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Sharia Law: The Reality

IAI News speaks to fundamentalist Anjem Choudary

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Anjem Choudary is as much a believer in earthly utopia as he is in waging war on the West. Sharia law, he argues, not only promises a better future for Muslims, but stands to benefit the whole of society. “In terms of the economic solution there will be free food, clothing and shelter for all citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,” he says. “They’ll have a free house, and gas, electricity and water free of charge. Even in England or other so-called first world countries, people don’t have these things. People work all their lives and get their houses get taken away from them. So there’s no security.”

“There are 55 so-called Muslim countries in the world today, but none of them implement Sharia completely. The only place that’s implemented it is the Islamic State. And in that sense, you can get a window into how it would look. It’s far superior to any place you can imagine in the world today.”

Choudary’s vision casually ignores the bloody reality of life under the Islamic State, where mass killings of Iraqi and Syrian civilians, stories of brutal torture, and the beheadings of Westerners have erupted over the course of this year. “You talk about one or two journalists here and there,” he responds. “It hardly equates to what the British and the Americans have done in the name of democracy. That’s why I see democracy as a disease which needs to be removed. We need Sharia, we need divine law. We cannot allow this anarchy to continue.”

A self-styled “Sharia judge”, Choudary previously practiced as a solicitor in London, before turning his attentions to studying the Quran under the tutelage of Omar Bakri Muhammad (another of the UK’s most prominent and vocal Islamists). As the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, he claims to have conducted “literally hundreds” of marriages and divorce cases at British Sharia courts, although he has no formal qualifications in the study of Islam. “The formal associations will never teach you the topics and subjects which are the main issues of discussion nowadays. You will not study about the ruling system in Islam, for example, in any university in most of the world. So whenever you do a thesis or PhD or Masters, they obviously don’t touch topics like jihad. Anything like the Islamic position on hostages, assassination or capital punishment, they will avoid them. If you want to study those things, then you need to be in prison with the other scholars in Egypt or Jordan.”

Though the solicitor-turned-judge boasts that he has been studying the Quran for 20 years, he falters when faced with a quotation from the text, a passage stating the need for the forgiveness and reconciliation with enemies. “If you quote something, I need to see that particular verse to see how it’s implemented,” he explains. “The point is, in Islam, if somebody has murdered, the family can forgive, or the family can elect capital punishment. Allah is all-forgiving. There’s forgiveness definitely in Islam. But that doesn’t mean that you need to like non-believers or disbelievers. That’s a completely different story.”

As we speak over the phone, it’s clear that Choudary is well-versed in interview technique. His vitriolic, anti-Western soundbites have inevitably been lapped up by all sides of the UK media. As is often the case with extremist voices, the exposure Choudary has had is hugely disproportionate to his support base. And despite his insistence that he’s merely a “simple Muslim propagating Islam”, he is acutely aware of the media’s power, and adept at holding its attention. “Nowadays people don’t stand on hills and mountains to pass messages. The hills and mountains are like the BBC and CNN. I use the media to pass my message – we use them all the time, so the more high-profile the better.”

Predictably, Choudary tempers his thirst for influence with a veil of humility. Though he has become a recognisable focal point of extremist Islam in the UK, he claims he is “not interested in any role” in the implementation of Sharia law, and when asked how his vision would become a reality, he answers vaguely, but threateningly: “some people could orchestrate a military or ideological coup”

Choudary’s sentiments over the past ten years provide examples of freedom of speech pushed to its limits, but he sees no link between his profile and the democratic society which allowed him to build it. “It’s not because we live in a democratic society that you can speak. Allah is the one who created a tongue for you to speak. God is the one who created eyes for you to see. People don’t say, ‘You have freedom of vision’. It’s nonsense. Freedom of speech is a fallacy.”

“When say you live in a democracy, you are talking about dictatorship by the majority. When the majority dictates upon a minority, that’s democracy. Democracy is really a dictatorship. And when we talk about freedom…you also talk about restricting freedom: how can have freedom and then restrict it? Either it’s freedom or it’s not freedom,” he concludes with characteristic lack of nuance. “Freedom and democracy are the idols that people worship.”

 

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