Responding to The Telegraph’s Misrepresentations

On 24 September 2022 Patrick Sawer and Catherine Lough wrote an article for The Telegraph, “Islamist preacher accused of ‘stirring up hatred’ in Leicester”. The authors put together a number of false allegations and misrepresentations concerning my presence in Leicester and the related community tensions.

“Stirring up hatred”: Supporting Fascism and Victim Blaming 

The first main misrepresentation is the way they have framed the article. They cited that I have been stirring up hatred in Leicester, “where attacks on Hindu temples and shops led to dozens of arrests”. This is grossly misleading. In fact, both Patrick and Catherine seem to be supporters of the fascist Hindutva or they lack adequate journalistic skills to assess the situation. The fact is, the fascist Hindutva thugs instigated hatred and violence against members of the Muslim community. They started the aggressions and hatred. To frame it as otherwise is a violent misrepresentation, and it benefits the Hindutva thuggery that has been brewing and manifesting itself in Leicester and across the UK. For a timeline of what has been happening I refer you to this video by Channel 4 to understand some of the context.

The very fact that Patrick and Catherine seem to be promoting a false narrative is a sign of poor, unethical journalism. It also promotes the Hindutva victim blaming narrative. Worse, it is promoting the fascist ideology of Hindutva, for those who are unaware, Hindutva is inspired by K. B. Hedgewar who founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), a right-wing militant nationalist group that champions Hindutva. The RSS promotes violence. In 1920, Mahatma Gandhi united Hindus and Muslims in India into the non-cooperation movement against British colonisation. K. B. Hedgewar hated this solidarity between Hindus and Muslims. He described Muslims as “yavana-snakes” and considered them an “existential threat” to India. Veer Savarkar provided the “foundational ideology of Hindutva”. He rejected the notion of “inclusive territorial nationalism” and instead championed the exclusion of non-Hindus from being full Indian citizens. He argued that Indians who were Christian and Muslims were “incomplete” citizens. His logic was simple:  both Christians and Muslims do not regard India as their “punybhoomi (holy land)”. Because a Christian identifies Jerusalem as the Holy Land, he cannot be properly Indian. M. S. Golwalkar, the second “Chief” of the RSS, expanded on this. According to Golwalkar, any Christian or Muslim who does not convert to Hinduism and does not engage in “glorification of the Hindu race” will have zero rights in India. In his own words: “not even citizen’s rights”. He further bolstered this by praising Hitler’s holocaust of the Jews, and advised India to do the same to non-Hindus. For more information please read the academic collection of essays, Saffron Republic: Hindu Nationalism and State Power in India (2020), by Cambridge University Press.

My views on the tensions have been articulated in my press release that was not cited by the authors. Please refer to it here. In summary, I make my stance very clear:

“Given my influence in the community, I had two key objectives visiting Leicester. The first was to ensure that no one from the Muslim community breaks the law or manifests signs of extremist behaviour. The second was to remind the community that the law allows the use of reasonable force to defend oneself and vulnerable people. Innocent women were being attacked. My actions and words were recorded and they were said and done in front of the Police.

My public work is very clear. I do not condone or advocate for any violence and disharmony between any members or groups of the British public. I will continue to work to ensure the harmony and wellbeing for all, including the Hindu and Muslim communities.

“Anti-Jewish” and “Anti-Semitic”

Patrick and Catherine falsely frame my pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London as “anti-Jewish”. This is extremely unethical for two reasons. The first is that they seem to equate being pro-Palestine with anti-Jewish. The second is that they assume that being anti-Zionist is equal to being anti-Jewish. I reject both assumptions. Many Jewish people and other people of conscience, including mainstream human rights organisations, are appalled by the treatment of the Palestinian people. To claim that they are anti-Jewish is a direct support of the Zionist fascist state that is currently oppressing Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Being anti-Zionist simply means being against the apartheid, racism, oppression and human rights violations that occur against the Palestinians. This is well documented, even the UN have reported the recurring violations and aggressions of the Zionist regime. Having this stance does not mean that I am anti-Jewish. In fact, I believe it is forbidden by God to discriminate and hate people on account of their race.

Patrick and Catherine decontextualise my statement during a demonstration in a Jewish neighbourhood where I am cited to have given a speech on “the killing of children” in front of a billboard that has the phrase: “Did we not learn from the Holocaust?” This was in the context of the disproportionate attacks by the Zionist regime on Palestinian women and children, murdering many innocent people. I was merely trying to evoke the conscience of people and engage with their empathic tendencies. The area I visited was in fact an Orthodox Jewish area, and they have a history of calling out the zionist regimes for its oppression of Palestinians. There is not a single statement or action from me that was anti-Jewish.

Misrepresentations and misquotations

Patrick and Catherine quotemine videos of me in Leicester, removing the obvious context which is easily understood when the entire content of the video is watched. This again exposes their poor journalism and their unjust negative framing of my presence in Leicester. For example they cite:

“So how come in Leicester, the Hindutva are coming out . . . trying to act like gangsters? Don’t ever, I’m saying this directly to all the so-called Hindutva wannabe gangsters, don’t ever come out like that again do you understand?”

“[Hindus] believe in reincarnation, what a humiliation and pathetic thing for them to be reincarnated into. Some pathetic, weak, cowardly people like that. I’d rather be an animal, I’d rather be reincarnated as a grasshopper bruv, that’s the truth.”

The quotations ignore the strong narrative in my video where I tell people to not start aggressions, to obey the law and to use legal reasonable force to defend the community. This was said in front of the police. Even Patrick and Catherine admit that I said: “Do not provoke violence … If you’re going to get excited, go to the gym.”

In fact not once did I refer to any group of people as Hindus; I did not refer to Hindus. In fact, I referred to Hindutva, the fascist group. Patrick and Catherine by putting ‘Hindu’ in brackets have maliciously misrepresented what I actually said. This can be seen as someone making a statement against the Nazis and then going on to be quoted as saying they were referring to Germans. The above statement about reincarnation was not an expression to belittle Hinduism. In fact it was a hyperbolic way to express a negative description of what they – according to their own beliefs – have been reincarnated into: weak, cowardly, fascists.

In the context of fascist aggression, encouraging the Muslim community to be lawful, not to start aggressions and to ensure they defend themselves and vulnerable members of all communities, within the context of what is lawful, is the moral and right thing to do. This is something that the majority of the British public will agree with.

Dispute with father 

Patrick and Catherine continue their lies and poor journalism. They cite an unknown person, proving no evidence whatsoever, that I have fallen out with my father due to extremist politics. This is a lie. I have good relations with my father, to the extent that he attended one of my events earlier this month and we spent time in Egypt together. This character assassination is a poor attempt to frame me as someone who should not be trusted or with someone with fringe views. My political views are based on normative Islamic teachings and ethics. These include, loving for others what I love for myself, not harming nor reciprocating harm, being just, compassionate and tolerant. I have on many occasions spoken against people who wish to divide, stir hatred, cause violence and terror.

Catherine Lough
Catherine Lough


Patrick Sawer
Patrick Sawer