Clifford Chance trainee pulls Charlie Hebdo rant from YouTube

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By Jonathan Ames on

Exclusive: Magic circle firm distances itself from rookie’s online diatribe — not difficult to imagine the reaction of senior partners


A trainee at magic circle law firm Clifford Chance has pulled a YouTube video in which he called on British Muslims to adopt a more robust stance against western concepts of freedom of speech. An Instagram clip from the video can be viewed below.

In a move directly linked to the fall-out from last week’s terror attacks in Paris, the trainee — whom Legal Cheek has agreed not to name — tells Muslims that Islam is “superior” to Western ideologies, while at the same time berating moderates for allowing their minds to become “colonised”.

The video — posted on YouTube on 11 January where it received more than 700 views — puts one of the world’s biggest global law firms in a highly embarrassing position.

The trainee’s 21-minute online rant — delivered mostly in English, but interspersed with Arabic — has already caused concern among lawyers at the firm. Legal Cheek understands that colleagues have been particularly upset by repeated references to “kuffar”, the plural of the slang Arabic word for non-Muslims.

The word is seen as highly derogatory and inflammatory, with some definitions equating it to infidel. Nevertheless the trainee does not seek to provoke violence in any way or break the law.

The trainee’s LinkedIn page says he gained a first-class honours degree in law from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).


He started a Clifford Chance training contract six months ago. Prior to that, he did vacation scheme stints at several other high-profile law firms in the City of London.

The trainee is part of an organsiation called Call of Dawah. Strictly translated from Arabic, dawah means an invitation; but it is commonly used to refer to preaching or proselytising of Islam.

In the video, the trainee repeatedly refers to viewers as “brothers and sisters” and says he is specifically addressing “the events in Paris that have taken place over the last few days”.

He goes on to lambast moderate British Muslims for being too apologetic for the Paris attacks:

“Brothers and sisters, we would not be here had it not been for the fact that the kuffar had gone to our lands and killed our people and raped and pillaged our resources,” he says, adding:

“This, brothers and sisters, is what we need to understand. We need to move away from this apologetic tone and to have confidence in Islam because we are enslaved otherwise.”

The trainee maintains that moderate Muslims are betraying true Islam by adopting western concepts around freedom of speech. He continues:

“… the ideal of freedom of speech doesn’t exist in reality. But there seems to be an absolute freedom to insult Muslims. However, you can’t walk around Germany denying the holocaust.

“The people being held out as Islamic personalities with an Islamic response are not giving a correct Islamic response. You [Muslims] have to accept their [westerners’] freedom to insult you. That is what freedom of speech means [in the west]. I guess Muslims just have to grow up, is the concept they want to put across.”

The trainee illustrates what he suggests are hypocrisies in western freedom of speech precepts, pointing to what he maintains were UK government moves to quash newspaper publication of photographs of Kate Middleton in a bikini.

He also contrasts his view that moderate Muslims have been too quick to apologise for the Paris terror attacks with a failure of Western politicians to apologise for the US government holding Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and the UK government’s Prevent Programme.

That initiative is part of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy, specifically designed to provide practical help to prevent people from being drawn into extremism.

This afternoon the video was made private, meaning that members of the public no longer have access, although before this happened we made a short Instagram video clip from it which we have anonymised (see below).

A Clifford Chance spokeswoman told Legal Cheek:

“The views expressed in this video are personal and not those of Clifford Chance. The firm is committed to establishing an inclusive culture where people with diverse backgrounds and views work effectively together and feel confident to develop their potential.

“We ask our people to at all times consider how their personal conduct and actions may affect those around them, their professional reputation and that of the firm.”

A taste of the Clifford Chance trainee’s rant

A video posted by Legal Cheek (@legalcheek) on

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