August 9, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 410

Islamist Leaders in London Interviewed

August 9, 2002
Special Dispatch No. 410

The London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat published a series of articles about the Muslim community in the UK. One of the articles included interviews with two Islamist leaders living in London: Sheikh Abu Hamza the Egyptian[1], imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque and head of the Ansar Al-Shari'ah organization, and Sheikh Omar Bakri, originally from Syria, who established and heads the Islamic Religious Court in London and also heads the Al-Muhajiroun Islamist organization. The following are excerpts from the two interviews:[2]

Abu Hamza: The West Will Never Reach the Level of Islam; The Only Solution Is to Call on Them to Join Islam

Q: "Do you consider yourself British?"

Abu Hamza: "I consider myself British to the extent that I use my British documents to move around. If the question is whether I consider myself British because I agree with British policy, the answer is, of course, negative… I live here and I hold a passport. It is a superficial identity; real identity is in the heart and in the mind, and this is the [identity] that drives a man. This [identity] is Islam…"

Q: "But in Britain you are respected as a person."

Abu Hamza: "And who said that we do not respect a person?! But must we respect a person even when he wants to be an animal?!...There is a difference between a man of intelligence and a man who is crazy or a pervert; [there is a difference between] a natural man and a criminal man… Must we respect someone who boasts of his bestiality? This is inconceivable. This is incompatible with Islamic religious law, or with reason."

"People get [basic respect] in the religion. Beyond that, there is special respect for believers. Every man… [can choose] whether to be a human being or an ape. For example, if a man wears clothes, he is respected; but if he takes them off, he should not be respected. An adulterer should not be respected. Anyone who attacks little children should not be respected. Anyone who tries to turn himself into a half-man, half-woman should not be respected…"

Q: "How responsive do you think the Islamic community in Britain is to the call to integrate into society?"

Abu Hamza: "Integration… extremism… these are sweeping generalizations. To integrate with whom, and under what conditions? Extremism in what? We can seek to act with extremism in dealing with evil, for example... When you talk of extremism and of integration the question arises: Who is integrating with whom, and in what matter? If you mean that the Muslim integrates with the non-Muslim in matters that Islam does not prohibit, such as protecting the environment, defending human rights, and fighting corruption, usury, and adultery, then yes, there can be such integration. But if we take integration en masse, and we all integrate, the Muslim's daughter will come to him pregnant and he will say: 'Never mind, I'm integrated.' His wife will throw him out of the house and he'll sleep in his car, and she'll bring her lover home…"

Q: "At the Seville Summit [in Spain], Britain demanded more stringent [laws] on immigration. Are you concerned?"

Abu Hamza: "The truth is that I have British [citizenship]. True, it is currently of no value when everything is checked against security [considerations]… I maintain that the talk of more stringent immigration laws is no more than empty talk. The European countries want to choose a specific kind of immigrants, for they need these immigrants. The immigration laws do not interest me. I have been a British engineer since 1985, and I am a member of the [British] Engineers Union…"

"There are British citizens being tortured in Guantanamo, and no one lifts a finger… When the security clock ticks, the foreigner remains a foreigner wherever he may be. You cannot fight deeply rooted racism. It would be idiocy to think that these countries will ever reach the level of Islam. They need much more time to even understand Islam. The only solution for stopping their racism is to call on them to join Islam, so that they will realize what a civilization they are missing…"

Q: "Do you think about the possibility of leaving Britain?"

Abu Hamza: "I meant to go to Afghanistan, and prepared myself to do so, but Allah decreed otherwise - primarily in light of the fact that my passport was confiscated by the authorities. Now I am under house arrest. If I had my passport, I would go. Before September 11, we had all intended to emigrate to Afghanistan - even after the events of September 11. Many wanted to. They did not think that things would turn out like this, especially because in the beginning Al-Qa'ida denied any connection to September 11. It turned out that Al-Qa'ida was not connected to the events. From an engineer's standpoint, I can prove that these buildings did not fall just like that because of a fire… Anyone who knows the properties of these buildings knows that Al-Qa'ida didn't do it. These buildings were blown up from within…"

Sheikh Omar Bakri: We Will Transform the West into An Islamic Regime by External or Cultural Invasion

Q: "I listened to your lesson on the foundations of belief, and it seems that you are not interested in bringing students into British society - that is, you are not helping them to be British Muslims."

Bakri: "In my method of education, I am opposed to the idea of integration. We do not believe that it is permitted to integrate into the societies in which we live. I am not a supporter of seclusion from society, and I am not a supporter of integration into it. I am a supporter of interaction with society, by means of my religion and my belief, in order to change the environment, not to be changed by it…"

Q: "And where will this life of estrangement lead?"

Bakri: "The life of estrangement will lead… to [a] change in the situation of the country in which we live, as the Muslims changed the situation in Abyssinia and Indonesia. Allah willing, we will transform the West into Dar Al-Islam [that is, a region under Islamic rule] by means of invasion from without. If an Islamic state arises and invades [the West] we will be its army and its soldiers from within. If not, [we will change the West] through ideological invasion from here, without war and killing."

"Either we will preach to them and they will accept [Islam], or we will live among them and they will be influenced by our lives and will accept Islam as a political solution to their problems, not as an ideological solution. Islam can be a spiritual faith and it can be a political faith… Islam defended the religion of the Christians, the Jews, and others, and stated that 'there is no coercion in religion.' [But] the coercion is in the laws. Laws can be Islamic-religious and they can be man-made. They [the West] have imposed man-made law on us, and the [future] Islamic regime will impose Islamic religious rulings on them. The Muslim will act according to this law out of obedience [that is, willingly], and anyone who is not a Muslim will do so by force of law. I do not obey the man-made law. Even if I don't break it, I do not obey it. Allah said: 'Do not obey the infidels and the hypocrites.'"

Q: "How can you live in a society in which you are an outsider?"

Bakri: "Islam is a religion of the law of nature. When a man encounters problems he uses the law of nature. In America, a debate has recently emerged about separating [men and women] at the universities. Why? Because there are problems. There are girls who get pregnant at a young age, with no husband. There is no reason to mix [the sexes] within the universities. Why?... I live on the margins of the existing law, as long as it is compatible with the law of nature and does not conflict with Islam. Some countries have begun discussing the matter of punishing thieves. In the former USSR, they said they would amputate a thief's hand. This is the law of nature, because it is the strict law that deters the thief from committing the crime."

Q: "You are charged with links to organizations towards which Britain is hostile and which it sees as enemies. You preach to your pupils to see the Taliban movement and Osama bin Laden as the group which [according to Muslim tradition] will be saved [on Judgment Day]."

Bakri: "As long as my words do not become actions, they do no harm! Here, the law does not punish you for words, as long as there is no proof you have carried out actions. In such a case you are still on the margins of the law, and they cannot punish you. If they want to punish you, they must present evidence against you, otherwise their laws will be in a state of internal contradiction. Then this will serve Islam, because we will be able to claim that the capitalist camp has failed in the face of the Islamic camp in actualizing the things in which it believes, like freedom of expression."

Q: "That is, you are testing this [Western] regime?"

Bakri: "Yes. We must prove that the man-made law is a fragile law."

Q: "But to date, this law has not collapsed."

Bakri: "I go on the margins. I do not obey Western law but I do not betray them [i.e. the West]… There is a pact between me and them, and I am not breaking it. I do not preach to kill even one in Britain. But they have betrayed the pact [between us] by killing my brothers in Afghanistan; they betrayed it by killing my brothers in Syria and in Iraq…"

[1] For more on Sheikh Abu Hamza and Sheikh Omar Bakri, {{nodeurl-IA7301}}

[2] Al-Hayat (London), July 31, 2002.

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