Hollywood couldn’t come up with a more caricatured Muslim if an Oscar depended on it. Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical cleric and bin Laden supporter ousted from the mosque he called home for years, turned up his rhetoric a notch by gloating over the Columbia disaster as he took his flock to the sidewalk. icin being found among Algerian immigrants, and the stabbing death of a Manchester detective who had been doing an anti-terror investigation. Police found a stun gun and took away seven from the Finsbury Park mosque (one of the largest in London, although most members do not share Al-Masri’s views) which is famous for producing Richard Reid and holding a 9/11 conference that celebrated the attack. (“Everybody in this f**king country,” seethes a mosque member, “is a racist and hates Islam.”) Many Muslims complained that the harsh action against the mosque would only help extremists like Al-Masri (who was not arrested in the raid) recruit. “It isn’t the bigmouths who are the most dangerous,” said Home Secretary David Blunkett as he dismissed criticism. “It’s the ones you cannot see and you do not hear.” Al-Masri remains defiant about his repellent politics even as trustees of the Finsbury Park mosque complained that police have ignored their warnings about the outspoken cleric for some time now. But the authorities aren’t leaving Al-Masri and his “Supporters of Sharia” group alone anymore. The government has ordered him to give up his pulpit, which may mean we’ll see less of that claw-hand that freaks so many people out.
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.