by Douglas Murray
May 16, 2013 at 5:00 am
Because Ahmed was the first Muslim peer, most people were eager to do anything they could to cover for him, forgive him, reinstate him time and again – and even now are not able to believe the words that came from his mouth in Pakistan because they differed from the words that came from his mouth at interfaith meetings in London.
Interfaith dialogue is one of those things it can seem impossible to be against. What reasonable, rational person could possibly object to people of different faiths coming together and discussing their differences? Well, as with any negotiation, the problem only really comes if one individual, or group of individuals, heads into the discussion ignorantly or naively while another knows exactly what he is planning to get from it.
Such is the case with much of the interfaith dialogue conversations in Britain today and there can be no better exemplar than that thrown up by an old friend of this column – the disgraced ex-Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham.
Lord Ahmed, it will be remembered is the serially expelled “first Muslim peer” in Britain. Having been hastily promoted by the Labour party, his career in public life reached a nadir a few years ago when, whilst texting on his mobile phone, the noble lord ran over and killed a man on a motorway. Ahmed went to jail for driving offenses, and has cropped up a number of times since – most recently a few weeks ago, when a recording came to light – courtesy of the Times(London) newspaper – showing Ahmed on television in Pakistan. In that interview (conducted in Urdu) Ahmed was shown, among other things, blaming his conviction and imprisonment for driving offences on Jewish lawyers and Jewish media.
Swiftly expelled by the Labour party, Ahmed had to face yet another disciplinary process (he has been reinstated before). He has now said that he does not wish to go through the process and has resigned from the Labour party. So far, so sad. But one of the matters least considered was his membership in numerous groups which held themselves out as providing “interfaith dialogue” between the Muslim community and – in particular – the Jewish community. The Joseph Interfaith Foundation, for instance, featured Ahmed as a Trustee.
The Joseph Interfaith Foundation declares itself to be “committed to fostering engagement through constructive and realistic dialogue and interaction between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain. The Foundation also aims to promote a deeper understanding of both faiths among the general public.” How that squares with having one of your Trustees blame the Jews for his driving offense and sentencing is a difficult question to answer. What seems at least plausible is that Ahmed – who had a long track record of sympathizing with the most extreme Islamists – used interfaith networks to give himself credibility.