Islamic Diversity Centre
IDC North East Response to the Poppy Burning Incident
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On November 11th 2010, a Remembrance Day two-minute silence in Kensington was interrupted and hijacked by members of a group calling themselves “Muslims Against Crusades”.  They burned a model of a giant poppy (a symbol of Remembrance Day, which is observed as the official end of World War 1 on Nov 11th 1918) and chanted hate filled slogans such as "British soldiers burn in hell" and "Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell".  One of their members is even quoted to have said, "By burning the poppy we wanted to upset people and we wanted them to hurt."

Islamic Diversity Centre North East (IDC North East) completely condemns these disgraceful acts committed by this misguided group of Muslim individuals (who seem to be a repackaged brand of Al-Muhajiroon/Islam4UK).

We highly stress that the actions of this tiny group of Muslims (approximately 30 people) are not the voice of the majority of the Muslims, nor do they have an authority to speak on behalf of the Muslim or Islamic faith.

When one reads the verses of the Holy Qur'an and the statements of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the only conclusion that is apparent is that Islam is not a religion of hate or to incite hatred towards others.  The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a famous statement, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.” [collected by Bukhari & Muslim]. 

This is a fundamental teaching that shows Muslims are individuals who should show kindness, good etiquette and be mindful in our speech.

Islam teaches Muslims not to use profanity, to curse or insult others, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A believer is never a person who scoffs at others, calls them names, or utters vulgar and obscene phrases.” [collected by at-Tirmidhee]

In fact, the actions of the group Muslims Against Crusades goes against the basic principle set forth by Allah in the Qur'an, as Allah says, “And do not insult those who worship other than Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge” [al-An’aam 6:108]

This is a clear teaching which forbids Muslims to initiate insults and put-downs with non-Muslim.  In addition, it has been narrated that during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), there came a group of people who greeted him by saying “death be upon you”.  Having heard them, his wife heard replied to them "Death be upon you too, may Allah send His curse and wrath upon you!”  When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) heard what his wife said, he told her “Take it easy, O Aisha! You should be kind and gentle, and beware of harshness and foul speech.” and he also said "Allah does not like foul speech and foul language.”

It is apparent that the Muslim Against Crusades group have failed to adhere to these fundamental teachings of Islam. 

Image of a poppyWe at IDC North East stand up against these individuals and say that this misguidance and extreme views are no doubt the root cause of further Islamophobia and tensions by the general British public.  Groups like Muslim Against Crusades are hell-bent on causing conflict and problems for the Muslim communities across the UK and we appeal to the Muslim communities to also speak out against their ideology and actions.

One of the arguments put forth by many individuals is “this is freedom of speech and if some people can burn Qur'ans (referring to the “international burn a Koran day in Texas headed by Rev Terry Jones) then why can't other people burn poppies?”

Our response is that, although IDC North East stands up and condemns the actions of those ignorant extremists who burnt the Qur'an as part of the "International burn a Koran day", two wrongs do not make a right and in no way justifies the actions of Muslims Against Crusades.  This is an emotional argument and as illustrated above, this goes against the teachings set out by Islam.

Finally we appeal to the media to stop giving extremist groups like Al-Muhajiroon, Islam4UK and the now newly formed Muslims Against Crusades such attention and publicity.  Not only does it fuel Islamophobia and negative perceptions of Islam and the Muslims, but it is extremely frustrating to see that the media focuses on these groups instead of those who actively seek to counteract them. 

IDC North East has been at the forefront of tackling extremism in its many forms, particular those who use Islam as their vehicle for such ideologies.  In January 2010, IDC North East held a public event at Newcastle City Hall entitled "Extremism: The Darker Side", which was a proactive effort to inform and speak out against extremism, both extreme Muslim and Far-Right wing groups.

IDC North East

14th November 2010

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