A radical Islamic cleric who lives off the British welfare state has been filmed urging his followers to quit their jobs and claim unemployment benefits so they have more time to plot holy war against non-Muslims.
Excerpts of the speech, published by the London-based newspaper The Sun on February 17, have drawn renewed attention to the growing problem of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere who are exploiting European welfare systems.
In the video, Anjem Choudary -- a former lawyer who has long campaigned to bring Islamic Sharia law to Britain and other European countries (here, here and here) -- is recorded as saying that Muslims are justified in taking money from non-Muslims.
Speaking to a group of Muslim men, Choudary mocks non-Muslims for working in nine-to-five jobs their whole lives. He says: "You find people are busy working the whole of their life. They wake up at 7 o'clock. They go to work at 9 o'clock. They work for eight, nine hours a day. They come home at 7 o'clock, watch EastEnders [a British soap opera], sleep, and they do that for 40 years of their life. That is called slavery. ... What kind of life is that? That is the life of the Kuffar [a non-Muslim]."
Choudary urges fellow Muslims to learn from revered figures in Islamic history who only worked one or two days a year. "The rest of the year they were busy with Jihad [holy war] and things like that," he says.
Choudary continues: "People will say, 'Ah, but you are not working.' But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar [non-Muslims]. So we take Jihad Seeker's Allowance."
At this point, Choudary takes a page from the late Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. In a 2006 sermon entitled, "Allah is Preparing us for Victory," al-Awlaki said that robbery and extortion of non-Muslims was the strategy the Islamic Prophet Mohammed prescribed for conducting Jihad, the central mission of Islam.
Al-Awlaki said: "Leave the farming to the people of the book [Jews and Christians], you go and spread the religion of Allah [through jihad]; they will farm and they will feed you; they will pay Jizya [extra tax], they will pay Kharaaj [tribute], if the sustenance of the Prophet Mohammed was through Ghaneema [plunder] it must be the best and better than farming, business, shepherding and better than anything else because Mohammed said: 'My sustenance comes beneath the shadow of my spear.'"
Accordingly, the British-born Choudary states that Muslims are entitled to welfare payments because they are a form of Jizya, an extra tax imposed on non-Muslims in countries run by Muslims, and a reminder that non-Muslims are permanently inferior and subservient to Muslims.
In another video, Choudary says: "We take the Jizya, which is ours anyway. The normal situation is to take money from the kuffar. They give us the money. You work, give us the money, Allahu Akhbar [Allah is great]. We take the money. " He then adds: "Hopefully there's no one from the DSS [Department of Social Security] listening to this."
Choudary, who is married and has four children, enjoys a rather comfortable lifestyle that is being paid for by British taxpayers, year after year. In 2010, for example, The Sun reported that he takes home more than £25,000 ($38,000) a year in welfare benefits.
Among other handouts, Choudary receives £15,600 a year in housing benefit to keep him in a £320,000 ($485,000) house in Leytonstone, East London. He also receives £1,820 council tax allowance, £5,200 income support and £3,120 child benefits. Because his welfare payments are not taxed, his income is equivalent to a £32,500 ($50,000) salary.
By comparison, the average annual earnings of full-time workers in Britain was £26,500 in 2012.
According to The Sun, the university-educated Choudary is "notoriously vague about whether he works or has other money coming in. He is understood to be employed by a Muslim organization on a shoestring wage, which allows him to claim income support and free time to spread his message. Asked during a radio interview this week if he worked, he replied: 'Well, what I do is my business. I don't think it is important.'"
During an interview with BBC Radio 5 on February 17, Choudary was equally evasive on his sources of income. (The radio interview begins at 00:57 in the video linked here.)
Although analysts are divided over the question of how many followers Choudary actually has, no one disputes the fact that he is far from alone in exploiting the British welfare system.
Consider the issue of polygamy. Although the practice is illegal in Britain, the state effectively recognizes the practice for Muslim men, who often have up to four wives (and in some instances five or more) in a harem.
Social welfare experts believe there are at least 20,000 bigamous or polygamous Muslim unions in England and Wales. If the average size of such a "family" is 15 people, these numbers would imply that around 300,000 people in Britain are living in polygamous families.
According to British law, a Muslim man with four wives is entitled to receive £10,000 ($15,000) a year in income support alone. He could also be entitled to more generous housing and council tax benefits to reflect the fact that his household needs a bigger property.
The result is that the more children produced by Muslim polygamists, the more state welfare money pours in for their wives and themselves. By having a string of wives living in separate homes, thousands of Muslim immigrants are squeezing tens of millions of British pounds from the state by claiming benefits intended for single mothers and their children.
Those women are eligible for full housing benefits -- which reach £106,000 ($250,000) a year in some parts of London -- and child benefits paid at £1,000 ($1,500) a year for a first child, and nearly £700 ($1,000) for each subsequent one.
Welfare payments are also sent abroad to support children who live outside Britain.
In December 2010, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, said that Muslim immigrants who send a portion of their welfare payments to families back home are "heroic." She also said the government should make it easier for them to send the money home, and called for tax refunds to encourage more immigrants to follow suit, "in particular those who paid for their children to be educated in the Third World."
Another point of contention involves British taxpayers who are spending millions of British pounds to house unemployed Muslim immigrants in luxury homes across the country.
In August 2012, for example, Palestinian refugee Manal Mahmoud was given a new taxpayer-funded property after she and her seven children trashed a £1.25 million townhouse they had been living in in Fulham, West London. Mahmoud, who came to Britain in 2000 with her husband before they split up, says, "I am entitled to live in a house like this, even if I don't pay for it -- and get benefits."
In July 2010, Somali asylum seekers Abdi and Syruq Nur and their seven children, after complaining that their home in the Kensal Rise area of Brent was in a "poor" area, were given a £2.1million house in Kensington (one of Britain's most exclusive addresses) at a cost of £8,000 a month to the taxpayer. After Nur lost his £6.50-an-hour job as a bus driver in 2009, the family is totally dependent on state benefits. The new home is believed to be one of the most expensive houses ever paid for by housing benefit
In February 2010, it emerged that Essma Marjam, an unemployed single mother of six, receives more than £80,000 a year from British taxpayers to pay the rent on a £2 million mansion in an exclusive London suburb located yards from the house of Paul McCartney. Marjam also receives an estimated £15,000 a year in other payouts, such as child benefits, to help look after her children, aged from five months to 14.
Marjam said, "I moved here at the beginning of the month as I'm entitled to a five-bedroom house. I was in a three-bedroom council house but I needed a bigger place once my new baby came along. So the council agreed to pay the £1,600 a week to a private landlord as they didn't have any houses big enough. I'm separated from my husband. He's a solicitor in Derby, but I don't know if he's working at the moment. He doesn't pay anything towards the kids. Things are quite difficult between us. The house is lovely and very big, but I don't have enough furniture to fill it."
In November 2009, it was reported that former Somali asylum seeker Nasra Warsame, her seven children (aged from two to 16) and her elderly mother are living in a luxury £1.8 million five-story house in central London. Annual rent for the house costs British taxpayers £83,200.
Warsame's husband, Bashir Aden, and another of their children, are living in a separate property in nearby Camden. He said they live separately because the family is too big to fit under one roof. His two-bedroom flat is also paid for by housing benefit. Both homes are equipped with statutory plasma televisions and computers.
In October 2008, it emerged that Toorpakai Saiedi, a mother of seven originally from Afghanistan, was living in £1.2million seven-bedroom luxury house in Acton, West London, paid for by British taxpayers. At the time, she was receiving £170,000 a year in benefits, including an astonishing £150,000 paid to a private landlord for the rent of the property, equivalent to £12,500 a month.
Saiedi's son Jawad, a student who admitted he spent most of his time driving around in cars and playing billiards, said, "When the council chose to put us here we did not say no. If someone gave you a lottery jackpot, would you leave it? When I heard how much the council was paying, I thought they were mad."
British taxpayers have footed the bill for the Moroccan-born Najat Mostafa, the second wife of the Egyptian-born Islamic hate preacher Abu Hamza, who was extradited to the United States in October 2012. She has lived in a £1million, five-bedroom house in one of London's wealthiest neighborhoods for more than 15 years, and she raised the couple's eight children there.
Abu Hamza and his family are believed to have cost British taxpayers more than £338,000 in benefits. He has also received £680,000 in legal assistance for his failed US extradition battle. The cost of keeping him in a British prison since 2004 is estimated at £500,000.
Fellow hate preacher Abu Qatada, a Palestinian, has cost British taxpayers an estimated £500,000. He has also won £390,000 in legal aid to avoid deportation to Jordan.
The Islamic preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian, obtained £300,000 benefits before being exiled to Lebanon. The money was provided to raise his six children, including Yasmin Fostok, a single mother who makes a living as a pole-dancer in London nightclubs.
In February 2013, a judge in London acquitted two brothers from Pakistan who swapped houses in an effort to defraud British taxpayers out of £315,000. The Pakistani couples, who have 11 children between them, submitted bogus tenancy agreements for 16 years.
Judge Neil Sanders said, "The two men dishonestly represented through their wives to the London Borough of Redbridge that this was a genuine rental arrangement." But, he said: "You have both worked hard in terms of making a life for yourselves and in many ways the greatest punishment is the loss of your good name."
As for Anjem Choudary, he was also filmed saying that Islam will take over Europe. He said: "Now we are taking over Birmingham and populating it. Brussels is 30% Muslim, Amsterdam is 40% Muslim. Bradford is 17% Muslim. These people are like a tsunami going across Europe. And over here we're just relaxing, taking over Bradford, brother. The reality is changing. We are going to take England: the Muslims are coming."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.