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The Stirrer’s Talk-In Radio Blog (5)

THE MAN YOU LOVE TO HATE

21-03-2009

The Stirrer

Anjem Chodary may have become the most vilified man in the British tabloids, but I’ll say this for him – he doesn’t duck a challenge.

The man routinely dubbed a “hate preacher” by The Sun for his role in organising the recent anti-war protests in Luton not only accepted my call to his mobile at five to midnight on Thursday with courtesy and respect – he also agreed to get up at 4am the following morning to take calls from listeners.

Most (but by no means all) were hostile to him – and some turned their ire on me. Why was I giving this “Islamofascist” and “extremist” a platform to spread his ideas on national radio?

This, remember, is a man accused of wanting to "fly the flag of Allah above 10 Downing Street".

The answer is simple. I wanted to hear what he had to say for myself, unfiltered by the pre-programmed prejudice of the red tops. And, overall, I’d say it was worth it.

One listener – Mark from London – skewered him with a question about the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

Given that Choudhry had demanded the right as the citizen of a free society to speak openly against the British troops he regards as equivalent to Nazi prison guards (“we was only obeying orders”) how could he deny someone else the same liberty to make a satirical drawing?

He answered by saying that he deferred to the “higher law” set down by God. I can’t have been the only listener to have found his movement from secular to religious principles somewhat slippery.

Along the way, Choudhry conceded that in his interpretation of Sharia – which he wants to become the law of the land in Britain - being gay and “out” would merit the death penalty.

He also acknowledged that despite being routinely described as a spokesman for the Islamic community, his views were not necessarily representative of mainstream Muslims in the UK.

If nothing else he deserves credit for being willing to rise in the early hours and take flak from an audience which is never backwards in coming forward – especially as it was arranged at such short notice.

Although the Choudhry phone-in was busy, nothing matched Wednesday morning’s meltdown, when we sustained a five-hour conversation almost entirely about the state of the NHS.

This followed the report into appalling care standards at Staffordshire General Hospital (see link here).

It showed, if nothing else, that the public cares more about the NHS than any other institution in Britain – a message politicians ignore at their peril.

This weeks Top Five phone-in subjects:

  1. Is the NHS in a critical condition?
  2. Anjem Choudhry phone-in
  3. Why shouldn’t the British army help the police in Northern Ireland.
  4. Skunk – is it just a moral panic got up the by the media.
  5. The Pope’s comments about condoms spreading AIDS in Africa.

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