Al-Awlaki's opinions have swung dramatically since I blogged about him following his incarceration in Yemen back in 2006. Before that he was middle of the road and had a significant following. Some still harbour hopes his internet postings are by an impostor. I think this is unlikely. I heard him on Radio Ramadhan Glasgow articulating his view that Muslims should not live in the West and should instead migrate to 'Muslim lands'. He has changed.
Compare this interview with Awlaki in the National Geographic after 9/11 with his current positions. It's one of the sad hazards of being Muslim that agreeing with someone at one point in time will come back and bite you years later, and even after it is clear that the subject in question has changed his views. I've spoken previously about the propensity of rightwing newspapers and thinktanks to do this kind of thing here as well as outlining where I stand on the issue of Islamism overall.So I got a call from Sean O'Neill at The Times yesterday. I feel it's important to point out that he followed a briefing by the Centre for Social Cohesion, because he tried to claim to me that he had stumbled across my 2006 blog post through googling. So he is embarrassed about his actual source. The Scottish edition of the newspaper tartanised the story, but put additional things in quotation marks which were not said.
The CSC are an increasingly desperate outfit. Their briefing by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens asked people to note that I called Awlaki 'imam'. Well here's his ex-extremist colleague from Policy Exchange Shiraz Maher calling him 'sheikh' just yesterday. This term confers serious religious knowledge and standing on him.
Policy Exchange you will remember are the outfit that faked evidence of extremist literature at British mosques. The CSC meanwhile of course have serious problems of extremism themselves, with its head Douglas Murray who has written a book on why we need neconservatism. One of their directors, Baroness Cox is a founder of One Jerusalem, which campaigns for the city as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and was formed to counter peace talks. She recently hosted Islamophobe Geert Wilders in the House of Lords together with UKIP peer Lord Pearson. The Dutch politician reckons the Quran should be banned.
These people are extreme right wingers and this is why they attack me. I tend to get it more than any other Muslim in Scotland, despite there being plenty of other people and organisations to similarly go after, because I have a good chance of being elected to Parliament next year and they know I vocally and consistently oppose their odious politics. Rather than engage on the issues, they bring up this religious nonsense.In a couple of days the far-right Scottish Defence League plan to protest in Glasgow against Muslims. It is trash fearmongering like this from the CSC and Times that fuels them and has led to their rise. We're now seeing people openly sieg heiling on our streets and who knows where this irresponsibility is going to lead in the months and years to come.