A hardline imam at a mosque where the killers of soldier Lee Rigby worshipped is suing the BBC, saying it described him as an ‘extremist’. Shakeel Begg, 37, is taking legal action after presenter Andrew Neil said on the Sunday Politics Show that the imam had praised jihad as ‘the greatest of deeds’.
Mr Begg, head of the Lewisham Islamic Centre in South-East London, is demanding libel damages and that the BBC doesn’t again call him an ‘extremist’ who ‘encourages religious violence’ According to the High Court writ, Mr Neil interviewed Farooq Murad, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, during the Sunday Politics Show in November 2013.
Mr Neil said the East London Mosque in Whitechapel was ‘a venue for a number of extremist speakers…who espouse extremist positions’ The presenter added: ‘This year Shakeel Begg, he spoke there and hailed jihad as the greatest of deeds.’
Mr Begg has said he cannot recall making such a speech at the East London Mosque.
Mr Begg did not deny Mr Rigby’s killers – Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 – attended the Lewisham Islamic Centre in the months leading up to the Woolwich attack. But he said the Centre had issued a statement expressing ‘shock and sadness’.
The BBC last night declined to comment.
I must say, the Imam of this Mosque does have a point. The description by the BBC reporter that the Imam preaches an”extremist” version of Islam is patently absurd. Doctrines such as Jihad being the greatest deed are just part of everyday,normative Islam. Now, if the BBC reporter had exposed just how “extreme'” are Koran, Hadiths,Sira ect… that would be the real story. And that, the BBC is certainly not prepared to do.