Kenan Malik is a British-based Indian intellectual who has written a “remarkable and groundbreaking book” called The Quest for a Moral Compass (2015). He claims to be passionately in favor of free speech and secularism, and just as passionately opposed to censorship and authoritarianism. Alas, he’s lying. And it’s very easy to prove that. Just go to his website and search for the name “Asad Shah.” If you’re like me, you’ll find nothing there at all:
The quest for a moral response: search-result for “Asad Shah” at Kenan Malik’s website
And who was Asad Shah? He was a gentle, much-loved Muslim shopkeeper brutally murdered in Glasgow in 2015 by a religious fanatic who objected to the way Shah was preaching “peace, love and unity.” If Kenan Malik were serious about free speech, he would have been writing about Shah’s murder ever since, warning his readers how significant it was and calling for solidarity against the cruel and increasingly powerful ideology that inspired it. But to the best of my knowledge, Kenan Malik has never written a word about Asad Shah, let alone condemned his murder and explained its ominous significance. When Malik pointed his moral compass at a heinous act of censorship-by-murder, its needle swung firmly to SILENCE.
Theological debate Sunni-style
That silence becomes even more damning when you consider that the murder of Asad Shah was a horrible example of something that Malik has written about many times: the fact that the struggle for free speech also takes place between Muslims and not, as some want to pretend, between a monolithic reactionary Islam and a tolerant secular West. Asad Shah was murdered by a fellow Pakistani Muslim, a taxi-driver called Tanveer Ahmed who drove many miles from the English city of Bradford to engage Shah in theological debate. The trouble was that Tanveer Ahmed was a mainstream Sunni Muslim and Asad Shah belonged to a small Muslim sect known as the Ahmadis. Sunnis regard Ahmadis as heretics and in Pakistan Ahmadis are harshly persecuted and discriminated against in law. For example, they are banned from even referring to themselves as Muslim.
Kenan Malik, the silent ethicist
Silence on slaughter, bullshit about Britain: Kenan Malik uses a highly dishonest image of a helpless child to support the overwhelmingly fit male adults crossing the English Channel
This Sunni intolerance towards Ahmadis is very embarrassing for supporters of unlimited Muslim immigration like Kenan Malik. He came to Britain as a child in the 1970s and endured constant violence and bullying from Whites at school. You might expect that this would have led him to identify with underdogs like Asad Shah and other Ahmadis, who face constant violence and bullying from the Sunni majority. As I described in “Head-Chopping for Muhammad,” when Tanveer Ahmed angrily confronted Shah in Glasgow, Shah responded in true Ahmadi style by offering to shake his hand. Tanveer Ahmed rejected the offer in true Sunni style by stabbing and stamping Asad Shah to death. So why did Malik not take up Shah’s cause and champion Ahmadis against Sunni intolerance on British soil?
Malik’s real motives
The answer is simple. The sad fact is that Malik’s unpleasant schooldays did not teach him to hate bullies and authoritarianism, but rather to hate Whites and the nation of Britain. He identifies not with underdogs against persecutors but with Muslims against non-Muslims. Although he has never written about the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims by Sunni Muslims in Britain, where his words could make a big difference, he has written about the persecution of Uyghur Muslims by kaffir communists in China, where his words make no difference at all. His clear preference is to stay silent about Muslim pathologies whenever he can.
Shrine to a murderous martyr: Mumtaz Qadri is venerated in modern Pakistan (image from Voice of America)
He particularly wants to stay silent about Muslim hatred of free speech. For example, if he had given Asad Shah’s murder the attention it has always deserved, he would have had to discuss Pakistan’s morbidly fascinating culture of blasphemy law and censorship-by-murder. In Pakistan, those who murder in the name of Muhammad aren’t merely honored: they are venerated as saints and given luxurious shrines. Just look at Ilm ud-Deen, a Muslim hero-martyr who stabbed a Hindu to death in 1929 for publishing a satirical book about Muhammad. That was under the British Raj and Ilm ud-Deen was hanged for murder. If you’re a fan of cheesy Third-World cinema, you can watch a Pakistani movie from 2002 celebrating his life and noble self-sacrifice. It’s available for free at Youtube. The movie is called Ghazi Ilmuddin Shahid, which means Hero Ilmuddin the Martyr.
Heroic Ilmuddin awaits martyrdom in a British jail (image from Ghazi Ilmuddin Shahid)
The same sanctification has now happened to Mumtaz Qadri, another Muslim hero-martyr who laid down his life for Muhammad. As I described in “Martyr with a Machine-Gun,” Qadri was a bodyguard who riddled the Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer with bullets because Taseer had tried to help Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was awaiting execution in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy. Kenan Malik’s own newspaper reported how “Mainstream Pakistan religious organisations applaud[ed the] killing of Salmaan Taseer.” It also reported how a “mosque named in honour of the killer of a politician who called for the reform of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws is proving so popular it is raising funds to double its capacity.” Just reflect on that: in Pakistan, they celebrate and sanctify men who murder in the name of Muhammad. Kenan Malik, of course, doesn’t want anyone to reflect on that, which is why he has never written about Asad Shah or about the hatred of free speech that flourishes in Pakistan and that has taken firm root in Britain thanks to immigration from Pakistan.
Loudspeaker for liberty
After the murder of Asad Shah, a non-White “human rights lawyer” called Aamer Anwar said this: “We do not want to see the importing of sectarian bigotry and hatred from Pakistan to the UK.” In other words, he thinks that Britain can import Pakistanis without importing Pakistani culture. He’s an idiot. So is Kenan Malik, because he believes the same thing. Or pretends to, anyway. But at least Aamer Anwar publicly condemned Shah’s murder. Kenan Malik has never done that. You can find the same silence among Malik’s former comrades in a Trotskyist cult called the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Like Malik, Frank Furedi, Brendan O’Neill, Claire Fox and company all claim to be passionately in favor of free speech and secularism, and just as passionately opposed to censorship and authoritarianism. Like him, they have all ignored Asad Shah’s murder. Until very recently, no major writer at Spiked, the RCP’s current loudspeaker for liberty, had discussed and condemned Shah’s murder. But in March 2023, the Spiked editor Tom Slater (not one of Malik’s original comrades) finally broke the silence. Here are the opening paragraphs of his hard-hitting polemic:
Asad Shah. The name doesn’t mean much to people in Britain today. But it really should. Shah was a Glasgow shopkeeper, beloved by his Shawlands community. The 40-year-old was also a bit of an amateur YouTuber. He uploaded hundreds of videos, forever perched behind his shop counter, in which he preached peace, love and unity. … Shah was also an Ahmadi, belonging to a small Muslim sect deemed to be heretical by many Muslims, because Ahmadis believe that Muhammad isn’t the final prophet. Shah, in some of his videos, even suggested that he himself was a prophet. For making and publishing those videos, Asad Shah lost his life. In the most barbaric fashion imaginable.
At 9pm, on 24 March 2016, Tanveer Ahmed entered Shah’s newsagents carrying a knife. The 31-year-old cab driver had travelled to Glasgow from his home in Bradford, incensed by Shah’s claims to holiness. Ahmed had left a friend a voicemail, saying: ‘Listen to this guy, something needs to be done, it needs to be nipped in the bud.’ He attacked Shah, stabbing him repeatedly in the head and upper body. Shah tried to escape outside. Ahmed followed. He repeatedly stamped on Shah’s head, shattering almost every bone in his face. As his victim lay bloodied and still, Ahmed walked into a bus shelter and waited for police to arrive. He told the cops, as they moved to apprehend him: ‘I have nothing against you and so I am not going to hurt you. I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.’ But Ahmed remains unrepentant about his crime. During his trial, he put out a statement: ‘This all happened for one reason… Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam, the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.’ Ahmed is now six years into a life sentence. (The shameful story of Britain’s backdoor blasphemy laws, Spiked, 12th March 2023)
Tom Slater is perfectly correct. Asad Shah’s name “really should” mean a lot to people in Britain today. That it doesn’t mean anything at all is easy to explain. It’s the “shameful” silence of journalists like Kenan Malik, who enjoys a large audience at the Guardian (or more precisely, at the Observer, the Guardian’s Sunday edition). However, Slater was wrong in much else he said. As I explained in “Blasphemy and Bullshit,” he didn’t want to admit the central role of mass immigration in the death of free speech in Britain. He didn’t mention that Glasgow Central Mosque and other mainstream Muslim groups refused to attend a memorial service for Shah. Why did they refuse? Because they didn’t disapprove of the murder. On the contrary, they secretly supported it. After all – as Slater also failed to mention – Glasgow Central Mosque had pronounced a blessing on Mumtaz Qadri, the Pakistani murderer of Salmaan Taseer who had directly inspired Tanveer Ahmed, the Pakistani murderer of Asad Shah. Other British mosques have praised Qadri and have played host to Pakistani clerics who describe him as a true lover of the Prophet: selfless, noble, and eminently worthy of emulation.
Some of the ethically questing Pakistani Muslims whom Kenan Malik wants to see lots more of in Britain (Photograph: Bilawal Arbab/EPA)
In other words, mass immigration has allowed the Pakistani tradition of censorship-by-murder to take firm root in Britain. That’s highly inconvenient for those who are, like Kenan and his comrades, passionate supporters of both free speech for blasphemers and open borders for Muslims. And so Kenan and his comrades have preferred to keep quiet about how Mumtaz Qadri in Pakistan directly inspired Tanveer Ahmed in Britain. As I mentioned above, Qadri machine-gunned the politician Salmaan Taseer to death because Taseer had tried to help Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who came off worse in a theological debate with her Muslim neighbors. They said she had committed blasphemy; she said she hadn’t. They won the debate with ease. Bibi was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial and rotted in solitary confinement for years before being acquitted and eventually granted asylum in Canada. Her acquittal provoked riots in Pakistan. If Kenan and his comrades were sincere in their loudly professed passion for free speech and secularism, they would of course have campaigned on Bibi’s behalf while she rotted in jail. Remember that Malik is in a powerful position at the Observer, able to alert and educate millions of readers about threats to free speech. But he ignored Asia Bibi just as he ignored Asad Shah. He has also ignored other theological debates in Pakistan:
A mob in Pakistan tortured, killed and then set on fire a Sri Lankan man who was accused of blasphemy over some posters he had allegedly taken down. Priyantha Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan national who worked as general manager of a factory of the industrial engineering company Rajco Industries in Sialkot, Punjab, was set upon by a violent crowd on Friday.
In horrific videos shared across social media, Diyawadana can be seen being thrown on to the floor, where hundreds began tearing his clothes, violently beating him. He was tortured to death and then his body was burned. Dozens in the crowd can also be seen taking selfies with his dead body. The incident began when rumours emerged that Diyawadana, who had been manager of the factory for seven years, had taken down a poster bearing words from the Qur’an. By the morning, a crowd began to gather at the factory gates and by early afternoon they had charged into the factory and seized Diyawadana. (Man tortured and killed in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy, The Guardian, 3rd December 2021)
Again, that story appeared in Malik’s own newspaper, which regularly reports on the murderous hatred of free speech that flourishes in Pakistan. Of course, the Guardian and Observer don’t draw the obvious conclusion: that migration from Pakistan and other Muslim countries is very bad for free speech in Britain. But at least they report and discuss what is going on in Pakistan. Kenan Malik doesn’t do that. He stands condemned by his own words: “In defending free speech, we must also stand against bigotry wherever it reveals itself. To do one but not the other is not to be serious about either.” Malik did not stand against the bigotry that led to the murder of Asad Shah. Therefore we can conclude he is not serious about either free speech or bigotry.
So what is he serious about? He’s serious about revenge on Britain and the White British. That’s why he became a Trotskyist and why he still supports open borders to the Third World. He pretends to support free speech even as he helps to destroy it. Here’s another of Malik’s dictums: “To live in a diverse society means to live with debate.” He’s talking utter bullshit. In fact, “to live in a diverse society” means to live with ever less debate and ever greater censorship both by non-Whites who hate free speech and by the hostile state that imports and privileges those non-Whites. It also means living with rape-gangs, suicide-bombing, acid-throwing, political corruption, violent crime, fraud, welfare dependency, exotic diseases, inbreeding, and a surveillance state. Asad Shah was murdered precisely because Britain is a “diverse society.” And that’s precisely why the free-speech-loving Indian ethicist Kenan Malik has ignored Asad Shah’s murder for eight long years. And counting.
Kenan Malik’s “remarkable and groundbreaking” Quest for a Moral Compass (2015)
My conclusion? That non-White migration is disastrous for free speech in the West not just because it imports murderers like Tanveer Ahmed and would-be murderers like Hadi Matar, the Lebanese Muslim who stabbed Salman Rushdie in 2022. No, non-White migration is also disastrous for free speech because it imports liars and frauds like Salman Rushdie and Kenan Malik, who collaborate with the murderers by pretending that Muslims and other non-Whites belong in the West. They don’t. Like countless other Muslims, Tanveer Ahmed loves Muhammad and hates free speech. He was completely faithful to his principles when he murdered Asad Shah and calmly accepted the life-sentence that followed. Kenan Malik claims to love free speech and hate censorship. He completely betrayed his principles by ignoring what Tanveer Ahmed did. So I’d like to beg Kenan Malik to repeat his Quest for a Moral Compass. After all, he might get lucky this time and actually find one.