Why is Patrick Sookhdeo still advising the British army?

4:07 pm - July 18th 2012

by Ben White    

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I can reveal that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was, until recently, getting advice on its “religious engagement strategy” in Afghanistan from a man who believes Islam might “be the rod of God’s anger”.

Patrick Sookhdeo, a Visiting Professor at the UK’s Defence Academy and former advisor to the Permanent Joint Headquarters, is still serving as a “cultural adviser” to the MOD.

He is also a regular speaker at churches and Christian organisations internationally.

He was involved in pre-deployment training for commanders, and praised for his “stunning in-depth analysis” by Major General (ret) Tim Cross, General Officer Commanding Theatre Troops in Iraq 2004-’07.

But Patrick Sookhdeo told a Christian magazine in 2009 that “everything about the West is inimical to Islam”.

He developed close ties with the British military at the same time as his reputation grew in the so-called ‘Counter-jihad’ movement.

In 2007, Sookhdeo was a speaker at a significant conference in Brussels, where other speakers included Robert Spencer, co-founder of ‘Stop the Islamization of America’.

He contributed a chapter to a book edited by the notorious anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, called ‘The Myth of Islamic Tolerance’.

The nature of Sookhdeo’s views and his relationship with the British military raises troubling questions.

Has the MOD been aware all along of Sookhdeo’s teachings on Islam in Christian contexts? Would the UK military employ individuals who said equivalent things about other religious groups?

And what does it say about our armed forces’ approach in Iraq and Afghanistan when such an individual is providing ‘cultural’ advice?

The full story by Ben White is on Electronic Intifada.

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About the author
This is a guest article. Ben White is a freelance journalist who has written for Guardian's CIF, Electronic Intifada and others. His book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' (Pluto Press), was published in 2009.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Race relations ,Religion

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Reader comments

How old is this article??

You write: “still serving as a “cultural adviser” to troops in Afghanistan and southern Iraq.”

For your update: British troops left Iraq on 30 April 2009. That was more than 3 years ago.

Why don’t you write an article about “Operation Overlord” next?

2. Charlieman

@OP, Ben White: What qualifications are required for an adviser to the MoD on religion in countries where Islam is the predominant religion? Would you not expect that advisers are employed because they have different things to say? I’d be very worried if all advisers said the same thing. Perhaps the MoD employed Sookhdeo because he was certain to say challenging things.

3. Just Visiting


I see the article URL reveals your bias:
> /why-is-this-bigot-advising-the-british-army/

And again your bias when you say:
> He contributed a chapter to a book edited by the notorious anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer….

You may not agree with all that Spencer says, I may not agree with it all – but one thing he really works hard to make clear is that he is not putting Muslims under the microscope – but Islam.

So it’s highly misleading of you to represent Spencer, and Sookhdeo as you have.

I wonder – have you got to hand a critique of the chapter Sookhedeo contrinuted to “a book edited by the notorious anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, called ‘The Myth of Islamic Tolerance’”

If you’ve read it, then post your critique here for us now today !

The nature of ’s

4. whitevanmanlondon

I think Sookhedeo is a welcome change to the Islamists who have received hundreds of thousands of pounds of money through the “Prevent” strategy and have then been exposed as being members of Hizb Ut Tahire or the IFE and in the case of Azad Ali urging Muslims to kill British servicemen and women.

The ever reliable Richard Bartholomew provides a much more measured take on this particular story here:


6. Just Visiting

Looks like Sookhedeo’s organisation (Barnabas Fund) was investigated by the Charity Commission after a complaint about a leaflet of theirs.

But the CC investigated and gave Sookhedeo the all clear.

“The charity, in its campaigning around “Operation Nehemiah” appears to be acting within its objects, as the campaign can be seen as promoting “the advancement of the Christian faith”. A charity can become involved in a campaign which furthers or supports its charitable purposes…

… its statement of intent, (is) not to promote anti-Muslim fear or hatred, but to address seriously the challenge of Islam to society. ..

…the campaign does not appear to be inciting racial hatred and the charity believes that it has public benefit in that it “is committed to maintaining Christian values of freedom of conscience, speech and religion for the next generation in church and society”.


Just Visiting: “You may not agree with all that Spencer says, I may not agree with it all – but one thing he really works hard to make clear is that he is not putting Muslims under the microscope – but Islam.”

Oh, come on. You and I both know that Robert Spencer – even if you happen to agree with him – is one of the world’s best known anti-Muslim agitators. Has he actually ever written about anything other than the negative aspects of Muslims’ behaviour?

His writings are quite clearly geared toward building a justification for banning the practice of Islam entirely in the United States and Europe and preferably declaring war on the entire Islamic world. His token disclaimers about criticising Muslims’ religion rather than them personally are laughable.

8. the a&e charge nurse

[7] Leaving aside the fact the west has no right to be in afghanistan it is still unedifying when proponents of children’s stories squabble amongst themselves about whether or not puff the magic dragon is preferable to Huehuecoyotl.

Mind you we don’t need interfering christians like Patrick Sookhdeo to remind us what an utter abomination the effects of islam have been in some parts of the world.

Now some might argue that fundamentalists like the taliban have failed to understand what islam is really about, while others claim only the most skillful cherry picking allows the koran (or the bible for that matter) to have any meaning once we developed a science of the universe.

Perhaps you need to revisit Freud’s, ‘The future of an illusion’?
Beardy claimed religious concepts are transmitted in three ways and thereby claim our belief. “Firstly because our primal ancestors already believed them; secondly, because we possess proofs which have been handed down to us from antiquity, and thirdly because it is forbidden to raise the question of their authenticity at all.”

9. Christian Muslim Council


We write as the Muslim Chair and Muslim Council members of the Christian Muslim Council (also known as “La Ikraha” – “No Compulsion”), a charity working to promote joint Muslim and Christian co-operation to defend religious freedom and challenge the heinous persecution of Christian, Muslim and other faith minorities in different parts of the world.

In this regard, we view with deep concern the adverse references to our respected colleague, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo in the article, “Why has Patrick Sookhdeo (of all people) been advising Britain’s armed forces?”. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, is International Director of the Barnabas Fund, a Christian charity committed to promoting the cause of persecuted Muslims and Christians everywhere in the world, deriving its mandate from the biblical principle that all Christians are brothers and sisters, that there is no Jew or Greek, no black or white, no rich or poor, but all are one in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-31). Dr Sookhdeo has placed himself in positions of considerable personal risk to protect Muslim friends who are often dissident voices speaking out against Islamist extremism and violence.

As Muslim scholars, we applaud the initiative which Dr Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund have built with us to bring three international Christian Muslim Councils of senior Christian and Muslim clergy and academics together in Cairo in March of this year, and forthcoming in Hamburg and Washington, DC this May, to challenge religious violence and defend the religious freedom rights of persecuted minority communities.

Dr Sookhdeo is quite right to raise a critical voice in relation to the brutality of Islamist extremists in the Muslim world in their murder and oppression of persecuted Christians. Just as strongly, we applaud Dr Sookdheo’s clear critique of the racism and chauvinism of the wealthy Western church – in particular some in the “Interfaith Industry” of Lambeth Palace and the Church of England hierarchy – whose neglect of non-white and non-wealthy persecuted Christian minorities, and obstruction of Dr Sookhdeo’s efforts to challenge this institutional racism shows an astonishing abandonment of Christian brotherhood for political self-interest.

Similarly, Dr Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund remain assured in upholding the historic Christian faith of which Christians are not ashamed (Romans 1:16), and know that the greatest respect is shown to our fellow human being when Christians, Muslims and others speak truthfully to them, never dishonouring such conversation with white lies – and in conversation, there is an expectation by Muslims that Christians will be honest to orthodox historic Christian beliefs and clear in their commitment to Scripture.

It is out of these principles of Christian integrity that Dr Sookheo and his colleagues have been able to foster deep and truthful friendships with Muslim friends and colleagues around the world – many of whom have taken great personal risk to speak up against violent extremism, terrorism and persecution by some Muslims against other Muslim sects, as well as against Christians. The Barnabas Fund and Dr Sookhdeo personally, at significant cost and risk to themselves have safeguarded and protected Muslim friends as assuredly as they have sought to defend persecuted Christians.

These principles of truth-speaking however have been severely damaged by the behaviour of some parts of the Western Church for whom truth has become relative, the authority of Scripture diluted, and the character of the Christianity that of a racially white, European liberalism. The nature of conversation by this Eurocentric, liberal Christianity with Muslims and other faiths is shaped by an “Interfaith Industry” which has a deeply politically correct and colonialist character.

There is increasing disillusionment across the Muslim community that the liberal Christian-led “Interfaith Industry” has a colonialist agenda to secularise and dilute deep faith in God, and that it is the mere politically-correct exercise of saying things that one doesn’t mean, and not meaning what one says.

In the wake therefore of various, previous failed high level initiatives around Christian persecution in Muslim-majority countries, Dr Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund have successfully been able to build a unique partnership with leading Islamic scholars who will address intensively in partnership with Christian clergy, questions around Islamic apostasy laws and religious violence. These we together have configured as a series of three international conferences beginning in Cairo and concluding in Washington, DC. At these conferences will be released the result of many months of research and frank dialogue, in two statements, one Muslim and one Christian, in which Islamic scholars will assert the end to all violence or persecution of any person who leaves one religion for another religion.

As Muslim and Christian colleagues together, we are proud to work in close partnership with Dr Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund in standing up to murder and ethnic cleansing of Christians by Islamist extremists, standing up also against the institutional racism of the liberal Western Church in its neglect of persecuted Christians and abandonment of that brotherhood in Christ which is supposed to be central to the Christian Gospel.

The Barnabas Fund is a prophetic voice for justice and challenge against both Islamist oppression and the Western church’s endemic racism, and it is on these moral grounds that it has our full support as Muslims who strive together with our Christian friends to defend those helpless minorities who have been abandoned by the religious and political establishment.

Yours sincerely

Yours sincerely

Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy, Chair

Sheikh Professor Abdallah Mohamed

Sheikh Dr Shukri Abdelmageed Daba

Sheikh Dr Gamalaldin Ahmed

CHRISTIAN MUSLIM COUNCIL (“La Ikraha” – “No Compulsion”)

For press queries, please contact: +44 7017 021530


Ben White is such a fool. Can’t believe the man has the stones to dare accuse other people of ‘cosying up to extremists’. Beyond parody that.

“I can reveal that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was, until recently, getting advice on its “religious engagement strategy” in Afghanistan from a man who believes Islam might “be the rod of God’s anger”.

Makes sense.

It’s a much more comforting excuse than the boring old truth that we lost coz we’re rubbish.

12. Benito Trenchard

It is unfortunate that Mr White feels it appropriate to air his personal opinion of another individual through a public format which ought to be used to properly investigate and educate individuals on the pressing gloabl issues such as the fate of Syrian citizens in the unfolding events there.

I fear the internet now provides us with a mechanism to say things which we would rarely have the courage to say directly to someone. Far from promoting transparency – the web has quickly become a mechanism for to attack and vilify individuals.

By all means engage in constructive debate Mr White but please stop publishing articles which amount to nothing more than an attempt to display your personal view of someone. we the readers of electronic intifada expect more.

13. Catherine Schuler

I read Sookhdeo’s response to find out more (www.patricksookhdeo.com) and what I can see is a legitimate concern about Islamism, which is something we should all be concerned about–Christians, liberals, Muslims…Islamism will only lead to more violence and death.

I have read the majority of Dr. Sookhdeo’s books and heard him address audiences in many places around the world. To suggest that the British military may have been adversely influenced by Sookhdeo is ridiculous. His scholarly work ‘Global Jihad’ is an incredible resource both to policy makers, civic and church leaders and other individuals who are concerned about an understanding of Islam from a foundation of integrity and honesty.

15. Standards - don't lose them!


Patrick Sookhdeo, a convert from Islam, has been a vocal supporter of those muslims who have left Islam and converted to Christianity and as a result face violent persecution and death.

Apostasy is a capital crime in ALL schools of Islamic thought – Hanifi, Maliki, Deobandi etc.

Perhaps Ben White should get himself some standards !

To ensure access to all the information please visit http://patricksookhdeo.com/

Here Dr Sookhdeo’s response to Ben Whites questions can be read in full and one can understand that White’s article is driven by an agenda of villification as opposed to critical engagement with issues that matter.

17. Ian Jenkins
18. Just visiting

Ben, Sunny – I think an apology is needed.

19. the a&e charge nurse

[17] indeed, very interesting, but despite being a learned man remains doomed to fail in achieving any sort of meaningful, or long lasting religious reconciliation.

In my view the most important cultural debate is how to move away from ideas and concepts that while important in shaping current thinking have no place in a rational world (since they all amount to little more than elaborate children’s stories if we approach them from atheist’s perspective).

I’m not sure what Ben Whites position is – is he an apologist for these wretched religions?

20. Just Visiting

Ben / Sunny

I asked earlier if you planned to apologise over this thread?

I’m no lawyer – but I wonder if you guys don’t think it is libellous?

And even if not, it is such an intentionally misleading article, it paints LC in a bad light.

After all, Sunny look at how often on LC you have posted in criticism of the Daily Mail’s inaccuracies and biases – unless you believe in ‘one rule for them one rule for me’ then you can’t leave this post as it is can you ?

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why is this bigot advising the British army? http://t.co/wYHxTNPO

  2. Thomas Milman

    Why is this bigot advising the British army? http://t.co/wYHxTNPO

  3. Daibhid Ceannaideach

    Why is this bigot advising the British army? http://t.co/wYHxTNPO

  4. Jason Brickley

    Why did Patrick Sookhdeo advise the British army? http://t.co/pqAPG58R

  5. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Why did Patrick Sookhdeo advise the British army? http://t.co/2YFOCNEs

  6. BevR

    Why is Patrick Sookhdeo still advising the British army? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/S8gFN5sr via @libcon

  7. Foxy52

    Why is Patrick Sookhdeo still advising the British army? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/S8gFN5sr via @libcon

  8. Patrick Sookhdeo – Barnabas Fund – Initial response to Ben White | eChurch Blog

    […] article was duly uncritically reproduced across the Interweb, culminating in calls on Twitter for folk to complain to their […]

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