Thursday, July 10, 2008


Attorney Brooke M. Goldstein, interviewed in FrontPage Magazine, described a relatively recent tactic now being employed by Islamist Jihadis as follows:

... while the violent arm of the Islamist movement attempts to silence speech by burning cars when Danish cartoons of Mohammed are published, by murdering film directors such as Theo Van Gogh and by forcing thinkers such as Wafa Sultan into hiding out of fear of her life, the lawful arm is skilfully manoeuvring within Western court systems, hiring lawyers and suing to silence its critics.

Islamists with financial means have launched a "legal jihad", filing a series of malicious lawsuits, in American courts and abroad, and against anyone who speaks out against or writes about radical Islam and its sources of financing and support.

This type of lawfare is often predatory, filed without a serious expectation of winning, and undertaken as a means to intimidate, demoralize and bankrupt defendants. The lawsuits are often based on frivolous claims ranging from defamation to workplace harassment to plain Islamophobia, and have resulted in books being banned and pulped, in thousands of dollars worth of fines and in publishing houses and newspapers rejecting important works on counter-terrorism out of fear of being the next target.
The latest example of lawfare in the UK is the following threat issued to the Harry's Place blog by lawyers acting for the British Muslim Initiative:
Last Friday, in the wake of a closely argued debate about whether Mohammed Sawalha, the President of the British Muslim Initiative, had used the phrase “Evil Jew” or “Jewish Lobby” in a speech, Harry’s Place received a letter. The letter is from Dean and Dean, a firm of solicitors who are acting for Mr Sawalha. Mr Sawalha has demanded that we take down certain articles from Harry’s Place, and publish an apology “in the attached wording”.

The solicitors have failed to attach the apology that Mr Sawalha insists we publish. That omission matters little, as we have no intention of apologising to him at all, nor of taking down any article.

We have responded to Mr Sawalha’s solicitors, through Mishcon de Reya, who are acting for us.
Mr Sawalha is a weak litigant, when it comes to questions of reputation:
Mr Sawalha says that the attribution of the phrase “Evil Jew” to him implies that he is “anti-semitic and hateful”. Notably, he does not take issue with our reporting of the revelation, made in a Panorama documentary in 2006, that he is a senior activist in the clerical fascist terrorist organisation, Hamas. The BBC report disclosed that Mr Sawalha “master minded much of Hamas’ political and military strategy” and in London “is alleged to have directed funds, both for Hamas’ armed wing, and for spreading its missionary dawah”.

Hamas is an organisation which recently took power in Gaza by means of a violent coup, in which they consolidated their power by systematically murdering their Palestinian political opponents. It operates by deliberately targetting innocent Israel civilians in terrorist attacks: a tactic which it has used to stymie any prospect of a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine.

Hamas is both racist and genocidal. Its foundational document, the Hamas Covenant is little more than a racist diatribe against Jews. It claims that Jews have used their money to control the world media. It claims that Jews engineered revolutions, in particular “the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there”. Jews are also said to control “imperialistic countries”. Jews are also claimed to have instigated the First World War, in order to destroy the Caliphate, and the Second World War, in order to make money from arms dealing. Indeed, “[t]here is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it”. Jews are said to operate by forming “secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions”
Nevertheless, libel actions are time consuming and costly to defend. The process is the deterrent, to a large degree. If the litigant has, or is supported by backers with, deep pockets and most especially if they have few identifiable assets, or have taken steps to conceal their assets, even a successful defence can be punitive for the defendant.

Harry's Place will be well supported by people from most sides of the political divide. I don't think their original post was libellous. BMI are just putting their least savoury characteristics on public display and in the process are doing themselves a great disservice.


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