When Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, went to the East London Mosque, to argue that there was nothing wrong with imposing Sharia law on British citizens I wondered whether radical Islam was allowing the more reactionary elements of the establishment to revert to type.Even in the law, you cannot discriminate against white-skinned women in Britain without running into trouble. But right-thinking, left-leaning multi-culturalists will applaud if you propose that misogynist laws should be imposed on brown-skinned women, and men can find a new and politically correct way of playing a very old game.
Perhaps I am being unfair; perhaps the silly man did not have the faintest idea who he was playing with. For his Lordship’s information, the mosque is a centre for Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the most extreme of the sub-continent’s clerical fascist parties. It is, needless to add, somewhat unreconstructed on the issue of female emancipation. The Lord Chief was not alone in making the pilgrimage to Whitechapel. Prince Charles toured the mosque. Ken Livingstone and many others on the pseudo-left formed alliances with Jamaat supporters, while the Muslim Council of Britain has many Jamaatis on board. It is not only progressives who flirt with the party. Only the other day Boris Johnson was in the mosque paying his respects.
As negotiations between both sides broke down and Bengalis launched a campaign of civil disobedience, the Pakistani army launched Operation Searchlight in March 1971. Up to three million Bengalis were murdered in the crackdown and more than 200,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted. To escape the genocide, 10 million people crossed the border into India.
Atrocities were committed by the occupying Pakistani soldiers and their Bengali collaborators. The latter, known as razakars, were against the break-up as it was contrary to their vision of building an Islamic khilafat, or state. Thus the idealism of a secular identity, based upon Bengali nationalism as articulated by Mujibur Rahman was abhorrent to them. The razakars were in the main members of Islamist parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which is allied to Wahhabism and to the fundamentalist Deobandi sect.
Using local knowledge, they perpetrated the worst brutalities and massacres of the war. They rounded up and executed people who they thought were colluding with India to divide Pakistan. This included members of the Awami League party, intellectuals, guerrilla fighters who were involved in skirmishes against the army and Hindus. In reality, much of the killing was indiscriminate. The carnage of those few months has been collected in rooms full of black and white photographs in the Liberation Museum in Dhaka.
They depict chilling images of mass burial pits with decomposing bodies, the remnants of the slaughter of entire villages.
Hussain says that there may be Jamaat war criminals in Britain and that the Bangladeshi government is keen to prosecute them. British solicitors tell me that they are keen to help on a pro bono basis.
Who knows, one day we might see the new friends of the Lord Chief Justice, Prince of Wales and current and former Mayor of London standing in the dock facing charges of crimes against humanity.