Mo Shafiq: Supporter of Blasphemy Laws and Hate Preaching Extremists
Mo Shafiq is a former member of the Liberal Democrat party and also runs ‘The Ramadhan Foundation’ in the UK. From what I can gather the latter role consists of little more than having a website and calling yourself a ‘foundation’.
Shafiq enjoys a steady media presence though, wheeled out as the ‘moderate’ talking head for whatever Muslim hot topic is the flavour of the day. The behaviour and views of Mo Shafiq reveal two possibilities however:
1. That the bar for what is to be considered ‘moderate’ has been set patronisingly low,
2. Media outlets are failing to adequately research or question those they deem qualified represent a community.
Shafiq’s troubling behaviour first caught my eye in 2014 when he whipped up potentially deadly hatred against a fellow Muslim, Maajid Nawaz.
Majid Nawaz, is the co-founder of the anti-extremism group the Quilliam Foundation. A staunch liberal, Maajid Nawaz publicly stated that he wasn’t offended by cartoon depictions of his prophet and tweeted out the satirical ‘Jesus and Mo’ comic strip to make this point:
Mo Shafiq didn’t quite feel the same way about the offensive quality of cartoons and began to target Nawaz for this ‘transgression’ against Islam in the most concerning way.
Nick Cohen in The Guardian:
On Twitter, Shafiq went further and gave a master class in double speak. “Ghustaki Rasool Quilliam,” he tweeted. Most of his audience had no idea what he meant. A few knew all too well. “Ghustaki Rasool” is “defamer of the prophet” in Urdu: a charge that incites Islamists to murder. Fanatics took to Twitter to prove the point. “Have spoken to someone in Pakistan,” one of Shafiq’s followers replied. “They will have a surprise for him on his next visit!” Another Twitter user contacted Nawaz to say: “Gustak e rasool is punishable by death anywhere in the world. Btw I’m in the UK not Pakistan.” A third cried that “dogs like Maajid Nawaaz will be punished!”
Rather predictably, death threats followed for Maajid Nawaz.
More recently, Mo Shafiq has shared some extreme views after a Pakistani Governor named Salman Taseer was murdered. The man responsible for Taseer’s murder was his own bodyguard, a man named Malik Mumtaz Qadri.
Qadri decided that Taseer’s views against the blasphemy law in Pakistan amounted to blasphemy in their own right and settled the disagreement with a barrage of bullets. Depressingly, the assasin Qadri received a significant amount of support from the faithful in Pakistan–and the UK for that matter.
Shafiq tried to placate both sides on this issue with embarrassing consequences. On one hand he would condemn the killer for taking the law “into his own hands”, but would also honour him with a tribute on his personal Facebook page using the Arabic phrase for ‘may God be pleased with him [Qadri]’. ‘Pleased’? For what exactly?
When pushed on his position regarding ‘Blasphemy’ laws, Shafiq would only criticise their “misapplication” rather than disavow such human rights’ violating concepts altogether. He’s yet to detail exactly what a fairly implimented ‘blasphemy’ law would look like.
As an aside, below is a video of an angry confrontation between Shafiq and worshippers at a British mosque. Why are these people so angry with Shafiq you may wonder? Well, they are angry because they believe Shafiq disrespected the murderer Qadri by labelling him a ‘terrorist’:
You have to question the priorities (and sympathies) of a group of people that get this angry at hearing a Muslim terrorist being referred to as a terrorist.
This brings me to another troubling episode. Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman is a cleric from Pakistan who, along with fellow cleric Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman called for the death of Taseer, and after they got their wish also ‘led a high-profile campaign in Pakistan in praise of his assassin Mumtaz Qadri’.
Well, these clerics announced a joint event in Shafiq’s home town of Rochdale this month which Shafiq promoted via his official Twitter and Facebook pages:
The Facebook link directed you this (now deleted) event flyer:
Both of these clerics attended murderer Qadri’s funeral to honour him and can be seen addressing the large attending crowd there in the below video:
Here is a photo of Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman addressing the crowd at the event Mo Shafiq promoted:
And here, we can see Mo Shafiq in attendence:
It’s depressing when you consider just how packed the event was too:
And we have this smiling image of Mo Shafiq posing hand in hand with an extremist preacher who calls for the murder of ‘blasphemers’, and celebrates those who carry out such acts:
Keep in mind Mo Shafiq was well aware of the extreme views of these men before inviting them to his local mosque and before posing for this photo.
Why would Mo Shafiq promote the event of a man that advocates and celebrates murder in the service of ‘blasphemy’?
The fact that Shafiq enjoys frequent media appearances without being questioned on his support for blasphemy laws and endorsements of odious individuals such as these hate preachers is a travesty.
The extreme views and behaviour do not stop there.
Asia Bibi is a Christian from Pakistan who was accused of blasphemy after getting into a dispute with some Muslim women in her village. She was subsequently sentenced to death for this ‘crime’. Fortunately, she was finally aquitted of these charges in 2018, but not after serving 8 years in prision.
Commenting on the decision, Mo Shafiq managed to agree that the decision to release her was correct, however his reasoning in the below statement is incredibly worrying (emphasis mine):
The serious allegations have to be substantiated by compelling evidence and beyond reasonable doubt which this clearly wasn’t.
The witnesses contradicted themselves in evidence to the police and then the court, therefore reducing their credibility in front of the law. With such holes in the evidence and witnesses there was only one option open to the Courts and that was to release her and quash the conviction
Shafiq didn’t oppose charges of blasphemy on principle, but rather asserts that “the serious allegations must be substantiated by compelling evidence”, indicating that putting this woman on death row would have been just fine, if only they had been able to produce credible evidence that she had commited ‘blasphemy’.
Mo Shafiq also took to his Facebook page to declare:
Prime Minister Imran Khan has made a huge mistake in appointing Mia Atif a well known Qadiyani in the economical Council. He should do the decent thing and remove him.
‘Qadiyani’ is a pejoritive term used to describe members of the persecuted Ahmadi sect within Islam. To be clear, Shafiq is demanding that someone be fired soley for belonging to this largely peaceful sect of Islam. Ahmadi minority Muslims are often considered to be apostates my other Muslims, and their mere existence can be considered act of heresy.
Shafiq’s rhetoric here is akin to a non-Muslim BBC radio contributor demanding that Sadiq Khan be fired solely because he is a Muslim.
So, in conclusion, Mo Shafiq is a man who will incite death threats against fellow Muslims, promote and defend blasphemy laws, demand that people lose their job for having the ‘wrong’ faith and roll out the red carpet for extremists who demand and celebrate murder for blasphemy.
In what way can this man reasonably be considered a moderate voice? Feel free to remind the next broadcaster or individual that provides Mo Shafiq with air time.