It’s very rare that I find myself unable to agree with a single statement or position of the more vocal Islamic spokespeople in the media. As much as I dislike the man, I sometimes find myself nodding along to some of George Galloway’s less extreme utterances and amused by his bolshie appearances on news programs, occasionally to the point that I momentarily forget his obscene walkout of a debate due to his opponent’s nationality, his support for fascistic tyrants the world over and his delivery of finance to the leader of a foreign terrorist organisation.
I even have some vague sympathy for certain views held by abusive Islamists like Asghar Bukhari and his ilk at the Muslim Public Affairs Committee; they wear their hearts on their sleeves and at least root their bullshit in what some could conceivably view as legitimate political grievances.
Mohammed Ansar, on the other hand, is a different story all together.
Newsnight recently showed a 6 minute film by Maajid Nawaz – chairman of the counter extremism think-tank The Quilliam Foundation. The film concentrated on the subject of who speaks for the Muslim community in the wake of issues such as the Jesus & Mo cartoon controversy in which Nawaz retweeted a completely innocuous drawing of the Muslim prophet to illustrate his lack of offence towards it and somewhat predictably received death threats for his troubles.
The conclusion of Nawaz’s film was that no one person speaks or can speak for the Muslim community as a whole. Whereas some were outraged and offended by the depiction of the Prophet, others were not. Whereas some decided to sign a petition to have Nawaz deselected from his prospective parliamentary candidacy in Hampstead and Kilburn, others did not. While some cynically decided to contact Islamic countries and inform them of Nawaz’s blasphemy resulting in an explicit risk to his safety and that of his family, others did not.
The point was that there are a plethora of opinions within the Muslim community and that the people who so often accuse others of generalising about the beliefs and attitudes of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are invariably the same people that arrogantly claim their own right to do exactly that.
After the screening of Nawaz’s film he appeared in the studio with Jeremy Paxman to debate the subject matter with two Muslim spokespeople; journalist/closet hate-preacher Mehdi Hasan and the afore mentioned Mohammed Ansar – who was, in this case, a replacement for a female panelist who was dropped at the last minute.
The resulting ‘discussion’ consisted of three grown adults squabbling, bitching and shouting over each other while an amused Paxman leaned back in his seat and moderated this infantile slanging match with all the effectiveness of a man in a coma.
Mohammed Ansar once again made a determinedly half-arsed attempt to clarify his notoriously opaque position on the cartoon controversy. He claimed he wasn’t necessarily offended by the cartoon or by Nawaz’s lack of offense at the cartoon and paradoxically chose to illustrate this point by urging his Twitter followers to sign a petition that could potentially lose the man his job as a result.
Ansar’s twofold position is clear to anyone who has taken the time to try and pick the bones out of his deliberately indistinct ramblings on the subject and is as follows:
- That a prospective parliamentary candidate using his personal Twitter account should not have the right to make a seemingly uncontroversial challenge upon the ridiculous notion that all Muslims think alike.
- That regardless of how many people find these things entirely inoffensive, we should only be protecting the rights of those that do.
He goes on to state that embedded in the tweet was a link to the cartoonists website which contains a whole host of similar cartoons that are more offensive in nature – even though he believed the original cartoon to be inoffensive in the first place. In fact Nawaz’s tweet contained no such link and Ansar has been corrected on this point repeatedly in the past. To restate what you know to be a lie in front of the very person you are lying about is, I suppose, at least comical in its audaciousness.
Ansar though seems completely unconcerned with the truthfulness of the various claims he makes and many have posited that his beef with Nawaz is personal, stemming from a BBC documentary called When Tommy Met Mo in which he was taken to task by Nawaz over his inability to decide whether amputating the hands of thieves is a smart idea. Incidentally, during the making of this same documentary Nawaz managed, over the course of a few meetings, to persuade Tommy Robinson to resign his leadership of the English Defence League – something which Ansar had been attempting for 18 months prior. Despite being banned from attending the press conference announcing Robinson’s departure on the suspicion that the spotlight-chasing Ansar would attempt to take the credit for the move, he nevertheless did precisely that.
Subsequent to the cartoon controversy, Ansar appeared on various media platforms expressing his dismay at Nawaz exercising his right to free expression and the more he spoke on the subject the more it became abundantly clear that Big Mo is missing the necessary faculties required to understand that punishment of free speech is NOT the same thing as exercising free speech – it is the antithesis of it.
One such appearance included a radio debate with journalist David Aaronovitch who attempted to have him describe the cartoon that had caused such widespread criticism. He flat out refused and his reluctance to do so, he said, was because he didn’t think it would make for an entertaining few seconds of airtime (presumably he believed it would be much more entertaining listening to him indignantly refusing to describe the cartoon for a minute and a half instead.) This unwillingness to answer straightforward, uncomplicated questions when they risk exposing the fatuity of his arguments and his repeated avoidance of addressing difficult debate topics because he decides they are “boring” is another of his trademark behaviours.
Generally Mo Ansar’s views are extremely hard to pin down for a variety of reasons. His slippery use of language has him describing other people’s views as unhelpful and un-nuanced without stating outright whether he agrees or disagrees with them – a tactic that has led Tommy Robinson to make a play on his name and jokingly refer to him as “No Answer”.
When he does give an outright statement of opinion he will invariably give another that contradicts it. He has infamously wondered aloud why anybody would object to slavery in certain contexts if slaves are given full rights, however when questioned on this statement whilst appearing on BBC’s Daily Politics he stated that he believes slavery to be abhorrent in any circumstance or context. Clear as mud then.
David Aaronovitch summed him up perfectly: “The problem is that I simply don’t have the capacity to get hold of him for long enough to find out what his argument actually is.”
It’s fitting then, that the vagaries he espouses in the media are just as unknowable as the man himself. His laughably self-important website has him down as everything from a Pioneer of Anti-Extremism to a Civil Rights Activist and a fair few things in between. Associated companies, university names, credentials and anything else resembling specific details are, however, conspicuous by their absence. In fact the only listed qualification on his website is that of a cricket coach.
Possibly the most accurate description of him is on Wikipedia where he is a listed as Social/Political Commentator and “Twitter Celebrity”. His behaviour on social media such as Twitter has provoked a number of parody accounts which tweet ridiculous non sequiturs and self-contradictory statements in the style of the man himself to comedic effect.
In reality however, some of his conduct goes far beyond posting gormless, self-refuting statements and verge more towards what could conceivably called bullying. He repeatedly reports Twitter users to Tell Mama (an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim hate crime) and indeed to the police for what he perceives as “Islamophobia” but which, in the majority of cases, are simply people disagreeing with him. It seems nobody is exempt from Mo’s baseless and dishonest waving of the bigotry stick – when working in some capacity or another for Lloyds TSB he filed a lawsuit against them for racial discrimination. The charge was thrown out of court and it was noted that Ansar was a manipulative individual with an overly inflated sense of self-importance.
It’s possible that this sense of ego and self-importance could be part of the reason he decided to put himself forward as a marriage councilor, despite having no apparent credentials in the field. When he advised the victim of serious domestic abuse to remain with her husband, the incensed recipient of this grossly misjudged recommendation made it known publicly. Ansar initially denied giving such advice and essentially called the woman a liar. When she then threatened to post a copy of his email on the internet to prove her claims he indicated that to do so would constitute a breach of trust with him on the grounds that the guidance was given in confidentiality.
I would have thought now that after years of Ansar’s relentless campaign to become the public, rosy-cheeked face of Islam in the British media, it would be blatantly obvious to any sentient creature that he is scarcely even knowledgeable on many of the subjects he is called upon to address, let alone an expert. Yet time and again he is wheeled out on TV and Radio to spout his oily platitudes and ill-informed doublespeak whenever a “Muslim voice” is called for.
A portly attention-whore who couples his inability to openly answer straight forward questions with a penchant for scarves and blusher could be easily mistaken as a figure of fun. His murky background and his unsubstantiated academic claims are just a few of the dubious ingredients of Mo Ansar’s particular cake. But irresponsibly dishing out unfounded and reckless marital advice to a victim of domestic violence and passing it off as expert opinion is not amusing in the least and surely constitutes the icing on top.