LONDON. Nahla Mahmoud came to the UK seeking freedom and security. What she found was sharia law, death threats, and a frightened establishment that refused to defend her. Welcome Nahla – to multicultural Britain.
Mahmoud is a 26 year old student from Sudan who arrived in Britain in 2010 to flee the “hell” of the Islamic state of her birth. She immediately became an active campaigner with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and made a short film in 2012 expressing her shock at discovering the proliferation of Islamic sharia law in the UK – there are currently at least 85 sharia courts in Britain, operating quite openly and discriminating against women as a matter of course; something which is entirely unlawful but ignored by successive governments.
Following the broadcast of her short film critical of sharia, the death threats began. Mr Salah Al Bander was, until 2011, an elected representative serving on a local council in the English city of Cambridge. Al Bander has cultivated a rather impressive image for himself – in English that is. In Arabic it seems, things are rather different. Al Bander claims to be a “pro-democracy campaigner” but in January of 2013, he began posting messages on the widely read Sudanese Online website, as well as on Facebook. These postings identified Nahla as a “Kafira” and “Murtada” who has offended Islam and brought “fitnah”. Kafira and Murtada are disparaging terms meaning infidel and apostate and fitnah is a derogatory term used to describe disobedient women who are seen to be the source of chaos or affliction. Given that apostasy is punishable by death in ten countries, including Sudan, the threatening nature of these posts is obvious. Indeed, the threats were put in to action in Sudan when Nahla’s brother was physically attacked. Her mother has also been threatened.
Supported by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Ms Mahmoud made a complaint to the Liberal Democrat party in Cambridge. When Al Bander served on a council there, he did so as a representative of that party. The Liberal Democrats – or Lib Dems – are junior partners in the current coalition government of the United Kingdom. The chair of the Cambridge party, Spencer Hagard, was sent copies of screenshots containing the threats against Nahla and promised to carry out a “thorough investigation”. This “investigation” it seems consisted solely of asking Al Bander about them and then immediately accepting his weak excuses. In his reply, Al Bander did not address the threatening posts at all, or how they came to be, except to say that they were “grossly distorted and utterly misrepresented as the opposite of what they truly are”. He did not expand any further.
He went on to list and describe his apparent spotless record as a human rights campaigner. The list included his involvement with the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT). What he failed to mention however was that the founding members of SOAT wrote a letter in September 2008 saying that the Board, headed by Al Bandar, was now completely “opposite to its vision and values.”
In open letter to Salah Al Bandar in August 2008, a number of human rights organisations and activists wrote about his “distressing attempts to undermine organisations and activists” in Sudan, including actions which were “not in line with the values of the human rights movement”, such as “failure to pay financial remuneration to staff and volunteers” and the “campaign of unfair dismissals against the organisations’ human rights defenders”, which according to the letter “violates the core principles of the rights for which we are still working”.
In a further example, the Sudanese Communist Party/UK and Ireland branch, of which Al Bandar was a member, issued a statement on 17 January 2012 saying Al Bandar has “used many different mechanisms including lying, spying, manipulating, black-mailing, and doubting the credibility and commitment of many members of the Communist Party”.
The Lib Dems did not discover any of this information in the course of its “thorough investigation”. Instead, the extent of their investigation stretched only to examining “every document in an extensive file of evidence that Dr Al Bander provided in support of his position”. In short, Spencer Hagard’s investigation reviewed only the evidence put forward by Al Bander himself. Hagard concluded “in my opinion the charges … against Dr Salah Al Bander are without foundation. I would add that the substantial additional information about Dr Al Bander that came to light during the enquiry significantly increased my previously high esteem for him, which had been based on less extensive knowledge”.
It gets better.
Ms Mahmoud also approached the police to complain that she had been subjected to death threats on account of her status as a politically active ex-Muslim and critic of Islam and sharia law. The police however were not keen to pursue the case and warned Nahla against making Al Bander “angrier”. No satisfactory explanation as to why the threats did not constitute an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act, which specifically outlaws causing people to fear violence, was offered. The case was closed, but not until police informed Nahla that they had passed details of the threats to the hitherto unknown entity they termed the “Muslim police”. No explanation has been offered as to the identity or function of the “Muslim police”, nor why a case involving a woman who openly criticises Islam would be passed to such a group.
On discovering the existence of the “Muslim police”, I am reminded of the case of another young ex-Muslim woman in Britain, Hannah Shah. Hannah alleges that she had been brutally raped and abused by her father, a local Imam in a northern English city, for many years. Having finally summoned the courage to report the matter to her school-teachers, the details were passed on to a “Muslim social worker”. When Hannah got home from school that evening, she found the “Muslim social worker” in her living room discussing the complaints with her father; the conclusion being that she had brought shame on to her community. That night, she reports, she received one of the worst beatings of her life.
This is modern Britain.
In the guise of multiculturalism, Britain has encouraged an entirely separate existence for its Muslim citizens. Sharia law now governs large swathes of Muslim life in Britain – including in criminal matters. In London for example, police allowed a stabbing case to be heard by a makeshift sharia court, meaning no criminal charges were brought (and no criminal record created for the perpetrator). It is in the area of family law however that sharia enjoys its strongest influence. Across a network of sharia family tribunals, women are denied child custody in accordance with Islamic rules that custody revert to fathers at a pre-set age, a woman’s testimony is worth half of her husband’s and women are ordered to return to violent and abusive marriages (in line with sharia teachings that a man may beat his wife). The men who run sharia in the UK openly call for an Islamic British state and unashamedly seek stoning as punishment for adultery or pre-marital sex.
Britain is also the European capital of female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM theoretically carries a 14 year prison sentence but not a single prosecution has ever been brought because cultural sensitivity governs our state institutions; so much so that people from other European countries are now travelling to Britain to have FGM performed here, knowing full well it will be ignored.
Forced marriages of girls as young as 5, death threats ignored, genital mutilations, and sharia law are being facilitated by the British establishment. Anyone who criticises such practices will, more often than not, be labelled a racist or a fascist, arrested for “causing offence”, or find themselves subjected to violent threats.
Welcome to multicultural Britain.
Anne Marie Waters is spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign and council member of the British National Secular Society. She is a law graduate and writer and speaker on democracy and human rights. She campaigns for gender equality and to end cultural and religious relativism.