Ben Lowry: Dr Al-Wazzan role in McConnell case was a reason to pause

Dr Raied Al Wazzan protesting against the anti-refugee rally by the Protestant Coalition in Belfast. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Dr Raied Al Wazzan protesting against the anti-refugee rally by the Protestant Coalition in Belfast. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )

The picture above shows Dr Raied Al-Wazzan protesting against Protestant groups who demonstrated against taking refugees.

It is a reasonable position for Dr Al-Wazzan to take (I wrote a piece myself saying we should take refugees) and, mercifully, the right to protest is entrenched in the UK.

Ben Lowry News Letter Deputy Editor

Ben Lowry News Letter Deputy Editor

But when I saw the picture last month, I was aghast, and here is why.

As is well known, Dr Al-Wazzan reported Pastor James McConnell to police for his sermon against Muslims.

As is also well known, Dr Al-Wazzan praised the ‘peace’ in Mosul secured by Isis (or Islamic State or Daesh).

You might have thought that either of those two facts, let alone the combination of them, would have caused Dr Al-Wazzan some embarrassment, but it seems not.

When his name is raised in relation to praising Mosul, some people rush to point out that he apologised, and so he did. But to have in any way (let alone emphatically) justified that sick rule is hard to fathom.

The type of caliphate Isis advocates is clear because it has been careful, in slick but obscene videos, to show us: Converts to Christianity slaughtered for apostasy, people crucified, gay people thrown off buildings, and beheadings for enemy fighters and offenders.

This brought about Dr Al-Wazzan’s “most peaceful city in the world” scenario in Mosul.

Isis is one of the most terrifying movements since World War Two anywhere in a planet that has seen no end of horrors. But worse almost than any other wicked regime, it glories in its barbarism and promotes it.

It is so evil it has achieved the diplomatically near impossible – uniting the UN Security Council.

It attacked Paris in November, and is no doubt plotting similar or worse in London and elsewhere.

I have rehearsed before the point that if anyone praised Nazi-ruled Warsaw, and then – weasel-like – retreated and said they had meant peace in the city and not the annihilation of Jews within it, they would still be a pariah.

It might be unseemly to keep raising Dr Al-Wazzan, were it not for four things:

• First, this is the man who reported an elderly pastor. When he threatened to do so in 2014 on the Nolan Show it sounded like a fit of pique, akin to someone saying in a domestic row “do that again and I’ll leave” and then doing no such thing when they calm. Not so with Dr Al-Wazzan: on calculated reflection he filed a complaint.

• Second, Dr Al-Wazzan is dashing round seeing racism everywhere. Days after Paris, instead of being mortified that he had ever praised the perpetrators and either lying low or coming on air to reiterate how wrong he had been on Mosul, he was on Talkback decrying the alleged failure of the rest of us to acknowledge Muslim bravery in France on that grim day. Dr Al-Wazzan was given a home in a crowded but generous and vibrant country, Britain, but he protests against existing citizens who have the temerity to suggest that immigration might have gone too far.

•Third, as Dr Al-Wazzan exercises his right to free speech in this open country, he is advocating at best sharia law, and at worst Isis-style rule.

• Fourth, he articulates a hardline view that has traction in the UK. A BBC Radio Four Today survey found that 27% of UK Muslims had some sympathy with the motives behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The figure is no surprise to anyone who has followed sentiments in that community.

One day the sort of western liberals who are outraged at such a finding even being discussed could get a shock. The fanatics whose very existence they deny seem happy to use the support of such useful idiots (in Lenin’s phrase) and then, if they get the rule they desire, dispense with them.

The McConnell trial heard that there were four Muslim complaints against the pastor. Two carefully cited the laws he had supposedly transgressed.

There was a month between Dr Al-Wazzan’s Mosul comment and prosecutors deciding the pastor’s fate. You might have thought it would have been another contextual factor in the case that gave them pause – and a decisive one.

• Ben Lowry ( @BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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