British Muslims responded with relief after it was announced on Tuesday that hate preacher Anjem Choudary could face up to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of supporting ISIS.
Some Muslims also questioned the role the press had in giving Choudary a prominent platform to discuss his views. BuzzFeed News spoke to some British Muslims and Islamic organisations to ask for their reactions to the news.
Puzzled how he had been around for so long
The Muslim Council of Britiain (MCB), an umbrella organisation with 500 affiliated mosques and community groups across the country, said in a statement it considers Choudary and his support for ISIS to be "despicable and contrary to the values of Islam" and Britain.
"Many Muslims have long been puzzled why this man was regularly approached by the media to give outrageous statements that inflamed Islamophobia," MCB said. "We hope the judgment serves as a lesson for anyone who follows this path of advocating hate and division."
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former chair of the Conservative Party, tweeted saying Choudary was "finally behind bars", and asked whether news channels regretted giving him airtime over the years.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a youth organisation, told BuzzFeed News the Muslim community is relieved that justice has been served.
"For years we have watched how Anjem Choudary has radicalised, brainwashed, and corrupted young Muslims and the authorities did not do anything. Many terror plots here in the UK and around the world have him at the heart," he said. "We stand together against division, extremism, and terrorism."
In a statement on his Facebook page, Hussain Shefaar, who had set up a petition calling the press to stop giving Choudary a platform after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, said: "Finally it's happened."
On Twitter several people said they were glad Choudary would be behind bars.
Akeela Ahmed, an equalities campaigner, wrote:
H.A. Hellyer, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, tweeted:
Questioned the responsibility of the press in Choudary's rise
Naz Shah, the Bradford West MP, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the press needs to look at the role it plays in giving "these vile and nasty people" any platforms. "I'm not convinced we are holding the press to account in their role in this case and the promotion of the hatred this man spread across our shores and beyond," she said.
She added: "He is where he belongs, behind bars and I really do hope he is not allowed to spew his hatred from HMP."
Mehdi Hasan, a presenter on Al Jazeera who has previously written urging the press not to give Choudary a platform, citing Choudary's lack of Islamic qualifications and credentials and the fact that the preacher is unrepresentative of British Muslim opinion, tweeted:
Shazia Awan, a businesswoman, wrote:
Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters and founder of Tell MAMA, the Muslim-hate monitoring group, said media organisations knew Choudary craved the press and limelight and sought to talk to vulnerable young men through media, and that many willingly gave him the platform to do so in order to advance their ratings.
"He served their purposes of raising the numbers of viewers and he received a platform for his horrendous and twisted abuse of Islam," Mughal said. "It became a symbiotic relationship and some of these press sources should also hang their heads in shame after the verdict."
A useful "honey trap" for authorities
There have been conspiracy theories surrounding Anjem Choudary for a long time, particularly on whether he was an informant for security services, as many were baffled he had been preaching hate for so long.
Secunder Kermani, a BBC Newsnight reporter, said Choudary was a "honey trap". In a series of tweets, he said he believed people who were close to Choudary would have been monitored and so discussions of plots would have been easier to trace.
The journalist said Choudury's co-defendant Mizanur Rahman – who had been a former follower of another notorious hate preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad – was a more significant conviction because he was seen as being more popular with young people.
New Horizons, a think tank that focuses on British Muslim identity, said in a statement that Choudary is finally being exposed for what he is, "a trouble maker and a dangerous person".
"Anjem Choudary doesn't represent British Islam," the statement said. "It's a shame he was given so much exposure. He has caused great harm to Muslims and to this country. We hope that voices, like ours, that stand for a positive message of Islam and our place in modern society will be given more weight."
Aisha Gani is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Aisha Gani at email@example.com.
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