thieves would have various warnings first, and only in cases where he has stolen more than £20 of non-perishable goods from a private house would his hand be chopped off.”

“Under Sharia and under the Koran the sale of alcohol is prohibited and if one were to also drink alcohol, that would be 40 lashes.”

“All women would have to be covered up appropriately and wear the niqab or veil and so there will be no prostitution.”

“By 2050, Britain will be a majority Muslim country. It will be the end of freedom of democracy and submission to God.”

Choudary’s name has been linked to 15 terror plots: he  inspired Khuram Butt, one of the London Bridge terrorists as well Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who killed the British soldier Lee Rigby in 2013.  His influence is alive and well – we talk to his acolytes every week at Speaker’s Corner.

Because he was given a fixed-term sentence, he is automatically eligible for release half-way through this sentence. (Stricter options, for those who remain a danger to the public, such as “extended determinate sentences” are available but were not applied in the Choudary case.) And so, despite being described by the judge as “genuinely dangerous” he is being released under strict conditions; he’s not allowed outside London, his Internet search history will be monitored, he won’t be allowed to meet his jihadi contacts – at huge cost to the tax payer. Will he get round these? Why ever not? This is a man who accepts Islamic theocracy as the only true authority, not some rule of law imposed on him by the kufr.

What do both cases tell us? That a Muslim in a non-Muslim country enjoys the freedom to criticise that country’s beliefs but those freedoms are not reciprocated. That Islam breeds fanaticism and fear. The fanaticism of thousands, who think the honour of their prophet is well served by the murder of an illiterate woman asking a reasonable question; and the fear of death for anyone daring to side with her. The fanaticism that comes with one man wanting to live purely by the teaching of Allah; and Muhammad and the authorities’ fear of confronting this robustly.

How do you overcome fear? Only through trusting in the only One who has faced death and overcome. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33. And it’s because of Him we speak up, in the  hope that Muslims will become his disciples, and that “the truth will set them free.” Asia is in prison for her spirited defence of the truth about Jesus Christ; we must continue to speak fearlessly of Him in her honour, and pray fervently for justice to be done.

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More UK Islamic Terror Plots

More UK Islamic terror plots.

Hatun and Lizzie talk about recent Islamic terror plots on Prince George and PM Teresa May, and how these would-be Jihadis are inspired by the Qur’an.

“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” Sura 8:60

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Killing Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan

Killing Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan.

Hatun and Daniel talk about the recent killing of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. They are identified as polytheists by Muslims. There are approximately 1000 Hindus and 8000 Sikhs in Afghanistan.

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Was Muhammad peaceful?

Was Muhammad peaceful?

A Christian talks to Hashim about Sura 5:32-3, and why Muhammad had his critics assassinated?

“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment” Sura 5:32-33

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Remembering Manchester

Remembering Manchester.

Remembering last years bombing in Manchester. On the 22nd  May 2017 in Manchester 22 people where killed by Muslim jihadist, Salman Abedi.

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Radicalism – root and fruit

3 tree drawings

Last week, Darren Osborne was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Makram Ali after intentionally driving his vehicle into worshippers at Finsbury Park mosque in June 2017. In her sentencing, the Judge said Osborne had been

“rapidly radicalised over the internet, encountering and consuming material put out … from those determined to spread hatred of Muslims on the basis of their religion.”

So what kind of content is she referring to? Tommy Robinson tweets apparently- despite their content being reasonable criticism rather than hate speech as demonstrated in his Newsnight interview. But apparently these weren’t the main factors in Osborne’s ‘radicalisation’. The Guardian tells us:

“The court also heard that the catalyst for Osborne’s descent was the BBC drama-documentary Three Girls, which focused on the grooming and sexual abuse of young girls in Rochdale by British-Pakistani Muslim men.”

Can the Guardian seriously be suggesting that the BBC is at fault here? It made an excellent drama based on the lawful conviction of nine men, as part of the well-attested issue of grooming gangs. All the BBC did was dramatise the facts. The BBC – regularly accused of liberal bias – would be the last media organisation on earth to produce material “determined to spread hatred of Muslims on the basis of their religion.”

Maajd Nawaz, head of the Quilliam Foundation, has been honest enough to admit the problem of grooming gangs is an Islamic problem:

“[Grooming gangs] have occurred in Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford, Telford, Leeds, Birmingham, Norwich, Burnley, High Wycombe, Leicester, Dewsbury, Middlesborough, Peterborough, Bristol, Halifax and Newcastle and only in two of those cases were the men not of British South Asian Muslim heritage. All of the victims, in all of those cities and the list was very long, except three were white teenage girls. The fact that 84% of these cases involve British South Asian Muslim men must beg the question, why?”

Alongside some horrible anti-Muslim slurs, Osborne’s rambling letter that was read out in court expressed frustration at politicians and celebrities failure to recognise grooming gangs and terrorism as anything to do with Islam. Darren Osborne’s actions are not justifiable in any way. But from his own evidence, it seems his motive was vengeful retaliation for crimes, the Islamic basis for which are never properly confronted by the media or politicians. Christian doctrine and values are routinely scrutinised and pilloried as bigotry, while the impact of orthodox Islamic teaching is either ignored or denied. But it shows things have gone to another level when the BBC gets the blame, with even the judiciary content to shoot the messenger.

Nor is the BBC the only one accused of producing radical content. In another story, the Alpha Course and J. John’s ‘Just 10’ course material were also in the firing line, following the scandalous dismissal of Pastor Paul Song from Brixton Prison after 20 years service on the basis of an unsubstantiated allegation. Song claims he was ousted following pressure from Imam Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed, the managing chaplain at Brixton Prison, who called his Christian beliefs “extreme” and considered courses (like Alpha) to be “too radical.”

I’ve done an Alpha course. Here is a summary of its ‘radical’ teachings. Believe in Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the Cross for you; pray to God in the Name of Jesus regularly; read the Bible regularly; resist the devil; be filled with the Holy Spirit; tell others about your faith. It is all grounded in consistent, coherent Biblical doctrine (give or take some in house debate on the emphasis on the Holy Spirit, but this is a side issue.)

Is Alpha radical? The word ‘radical’ comes from the Latin ‘radix’, meaning ‘root’. So in a way, Ahmed is right: the Alpha course (and others like it) go to the root of Biblical teaching and the root of the human condition – our separation from God through sin and our reconciliation to Him exclusively through faith in His Son and his death on the Cross.

These teachings are also in direct conflict with what Islam teaches. In Islam, Jesus is no more than a prophet whose mission ended in failure, prayer is to an impersonal, unrelational deity called Allah, to whom you will never be more than a slave. You must obey the Qur’an and the Sunnah, including the harsh treatment of apostates, women, homosexuals and unbelievers.

Here’s the point. Radicalism isn’t just a matter of root, but fruit.

Jesus says in Mark 7 that our hearts are the issue:

“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Darren Osborne’s heart was filled with the desire for revenge; Islamic terrorists hearts are warped by false ideology. In both cases, pain, trauma, death and grief are the resulting fruit. Both are equally in need of radical, spiritual re-birth- something only Jesus can bring about.

The ‘radical’ Christian teaching Pastor Song espoused had some remarkable fruit. Look how the Times, a secular newspaper, puts it:

Affidavits from prisoners described how Song helped them turn away from crime. Song himself wrote of one inmate who would tell him his only regret was that he had not managed to finish off his intended murder victim, but changed his view after counselling from the pastor.

If only Pastor Song were in post to counsel Darren Osborne – and willing, radical Muslims as well. Let’s pray he is re-instated.