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CNN: SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
The War Within: A Look The Struggle Between Britain's Mainstream Muslims And The Radicals Advocate Jihad
Aired January 27, 2007 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morning, morning, morning, it is Monday morning. It's beautiful outside, it's 12 degrees, it's crisp.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The morning commute to the city, London's financial district. Every day, 300,000 people commute to work here, amid fears that Britain is now Al Qaeda's number one target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raised in Britain, and a member of Al-Qaeda. Today the prosecution outlined how Barat (ph) wanted to blow up a tube train as it passed beneath the Thames.
AMANPOUR: I'm Christiane Amanpour. For the last 10 years, London has been my refuge from the conflicts raging overseas, but now those conflicts have erupted right here. Nothing has been the same since suicide bombers struck London's buses and tubes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The head of MI-5 has warned the terrorist threat faced by Britain will last for a generation.
AMANPOUR: British intelligence says it knows of 30 terrorist plots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people being encouraged to attack us are young, British-born Pakistani Muslims, groomed to carry out appalling atrocities.
AMANPOUR: Inflammatory headlines spread Islamaphobia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Muslim women, who wear the veil are not aliens.
AMANPOUR: And Britain's Muslims wonder how they fit in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we're not careful, we will have bloodshed on our streets, based on race and faith. This is something serious.
AMANPOUR: We uncover stories never heard, images never seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tough streets of Baghdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gang members driving down this street. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A deadly risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can hear and see the choppers.
ANNONCER: Now, Amanpour reports.
AMANPOUR: It's been dubbed Londonistan, the hidden world of London's home-grown Islamic extremists. They are a tiny minority of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, but they have no trouble getting their voices heard.
ANJEM CHOUDARY, MUSLIM RADICAL: One day, you will conquer Rome! One day, one day you will conquer the White House!
AMANPOUR: Anjem Choudary is the public face of Islamic extremism in Britain. His group, Amwar Jaroun (ph) disbanded before the British government could outlaw it under its new anti-terrorism rules, but that hasn't shut Choudary up.
CHOUDARY: Whoever insults Islam or insults the Prophet Mohammad deserves capital punishment!
AMANPOUR: That was Choudary's inflammatory rhetoric just days after Pope Benedict's controversial speech about Islam.
CHOUDARY: Pope Benedict, you will pay!
CROWD CHANTING: Pope Benedict, you will pay!
CHOUDARY: The Mujahedeen are on their way.
CROWD CHANTING: The Mujahedeen are on their way!
AMANPOUR: Outside Westminster Cathedral, British Catholics looked on in disbelief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can stand outside our church and abuse us, and abuse our religion and abuse people we hold dear, with absolute impunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The simple question to the Christians is, do you condemn what the pope said? Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't condemn --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you condemn what the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no? Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of us was to amble up to, you know, the mosque at Regent's Park and say anything in regards to Allah or Mohammad or what have you. Best case scenario, take away the police for inciting racial hatred. Worst case scenario, attacked by a bunch of thugs wearing tea towels on their heads. CHOUDARY: Democracy, hypocrisy.
AMANPOUR: Even away from the bully pulpit, Choudary, who is a lawyer, not a cleric, continues to advocate extremist views, like calling for Sharia, Islamic law for Britain.
CHOUDARY: All of the world belongs to Allah, and we will live according to the Sharia where we are. This is a fundamental belief of the Muslims. You know, if I was to go to the jungle tomorrow, I'm not going to live like the animals.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Anjem, basically, a lot of what you're saying is, it's my way or the highway. I mean, how does that kind of logic fit into a democratic state like the one we live in now? And like the one you live in? You live here by choice. Do you not believe in democracy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't at all. We believe that people must live according to the Sharia.
AMANPOUR: That would mean in a country such as Britain, people would have their hands cut off for robbery, we'd be stoned for what you call adultery, hanged? You can see that happening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day the Sharia will be implemented in Britain. It's a matter of time. Whether it comes through our peaceful discussion and debate, whether it comes because the Mujahedeen would send an army one day, Allah knows.
CHOUDARY (voice over): An Islamic army coming to lay down the law in Britain? What do people think in Walthamstowe, one of London's biggest Muslim neighborhoods?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lovely, lovely, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
AMANPOUR (on camera): Ishmael, would you like to see Sharia law in England?
ISHMAEL: Sharia, what's that?
AMANPOUR: Islamic law?
ISHMAEL: No, no. I'm Muslim myself, but like for someone to tell me that's the law of the whole country, the whole land, I think it's wrong. This is a free land. Everyone's entitled to what they want to do, you know what I mean? It's not Taliban here.
AMANPOUR: It's not the Taliban?
ISHMAEL: It's not the Taliban here, you know what I mean?
AMANPOUR (voice over): But you wouldn't know it at this traditional Muslim wedding. Choudary has come to officiate.
CHOUDARY: In the West they want to say equality between all people, between men and women. However, Allah has created us different. I mean, surely he has given man authority over the woman, he has given him qowama (ph) because he provides food, clothing and shelter.
AMANPOUR: They never saw the bride or the female wedding guests. They were segregated in different halls. But we were invited to witness the nica (ph), the dowry agreement between the groom and his father-in-law.
CHOUDARY: Allah, please accept this Nica to be conducted in accordance with the Sharia.
(CROWD CHEERING, SHOUTING IN UNISON)
AMANPOUR: And even at this wedding, Choudary preaches holy war.
CHOUDARY: Allah please bless him with pious children that will continue the jihad to liberate our land. Allah, please support all the mujahedeen wherever they are, Iraq, Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir, Fallujah, Darfur.
AMANPOUR: But how about those who carried out the London's subway attacks on July 7th, 2005? Choudary gives an ominous answer.
CHOUDARY: I'm not planning to blow myself up on the Underground, or carry out a martyrdom operation in Britain. However, those people who may be, will be doing what Mohammed said they can and (UNINTELLGIBLE) and other did, probably because of the same reasons, which they included in their wills. I think you really need to take a look at that.
AMANPOUR: This is the videotape will of one of the subway suicide bombers, Mohammed Sadiq Kahn.
MOHAMMED SADIQ KHAN, SUICIDE BOMBER: Until we feel security, you will be our targets. Until you stop the bombing and gassing and imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now, you, too, will taste the reality of this situation.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Those reasons that they included in their will, are those reasons justified in your view, or in your view of Islam?
CHOUDARY: I think we have everything we need in those wills.
AMANPOUR: Where in the Koran does it justify the killing of innocents?
CHOUDARY: I'd like to get on to another question, because I've answered that question already.
AMANPOUR: Have you? In Koran?
CHOUDARY: In the video of Mohammed Sadiq Kahn he quotes the verse in the Koran, which is chapter 2, verse 111, where Allah says he has purchased from the believers the life they will kill others and be killed.
SADIQ: Muslims all over the world I strongly advise you to sacrifice this life for the hereafter.
AMANPOUR: There are Mullah, Imams, today who say that the suicide bombers have really done a lot of damage to the reputation of Islam. They're saying that the kinds of things that you are saying is, in fact, damaging the religion so much.
CHOUDARY: Well, you obviously are just making a statement here. There's no real question there. The fact is, people don't refer to you for Islam. They refer to people like Sheikh Abek Mohammed, people like Sheikh Ayman Al Zawahiri, like Sheikh Osama bin Laden. I happen to be in an ideological and political war, my brothers in Al Qaeda and other Mujahedeen are involved in a military campaign.
AMANPOUR: You call them your brothers. Do you mean that?
CHOUDARY: Of course.
CHOUDARY: Of course, every Muslim in the world is my brother.
These people, ladies and gentlemen, have a good look at them. They actually think if you kill children, if you kill a woman you would go to heaven. You have no chance in hell! And you are a lawyer, Mr. Choudray?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't kill children!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I speak? I'd like to say that this is not an ideology. It's a mental illness.
AMANPOUR: And stopping it from spreading may be the most important battle for Britain today.
AMANPOUR (voice over): Hanif Qadir is a youth worker in Walthamstowe. Overnight he discovered that he was on the frontline of Britain's battle against terror, when police arrested 14 young men in his neighborhood.
HANIF QADIR, YOUTH WORKER: There's a minority, I mean, in the schools that actually believe that -- I mean these are Muslims and non-Muslims, and this is very shocking -- but blowing people up is quite cool.
AMANPOUR (on camera): That blowing people up is cool?
QADIR: It's quite cool, yeah. AMANPOUR (voice over): Last August British police descended on Wolfenstowe, saying they had foiled a conspiracy to blow up a dozen U.S.-bound airliners with liquid explosives. This set off the biggest security alert since 9/11.
QADIR: I got an e-mail about this, so I put the question to some of these guys, and the answers I got back is, when a bomb goes off in Baghdad or Afghanistan, and innocent women and children are killed over there, who cares for them? So if a bomb goes off in America, or in London, what's wrong with that?
AMANPOUR: Indeed, a poll in "The Times of London", showed a shocking 13 percent of British Muslims believe the London subway bombers were martyrs, and many British Muslims see the Iraq war as a war against Islam, against them.
(On camera): We're talking about England here, we're talking about young Muslims, who have grown up in this country. I think people would be really stunned to hear you say that it is essentially foreign policy which is causing youngsters to blow themselves up on the subway system, and youngsters to think that that's cool.
QADIR: Foreign policy has a lot to do with it, but it's -- it's the minority radical groups that use that, to get to our young people.
AMANPOUR (voice over): And some of those young Muslims are easy prey, because they believe the British government crackdown is scapegoating them, as when Minister John Reid came to talk to Walthamstowe parents.
MINISTER JOHN REID: There are fanatics who are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, so all I say is look for those telltale signs now.
AMANPOUR: One of those fanatics was in the room, waiting to pounce.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they come to your own houses, when your house is raided or your business is raided, you'll be just as irate as I am!
AMANPOUR: Omar Brooks, a self-styled religious leader of an extremist group that is now banned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the one they call extremist rubbish!
QADIR: Now, he's went in there, and he's you know, he's shouting and he's hollering at everybody and everybody thinking, yes, this guy is against the system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm outside. Where's your freedom of speech now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over there.
QADIR: They're considered to be heroes, you know, for the younger guys. Yes, get in there. He's telling them how it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should not come to Muslim area. We don't want to see John Reid, we don't want to Tony Blair, or any of your cronies.
QADIR: It's very easy for them guys to then come back into the community and have a lot of supporters.
AMANPOUR: These people? Many of them self-appointed clerics, are dominating the national debate, and certainly the debate within Islam right now. They're the loudest voices. How is that possible?
QADIR: Because our scholars have educated themselves to preach Islam are not coming out of their holes, their mosques and their holes to engage these people. They're frightened of that.
AMANPOUR: So, Hanif is desperately trying to fix that, trying to get the mosque elders, many still stuck in the tribal traditions of Pakistan, to communicate with the younger generation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to ask these young people, because I'm part of the committee of next-door mosque, which young men come into the mosque and the mosque refuses?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times, you, the community leaders, have tried to engage with us, the youths, I want to know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes young people like you go in the mosque and the older people are praying, and you disturb the prayer. We know about young people, what you do. Some of you -- no, you listen to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not attacking the mosques. We're attacking the elders.
AMANPOUR: What do you think is your most serious problem right now as young Muslim men in England?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel like the youth have been called the enemy within. Because they're blaming us on being terrorists, blaming us as suicide bombers, when they have no, no right to actually accuse us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was walking down the street, right, with my mosque hat on and my beard, and you know what, straight away, terrorist. They would think extremism.
AMANPOUR: Extremism can thrive amongst kids who see no way out of their ethnic ghettos.
QADIR: They're into all kinds of vices. They're into street crime, gun crime, drugs, car theft, credit card fraud. But then you've now got another threat.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What's the new threat?
QADIR: The new threat is radicalism. It's a cause. Every young man wants a cause.
AMANPOUR (voice over): So, Hanif's cause is to break the ice. This time in a pool tournament between the police and the young men who often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the street they hate the uniform, at all. So this is to break them barriers. I think it is a brilliant idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unusual to see it, but it's quite good at the same time, because like the kids and the police are mixing together. I personally think it's a great thing.
QADIR: All it takes is just foothold. It wasn't just the game. It was them being here. They were in the same room having a laugh and a joke. The same guys they've arrested many times, and may arrest again. But you know what, they've got one think in common now, they're playing pool. And it's the only chance they've got to beat them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the Metropolitan Police this is for the Active Change Foundation Pool Tournament October 2006. Well done.
AMANPOUR: It's a good start for Walthamstowe, but it is only a start.
QADIR: You can be Muslim and you can be British, you know. Like you can be Christian and you can be British. You can be Jewish and you can be British.
If the British-born Muslims really want to do something to stop people damaging Islam, then start reading up on your book, explain it to your children, come out of your denial phase. They only conspirers against Islam, at the moment, right? And the biggest threat to Islam at the moment is our enemies within.
MUSIC VIDEO: Gonna build a dirty bomb, use the spirit of religion and education.
AMANPOUR: Bombs and in the backlash, seeping even into song, how far will it go?
MUSIC VIDEO: I reject your truth because it's all a lie, reject your proof, like American pie.
AMANPOUR (voice over): Rejection has been Aki Nawaz's thing since the days of punk rock. His latest blast against the system and his angry new album, sum up what many young British Muslims reject today, the war in Iraq, the war against terror, and all its infamous abuses.
SINGER: Reject war and terror
AMANPOUR (on camera): Why is the cover of your album so provocative?
AKI NAWAZ, DIRECTOR, NATION RECORDS: It's provocative because I find, now it represents American foreign policy, which is far more provocative than any other piece of artwork has ever been.
AMANPOUR: And you can't get much more provocative than this track, Aki's song and video about making a dirty bomb.
SINGER: Gonna build a dirty bomb, this is education. My Ph.D. will free me, weapons grade uranium, a suitcase of Semtex a mobile phone trigger blow them all to hell for a million-dollar figure.
NAWAZ: I decided to write this track called "Cookbook DIY" how a common man can make a bomb, how an educated man makes a bomb, and how a scientist from the White House makes a bomb. And I was trying to say that morally, they are all as repulsive as each other.
SINGER: I insist I'm a legitimate scientist, paid by the government with your finances. There's less radiation so you get a cleaner bomb, sure, money people, it costs a billion
AMANPOUR: When you put out the songs about dirty bombs or benefits of jihad, does it ever cross your mind that young people who might be inclined to take that and run with it in a violent way might do so?
NAWAZ: That would be like saying -- me saying, you know, I'm angry because I watched "Rambo". Hollywood is making films, you are making documentaries about terrorism, about the current situation, blah, blah, blah. You're allowed to do all of this stuff, but me as a Muslim, being asked that question, just again exposes the kind of pathetic intelligence that's rife out there, where one rule is for one, and another rule is for another.
AMANPOUR: But it is, in fact -- Muslims -- who have been blowing up planes and hijacking planes and taking them into buildings, going on to subways in your own capital --
NAWAZ: As far as terrorism is concerned, we can't even touch the immensity of state terrorism that has gone on by the West.
AMANPOUR: You mean that?
NAWAZ: I absolutely mean it, right across the globe, even in Europe people are sick, sick to death of the American foreign policy.
AMANPOUR: Aki Nawaz may be on the cultural cutting edge, but his take on America is becoming mainstream in Britain's Muslim community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see what a wonderful surprise.
AMANPOUR: This so worries the United States that it sent its ambassador, Robert Tuttle, and his wife Maria, to reach out to Muslims here in Britain. Today they're visiting Birmingham's central mosque.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was to strap a bomb into myself and go into Birmingham's city center and blow innocent people up I'm not practicing what my preaching. My religion is Islam, the religion of peace. Likewise what America preaches, and its actions don't go together.
ROBERT TUTTLE, U.S. AMBASSADOR: At the end of the day, until you can have free elections and open dialogue like we're having here now, then that's when you truly have peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't bring democracy to Iraq if you bomb cities and kill children and men and women. They're not going to love you. If you're killing my child, I'm not going to love you. I'm going to hate you. And this is what he has done. Sorry, Mr. Ambassador, you know, you're a nice man. How can you defend Mr. George Bush's policy? And I hope as soon as he goes, Mr. Bush, somebody sensible comes in power in America it will be very beautiful.
TUTTLE: Let me say first let the record show he said I was a nice man, let's not forget that, all right? I've known President Bush for 25 -- almost 25 years. He's not anti-Muslim. He's not anti-Islam.
AMANPOUR: But the ambassador can see he's facing a tough audience, still, he cannot afford to ignore them.
TUTTLE: This is the largest mosque in the United Kingdom, the largest mosque in Western Europe. I think the reaching out and the discussion and the dialogue is what really counts here.
AMANPOUR: And that gets more critical by the day. Especially in Birmingham, Britain's second largest city with its largest Muslim minority. Mohamed Ali is a Birmingham artist, also known as Aerosol Arabic.
MOHAMMED ALI, ARTIST: Transforming a wall into a piece of art, in itself, you know this is so exciting.
AMANPOUR: He rose from painting graffiti on city walls to displaying his art in museums and stately halls.
ALI: This is actually a chap, a guy, who is making the round, the call for prayer.
ALI: God has given me a gift which is the ability to paint, so I'm using my skills which I might have to be able to change in society. You see something negative and you actively go to change that.
AMANPOUR: Mohammed Ali's reaction to the negative atmosphere is to practice what he paints.
ALI: People are increasingly becoming disillusioned or they are being led astray. This is not the way. I mean, I've done workshops for kids and I say to them, if you've got issues, put it onto a canvas, you know, paint, express yourself. AMANPOUR: And that is quite literally the aim of Mohammed Ali's new project, a giant street mural that he'll be painting on the side of an Islamic nursery, along with students from a multi-faith high school.
ALI: The whole mural supported by the Reverend John, he's a chaplain of the local college, and the head headmaster here of the faith-based Islamic nursery. Everybody engaging together to work on the mural together to me it's a powerful thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're about to redo everything. This has come at a perfect time.
ALI: Ok, guys, are you ready?
AMANPOUR: In a flash, Mohammad turns into Aerosol Arabic, and this ugly wall into a piece of street art.
ALI I'm going to give you the same cans so we'll have red, orange, yellow, blending up to the top. You understand? First of all shake your can as well.
AMANPOUR: None of these students has ever even wielded a spray can before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice. It's nice to have a chance. It's good. I like it. It's my first time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you need to do, see as Tony showed you, you solid and blending up like that.
ISKAR KHAN, SCHOOL INSPECTOR: I just think it's great that people from across the communities are going here and united to produce a piece of artwork like this.
It's the issue of the day, unless the communities work together like this we haven't got a rosy future to look forward to. We need to do more of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will have various icons from different faiths in the form of architecture, so we can have, you know, the Martyrs' Church and Birmingham Central Mosque to represent the unity of the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's good. It promotes like brotherhood, non-Muslims alike, you know, they think negative of us so it's nice to have that image to show that you know, to bring us closer, if you know what I mean. So it's a good thing.
REV. JOHN BREADON, CHAPLAIN: The views of Islam and Britain have taken quite a knocking, so to see an expression of Islamic faith in a very interesting art medium is all for the good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the great thing about graffiti and this outdoor art taken on the streets, because it's art for the people, looking at that and people around you here. These aren't the people going to the nice big galleries, this is art going out to the people in an accessible form that young and old can say you know what? I like this. It's transforming something ugly because believe me that wall was ugly.
AMANPOUR: While Mohammed Ali tries to transform the ugliness that's dividing Britain, from his recording studio, Aki Nawaz is trying to make sure that every Muslim child here grows up to question that ugliness.
NAWAZ: All I want my kids to know is that they have absolutely every single right that the British people have. They're allowed dissent. They're allowed to be provocative. They can be a part of society or put the middle finger up at society.
AMANPOUR: Muslim women take on hot button issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got the door slammed in our face.
AMANPOUR: In Britain's war within.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well if Christians were the cross, Jews have the Star of David, Muslims have the crescent moon. What symbol if any should atheists have?
AYESHA HAZARIKA, COMEDIAN: Chris says the symbol for atheists must be a flame to remind Christians they used to burn atheists.
AMANPOUR: Ayesha Hazarika likes to confront hot button topics head on, whether it's on a radio or before an audience at a London comedy club.
HAZARIKA: I'm quite a moderate Muslim in a kind of wine swilling, bacon sandwich chomping kind of way but that hasn't stopped people being very hostile towards me.
I gig in some very - I guess very white areas that they are probably very fearful and very hateful of Muslims because of everything that's happened.
And a couple of days after the bombs went off in London, this woman phones me up at my office and she goes, "Ayesha, just want to let you know, nobody blames you."
And then she follows up with lots of, you know, "You mustn't blame yourself." I was like I didn't until that point. Thanks!
AMANPOUR (on camera): So you really felt there in that one phone call that society is looking at all of your community in that weird way. HAZARIKA: Up until that point I think I sort of had distanced myself from it but then suddenly I thought I guess I am a Muslim, and people must think well you're a Muslim, part of your community did this. You're sort of guilty by association.
There is a lot of really massive stereotyping going on in society at the moment.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And nobody has been more stereotyped than women who wear the niqab, the complete face veil. That's become a lightning rod for controversy after a teacher was suspended for wearing it on the job.
Rukkiya Ghani is just another anonymous figure in the crowd but her veil now says more about her than her face ever did. Do you feel part of the British culture, part of British society and life?
RUKKIYA GHANI, WEARS NIQAB: Absolutely. I find it quite a bizarre question to be asked. I've been, you know, born in this country, brought up here, and you know, everything about me is pretty much English.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What is the most common question that you get asked?
GHANI: Why? Why do you cover? Why do you do it? We just don't understand. I see it as an obligation of my faith.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Actually, the niqab is more about is more about culture than the Koran, just like the fact that more than half of Britain's mosques don't allow women to pray inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've come to pray to do my prayers.
AMANPOUR: That's why these Muslim women are trying to get their foot in the door.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please. We've got the door slammed in our face. (Inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so disappointed. He just shut the door on me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have space for the woman.
AMANPOUR: And this debate continued on the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's just a small flavor of the reception a group of Muslim women got when they tried to pray in a London mosque with the men. But is now the right time to be fighting the battle of the sexes within Islam? Catherine, how was this experience for you? Why do you want to pursue it?
CATHERINE HOSSEIN, IMPAC: Because it is an intrinsic right in our religion, according to Islam we have this right to pray in mosques but because of cultural reasons, you know, the older generation in some mosques in this country are excluding us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not supposed to show your face to the man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't ask you to have the rights in the mosque and take over the mosque. All we want to do is come and pray. At least slam the door properly, love.
HOSSEIN: I think this is absolutely the right time for women within Islam to be having these kind of debates and if more and more women were allowed to have a greater role in Muslim community it would help temper some of the extremism which is ruining things for the whole community.
AMANPOUR: How delicate is the situation in England?
HAZARIKA: I think the situation is incredibly delicate, the majority of Muslims in this country are very passionate about their religion, but they're also moderate people. They're also passionate about their lives that they've created for themselves in Britain.
AMANPOUR: Like Ayesha herself and her family, who made a cross- cultural leap when they moved from India to Scotland.
HAZARIKA: When my dad first moved to Glasgow one of his patients said to him, What are you? And he said I'm a Muslim. Aye, but what kind, a Rangers Muslim or a Celtics Muslim?
AMANPOUR: Football teams. That's good.
HAZARIKA: I thought that was brilliant. I thought that was fantastic.
AMANPOUR: What was he? Is he?
HAZARIKA: Whatever you are.
We want to remove this idea that Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of peace.
AMANPOUR: Will growing Islamophobia push British Muslims even further apart?
AMANPOUR: This could be London's next big landmark, and big controversy, a mosque, unlike any seen before.
ALI MANGERA, ARCHITECT: We are really basing it on Islamic landscapes, desert landscapes so we've got this sort of dune-like very soft structures which then form these terraces at the back.
AMANPOUR (on camera): And totally modern.
MANGERA: Yeah, completely modern.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ali Mangera is one of Britain's hot young architects. What are you trying to say, or are you trying to say anything about Islam?
MANGERA: Well, we're trying to say the Islam is progressive so hopefully Christian groups or Jewish groups could sit around the olive grove and discuss peace, that's really our aim.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Wouldn't that be nice?
MANGERA: Wouldn't that be nice.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): You'd think that everyone would be ecstatic at Ali's vision. Just like they were when London won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics, but the mega mosque will hold 40,000 Muslim worshippers, and it will be the most visible monument from the games.
ALAN CRAIG, CHRISTIAN PEOPLE'S ALLIANCE: The site itself, an old chemical site.
AMANPOUR: City councilor Alan Craig is leading a campaign against it.
CRAIG: There you have it. This is the mega mosque, the huge building you've seen on the plants and architects would be right there.
AMANPOUR: It looks like wasteland. What's wrong with putting a mosque or anything there?
CRAIG: This is different. This is huge, this is massive. This is going to be at least the biggest mosque in Europe, some say the biggest mosque outside the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: And right now, it's become the biggest symbol of the tug-of-war that's happening here over Islam. Today councilor Craig and his supporters are canvassing the neighborhood.
CRAIG: Hello, sorry to bother you. My name's Alan Craig. I'm a local councilor, I'm calling around about a large mosque for their plan to build just across the way here.
You've heard about this mosque, this large one. What is your reaction to the plans, would you welcome or not welcome the plans? Do you approve or disapprove?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not welcome.
CRAIG: Not welcome. You wouldn't like to have it here.
AMANPOUR: A blunt view shared by other East Enders.
(on camera): Why do you not want to see this mega mosque here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be honest we're overcrowded here now, without getting a load more people coming. I'm living here, you know? It's just overcrowded.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The mega mosque will pack in even more people than the big league soccer stadium does every weekend. But for Muslims in the neighborhood, Craig's campaign just smacks of more Islamophobia.
(on camera): So what's your opinion, should there be a mosque, another big mega mosque?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This the first time I'm hearing it myself and with all respect I feel that's a brilliant idea. If it was another religion they would have got planning permission to build straight away. Whenever it's Muslims there seems to be barriers. I don't understand why.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Some say Craig's campaign against the mosque is really a competition between faiths.
How would you describe yourself?
CRAIG: I'm a committed Christian.
AMANPOUR: A lot of this sounds like, sorry to say, white middle class anger and fear of Muslims right now.
CRAIG: I would just say that's nonsense. I'm used to people insulting me and calling me anti-Muslim and calling me Islamophobic. Muslims have the right to build mosques, just as others have the right to build churches or Hindu temples and so on. It is value toyed ask these questions.
AMANPOUR: And the biggest question is about Tabliki Gemayad (ph), the group that's commissioned the mega mosque, it is among the most secretive and fundamentalist of Britain's major Muslim organizations. It never allows cameras inside its mosques, but now the group is reaching out.
Abdul Khaliq, a Tabliki member and businessman, is now spokesman for the mega mosque project.
(on camera): What is the Tabliki philosophy? It is secret. We don't know, we're not allowed in.
ABDUL KHALIQ, BUSINESSMAN: It's not secret at all. The doors are quite open. It's just they do not engage with the media and that's why it's not known to the people. Their philosophy is you should have Islam within you in such a way it should reflect from you.
AMANPOUR: But that peaceful image does not sway Tabliki critics.
CRAIG: There are a number of people who have become terrorists, who have become suicide bombers, who were closely associated with Tablikli Gemayad, including the leading of the 7/7, London 7/7 bombers, Mohammed Sadiqi Kahn (ph). So is there an association between what Tabligi Gemayad are teaching and the terrorists and the suicide bombers? AMANPOUR: The FBI, French intelligence is looking at Tabliki Gemayed because of its links to terrorism, fundamentalism, its potential influence and people are scared.
KHALIQ: People need not be scared. They have investigated for a long time. What have they found? There are millions of people following this organization. Do you not think after all that time for them to produce only two terrorists? If it was an organization, don't you think there would be hundreds and thousands of them? Tabliki does not encourage terrorism in any way whatsoever.
AMANPOUR: It's a view shared by Shahid Malik, one of only four Muslim MPs in Britain's parliament.
Obviously there's a lot of spotlight on Tabliki mostly because they're secretive. You know them. They're your constituency. What are they like?
SHAHID MALIQ, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: They don't preach an evil ideology. That doesn't mean evil people might not go to one of their mosques.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Muslims that we've talked to feel under assault, under fire. Do you feel that?
MALIQ: I think the Muslim community feels under siege and n this country after the 7th of July, 2005, where we had the heinous suicide bombers in London and there's a degree of polarization that's taken place in our communities.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And many worry that will push Muslims in Britain to retreat into their communities even further.
CRAIG: We have a great debate going on in this country about the whole nature of multiculturalism. And if there is the possibility that this mosque would impact Westham in that way so it becomes a separate society, a parallel society, I think that's very worrying.
AMANPOUR: But for an architect like Ali Mangera, it's a challenge to build on.
MANGERA: We're trying to resolve the issues in an architectural sense. Our views are really to get people together because ultimately, whether you're Muslim, Jewish or Christian we're all human beings and we share this small planet and we have to think about getting on with each other.
AMANPOUR: So who will win the battle of ideas? When mainstream and extremist Muslims face off in debate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We like to die and you all like to live. You like to go to your pubs, you like to see your wife and children. Good for you. So don't fight the Muslims and you will be saved.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AMANPOUR: The battle for Islam is, in the end, a battle of ideas, and tonight, on the campus of the prestigious Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, there will be a debate between mainstream Muslims and the self-appointed apostles of Islamic Holy War.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to bill (ph) and welcome to this ex belief (ph) that Islamist violence can never be justified.
AMANPOUR: The small group of Islamic extremists who turn up at every rally and protest in Britain have come here to Ireland to debate moderate clerics who say their religion has been hijacked by the likes of Anjem Choudary and Omar Brooks.
OMAR BROOKS, MUSLIM RADICAL: ... Muslims. We dream of the blood of enemy. We can face them anywhere. That is Islam, that is jihad (Arabic). He said, I laugh when I kill and he said to his own people (Arabic), He said I come to slaughter all of you. So anyone who wants to stand and face the Muslims he will face the banner of jihad.
AMANPOUR: There aren't many people following the banner of Omar Brooks yet he and his colleagues here have loudly dominated the public debate about Islam. But tonight the moderates fight back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people ladies and gentlemen, have a good look at them. They actually think if you kill children, if you kill women you go to heaven. You have no chance in hell. You are a lawyer, Mr. Choudary - can I speak. You are a lawyer and you would know you can't go to heaven unless you claim insanity. This is not an ideology. It's a mental illness.
ANJEM CHOUDARY, MUSLIM RADICAL: It's a common thing to say that the enemy, the babies, they kill children, they're fundamentalists. And that happens during the Second World War. There's a lot of propaganda. What are Muslims supposed to do being killed in the streets in Afghanistan and Baghdad and other places, in Palestine? Do they not have the same rights to defend themselves? In war, people die. People kill each other.
MOHAMMED SHAMSUDDIN, MUSLIM RADICAL: You want to remove this idea is Islam is a religion of piece. Islam is not a religion of peace. There is evidence in the book of Islam called the Koran, sanctioning violence.
AMANPOUR: But does the Koran really sanction this kind of violence? No, says Sheikh Shaheed, who has spent a lifetime fighting apartheid and Islamic extremism in South Africa.
SHAHEED SATARDIEN, SUPREME MUSLIM COUNCIL OF IRELAND: They extremists claim to know Islam but the aliqab (ph) version of Islam that seem to portray God and his messengers as cruel and uncompassionate monsters. I demand them to provide proof from the text of the Koran, the holy book of Islam.
MOHAMMED SHAMSUDDIN, MUSLIM RADICAL: Chapter 9, verse 29, what does Allah say, fight those of you who do not believe in Allah and in hereafter.
AMANPOUR: To decipher the Koran we visited the same East End neighborhood where our journey began, to talk to Imam Usama Hassan.
(on camera): They say but look these verses in the Koran that are quoted justify this kind of violence. What's going on?
HASSAN: Those verses are always taken totally out of context and nearly always ignoring the spiritual aspect, the aspect which talks about forgiveness and repentance.
AMANPOUR: Few people here have studied the Koran as closely as Imam Hassan. He had memorized it by the time he was 11, and at 19, he briefly fought in the jihad against communists in Afghanistan. But he says there is no justification for violent jihad in Britain.
HASSAN: If you have the wrong intention you can justify your criminal actions from any text, whether it's the Koran, the Bible or Shakespeare. There are passages in the New Testament where Jesus Christ is alleged to say, "Think not that I have come to bring peace. I have come to bring the sword."
That's a famous quote in the New Testament. But clearly, most Christians don't misunderstand that to justify terrorism and wanton violence.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What is your reaction when you hear this book, the Koran, and those words taken in vain, to justify what you've called crazy Islamic terrorism?
HASSAN: It makes me furious, the people who do that kind of action and who support it are a very tiny minority, but it only takes a handful of course to create devastation.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And that is why Imam Hassan's message to his flock at Friday prayers is so urgent.
HASSAN: Many people are terrified of Muslims. They are terrified of a brother walking down the road with his eastern dress, and his hat and beard they see the image associated with suicide bombers. And it is up to us to dispel that fear, to smile at people, to tell them that Islam is not about bits of cloth, it is not about the face veil or headscarf or the face veil or about violence. It is about peace.
AMANPOUR: No one knows who will win Britain's battle for Islam. Will it be those fighting the new jihad to claim back their faith? Or those who want to use religion as a weapon? The outcome will resonate far beyond these streets. These neighborhoods, and even these borders. As the rest of the world watches Britain's war within.
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