The Times of Trojan Horses
I must have done something right: that neocon "think" tank (they can't really think for themselves) in the United States called Gatestone Institute had singled me out for its venom in an article about radical prison imams although I've been on parole for more than a decade now, but it was my anti-Zionist views broadcast on various media channels that really vexed them. I first heard of it when the Mail on Sunday wanted to run with the story and then, after I had supplied them with the facts, thought it better not to. Then The Times jumped onto the band wagon, and today, in spite of having obtained my prior comments and thus knowing all too well about the falsehoods peddled in her sources, Katie Gibbons penned her front page article "Prison imams linked to radicals", then picked up in the lead article inside the paper called "Inside Islam". It's part of the vilification of Islam of late where the public are asked to believe that the country is at the verge of a Muslim take-over, with Trojan horses packed with jihadi warriors hiding in schools, prisons, and many other places we never suspected to be used for the subversion of the state, maybe hospitals next, or GP's surgeries (there is a large number of Muslims GPs and surgeons and they might also harbour radical ideas: material for your next article, Katie!).
The Times did, of course, the decent thing to avoid libel action: they asked for my comments beforehand, only to ignore them in their entirety (although Katie texted me: "Thank you very much, you raised some very interesting points that I will include in my article") and then added the word "allegedly" and the disclaimer that I denied ever having held the views attributed to me. This is what press freedom is all about: you can slander people provided you do it right. Not expecting to be invited to write a response, I reproduce my email to Katie below and the articles in today's edition of The Times for reference.
This is what I sent to Katie Gibbons after publication:
I read your article on prison imams in today's "The Times" together with that on the archbishop's comments and the lead article trying to tie the two together. It's a real pity that you didn't have the courage to buck the trend. There was little chance of coming up with much useful and truthful when using discredited sources like the Gatestone Institute or Quilliam, politically funded propaganda tools designed to decry every Muslim who does not support the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine as extremist, leaving indeed very, very few moderates amongst the adherents of Islam wordwide. I suppose, the Times can now also proudly join the ranks of these hate-mongerers who are "often in error but never in doubt".
Of course, your article played technically save by adding "allegedly" to the views ascribed to me and acknowledging that I denied ever holding them. Between colleagues, however (I've been a card-carrying journalist for some four decades now), let me tell you it is never good practice to smear someone's reputation against better knowledge, and I hope you will never find yourself at the receiving end of such treatment. My Hindu colleagues at the prison chaplaincy would have warned of bad karma having been incurred as a price of landing this front page piece, whilst my Christian lead chaplain would have prayed for your guidance.
You and your editor may want to argue that you are doing this in order to stem the tide of radicalisation, but indeed you are doing the exact opposite: the tiny minority of highly vociferous radicals who are finding it difficult to obtain a supportive audience for their rhetoric amongst Britain's mosques thrive on such publicity. Often this scurge has been groomed and planted by our own security services (e.g. Morten/Murad Storm, recently serialised in one of your sister publications) as agents provocateurs, and just as often they are financed by Saudi Arabia, a regime rarely criticised because it is counted among our allies and a lucrative business partner - hypocrisy reigning supreme as always. By giving those elements the exposure they crave you are lending them a louder voice instead and by lumping everybody else together with them you are suffocating the voice of the bulk of ordinary Muslims. As for the "moderate" Muslims you wish to create and support, in the understanding of Gatestone and Quilliam they can only be the ones who consider the Qur'an outdated and Islam a cultural remnant of bygone times and, of course, bend over backwards to support Israel in everything she does, Muslim Zionists effectively to join the ranks of the Christian Zionists so dominant in neocon policy circles . If these are your ideal Muslims, I'm afraid you are woefully out of touch, not only with Muslims but also with the British public and British values: next Saturday's national demonstration will give you an idea of how the British people do not want to the lend their name to the holocaust waged against a defenseless population in Gaza just because their democratically elected government is portrayed as radical and that Israel finds the threat of peace a hindrance to her territorial ambitions.
Back to the good work done by chaplains of all persuasions and denominations in prisons: they are there not to proselytise but to give pastoral support and aid rehabiliation, and with the prison system already bursting at the seams, to pull the rug from under them as your article has done is highly irresponsible, as without their platinum work your front page would soon again have to be dealing with prison unrest, not radical imams.
And these are the articles all that relates to: