‘Zionist pig’: Boris Johnson is latest victim of UK-based hate preacher Mohammed Al-Massari’s rants

Al-Massari, a physicist, fled Saudi Arabia in 1994 after criticizing the royal family, accusing them of being far from “true Islam.” (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2019

‘Zionist pig’: Boris Johnson is latest victim of UK-based hate preacher Mohammed Al-Massari’s rants

  • In 1996 the UK government had discussed a request by Conservative lawmakers to deport Al-Massari
  • Abu Hamza Al-Masri and Anjem Choudary have also taken full advantage of freedom of expression guaranteed by UK laws

DUBAI: Just a few hours after Boris Johnson effectively became the UK’s new prime minister, reactions from around the world flooded Twitter. While many were critical of Johnson’s victory, one tweet appeared extreme even by today’s standards of demagoguery.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Massari, a Saudi dissident granted residency by the UK, tweeted a picture of Johnson with a caption reading: “This Zionist pig prepares for the leadership of Britain.”

Al-Massari’s diatribes echoed those of two other UK-based preachers, Abu Hamza Al-Masri and Anjem Choudary. Both have taken advantage of the country’s laws protecting freedom of expression to spread their hate among the population. They earned notoriety for constantly criticizing the country that gave them citizenship.

Speaking to Arab News, UK-based Saudi journalist Abdulaziz Alkhamis, who covered Al-Massari, said: “The problem is the effect on the young generation, especially young Muslims.

“He was involved in a wave of hate here, and his acts give support to the extremists against Muslims because they used his speech as an example of no tolerance within the Muslim community in the UK.”

Al-Massari, a physicist, fled Saudi Arabia in 1994 after criticizing the royal family, accusing them of being far from “true Islam.” He gained asylum in the UK and has been living there since.

This has not stopped him from calling for the killing of British troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for assassination attempts to be made against former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

“Al-Massari came here claiming that he was fleeing to find freedom. But he has used that freedom against the government and nation that welcomed him,” Alkhamis said.

On his website, tajdeed.org.uk, Al-Massari has stored a trove of terrorist and extremist rhetoric from his unofficial party, the Party for Islamic Renewal (PIR), whose logo has an eerie resemblance to the black-and-white flag of Daesh. The website contains videos depicting the beheadings of foreign troops at the hands of militants, as well as hours-long videos and articles promoting his interpretation of Islam.




Anjem Choudary. (Shutterstock)

“He legitimizes assassinating President George W Bush and Tony Blair, argues that the death of civilians in terror attacks in Iraq is ‘collateral damage and a necessity of war’, and calls for attacks on coalition forces and ‘apostate' Muslims who help them in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says a BBC Radio Five Live Report statement from 2004 of an interview with Al-Massari.
Alkhamis said: “How does Al-Massari get away with sowing hatred against the British people, publishing photos and videos on his website of British soldiers killed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and yet nobody touches him?”
If imitation is the best form of flattery, then UK hate preachers like Abu Hamza and Anjem Choudary, who praised Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, have good reason to feel flattered.

“Martyr Imam Abu Abdullah Osama Bin Laden is an imam of right guidance, but most people do not know it,” Al-Massari tweeted on January 21, 2017, placing bin Laden’s name between rose emojis.
In the PIR’s founding statement, Al-Massari said the objective was to “mobilize the efforts of Islamic working people, organizing their ranks, enhancing their thinking and deepening their understanding of Islam, in a way that would serve the path of Islamic Da’wah (Call) and movement. It aimed at the aspirations of the Islamic Ummah (nation), and its legitimate struggle for the liberation from infidel foreign domination and the establishment of the righteous Caliphate.”




The tweet reads in Arabic: “Martyr Imam Abu Abdullah Osama Bin Laden is an imam of right guidance, but most people do not know it.”

The radical dissident further wants the restoration of “Islamic life by establishing a Daesh that applies Islam at home, that is, to apply Sharia in various fields of life. The Islamic call conveys guidance and mercy to the world.”

According to Alkhamis, “This is a kind of terrorism when you are asking people to kill, and asking people to hate ... but we can see there is no reaction from the British government and the British legal system”.

Arab News reached Al-Massari and the PIR for comment, but they did not respond.

On June 27, 1996, the British government discussed the request of a number of Conservative lawmakers to deport Al-Massari on the basis of statements he made to the BBC, justifying the terrorist operation in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran, which targeted 19 US soldiers.
Al-Massari denied saying this and attributed it to erroneous translation, as reported by the Independent newspaper at the time. Efforts to deport him were scuttled by a campaign to keep him, backed by then-Labour MP George Galloway.

Unfazed by the developments, Al-Massari continued to spew political hatred. After he called for the assassination of Blair in July 2004, he faced another call for deportation. He repeated his call in a tweet on Oct. 1, 2018, demanding that Blair should be tried internationally and assassinated in return for the killing of “Attiyat Allah,” referring to Osama bin Laden.




Abu Hamza Al-Masri. (Shutterstock)

Unfazed by the developments, Al-Massari continued to spew political hatred. After he called for the assassination of Blair in July 2004, he faced another call for deportation. He repeated his call in a tweet on October 1, 2018, demanding that Blair should be tried internationally and assassinated in return for the killing of “Attiyat Allah,” referring to Osama bin Laden.
On July 15, 2016, British security forces raided Al-Massari's home in London after determining that he had received about £600,000 from Abdulrahman Mohammed al-Amoudi, a close associate of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, between 2003 and 2004. The money transfer was linked to an alleged plot for the assassination of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
To date, Al-Massari has not been jailed or charged with any crime, despite the calls for his deportation. Alkhamis remembered police visiting Al-Massari's residence and taking away only his computer which he had used to publish the videos. "We hear stories of people being jailed for hate speech," AlKhamis said. "We should be asking UK authorities why Al-Massari has not had to face the full force of the law.”
Under Article 10 of UK's Human Rights Act 1998, “everyone has the right to freedom of expression”. But this freedom has restrictions “in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime ... for the protection of the reputation or rights of others” among other conditions.
Taking advantage of these freedoms, Abu Hamza turned London's Finsbury Park Mosque into a hotbed of radicalism until his arrest in August 2002 under the Terrorism Act 2000. He received a life sentence for sending cash to Al-Qaeda, sending a follower from Finsbury Park to an Afghan training camp, and for assisting militants who tourists hostage in Yemen 1998."
Abu Hamza also called Britain the “inside of a toilet,” saying "We are all under the heavy boots of the Kufr [apostates]” in a video titled “Holy way to Khalifa,” filmed during a meeting in Whitechapel in London in the late 1990s.
“Abu Hamza used the system here to the maximum. He used the benefits, everything in this country," Alkhamis told Arab News. "Britain supported him financially, gave him a house, gave him everything he wanted. And he spread hate and praised Al-Qaeda for what it did in many countries.”


Why India cases are rising to multiple peaks

Updated 59 min 59 sec ago

Why India cases are rising to multiple peaks

  • India has tallied 793,802 infections and more than 21,600 deaths, with cases doubling every three weeks

NEW DELHI: In just three weeks, India went from the world’s sixth worst-affected country by the coronavirus to the third, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. India’s fragile health system was bolstered during a stringent monthslong lockdown but could still be overwhelmed by an exponential rise in infections.
Here is where India stands in its battle against the virus:

Steady climb, multiple peaks
India has tallied 793,802 infections and more than 21,600 deaths, with cases doubling every three weeks. It’s testing more than 250,000 samples daily after months of sluggishness, but experts say this is insufficient for a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.
“This whole thing about the ‘peak’ is a false bogey because we won’t have one peak in India, but a series of peaks,” said Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health researcher. He pointed out that the capital of New Delhi and India’s financial capital, Mumbai, had already seen surges, while infections had now begun spreading to smaller cities as governments eased restrictions. The actual toll would be unknown, he said, unless India made testing more accessible.

John Hopkins University graphic

Dubious data
The Health Ministry said Thursday that India was doing “relatively well” managing COVID-19, pointing to 13 deaths per 1 million people, compared to about 400 in the United States and 320 in Brazil. But knowing the actual toll in India is “absolutely impossible” because there is no reporting mechanism in most places for any kind of death, said Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil, an epidemiologist at the Christian Medical College in Vellore who has been advising the government.
Official data shows 43% of the people who have died from the coronavirus were between the ages of 30 and 60, but research globally indicates that the disease is particularly fatal to the elderly, suggesting to Muliyil that many virus deaths among older Indians “don’t get picked up” or counted in the virus fatality numbers.


“No central coordination”
In India, public health is managed at a state level, and some have managed better than others. The southern state of Kerala, where India’s first three virus cases were reported, has been held up as a model. It isolated patients early, traced and quarantined contacts and tested aggressively. By contrast, Delhi, the state that includes the national capital, has been sharply criticized for failing to anticipate a surge of cases in recent weeks as lockdown measures eased. Patients have died after being turned away from COVID-designated hospitals that said they were at capacity. It led the Home Ministry to intervene and allocate 500 railway cars as makeshift hospital wards.
But as the capital rushes to conjure new beds, officials admit that they’re worried about the lack of trained and experienced health care workers. According to Jishnu Das, a professor of economics at Georgetown University, there is “no central coordination” to move health care staff from one state to another, exposing India’s relative inability to use data to guide policy decisions.
“The one big thing that we’re learning from this pandemic is it takes any cracks in our systems and it drives a chisel to them. So, it’s no longer a crack, it’s a huge chasm,” Das said.

India’s role in global fight
India has seven vaccines in various stages of clinical trial, including one by Bharat Biotech that the Indian Council on Medical Research pledged would have results from human trials by Aug. 15, the country’s Independence Day. The top medical research body quickly backtracked, but regardless of whether India comes out on top in the global race for a vaccine, the country will play a critical role in the world’s inoculation against COVID-19.
The Serum Institute of India in the central Indian city of Pune is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. India makes about 1,000 ventilators and 600,000 personal protective equipment kits per day, according to government think-tank Niti Aayog, making it the second largest kit maker in the world after China.


The economic curve
Although Indian airspace remains closed to commercial airlines from abroad, India’s economy has largely reopened. Consumer activity has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, government data showed, and factory workers who fled cities when India imposed its lockdown March 24 have begun to return, enticed, in some cases, by employers offering free room and board.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the health crisis along with a military standoff with China over a disputed border region to rally the country around the idea of a “self-reliant India” whose home-grown industries will emerge stronger. Approval ratings that US pollster Morning Consult estimate at 82% suggest many Indians are with him, even after the hasty lockdown triggered a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of migrant workers fleeing on foot toward their natal villages, and as two top government scientists on the front lines of the coronavirus fight stepping down in recent weeks. With the coronavirus nowhere near abating in India, how Modi will fare as the toll of infections and deaths continues to rise is still unclear.