Hope not hate, January-February 2013
Late last year a smartly dressed man in an office in Bristol was celebrating a decision to refuse a planning application for a mosque in Chingford, Essex. It was just the latest in a long list of victories for Gavin Boby. Dave Porter profiles a man who strives to block new mosques because of his hatred of Islam and Muslims in general.
If the “counter-jihad” movement in the UK and abroad were looking for a poster boy for their activities, they need not look much further than Gavin Boby.
The smooth-talking, self-styled “mosquebuster” is fast gaining a reputation as the man to turn to for anyone opposing a planning application for a mosque in their neighbourhood.
And the Bristol-based planning lawyer – who offers his services to communities for free – boasts a worryingly high success rate: 15 out of 16 planning applications Boby has been involved in have so far been turned down.
But who is Boby and why is he being feted by the far right in the UK and abroad as their saviour?
It is not his day job as a planning lawyer which is attracting attention for the snappily-dressed 48-year-old but the work he does pro bono under the guise of the Law and Freedom Foundation. He originally started offering his services last year under the provocatively titled ‘Mosquebusters’ moniker, complete with a lurid logo featuring radical cleric Abu Hamza.
But this website was hastily changed to the more formal and innocuous-sounding Law and Freedom Foundation. Calling himself the “Lawman”, Boby’s website talks about Islam being a “violent religion” and says that the “most visible problem” in society today is the “ethnic division between Islamic and non-Islamic society and the violence at the heart of Islamic doctrine”.
This gets straight to the heart of Boby’s philosophy – if it can be called that – and one of the arguments he uses for opposing planning applications when they come up at council meetings: the idea that Islamic doctrine incites violence and is contrary to civil and criminal law in the UK.
This creed is not accepted as a valid planning objection by local authorities and objections can only be lodged on grounds of parking, nuisance, size and location of buildings etc. His success nevertheless is alarming.
A quick scour of his website reveals the gloating joy he brings to his work, with headlines such as “Megamosque halted”, “Slam dunk in Maidenhead” and “Stopped a big one in Luton”.
The list of mosque applications he’s prevented so far range across the country from Dudley to Chingford, Northampton to Ealing, and Kirklees to Brent. Boby’s stated aim is to build up an “army” of 500 volunteers across the country ready to alert him to mosque applications.
Once alerted, he arranges for volunteers to leaflet the area and mobilise the community against any application. Boby himself personally speaks at planning meetings on behalf of residents and is a well-known figure among local authorities. He threatens councillors and officers that if they allow a mosque application to go through, they could be held liable personally in law because of their approval of a religious doctrine which advocates violence.
Many of his appearances in council chambers are filmed and uploaded onto the counter-jihad MRCTV website. At one meeting in Sunderland – and to a large round of applause – he tells councillors that the Koran calls for unbelievers to be killed and enslaved, arguing that Islam is the “domineering tenet against which you should view this application”.
While his website explicitly states that he has nothing to do with the English Defence League, it is clear from postings left on the site that he has immediate attraction to and a big following among the far right. Boby is reported as saying that he’s worked with the EDL in the past but that they are “too reactionary”. Vinci Lombard of Counter-Jihad and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch are both admirers, while there are links promoting Law and Freedom Foundation on the websites of the EDL, British Freedom, the BNP and the Gates of Vienna, with a post on the last one praising his “excellent services”.
Boby’s motivation for carrying out such work is clearly not monetary, so what is it? It is clear from his own ramblings that he has a visceral dislike of Islam. In speeches and interviews he talks about a “sense of duty” in stopping mosques.
Interestingly, he is quoted as saying he has nothing against Muslims as individuals but is simply against the doctrine of Islam. But he is not against gratuitous sniping against members of the Muslim community he comes across in his campaigns, with inflammatory references to Muslim men wearing “sawn-off trousers and maternity dresses”. If that’s not personal, it’s hard to see what is.
But it’s Boby’s views on grooming and what he calls Islam’s endorsement of sexual slavery of underage girls which are really worrying. In an interview conducted in June this year, Boby is quoted as saying that Islam encourages Muslim men to take non-Muslim women as sex slaves, using the prophet Mohammed as an example. Making a clear reference to recent sex grooming cases, Boby says: “If you put those two things together you get the crimes that we are seeing now.”
Boby goes on to talk about mosques playing a central role in propagating Islamic doctrine, which leads to rape and “pimping” of young girls. Disturbingly, he then proceeds to talk about people being able to use “reasonable force” to stop a crime and argues that “lethal force is reasonable force when it comes to this dangerous, explosive and unspeakable crime”. All a long way from opposing planning applications on the grounds of parking.
But Boby’s deep antagonism towards Islam comes across most strongly in a late-night interview he gave earlier this year to Radio Jihad, an American radio show whose names leaves little to the imagination. He is lauded by the talk show host as a “true patriot” whom counter-jihadists have a lot to learn from.
During the lengthy and wide-ranging interview, Boby says that it is time for people to stop talking and to take “action” against Islam. His scaremongering tactics include references to the Muslim population “doubling roughly every decade” in the UK and the fact that “you get sharia areas and Islamic areas” expanding across Britain and western Europe. Americans, he says, need to “watch and learn”.
Questioned as to why he doesn’t oppose churches and synagogues in the same way he does mosques, Boby says there is no need to because “Islamic doctrine is the problem – it’s extremely supremacist”.
Boby also makes warnings during the interview about what he calls “sexually-active Muslim men” and the problem of grooming, stating: “You’re not looking at a small minority of men doing it, you could be looking at the majority of men doing it … it’s really shocking how widespread it is”. He then goes on to push the myth that Muslim men are “more likely than English men to do it”.
Boby opposes mosques because he claims they are not simply places of prayer and reflection but are used as a base to spread the doctrine of Islam. By some flawed logic, he claims that all mosques are based on Mohammed’s Medina mosque and that because it was used to plan and direct “jihad operations”, by extension all mosques are involved in the same sort of activities. This also includes “declaring sharia law, the superiority of Muslims and the inferiority of non-Muslims, teaching the supremacy of men over women, and pronouncing death sentences on those who had opposed Mohammed or spoken unfavourably about him”.
Writing as the “Lawman” on his website and commenting on a mosque application in Dudley which was refused planning permission, Boby states: “It is hard to see how a local authority has the power to grant planning permission for a mosque, since the purpose of a mosque is to promote a doctrine that incites killing, enslavement and war. You don’t need to be a skilled lawyer to understand this point – you have to be a skilled lawyer to find a way around it.”
He warns people that should they allow a mosque to be built in their neighbourhood, they “won’t be able to park or walk your dog during those times, or at any time if the mosque gets really popular”. He adds: “If you like Islam, noise and congestion, then you may be okay.”
The attraction he holds for the crazier elements of the far right are all too obvious. On its website, in an article about EDL activist Peter Day distributing mosquebuster leaflets in Purley, the Jewish Defence League, whose leaders have openly defended Anders Breivik, state: “We support Mr Gavin Boby. He is a great lawyer and we wish him very good luck with this wonderful project. Someone has to act on our behalf after all!”
The EDL hold him in similar reverence. Talking about the defeat of a mosque application in Dudley last year, they say: “Gavin Boby and his organisation, ‘Mosquebusters’ dealt a heavy blow to the usual government-Islamic alliance by stopping yet another ‘Mega-mosque’ from being constructed in England. One which promised to dominate the skyline and ensure dhimmi status for the non-Muslims of the area.”
The EDL proudly claim it was their demos against the mosque which brought the application to the attention of Boby and “which in turn has brought about a collaboration between the EDL and mosquebusters to stem the tide of mosque building in Britain”.
Boby may not wish to associate himself with the EDL but it seems they want to be associated with him.
Support for his work also comes from the Counter-Jihad Report, with articles on its website praising his work, as well as a clip of a speech he gave to the ICLA in Brussels in July this year alongside the likes of hardline US anti-Islamist Frank Gaffney and Stephen Lennon of EDL, where the so-called “Brussels Declaration” against the imposition of sharia law was made.
Anyone under the illusion that Boby is not fuelled by an intense antagonism to Islam should watch any of his YouTube interviews in which, explaining the work of the Law and Freedom Foundation, he says his stated aim is to “stop the tide of Islamicisation” and that mosques are nothing more than a “bridgehead for the advancement of Islam”.
He claims that the doctrine of Islam is against the UK’s hate speech laws and that the Koran’s “violent injunctions” to Muslims to kill non-believers and take under-age girls as sex slaves are contrary to UK and EU law. He claims the Koran is racist and xenophobic and that having a mosque in your neighbourhood is similar to the effect of a football stadium in terms of noise and nuisance.
He also claims that if mosques are approved, the non-Muslim population will be “squeezed out” and made to feel unwelcome in its own community and, further, that a mosque will lead to harassment of local residents, leading to anti-social behaviour and crime. And he says all this is happening in the poorest neighbourhoods of the UK who are unable to defend themselves.