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To what extent does Anjem Choudary represent the Muslim population?
There is only one thing worse than being talked about. Especially when you are the leader of a provincial Islamist group that has global pretentions. So it wasn't surprising when the publicity hungry Anjem Choudary announced his plan to parade 500 empty coffins through Wootton Basset to symbolise the thousands of Muslims killed 'by the oppressive US and UK regimes' in the war in Afghanistan. The date has been cleverly left unspecified. His deft media touch suggests he has planned his communication strategy in far more detail than his blueprint for installing the Caliphate (date also unspecified).
The most interesting and awkward question is how far Choudary represents other Muslims in the UK. Quite rightly, the overwhelming response from the majority of the UK's Muslims has been to denounce his act of provocation and stress that Choudary, and his group Islam4UK, "do not represent the Muslim community". However, this misses the point. Who represents whom within Muslim communities, indeed any community, is contested ground. There has been a splintering of representation within all Muslim communities across Europe in the last decade, especially among young people.
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