A Muslim barrister has been filmed telling a women’s workshop that the government is lying about the threat posed by Islamic State.
Ibtihal Bsis, a presenter on the London-based Islam TV channel and member of the radical Hizb ut-Tahrir group, tells the meeting in Southampton that as Muslims they are being oppressed and accuses the government of deliberately exaggerating the ISIS threat as an excuse to hound Muslims.
“ISIS are a nobody and they are a nothing; they are allowing them to grow… they are using them for propaganda.”
She also denies that holding radical views leads people to join Islamic State.
“‘If you have an extremism [sic] you’re on a pathway to terrorism’. Incidentally there is no evidence for that at all. None”
BBC South Today reports that Bsis was invited to speak on the government’s ‘Prevent’ counter-extremism strategy. She tells the gathering that they should resist questions from officers, accusing Prevent of demonising Muslims.
“If a Prevent officer, social workers or even the school have asked questions of your child about their salat, their hijab, you can say you’re not entitled to do that.”
She also says:
“All we do is talk, and we have strong ideas, and they’re alternative to the so-called democratic ideas that they have, and they’re not comfortable with that.”
Her comments have been criticised, however, with some accusing her of promoting division between Muslims and wider British society.
Monawar Hussain of the Oxford Foundation told the BBC: “That really is utter nonsense. As a British Muslim, I have more freedom in Britain than I would have in any Islamic country on the face of this Earth.
“If these people are going round trying to sever that relationship that’s not good for our communities, it’s not good for our society, it’s definitely not good for our country.”
Bsis previously spoke at a rally in London last year where she praised Islamic fighters in Syria, saying “their victory is our victory, as their blood is our blood.” In March this year she spoke of her support for controversial charity CAGE who were accused of being apologists for notorious terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, better known as ‘Jihadi John’.
Bsis’s lawyers said in a statement: “It is in all of our interests to stamp out terrorism in the UK and abroad. However, I believe that it is important that as a society we seek to scrutinise the recently passed Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which I, together with a number of experts feel may have a disproportionately negative impact on the Muslim community.
“I am disappointed that the BBC may use the comments which I have made out of context to present the Muslim community and those questioning the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 in a negative light.”