Sky News has declared a day of “celebration” following the news that Saudi citizen and former UK resident Shaker Aamer has returned to British soil following 13 years in Guantanamo Bay. As part of the package on Mr. Aamer’s return, Sky presenter Sarah-Jane Mee described today as a “cause for celebration” while interviewing, unchallenged, the extremist cleric Suleiman Ghani, one of the leading figures in the “Free Shaker Aamer” campaign alongside the Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP.
Ms. Mee’s other guest on the programme was Muslim Council of Britain General Secretary Dr Shuja Shafi. The council, an umbrella organisation claiming to represent over 500 mosques around the country, is best known for its opposition to Holocaust Memorial Day, its hardline stance against homosexuality, and for its role in the Islamist takeover of schools in the infamous Trojan Horse saga.
Nonetheless, Sky News offered an unchallenged platform to Dr. Shafi and Mr. Ghani, the latter of whom was exposed by the Daily Mail newspaper for his views against organ transplants and homosexuality, as well as his belief that women should be “subservient” to men. He said on a “Shariah TV” broadcast in 2007, “Any countries that entrust their affairs in the hands of women will not be successful.”
He has also told Channel 4: “Sometimes I always, maybe joking, say, God Almighty created Adam and Eve, and not Adam and Steve. If somebody does come to me and say that they have this inclination [homosexuality], then I will say think about the consequence of your action, how harmful it is for yourself and the society at large. Abstain from that unnatural act, and you make that firm resolution that you will never return to that action again.”
“Shaker Aamer has landed on UK soil. This is something of a very special day for us. It is a day of Friday,” Mr. Ghani told Sky this afternoon, before going on to say that Mr. Aamer should now campaign for the release of more Guantanamo detainees.
The Muslim Council of Britain, referred to by critics as a Muslim Brotherhood front organisation in the United Kingdom, is a signatory of the “Istanbul Declaration” which said that the then Egyptian government’s plans to stop weapons flowing to terrorists in Gaza: “should be regarded as high treason in the Islamic Nation, and clear support for the Zionist enemy.”
The Economist reported in 2014, “The council presented itself as a diverse Muslim body. But Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Arab Islamists held a big share of the top positions… Critics began to pay more attention to the conservative Islamist groups in the council, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami.”
Mr Ghani is also known for his sectarian activity, reportedly “pleading” with Muslim-run businesses in London to discriminate against Ahmadiyya Muslims.
He has appeared on platforms with extremists who promote terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and indeed a promotional video for an event he participated in contained a quote from Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted and killed by a U.S. predator drone in 2011. Al-Awlaki is believed to have been integral in the radicalisation of UK student Roshonara Choudhry, as well as would-be underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Mr. Ghani has shared platforms with Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and Islamists who support the ideas of “armed jihad” and “contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus”.
He is also a firm proponent of Aafia Siddique, known as “Lady Al Qaeda”, one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists in 2004, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2008, and who is currently serving 86 years in a U.S. prison.
Sky News followed up the interviews with Dr Shafi and Mr. Ghani with a talking head interview with former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, who admitted to being a jihadist recruiter before being released at the behest of the Blair government. Mr. Begg has since been arrested a number of times, including in 2014, when he was charged with terrorist activities related to the Syrian war. The charges were dropped in October 2014.