Islamist Rally at White House ‘Postponed’; Radical Accuses West of Interfering With Mideast Embrace of Shari’a

By Patrick Goodenough | March 4, 2011 | 4:29 AM EST

Anjem Choudary, a British Muslim activist, is promoting shari’a law in America and other countries.(Screenshot image: Shariah4America)

( – An Islamic radical called off a pro-shari’a (Islamic law) demonstration at the White House on Thursday, saying he did not want it to divert attention from the “urgent” situation in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Talking to, the activist, Anjem Choudary, charged that Western powers were planning military intervention to ensure that popular uprisings do not give rise to shari’a-ruled states.

News of the “postponement” of the rally first came in the form of an uploaded YouTube video featuring a 13-minute homily by Choudary, the British Muslim activist leading the “Shariah4America” campaign.

“We will be postponing the protest outside the White House, although the call for the shari’a is a universal one and it must be implemented immediately wherever we are in the world,” he said.

Choudary has acquired a reputation in Britain as a publicity hound given to media stunts, and the cancellation came as little surprise.

Speaking from London on Thursday evening, he said the decision was taken “at short notice,” and had nothing to do with calls by a Republican lawmaker and others for the U.S. government to deny him a visa.

Choudary said that as a British passport-holder, he did not require a visa to visit the U.S., and moreover has no criminal convictions “except one for organizing an illegal demonstration.”

He conceded that it was possible he was on “some no-fly list” but said he had no reason to believe that, had he traveled to Washington for Thursday’s scheduled event, he would have been prevented from entering the country.

“It would have been more controversial for them if they hadn’t let me in,” he said.

Choudary confirmed he has visited the U.S. in the past, taking part in rallies outside United Nations headquarters in New York. His last visit was before 9/11, he said.

Thursday marked the 87th anniversary of the formal abolition of the 1,300 year-old Islamic caliphate system, hence the timing for the rally by Muslims calling for its revival.

In his video message, Choudary cited several reasons for postponing the event, including attempts by the media to distort the message – which he claimed was simply a “call inviting people to accept Islam as an alternative” – and the need to garner more support from Islamic organizations.

A Libyan Abdullah Bobakar mourns the death of his nephew, killed fighting the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday, during a mass funeral in eastern Libya on Thursday, March 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

But in the phone interview, he stressed that the most pressing reason for the postponement was because of events in the Middle East, and the need for Muslims to be made aware of the danger of imminent outside intervention.

The prospect of Western involvement in Libya, he said, had nothing to do with protecting the people there – “they don’t care about the Muslims” – but was part of “a new type of crusade” aimed at directing the course of the popular revolts.

Acting under the “guise” of humanitarian intervention, Western countries were determined to prevent the uprisings from leading to societies under shari’a, he said.

Instead, they wished to see that the upheaval led to countries in the Middle East under “their version of democracy,” he added.

“Their worst nightmare is for Muslims to rise up in the Middle East” and set up shari’a-ruled societies in countries stretching from North Africa to the Gulf, said Choudary.

If that happened, it would be “the beginning of the end of capitalism” and lead inevitably to a huge, “boundary-less” Islamic region in which “the State of Israel will disappear” and the U.S. will be unable to maintain interests.

Choudary said this warning about “a new form of colonialism” in the Middle East was the gist of a fatwa, or religious ruling, soon to be announced by Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical Syrian-born cleric and longtime Choudary associate.

Now based in Lebanon, Bakri was barred from Britain after the 2005 London bombings for his vocal support for jihad. The cleric had lived in Britain since 1986, when the government gave him asylum after the Saudis expelled him from that country.

‘Range of options’

President Obama said Thursday the administration was looking at “a whole range of options, military and non-military,” to support the Libyan people against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi.

“We’ll be making these decisions based on what’s best for the Libyan people and how can we make sure that we’re minimizing the harm to innocent civilians during this process,” he said during a joint press conference with his Mexican counterpart.

Any decision would be taken “in consultation with the international community.”

Obama repeated calls for Gaddafi to step down.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week he has directed the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, photographed here in the Caribbean Sea in 2008, and another warship to the Mediterranean to “provide us a capability for both emergency evacuations and also for humanitarian relief.” (U.S. Navy Video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David G. Crawford/Released)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that any military intervention would be controversial in the country and the broader Arab world.

Asked about possible military options for Libya, she said “there is a great deal of caution that is being exercised with respect to any actions that we might take other than in support of humanitarian missions.”

At the same time, Clinton said, “We are taking no option off the table, so long as the Libyan government continues to turn its guns on its own people.”

“One of our biggest concerns is Libya descending into chaos and becoming a giant Somalia,” she told the committee.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced during a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday that he has directed two warships, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsage with a contingent of U.S. Marines, and the amphibious transport vessel USS Ponce, to the Mediterranean, to “provide us a capability for both emergency evacuations and also for humanitarian relief.”

The two ships transited the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean on Wednesday.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow