“The whole earth has been declared unto me a mosque” (Muhammad: Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1062).
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers….” (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey since 2003.)
By Spike Johnson, Feb. 22, 2012 in Foreign policy:
LONDON — It is winter, the middle of December, and I find myself making an odd phone call. Pacing around my living room, I kick at the carpet as I dial the number.
“There’s no time,” the man on the other end of the line answers immediately. His name is Gavin Boby. We have e-mailed before, but I introduce myself again, explaining my background: education, photography and video experience, that sort of thing.
Boby’s tone is measured and businesslike. “It sounds like you have skills that could be of use. Muslims are very bad losers,” he says matter-of-factly. He’d like me to act as a witness, he tells me, videotaping his court appearances and searching the Internet for “targets.” The conversation is taking me into uncomfortable territory; my voice wavers, and I begin to flounder. Boby doesn’t notice. “I’ll send you instructions on how we work,” he says and hangs up. I have just become a Mosquebuster.
The Mosquebusters, or the Law and Freedom Foundation as they’re officially known,are part of a new wave of anti-Islamic campaigners in England with links to more established anti-immigrant groups such as England Is Ours and Stop Islamisation of Europe. Like many of these groups, the Mosquebusters fear that traditional British culture, laws, and values will disappear with the changing face of Britain and worry that extremist interpretations of sections of the Koran urge Muslims to kill non-believers and take slaves.
Until mid-February, the Mosquebusters advertised for volunteers, under a campaign called “No More Mosques,” on the website of the ultra-nationalist English Defence League (EDL), a group that organizes anti-Islamic street marches that often decend into brawls, riots, and arrests. The EDL and other anti-Islamic groups have no problem convincing their members to parade in public yelling insults like “Muslim bombers off our streets!” and “Allah is a pedophile!,” but the Mosquebusters have a quieter, perhaps more insidious approach: In offices and city halls, they are crafting legal cases against mosque construction applications across the country. It’s a war against Islam, but one that often resembles a bureaucratic turf battle more than a clash of civilizations.
Mosquebusters leader Boby, known as The Lawman, is careful to draw the distinction between religion and race. “It is primarily about the division between Islamic and non-Islamic society, and the lawless violence at the heart of Islamic doctrine and practice,” he says in his manifesto. Boby dresses conservatively, with a black suit, white button-down shirt, and pastel neck tie, done up tight. He is clean shaven, his brown hair cropped close, and his small eyes squint behind wire-framed glasses. He has the look of a typical middle-aged businessman. And most of the time, he is.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he runs a planning application company in Bristol, in western of England. He is a qualified barrister with undergraduate and graduate law degrees. But what Boby really wants is “an army of people, about 500 across the country,” as he says in one of his online motivational videos. As I watched the recording from my flat in East London, while digesting one of his instructional e-mails on bureaucratic mosque-busting, Boby leaned closer to the camera, maintaining eye contact: “It is very important that mosques are stopped.”
Boby launched the Mosquebusters website in 2011, but the group has been working behind the scenes for longer. It offers legal expertise, pro bono, to anyone disputing the construction of a mosque in England, and it has a growing web presence. Boby relies on a handful of volunteers to help with his work; they don’t have a physical office but work from home communicating via e-mail, with Boby alone. “I’ve tried using members of the EDL as volunteers before. They’re too reactionary,” he says. When Boby needs to meet his Mosquebusters or clients, he takes them for lunch, one-on-one, in London or Bristol — an offer he made to me as well when we talked by phone. Boby doesn’t speak with the press, so a chance to meet him would have been rare. But later in the week, he had a change of heart; he e-mailed me questioning my motives and asked me to disregard all prior correspondence.
It’s not religious practice, claim the Mosquebusters, it’s parking. Or noise pollution. Or building codes. And with downloadable petition templates, generic letters to councilors, and free legal advice for begrudged locals, it’s Boby’s mission to make it as easy as possible for your average, disgruntled suburbanite to join in. If there’s a trial or hearing about planned construction, Boby will come down to the courthouse to provide free legal representation; if a mosque site has been proposed, he’ll arrange volunteers to paper a neighbourhood with flyers. But the Mosquebusters aren’t just a resource for aggrieved pensioners — the group actually wants its volunteers to spread out, actively trolling city planning offices and public records for mosque applications. “It is satisfying detective work, rooting around Islamic deviousness!” reads the instructional e-mail sent to volunteers.
The process begins by searching for D1 planning applications (non-residential buildings), then checking floor plans for a “prayer room,” checking names of applicants and agents for names that sound Muslim. “It might be lodged under the label of ‘multi-faith center’ or ‘community center,’” says Boby. “Mosque applicants are crafty and often try to hide what it’s really about.”
It might seem that the Mosquebusters is a quixotic, xenophobic campaign limited to a handful of small towns in England, but it has ties to other anti-Islamic groups around the world. People from Australia, Canada, Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States comment on the Mosquebusters website regularly, and the group is often written about by far-right organizations. “Mosquebusters racks up another win, all was needed was for someone to oppose it’s [the mosques] construction,” crows Tundra Tabloids, a Scandinavian website that claims to keep tabs on the political correctness that allows Islamic extremism to flourish. “This is brilliant. I hope council was paying close attention,” reads a caption on MRCTV, a right-wing news website.
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