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It's easy to call for the burqa to be banned. It's harder to track what extremists are up to.

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-07-20 at 15.52.54Roger Helmer, Benedict Rogers and I have written recently about the burqa controversy on this site - see here, here, and here.  There's not a lot more to be said about the arguments for or against a ban.  But a post by James Forsyth on Coffee House earlier today helps to widen the debate.  He reports a controversy about the Finsbury Park (or North London Central) Mosque.

It acquired brief notoriety when Abu Hamza effectively ran it.  After he was expelled, new leadership was provided by people linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and backed by elements of the police.  Forsyth reports that Khalid Mahmood, a Labour MP who resigned as a Mosque Trustee after claiming that his signature had been forged on a document, has written to Theresa May urging an investigation.

As Forsyth reports, Mahmood wants to know whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Detroit airplane bomber, was present at any event in the mosque addressed by the notorious Anwar Al-Awlaki - and is suggesting that the US Department of Justice may have passed on relevant information to the Home Office. I gather that Mahmood now wants the mosque included in the Home Office's review of its Prevent programme.

I don't hold any brief for Mahmood, but suspect that he's on to something.  It's easy to make calls for a garment to be banned.  It wins headlines and coverage.  It's rather harder to track official patronage given to Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups, and whether that support's backed by taxpayers' money - matters that newsdesks are often reluctant to pursue.

To be fair to Hollobone, he took an interest in these matters when I was in Parliament.  My concern's really about media over and under-reporting - and a lack of persistence and determination to get at the truth.  I hope Forsyth's story is widely followed up.  And that, as he says, Theresa May will "answer Mahmood’s letter with the speed and attention it deserves".


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