July 26, 2018 Faith Matters

Extremist Islamist Group in Pakistan was Promoted in a Birmingham Election Meeting

Tehreek-e-Labbaik promoted in Birmingham

In an exclusive to Faith Matters, we can today highlight how an Islamist extremist group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, was being promoted in Birmingham in the run-up to the Pakistani elections, the results of which are expected tomorrow.

After a tip-off from a concerned member of the public, we came across mobile phone footage which clearly shows two clerics promoting Tehreek-e-Labbaik at an electioneering meeting in Birmingham, which also incorporates religious incantations in order to whip up interest from the crowd.

We have highlighted the extremist nature of this group before, and we have also pointed out the failure of Twitter to remove the social media account of the spiritual leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi

Rizvi has repeatedly inflamed tensions in Pakistan since November 2017 when he rallied his Islamist followers, in the tens of thousands, against perceived changes to a piece of statute law, Ordinance XX or Ordinance Twenty (introduced by the military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, it stripped Ahmadis of their right to call themselves Muslims). Rizvi mobilised his Islamist followers in an attempt to stop any perceived changes to this ordinance, which culminated in a humiliating set of pleas by the Pakistani military for demonstrators to leave, whilst simultaneously handing out money to them. Rizvi’s call to maintain the status quo and thereby to retain the isolation of the Ahmadis literally shut down Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.

Furthermore, the primary campaigning theme of Tehreek-e-Labbaik is ‘Death to Blasphemers’. Rizvi has repeatedly praised the murderers of the late Punjab Governor, Salmaan Taseer, and the Glasgow-based Ahmadi shopkeeper, Asad Shah, who was brutally murdered on a Glasgow street in March 2016. Rizvi moreover has referred to the killers, Mumtaz Qadri and Tanveer Ahmed, as ‘ghazis’ or Islamic warriors, even highlighting in graphic detail, in one mosque-based sermon, the number of times Ahmed stabbed the defenceless Shah. Rizvi is adept at using the concept of blasphemy to whip up his audience into a frenzy, demonstrating the dangerous rhetoric of the man and his political party in Pakistan.

Facebook and Tehreek-e-Labbaik

Faith Matters has been at the vanguard of ensuring that the Facebook pages of Tehreek-e-Labbaik were taken down, although recently a whole host of Facebook pages supporting and promoting the extremist cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, have gone up again. This demonstrates the weakness of social media platforms, which cannot stop new accounts from being opened by extremist individuals or groups.

The following Facebook post by ‘Rivi Media’ clearly shows two clerics speaking at what seems to be a meeting of Barelwi Muslims in Birmingham. The first cleric commences by saying that he has been with and has served Rizvi for eight years and that Rizvi has worked tirelessly for the ‘deen’ – the faith of Islam. This is followed by cries of “SubhanAllah” (‘God is perfect’) by the young audience. It is clearly a sales pitch aimed at the youth who have come to listen, and who may well be eligible to vote in the Pakistani elections.

The young preacher then asks the audience to come to Pakistan to learn more about Tehreek-e-Labbaik and engage with them. What he neglects to tell the audience is that the whole basis of the political party is to lionise the murderers of ‘blasphemers’, meaning that anyone deemed to be a blasphemer effectively has a target on their head.

Worse still, the second preacher then breaks out into an anti-Hindu rant, stating that a vote for Tehreek-e-Labbaik is a vote for ‘martyrs’ in heaven such as the aforementioned Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard of Salman Taseer who murdered the latter for having defended a young Christian woman, Asia Bibi, from the nebulous charge of blasphemy. The preacher is heard to say that a vote for Tehreek-e-Labbaik blesses and honours individuals such as Qadri. He clearly is pushing for support both for Imran Khan and Tehreek-e-Labbaik.

Deep concerns

We are therefore deeply concerned as the extremism of Tehreek-e-Labbaik is bleeding into Muslim communities of Pakistani heritage here in the UK. We have seen how some British imams have cross-posted propaganda from this Islamist extremist cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and we now have tangible evidence of campaigning by representatives of Tehreek-e-Labbaik in places like Birmingham.

After the killing of Asad Shah, and open calls by Tehreek-e-Labbaik for murder, we strongly urge the Home Office to consider proscription of this group. The group has past form in promoting violent extremism from a highly tenuous fundament: they alone deem someone to have blasphemed Islam. This is not politics – it is the behaviour and rhetoric of extremists. It really is as simple as that.