Skip to comments.News Conference Ends in Melee as Press Refuses To Pay Islamists (A must read for humor ROTFLMAO)
Posted on 08/16/2002 7:50:01 AM PDT by tom paine 2
LONDON -- As news conferences go, this one sounded promising.
"The Satanic Alliance and the Islamic response," proclaimed the top line of an invitation resembling a circus flier.
It added: "The most radical leaders of the Muslim community gather to give their uncompromising Islamic stance on the U.S. crusade against Muslims."
But Thursday's news conference at London's Euston Plaza hotel turned into a standoff between two uncompromising and uncomprehending worlds -- before ending in a melee of overturned furniture and squealing car tires as the Islamists made their getaway from a frustrated press corps.
The problem? The Islamists wanted to charge a £30 (47) entry fee, and the journalists refused to pay. Two Scotland Yard detectives sent to monitor the event balked as well.
The event, organized by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed's Al-Muhajiroun group, was highly unusual for London's Islamist extremists, who spend much of their time feuding. Together they were due on Thursday to issue a fatwah, a religious decree, condemning any attack on Iraq. "If the U.S. and the U.K. continue to play with fire, there can only be one consequence, which is for them to burn their hands and to choke on the smoke -- Sept. 11 being an example," the invitation said.
The event began to go wrong as the journalists argued with the organizers over the ethics of payment.
"The press are normally more than willing to pay for stories, so I don't think this is any different," said Anjem Choudary, Al-Muhajiroun's U.K. leader. Al-Muhajiroun just wanted to share the cost of renting the hotel room, he said. While some newspapers do pay for stories, most (including this one) do not. Paying to attend news conferences is unheard of. As the argument carried on, the clerics filed quietly into the hotel's Stockholm Suite.
Mr. Bakri was followed by Sheikh Abu Hamza Al-Masri, a one-eyed Egyptian-born cleric who has a metal hook in place of a hand, the result of injuries he says he sustained while fighting the armed forces of the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Mr. Al-Masri's firebrand sermons in North London were attended by two alleged terrorists now awaiting trial in the U.S.
Next came Yasser Al-Siri, the 39-year-old head of London's Islamic Observation Center, who is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly helping to fund the al Qaeda terrorist network. Mr. Al-Siri was released from custody two weeks ago, after a British court threw out a U.S. extradition request for lack of evidence.
As the Islamists waited in their conference room, one organizer called to the journalists outside: "Anyone here from al Jazeera?" the Arabic-language, Qatar-based television station. There was no reply. It didn't appear that any journalists had gone inside, but it was impossible to tell for sure because the glass in the doors had been covered over.
Mr. Choudary twice tried to save face. First he offered to accept business cards and invoice the media organizations later. No dice. Then he cracked the door of the conference room to offer: "Sheikh Omar said that if any of you declare the Shahada [convert to the Muslim faith], you are welcome to come in -- or else pay £30." Again, no takers. Nor was anyone buying Al-Muhajiroun's propaganda videos at £5 and £10 apiece.
By the end of a two-hour standoff, in which the Islamist leaders were left to talk among themselves, the atmosphere was hostile. A polite hotel request for the 40 or 50 journalists to make room for the Islamists to make a quick exit was met with laughter. "Move tighter together lads," said one journalist. "We're going to charge them 60 quid [pounds] each to get out."
Finally, the doors to the Stockholm Suite burst open: "We're coming through!" cried a man in sunglasses, and a band of about 20 young Muslim men charged the journalists in an attempt to punch through, only to become entangled in television camera wires. A heavy couch was pulled across the hotel lobby. The doors to the hotel were jammed with bodies as Al-Muhajiroun followers tried to block beefy cameramen inside the hotel, while getting out themselves.
As the Islamist leaders finally leapt into waiting Vauxhall Cavalier cars, their young followers slammed the doors, banged on the roofs and shouted: "Go! Go! Go!" There was to be no fatwah, and "absolutely no comment!" shouted one of the young men.
Write to Marc Champion at email@example.com
Updated August 16, 2002
I like this reporter's style!
They want a person to pay to listen to their fanatic propaganda? Get real.
This was hilarious! "Ok my final offer, buy one carpet, get half-off the second carpet, and I'll throw in some camel fragrance for free."
ROFLMAO! Oh now this was perfect!
Mr. Bakri was followed by Sheikh Abu Hamza Al-Masri, a one-eyed Egyptian-born cleric who has a metal hook in place of a hand
He was a one-eyed, one-hook, flying purple people eater....
"He was a one-eyed, one-hand, lyin' turbaned sheeple leader..."
Ummm. How about one and six and we get to set you on fire.
LOL! Now I'll have the song stuck in my head all day.
I want video. Video, video, video. This sounds absolutely priceless...