The U.S. government has made a bizarre internet gaffe by posting a British Muslim extremist’s photograph of veiled women calling for sharia law, citing it as an inspirational example of free speech in the West.
The American State Department’s ‘Think Again Turn Away’ campaign is designed to dissuade Muslims from joining IS – also known as ISIS – and other extreme groups.
The campaign posted the picture on its Twitter account last week, adding: ‘In open societies, all faiths enjoy freedom of speech; under ISIS rule, no such thing as freedom of expression.’
The photograph shows Muslim women, all in black burkas, running a stall in Dalston, East London. They are standing behind a trestle table covered in leaflets and a banner reading: ‘Shariah law or man made law. Which is better for mankind?’
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has found the banner was used in an extremist campaign called Stay Muslim, Don’t Vote, which calls for strict sharia law to be imposed on Britain, as well as urging Muslims not to vote in elections.
The photo was given the caption ‘Muslims coming out inviting society to Islam’ – which was copied by the U.S. State Department – by a man calling himself Abdulrahman Muhajir, whose Twitter account is suspended.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal he is Moshiur Rahman, a 33-year-old from Luton, who last year was one of 12 Islamists given Asbos banning them from taking part in demonstrations over a violent protest rally on Oxford Street. At least two of the gang are believed to be fighting for IS in Syria.
Anjem Choudary – the hate preacher who has repeatedly blamed British foreign policy for terrorist attacks and whose al-Muhajiroun group was banned by the Government – was present at the event in Dalston on March 7. He has also given talks in Walthamstow and East Ham at demonstrations where the sign was used.
The photo appropriated by the U.S. State Department was first placed on Twitter last week by a woman calling herself Umm Usmaan, who is a leading figure in the anti-democracy campaign.
She described it as an ‘Islamic roadshow’ and included the slogan ‘stay Muslim, don’t vote’ when she put the photo on Twitter.
Yesterday she posted a picture of another sign with the message: ‘The right of legislation belongs to none but Allah!’
Last night, terror expert Douglas Murray, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said: ‘It’s an incredibly weak “fail”,’ he said. ‘They should be putting a bit more thought into their sourcing. With all of our resources, it’s not even as accomplished as the crudest IS propaganda.’
US Twitter users were also quick to ridicule the State Department, with one calling it an ‘epic fail’. Conservative U.S. commentator Mark Steyn added: ‘Why is the State Department promoting sharia for the United Kingdom? Aren’t they supposed to uphold the Constitution of the United States? Sharia’s incompatible with that constitution, as it is with the legal inheritance of Western civilisation.’
The State Department did not respond to requests to comment yesterday.