Desperately Seeking Celebrity

Roger Howard has an interesting piece over at the Social Affairs Unit. He writes of meeting the leaders of al-Muhajiroun in June 2001 and his conclusion that far from being interested in martyrdom, Omar Bakri and his crew were more interested in celebrity.

Far from telling me stories of suffering or of the Prophet Mohammed, the young adherents of Al Muhajiroun instead reached for what looked like an enormous book. Now they were suddenly smiling, their faces glowing with pride as they pointed to it and gestured me to take a look.

This was not a large copy of the Koran but a scrapbook that contained numerous press cuttings about their organisation. These supposedly devout Muslims slowly turned each page for me to see, wanting to share their glory and watching my reaction closely to make sure that I was properly impressed by what I now saw. The larger the article and the more damning the headline, the more proudly it was shown to me by these young men whose whole presence, demeanour and bearing had changed so visibly during these few minutes. Bakri was also watching and visibly crowed with delight, laughing out loud as the articles were displayed. “They hate me, the press!” he cried out, as his followers laughed with him.