'Make some noise and do some dawa' 4Sharia

A few weeks ago the organizations Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland organized the Global Khilafah conference. Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland are both linked to Islam4UK led by Anjem Choudhary (which is to be traced back to the British Al Muhajiroun organizations). Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland can both be seen as militant organizations in a political sense meaning that they engage in the political debates with a confrontational style, often experienced by outsiders as extremely provocative. In their ideology they appear to aim at a total transformation of society in line with their politico-religious convictions in which tawhid (unity and uniqueness of God) is central and which is translated into a call to implement sharia (without being very clear as to what that actually means). In several incidents, for example by disturbing a debate between Irshad Manji and Dutch politician Tofik Dibi, they have shown to be prepared to use force in pursuit of their politico-religious agenda. This is in line with their ideology that states that Islam is not only something one has to believe in and to practice in all spheres of life but also to struggle and sacrifice for by proselytizing (daw’ah) and jihad.

The conference immediately made headlines because the presence of Abu Imraan, the leader of the Belgian Sharia4Holland, was announced. The Dutch Freedom Party of radical nativism and anti-Islam Geert Wilders asked questions in Parliament to which the Dutch minister Opstelten (Home Office) announced that he did not expect Abu Imraan to come. In 2008 Morocco requested Abu Imraan to be extradited to Morocco. Belgium does not comply to such requests but for the Netherlands there would be no problem, according to the Dutch minister. Dutch newspaper Telegraaf mentioned that the reply by Abu Imraan was that Opstelten ‘could go to hell’ and that he would come anyway.

On Friday 25 May Sharia4Holland held a press conference at Dam Square; a significant place because they did it in front of the National Liberation Monument.

Dutch newspaper Telegraaf saw this as ‘insulting the Netherlands‘; a feeling shared by many commenters on that article and elsewhere for example at anti-Islam site Gates of Vienna. The next quote:

And for those who made it their job to insult Allah and Mohammed, like the dog of the Romans, Geert Wilders. As the Khalifa takes over the Netherlands, then we shall deal with you, as the Khalifas have dealt with those kinds of people in the past.So learn from it, also from the case of Theo van Gogh.

was taken as a death threat by Wilders (since Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 by a Moroccan-Dutch man claiming to act on behalf of Islam). There was critique on the police who took a man stepping up to spokesperson Aboel Qaasim and saying: ‘You are just an asshole’. They arrested him because he was harassing journalists at the demonstrations as well. Flos, the leader of the conservative liberals (VVD) in the municipal council saw a clear death threat in the comments about Wilders and Van Gogh and they should have arrested Abdoel Qaasim. Flos stated he was shocked that ‘At our monument of freedom, such a message of unfreedom (my translation, MdK) was preached‘. Also Wilders’ Freedom Party stated they would ask questions to the minister again. In these questions they make clear that they view Sharia4Holland as an ‘extremist’ group calling for violence that should be banned and the person who made the ‘death threat’ should be prosecuted, denaturalized and evicted. According to the Freedom Party all organizations that want the implementation of sharia ‘and therefore call for violence against women, Jews, people who hold different beliefs’ should always be banned.Aboel Qaasim was arrested the next day and released as well but he will have to appear before court on 11 July. According to Sharia4Holland / Belgium Abu Qaasim there is no death threat. According to them Wilders should not be surprised if there will be a Muslim who cannot control himself any longer if Wilders continue like this. You can watch the next video in Dutch where Abu Qaasim explains:


The Dutch minister stated however that Sharia4Holland cannot be banned because it does not exist as an organization. Individuals however can be prosecuted. This minister also stated that there is a risk that sympathizers or hardcore participants of Sharia4Holland will use violence. ‘There is a risk. I totally recognize that’. You can see his answer with regard to that in full in here (Dutch, no subtitles):

The conference took place on Saturday and you can watch it entirely here:


You see: Abu Qaasim (NL), Abu Abdullah Al-Britani (UK), Abu Imran (BE), Saiful Islam (UK) and Anjem Choudary (UK). And no, I’m not going to summarize it. I actually think Abu Qaasim’s press conference on Dam Square is a very good summary, as well as Abu Imraan’s phrase that I think nicely catches the strategy of Sharia4Belgium: ‘make some noise and do some dawa’. Of those people Anjem Choudary is the most renowned one given his status in the UK and his past with Al Muhajiroun. According to Choudary the ‘Holland Regime’ used ‘oppressive measures against Sharia4Holland’. He later released a statement on Twitter containing 13 points that more or less sum up his views:

  1. Calling for the Shari’ah (Islam) as a superior way of life, is an obligation upon Muslims wherever they are, whether in the East or West;
  2. The Shari’ah is a total way of life & the perfect & final revelation from Allah to the whole of mankind via the Messenger Muhammad (saw)
  3. Islam means submission to Allah, the Muslim is the submitter & the whole world is the place for submitting to every rule of the Shari’ah!
  4. It is an act of apostasy to reject even 1 rule of the Shari’ah or turn ones back to even 1 verse or 1 narration of the Prophet e.g. Zakat
  5. Europe is not alien to the implementation of the Shari’ah e.g. in Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus & Greece etc
  6. The Messenger Muhammad (saw) informed us that our authority will 1 day be over the East & West i.e. US, Russia, India, China, UK & France
  7. Izhar ud-Deen (the domination of the world by Islam) is the objective of every practising Muslim as stated in the Qur’an, see [EMQ 9:33]
  8. The hatred faced by Muslims in the West when they call for the Shari’ah is expected & a test from Allah but Islam will eventually prevail
  9. Only the Shari’ah can resolve the economic, political & social calamity that Europe has been plunged into. It will remove all oppression!
  10. The uprising in the Middle East against the puppets of the West has exposed the reality of Democracy/Freedom & its other face hypocrisy
  11. Muslims must take the opportunity wherever they are to reject the decadence of manmade law & call for the divine alternative of Shari’ah
  12. The fruits of Western Democracy are there for all to see; prostitution, gambling, usury, alcohol/drugs etc.. Islam will eradicate these!
  13. May Allah (SWT) help the Muslims wherever they are to remove the oppressive regimes & implement the perfect system of Islam i.e Khilafah

Among Muslims Sharia4Holland is far from uncontested. Their disturbance last year of a debate between Green Left politician Tofik Dibi and Canadian activist Irshad Manji was shocking and severly criticized by many people. The main Dutch Muslim blog ‘Wij Blijven Hier’ (We are staying) published a piece (in Dutch) with the English title ‘We are all Abu Imran, aren’t we?‘ aimed against radicalism among Muslims. Among Dutch Salafis Sharia4Holland are labelled Khawarij; the name for an extreme sect within Islam often seen as extremists with a radical approach of ‘takfir’ (excommunication) that sets them apart from mainstream Muslims and from those often categorized under the label Salafism.

Now more recently it appears that Sharia4Belgium has moved to another level of activism. In Belgium Stéphanie Djato, who converted to Islam four years ago, was arrested in the Brussels area Molenbeek when she wore a face-veil (niqab). When, according to reports, ms. Djato (now dubbed ‘niqabgirl’ in Belgian media) was arrested for refusing to take it off (wearing the face-veil is not allowed in Belgium) she was arrested. She then resisted because, according to her, the police attacked her and assaulted her. The police claims the arrest was according to the book even after she put up a resistance. Whatever the story is, it lead to unrest in the Molenbeek area after Sharia4Belgium called for protest against this ‘police brutality’.  These protests got out of hand and riots ensued. The unrest reached a critical point when last Friday a man from Paris was arrested at the Brussels public transport and subsequently attacked both police officers involved in the arrest ending up with one of them being severely wounded by his knife. The perpetrator claimed to wanted to protest against the Belgian politics on Muslims (whatever that means). Because it was suspected that the Sharia4Belgium leader Abu Imraan was behind the unrest and was inciting to hatred and violence he was arrested later. Sharia4Belgium on their part denied having incited to violence. They claim to be a peaceful organisation (in my memory, correct me if I’m wrong, the first time they say that) although they believe that there is a struggle going on between Muslims and ‘your democracy’. What they are trying to do is to ‘unmask’ democracy. Often they point do instances of double standards such as the recent call by radical right wing  leader Winters to hand in those Muslim women who wear the face-veil. Something that made the S4B spokesman think of the times of “Hitler”.  The violence has led to Belgium increasing the level of threat to national safety and strong and clear rejection of the actions by Muslim organizations, imams and other spokespersons.

I have no idea how this is going to work out. Whether or not Sharia4Belgium had called for violence or not, their rhetoric is dangerous up to a certain level and I think the riots in Molenbeek and the action of the Parisien man has proven that. Even if they did not call for violence, it was part of the protests they wanted anyway. If anything they might have underestimated the impact of their own words. Another problematic aspect of this whole event is that the reaction among so-called islam-critical sites and some popular sites in Flandres and the Netherlands has been almost equally uncareful and incautious in particular focusing on the area of Molenbeek (even though that both ms. Djato and the male attacker of the police come from elsewhere). It may not be the rhetoric on one side alone that is dangerous but it could be the mutually constitutive spiral of inciting speech that has the potential of being dangerous.

One thought on “'Make some noise and do some dawa' 4Sharia

  1. Comment send in by E.H. from Gent, Belgium:

    This is a very useful overview with a very important conclusion. Let me add a few comments, from Belgium.

    1. I have not yet read a clear portrait of the ‘organisation’ S4B. It may be a rather loosely connected group of people, or more than that. Anyhow, there is a connection with heavy violence, war weapons and preparations for terrorist attacks on civilians, which is far more than just physical resistance to the police. Two members of the group are in a Jemeni prison, suspected of terrorism, two others belong to an Antwerp terrorist group arrested in 2010, one was noticed to have a kalasjnikov. Whether all this is to be seen under the organisational responsibility of S4B is difficult to decide, but S4B is quite martial in its videos and at least affiliated with heavy violence.

    2. The prime result of the recent actions of S4B is an upsurge of racism. Belgian politicians, from the French speaking prime minister Di Rupo to the Dutch speaking minister of justice Turtelboom or the leader of the Flemish nationalist party NVA Bart De Wever are talking about annulating Belcacem/Abu Imran’s Belgian nationality, in order to send him to Morocco. Mass newspapers are campaigning for his expulsion. (The expulsion as well as the campaign are, I think, highly undemocratic. S4B is a Belgian brand produced by Belgian citizens, and to be coped with by and in Belgium. The expulsion would be the equivalent of the often criticized muslim concept of takfir.)

    3. The French muslim who attacked with a knife and wounded two members of the Belgian police (one of them a woman with muslim background) is said to have acted as a lone wolf, not as a member of an organisation. He had press clippings in his pockets about the niqab riot in Molenbeek, about S4B and about the extreme right wing politician Filip De Winter, who had publicly offered 250 euro for anyone who signals a niqab wearing woman to the police.

    4. There has been another incident recently at a university in Brussels (het ULB, Université Libre de Bruxelles). There the French author Caroline Fourest was invited to speak. The action Boerkablabla disturbed the session, protesting against the fact that Fourest, criticized as islamophobic, was given too much free podium and no serious opposition. There was excessive media coverage of this event, immediately equated with the destruction of Belgian democracy by islamofascists. A leading man of the protesters, Souhail Chichah, working at the university, was object of a disciplinary procedure, results of which are to be released soon. The so-called islamic fundamentalist protesters however were not at all islamofascists, but rather left-wingers. The media and the politicians refuse to make any distinction and sum up all protest as the threat of islamic fundamentalism.

    5. The politicians and the media in Belgium are extremely cooperative with S4B by giving it a gigantic press coverage (while serious and calm work to improve the social climate is often ignored or neglected). This coverage avoids a discussion about the reasons for the protest, the racism on which the anti-burqa law and other laws and rules about headscarves are based. They are polarizing society and muslims of the middle ground are squeezed, feel obliged to take a distance from S4B and often dare not point to the islamophobia that is at work.

    6. So I share your fear about a spiraling movement, with more people like Breivik and Merah taking up arms against those whom they perceive as horrible enemies. Instead of sweeping statements by politicians, that are of personal use in view of the coming elections in Belgium, true statemanship should work to calm down things and to oppose the islamophobia and the hysterical reactions that feed and reinforce S4B and whatever similar groups or people there are. That means normal legal prosecution of offenders, without over-exposure, and shifting the attention to islamophobia. This shift is not to be expected, so we’ll have to see how the spiraling works.

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