Every Muslim in Britain is celebrating the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That’s what Khola Hasan of the Islamic Sharia Council suggested on BBC Radio 4 at the weekend.
Even as she was speaking, thousands of Afghans were trying to escape the country. People were being trampled to death in the stampede for places on flights out of Kabul airport.
For Ms Hasan to proclaim that Muslims in the UK are united in welcoming this seizure of power by religious zealots, and the resulting chaos, is both obscene and an affront to the British Muslim community. It is insulting, a travesty and a sign of just how pitifully ignorant she is.
But for the BBC to give her a platform to air her doctrinal falsehoods, without then demolishing them with the real facts, is unforgivable.
The broadcaster has failed in its duty to address the news impartially. Instead, the BBC appeared terrified of contradicting Ms Hasan, simply because she is a Muslim woman and should therefore be allowed to assert any nonsense she likes without fear of contradiction.
‘Every single person that I know as a Muslim,’ she said on the Sunday programme, presented by William Crawley, ‘whether on social media, I don’t know them personally but I know them on social media or as friends, are celebrating and saying, ‘Give them a chance’.’
Every Muslim in Britain is celebrating the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That’s what Khola Hasan (pictured) of the Islamic Sharia Council suggested on BBC Radio 4 at the weekend
I listened to that inarticulate tripe, wishing that the BBC still employed rigorous journalists instead of ‘wokelings’ who are afraid to question anything for fear of seeming sexist or racist.
The show did feature a courageous campaigner for Afghan women’s rights, the filmmaker Diana Saqeb Jamal, who dismissed Hasan’s claims as ‘insane’.
But Ms Hasan ignored her, and was permitted the last word. She was also allowed to assert that oppression of women in France was worse than in Afghanistan, and that negative accounts of life under the Taliban were all lies:’Western media loves misrepresenting Muslims.’
So let me spell this out. I have not met a single person in Britain who welcomes the return of the Taliban, not online, at the mosque or anywhere else.
British Muslims are sickened at the horrific news coming out of Kabul, and deeply distressed at the prospects for ordinary people in Afghanistan, especially women and girls.
Dr Taj Hargey (pictured): For Ms Hasan to proclaim that Muslims in the UK are united in welcoming this seizure of power by religious zealots, and the resulting chaos, is both obscene and an affront to the British Muslim community
The surrender of Kabul to the Taliban marks not only the effective end of Anglo-U.S. occupation but also the restoration of theological tyranny.
The retributive campaign launched by Tony Blair and George Bush to avenge 9/11 has failed miserably, after 20 years of nation-building.
The only beneficiaries are the new fanatical masters of Afghanistan and other militant Jihadist groups throughout the Middle East, Africa and south-east Asia.
For the delusional Khola Hasan to applaud this is shameful. Virtually everything the Taliban stands for is in clear contravention of the Koran and is a betrayal of authentic Islam.
Ms Hasan and the Islamic Sharia Council (ISC) operate in a theological bubble. The ISC is self-appointed, founded by her father Sheikh Suhaib Hasan in 1982 to promote sharia law in Britain.
For readers who might not be Islamic scholars, a quick summary: Muslims follow the teachings of the Koran, Islam’s Bible, teachings which were revealed by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad between 610-632 CE.
A US Navy corpsman hands out water to children during an evacuation at the airport in Kabul
Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country
But over the following centuries, hundreds of thousands of snippets and quotations attributed to the Prophet were collected in manufactured volumes known as the Hadith.
Many of these supposed sayings are apocryphal and were invented to support patriarchal, tribal and sexist societies, stripping away the rights of women and religious minorities. These suspect reports became a handbook for ideological intolerance and authoritarian governance.
All the abhorent aspects of populist Islam, from its insistence that women must be covered from head to foot, to violent jihad and brutal traditional punishments for gay sex, stem from the Hadith.
The Hadith is not the Koran. The two are like night and day: completely opposite.
In addition, the ISC champions their narrow and bigoted interpretation of Sharia law and risible fatwas.
An RAF plane was filled to capacity with embassy staff, British nationals and any Afghans able to settle in the UK
Everyone who remembers how Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a sentence of death on novelist Salman Rushdie knows what a fatwa means, but few people understand it represents only the personal opinion of an individual cleric. These are categorically not divine diktats.
As a Muslim scholar myself, I regard the Hadith, Sharia law and fatwas as a toxic triad. But these are the cornerstones not only of Taliban theology and thinking but also of self-serving Islamic organisations that Ms Hasan is part of.
Understand that, and you realise what an atrocious lie it is to say that ‘all British Muslims celebrate the resurgence of the Taliban’. Only religious militants and Sharia fanatics welcomed the Taliban’s assumption of power.
It is an outrageous libel on the whole British Muslim community, and one that grieves and insults me deeply.
I am aghast that the BBC should air Khola Hasan’s words without explaining how erroneous and wicked they are, or have a local expert present to balance and counter her tendentious assertions.
The full extent of the lie will soon be apparent even to Ms Hasan. The Taliban have one supreme goal: to recreate the idealised desert utopia of a mythical 7th century — albeit one with online social media, which they find convenient to promote their pernicious sectarianism.
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier, right, and Taliban fighters stand guard on their respective sides at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Torkham, in Khyber district, Pakistan
No one can bring back the past, but the Taliban will try, by subjecting women, minorities and other religious opponents in Afghanistan to merciless persecution.
All the hard-won freedoms of the past 20 years, which Allied soldiers made so many sacrifices to establish, will be eradicated. There will be no custody rights for women in fractured families, no divorces, no freedom for girls to refuse a husband — even one who is much older and already married to several other women.
There will be no legal rights for girls to be educated and reach their full potential.
At a press conference last week, Taliban spokesmen claimed women would have equal rights. If you’re tempted to believe that, ask yourself why there were no women at the table of that ostensibly landmark press conference.
‘The problem is, we don’t give them a chance,’ Ms Hasan claimed on Radio 4.
‘The kind of language that came out from Western media when the Taliban took over … civil war, monsters, they’re going to slaughter people, it’s going to be awful, poor women, oh blah blah blah, we’re going to cry our eyes out, poor women are going back into medieval times.
‘It’s been misrepresented for so long that I’ve got used to it; I don’t even blink an eyelid any more.’
Taliban fighters stand guard on their side at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Torkham, in Khyber district, Pakistan
Ms Hasan went on to complain that France is the real enemy of Muslims, because women are not allowed to wear certain clothes on the beach or the hijab headscarf in public buildings.
Such rubbish would be comical, if the situation in Kabul were not so tragic.
‘Twenty years is a long time,’ she added. ‘We’ve matured, I hope, all of us. We’ve evolved our thinking and I hope the same thing has happened with the Taliban. The Taliban have grown up.’
Over the next weeks and months, we will see exactly how much the Taliban have grown up and matured.
The only change in two decades that I can see is the development of a sophisticated Jekyll-and-Hyde double personality that will say one thing and do another.
The Taliban tyrants of Afghanistan might have learned to disguise the monster. But behind their flimsy facade, the cruel reality remains as horrifying as ever.
Dr Taj Hargey is Provost of the Oxford Institute for British Islam.