In both Onward Muslim Soldiers and Islam Unveiled I discuss the British Sheikh Omar Bakri, who has long boasted about using Britain’s freedom of speech to advocate the establishment of a Sharia state in Britain. Here is more about him, from the Dallas Morning News:
LONDON — The puzzle of Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad is the puzzle of growing ranks of militant Muslims across Europe today. Some are talkers, others are doers, and often it isn’t easy to distinguish between the two.
Sheik Bakri, a controversial London-based cleric, counsels the hundreds of young men and women who attend his weekly sermons to exercise restraint and nonviolence. Yet, he says martyrdom is a key to paradise. Under some circumstances in the defense of Islam, he says, violence and killing may be necessary.
Europe may be the scene of martyrdom attacks soon, Sheik Bakri warned in an interview, although he placed numerous caveats on how that could unfold.
He regards the West as the enemy, confers upon Osama bin Laden the honorific of “sheik,” and praises as “magnificent” the 19 al-Qaeda members who killed themselves in the Sept. 11 attacks. But he also preaches kindness and respect for non-Muslims and condemns indiscriminate attacks as “forbidden” in Islam.
Taqiyya alert: Bakri taught two young British Muslims who journeyed to Israel to become suicide bombers.
A commentary last year in the Guardian newspaper mistakenly described Sheik Bakri, who walks with a cane but is otherwise able-bodied, as “one-eyed, hook-handed.”
That would be Abu Hamza, Bakri’s partner in crime.
An April 26 New York Times story listed Sheik Bakri foremost among European clerics allegedly expressing sympathy toward terrorist attacks against Europe. He was so angered, he banned members of al-Muhajiroun from speaking to the non-Muslim news media and accused the New York Times of attempting “to stir up hatred towards Muslims and to whip the masses into a frenzy of fear and animosity.”
Nevertheless, Sheik Bakri acknowledged in the April 22 interview that he has deliberately tried to rankle the British and U.S. governments with his fiery sermons, which he delivers several times a week at mosques and community centers around England.
By praising al-Qaeda as “magnificent,” the cleric said, he is able to draw media attention and spread his message to a wider audience. But because he stops short of calling for his own followers to stage attacks, he explained, he has been able to avoid arrest for inciting terrorism.
Key to his rhetorical strategy is a carefully worded explanation of Islam’s “covenant of security,” which obliges Muslims to behave themselves when they have been invited into their enemy’s domain. It is forbidden, the cleric explained, for Muslim immigrants to launch attacks in the Western countries where they reside because, as guests, they must abide by a covenant of nonaggression.
He said there currently is no one who can be described as the undisputed leader of all Muslims. However, he describes Mr. bin Laden as, hands down, the most popular and widely respected person in the Muslim world today.
“If you want to make free elections in the Muslim world, I doubt if anyone could compete with him. Even moderate Muslims, if they are given the free hand to vote and are given the power, they would vote for Osama bin Laden,” he said. …
Muslims who regard Mr. Bin Laden as their supreme leader might regard themselves as free to rise up against their European hosts, Sheikh Bakri said.
“What we do is all part of the same struggle,” said Anjem Choudary, the chief deputy of Sheik Bakri, who described the jihad being waged by al-Muhajiroun in the United Kingdom as the same as those being waged by Muslim guerrillas in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya.
“It’s right that we’re fighting against it [oppression by the West]. We just don’t do so militarily,” he said.
Sheikh Bakri says he makes a point of sending advance copies of his sermons to British police so they can judge for themselves whether he is the terrorist demon portrayed by the media. So far, police have not intervened. In spite of calls by members of Parliament for his arrest and deportation, British authorities say Sheikh Bakri has the right of free speech as long as he doesn’t incite violence.