CJ Werleman, an Australian journalist who portrays himself as a progressive defender of Muslims against their enemies in the West, is helping Islamists from South Asia import the decades old conflict between India and Pakistan into the United Kingdom.
In a September 21 YouTube video titled Leicester Riots: Why Muslims Can Never Be Victims, Werleman reports, without evidence, that “radicalized Indian Hindu migrants have carried out a wave of mob lynching attacks against Muslims” in Britain over recent months. Werleman, who writes for the Qatari-backed Middle East Eye, then reports Muslims are being lured into a well laid trap “by a foe who has perfected its genocidal tools under the rule of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party, the BJP.”
The story Werleman tells is that under the current zeitgeist, Muslims can only be portrayed as the perpetrators and never the victims of violence. Werleman laments that Hindus are not arrested when they chant “Jai Shri Ram,” which he describes as a war cry. If Muslims were marching on Britain’s streets shouting pro-Taliban or ISIS slogans, Werleman asserts, they’d be arrested under the “draconian” counter-terrorism laws.
By portraying Muslim violence as a response to Hindu provocation, Werleman would have viewers ignore the anti-Hindu incitement attested to by Charlotte Littlewood, a researcher at the Henry Jackson Society. After an extensive review of social media, Littlewood declared that she hadn’t seen “a shred of evidence” to support the claim that Hindu extremists were on the march against Muslims in Leicester.
She did report however, that “There absolutely is an organized gang of Islamists that are being fronted by what I would call an extreme gang of Islamist influencers with half a million plus followers on YouTube that have been calling for people to come to Leicester and Birmingham.” The Hindus who marched in Leicester, Littlewood reported, did so in collaboration with the police to demonstrate they wouldn’t be chased out of their homes by rioters who have kicked in the doors to their homes and vandalized their businesses.
And when it comes to the chants uttered by Hindus during their marches, Werleman’s narrative is equally inaccurate. Sarah Gates, a Hindu Scholar based in Australia, reports that Jai Sri Ram is recited in many Hindu practices in a devotional manner. She says that it can also be recited to empower people and invoke the warrior spirit of the Hindu God Ram.
The Muslim equivalent of this slogan would be ‘Allahu Akbar’ which means “God is Great.” It is used by Muslims five times a day when they perform their salah (prayer) which is one of the five pillars of Islam. However, it has also been appropriated by Jihadis when they go to war or extremists when they want to show the dominance of Islam.
Neither slogan can or should be linked solely to terrorist groups, but Werleman appears to be content with comparing the Hindu slogan with support for ISIS and the Taliban without mentioning how its Islamic equivalent has been used by these very groups — and chanted on the streets of England — without people being arrested.
Werleman’s video includes testimony from Majid Freeman, a writer for the Islamist publication 5 Pillars, who claimed Hindus are “marching through our area, past the masjid provoking the Muslim community.” Freeman is not a reliable source of information, however, having shared a false story about a 15-year-old Muslim girl being kidnapped by a Hindu man. The story could quite well have inflamed tensions and led to further clashes. After he was exposed for broadcasting misinformation by Abdirahim Saeed, a journalist for BBC Monitoring, Freeman was forced to delete the tweet and put up the official police statement confirming the event did not take place.
Another act of Islamist incitement that Werleman would have us ignore was a speech given by Mohammed Hijab, described by the Community Security Trust (CST) as an “Islamist YouTuber.” During the riots, Hijab travelled from London to Leicester to mock Hindus and their faith before a crowds of young Muslim men. Video indicates that none of these statements were challenged by the group of Muslim men, but instead, were cheered on or laughed at.
British Muslims should stay well clear of journalists like Werleman who disguises sympathy for Islamism as a legitimate defense of the Muslim community writ large. By ignoring the role Islamists play in inflaming communal tensions, he does nothing for social cohesion between Muslims and Hindus in England.
British Muslims should not listen to CJ Werleman. Nor should anyone else.
Wasiq Wasiq is a journalist specializing in defense and terrorism. You can follow him on Twitter: @WasiqUK