He Says the Holocaust Is a Myth, Talks Wildly of an Evil Global 'Jewish Conspiracy' and Supports the Bombing of Downing Street. How Did James Dickie from Greenock Become Muslim Firebrand Dr Yaqub Zaki? SATURDAY INVESTIGATION

Daily Mail (London), August 27, 2005 | Go to article overview

He Says the Holocaust Is a Myth, Talks Wildly of an Evil Global 'Jewish Conspiracy' and Supports the Bombing of Downing Street. How Did James Dickie from Greenock Become Muslim Firebrand Dr Yaqub Zaki? SATURDAY INVESTIGATION


Byline: GRAHAM GRANT

HIS words were filled with hate and delivered with a terrible intensity.

Senior Muslim Yaqub Zaki calmly voiced his support for a terrorist attack on Downing Street - saying his only regret would be the damage done to the ' beautiful Georgian property' that i s the Prime Minister's home.

In a disturbing interview outlined in the Scottish Daily Mail earlier this week, the deputy leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain added: ' I wouldn't like to see it destroyed but, as for its inmates, well, I don't care much what happens to them.' These were enormously inflammatory remarks from a man who clearly believes Muslim culture is at war with the Western world.

Yet, despite his radical views and enthusiastic support for the idea of assassinating Tony Blair and his colleagues, Zaki is not a controversial preacher based in a London mosque who has come to Britain from abroad, keen to spread violence and hate.

The 60-year- old author and historian was born and bred in Scotland - and spouts his extraordinary brand of anti-Western rhetoric from the unlikely setting of a tenement flat in his home town of Greenock in Renfrewshire.

Yaqub Zaki is the adopted Muslim name of James Dickie, who converted to the religion at the age of just 14.

In Greenock, he is still known as plain 'Jim' by many of his neighbours; an earnest, bookish man nearing pensionable age who spends much of his time behind closed doors, studying Islamic history and writing articles and books, or travelling to meet other senior Muslims elsewhere in the country.

Zaki also claimed in a newspaper interview earlier this week that the London bombings might have been engineered by M15 to 'create a case for war against the Muslims', causing outrage among other community leaders.

But this week, when confronted by the Mail, Zaki was utterly unrepentant about his views.

'That's the great thing about this country,' he said. 'You can say what you like.'

YET Zaki has shown that he is no friend of the democracy that allows him to issue his venomous, hateful words without fear of rebuke from the authorities. So who is he; and how did his transformation from Greenock schoolboy to Islamic fundamentalist come about?

It is difficult to imagine the young James Dickie discussing his religious conversion with his parents in 1950s Greenock, a shipbuilding town deeply rooted in the working-class conformity of the West of Scotland.

His father Arthur, a marine engineer, and his mother Margaret, a secretary, were horrified by him becoming a Muslim.

Until then, he had dutifully attended a Presbyterian church in the town.

Zaki said: 'I didn't tell them I had changed my religion, they just found out - and they weren't happy, because they couldn't understand it.

'We didn't have a warm relationship - at the time, my dog was the only creature with which I had a good relationship.

'Although my father sailed three times round the world, it didn't seem to broaden his intellectual horizons very much.' In Zaki's case, it seems to have been an unusually intense thirst for knowledge about other cultures - at an age when his friends were more interested in comics, movies and the opposite sex - that inspired him to turn to Islam.

Looking at his school friends as he became deeply immersed in Muslim teachings, he may well have been as disgusted at their decadent lifestyle as he was with his father's supposed narrow-mindedness.

Later, fellow Muslims were surprised to see this studious white teenager following their religion with such zeal.

Bashir Maan, Britain's first Muslim councillor, met Zaki at a function in the students' union at Glasgow University. He said: 'It was very surprising to see someone of that young age who had already converted to Islam, and it seemed that nobody had influenced or persuaded him - he had done a lot of reading on his own. …

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