English borough cancels event hosted by pro-jihadist preacher
Anjem Choudary has urged Muslims not to cooperate with police in fighting terror and called for assassination of pope.
By JONNY PAUL, LONDON
A borough council in southeast England has canceled an event in its area organized by an Islamist preacher after learning about his history and seeing promotional material for the meeting.
"Another year without Shari'a" was scheduled to take place on Sunday at Langley Community Centre in Slough, 35 km. west of London, until the Quilliam Foundation counter-extremism think tank put the word out that it was being organized by Anjem Choudary, a notorious "pro-jihadist preacher."
Choudary is a lawyer and follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed. He founded two Islamist organizations that were later banned as terrorist by the British government.
Choudary has urged Muslims to not cooperate with the police in fighting terrorism, and recently called for the assassination of the pope.
The Quilliam Foundation was set up by former members of UK-based extremist Islamist organizations, such as the banned group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Its director, Maajid Nawaz, said it was unacceptable for local councils to allow extremists to incite hatred at taxpayers' expense.
Earlier this month, Choudary said Christmas was an "evil celebration" and "the pathway to hellfire."
He also described last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai as a legitimate response to "crusades" waged against Islam. Any Britons killed in the attacks had only themselves to blame for being on the "battlefield," he said.
In November, Choudary told a meeting, held at a venue owned by London's Tower Hamlets Borough Council, that "we will not rest until the flag of Allah and the flag of Islam is raised above 10 Downing Street."
"This is the third time in two months that local councils have hired out venues to Choudary," Nawaz said.
Slough Borough Council said in a statement it canceled the event as it risked "damaging the strong community cohesion enjoyed in Slough."
"Our concerns were first raised when we saw promotional materials for the event. After further research into the background of the group we came to the decision that we would not wish to be seen to give a platform to views which could be very divisive amongst our diverse communities," explained Ruth Bagley, chief executive of the council.
The Quilliam Foundation wants to help local councils and other relevant organizations and individuals to identify extremists who seek to use taxpayer-funded venues to preach hatred and intolerance.
"This is a clear sign that central government needs to work more closely with local authorities in order to tackle grass-roots radicalization," Nawaz said.
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