My Brother The Islamist

I mentioned yesterday that BBC3 was that night going to air a documentary ‘My Brother The Islamist’ looking to explore the reasons why a young English bloke converted to Islam and joined Anjem Choudary’s group of provocateurs.

Well, the documentary can still be viewed for the next few days on the BBC iPlayer at this link and you can draw your own conclusions. What stood out for me was the reaction of several converts against what they saw as a hedonistic culture that was engaged in aggressive wars in Muslim countries.

One convert recounted how his eighteen year old sister had died of a cocaine overdose and felt that society should have done more to protect her. Another convert, the seventeen year old Ben (Ahsan), told us that prior to embracing Islam he had been out drinking every weekend and taking drugs. One day, he said, he woke up and thought to himself that there’s got to be a bit more to life than this. A third convert more surprisingly said that he came to Islam because of George Bush. Bush’s declaration ‘You are either with us or against us’ caused him to conclude that if that was the only choice on offer then he certainly wasn’t going to side with Bush!

It was sad to see what appeared to be a group of thoughtful and intelligent young men being drawn to Anjem Choudary’s brand of idiocy which included shouting abuse at soldiers returning from duty in Afghanistan. There was clearly a camaraderie there amongst them which was understandable and attractive. Still, I kept wishing the documentary maker would ask them what on earth they thought they were achieving by engaging in such offensive and clearly counter-productive antics as insulting soldiers and their often grieving families.

It was also very touching to see the obvious concern that Maggie – the mother of young Ben – had for him and his new faith and zeal. She said that aspects of her son’s behaviour caused her worry but in the end she trusted him to find his own way and ‘not to do anything stupid.’

The documentary-maker, Robb Leech – the step-brother of one convert, Richard (Salahuddin) – said at the end that he thought his brother had not been brainwashed but had just reacted against what he saw as serious defects in the society around him. I think, on balance, that is only partly true. In my experience, extremists such as Anjem Choudary’s followers, are encouraged to read and study from a highly limited set of resources. They are not taught to learn about the huge variety of thought and tendencies that exist among Muslims, let alone the rest of the world, and end up looking at the world in very binary colours.

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5 Responses to My Brother The Islamist

  1. Basically Choudary believes that the British or Americans should not be in Afganistan that only muslims should be in afganistan…Basically Griffin believes that blacks and asians should not be in Britianm that only white people should be in Britian. ….Mr Choudary said It is worth reminding those who are still not blinded by the media propaganda that Afghanistan is not a British Town near Wootton Basset but rather Muslim land which no one has the right to occupy with a Muslim population who do not deserve their innocent men women and children to be killed for political mileage and for the greedy interests of the oppressive US and UK regimes….. Other right-wing parties believe that the answer to the race question is integration and a futile attempt to create Black Britons while we affirm that non-Whites have no place here at all and will not rest until every last one has left our land..

  2. JR says:

    A good documentary, as you say, you wish that he asked more, but it was also good just letting the subjects speak to find out what they wanted. It would be good to have some of those views challenged.

    As for the above comment – Afghanistan has only been a ‘Muslim land’ for a little over a thousand years. Saying that races or religions ‘belong’ to one area is foolish and pointless. The Middle East and North Africa were Christian before Mohammed came along, and Jewish and pagan before that, does that mean Muslims should be booted out? The Americas had human sacrifice, should that be allowed as Christianity and whites ‘don’t belong’ there? Such simplistic views have no place, even on the internet.

  3. Commenter says:

    As-salaamu alaykum Inayat,

    As you are someone who engages with many movers and shakers within the Muslim leadership scene in the UK, one of the points that I felt that you should derive from the programme is that converts to islam require concerted attention and concern by the wider and more established communities. I am struck by the degree to which extreme and malicious views (not necessarily militant) as expressed in the programme are more mainstream amongst converts. Converts often have a great degree of passion and drive but should be encouraged to channel that drive and passion towards establishing a strong relationship with Allah and healthy relationships with one’s immediate and extended families. All too often converts are drawn from one movement to another whether it is the hyper Salafi groups, intolerant strands of Deobandism, Hizb Ut Tahrir, Anjem’s crew etc etc. I recognise your answer may be well there’s so many extreme and radicalised youth in the UK so why should converts be more of a concern? I think the concern should be based upon the fact that converts are disproportionately respresented in movements based upon their lack of family networks (often self created) which leaves them vulnerable. Inshallah, you’ll ponder what I’m saying and perhaps raise it with one of the bigwigs at MCB such as Sir Iqbal or Dr Daud. May Allah preserve and protect you and set your affairs in order.

    As salaamu alaykum

  4. Wahine says:

    The convert whose sister died of a cocaine overdose should realise that everyone is responsible for their own actions. Much as I feel for his family noone forced his sister to take drugs. Society protects everyone as best they can but it was this young girl’s own choice to take something illegal that she must have known could possibly kill her.

    He cannot blame society for his sister’s bad decision, at some stage he must apportion the blame where it really lies and that was with his sister’s addiction to illegal substances.

  5. asma says:

    In my opinion many people think the religion islam is dangerous and the people are terrorist. The side that no one see is that we are normal human being who lives purpose in life and not imaginary. I am a born muslim girl and i am proud of my religion, whenever i have faith in my religion i get wherever i want on my mind.our religion is about believing inside your soul. And showing outside.

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