Pro ISIS preacher Anjem Choudary ‘given platform for too long’ say Redbridge Muslim leaders
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Members of Redbridge’s Muslim community have accused the national media of giving Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary “a platform for too long” to express extremist views.
Choudary, 49, of Hampton Road, Ilford, is facing jail after he was convicted at the Old Bailey of drumming up support for the Islamic State (IS) terror group on Tuesday.
Despite being a leading figure in the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun (ALM), he stayed on the right side of the law for two decades but now faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison.
The father-of-five recognised a caliphate – a symbolic Islamic state – had been created under an IS leader and encouraged backing for the terrorist group, also known as ISIS, in a series of talks posted on YouTube.
He was found guilty of inviting support for IS between June 29, 2014 and March 6, 2015 at the Old Bailey on July 28, but for legal reasons this could only be reported for the first time on Tuesday.
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Farouk Ismail, chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO), said people ought to know about Choudary’s sentencing, but blamed national media for presenting him as a voice of the Muslim community for too long.
“I think for far too long the media has given him too much attention, while there are so many people doing much better work to promote better relationships between faiths, who would deserve that attention.”
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Vaseem Ahmed, Redbridge co-ordinator for Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), added: “His perspective was definitely not the Muslim perspective.”
Mr Ahmed wished Choudary had been arrested and charged earlier and criticised the secrecy of the case.
“What he was charged with is unclear. I am worried this could set a precedent if somebody else is reported in the future for having done something wrong – especially if they are Muslim,” he said.
Both Mr Ismail and Mr Ahmed do not believe Choudary had any significant influence in radicalising young Muslims in the borough.