The battle is on for Muslim hearts and minds

…. I had been invited to address a conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies on the question of Muslim integration. I was talking on the subject of free expression.

At one level it was a brave attempt by lay Muslims to get people of different beliefs to debate with Islamic scholars and academics. But, comparing notes with other guest speakers as well as my own experience, I soon realised that the secondary agenda, intended or not, was an attack on the whole idea of deradicalisation. It was apparently just another aspect of western prejudice against Muslims — the true cause of terrorism.

So Professor Christopher Bagley, a Muslim convert, said that calls for integration represented “a strong undercurrent of racism and xenophobia regarding religious minorities”. Dr Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, attacked the moderate Muslim Qulliam Foundation which was being “used as a strategic asset by the British state to undermine political Islam at home and abroad”. [David Aaronovitch, 246 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 129 votes] Most Muslims interviewed or expressing opinions seem to be in denial. In most cases they say of ISIS (or Al Qaeda, or Boko Harem, or …) that they are not Muslims and therefore nothing to do with them. If they were to accept that these are bad Muslims then maybe they would start to take responsibility for fixing what is wrong within their religion.

Of course their response is exactly the same as Sunni Muslims say of Shia Muslims and vice versa. It is also the same as ISIS say about any Muslims who do not accept their interpretation of the Quran. In every case they justify their actions, or inaction, by claiming that other Muslims groups are “not Muslims” and of course identifying themselves as victims.

Until Muslims accept that Islam is a large part of the problem, they will never be part of the solution.

[2ND 101] Oh how I agree with this! Our wonderful liberal and intellectual approach to ideas and thinking is, with great subtlety, being abused. The Quilliam foundation has done an excellent job thus far in trying to deconstruct the process of Radicalisation.

It is trying to come up with constructive ideas, and is it repaid by the public voices in the Uk Muslim Community in a negative way. Maajid Mawaz has “sold out” is the common reaction you will hear in the Uk Muslim public forum. I once asked a friend of mine – a Muslim of Pakistani heritage who has bought up 4 kids here, and is a pretty regular kind of Uk Muslim Guy. A typical Dad trying to do a good job of raising his family. I asked him – why don’t you say something at the mosque?

Express your worries about what is happening – how the more Political and Militant voices are being allowed to take an increasing role in Uk MUslim Identity. His reply utterly surprised me as I have known him for years, and know his unease about all that is going on at the moment.

He looked at me as if I was completely mad – and said he would not expose his Family to the ‘hounding’ in the Community that would come to them if he dared to ‘put his head above the parapet’ and question the path that the teachings of Islam were going down ( ie – a more Salafist orthodoxy).

After that I just knew that Government – or others such as the Quilliam foundation – would have to play a more decisive and leading role into what we allow to be debated or taught in the UK. Because if the moderate (for want of a better word) are too hesitate to step up to the plate in their Communities – there is no hope. Someone else has to do it.

[3RD 81] So, for Muslim women, says Dr Brown, ‘their real problems were “discrimination, poverty and Islamophobia’ (presumably all from non-Muslims )… and these then are worse than the difficulties presented by: segregation from men; not being allowed to work or be fully educated or follow certain careers; forced or arranged marriages and not being allowed to marry for love; FGM, often instigated or encouraged by older Muslim women; unequal treatment when it comes to divorce, custody and property issues; not to mention their enforced dress code, often very inappropriate and/or unhealthy attire for this country – all of course originating from within Islam, not outside it.

‘Their real problems’?

[4TH 79] This stuff sends shivers down my spine. The right-thinking academics are a much worse problem than the Muslims. In the Cold War they were allies with the Soviet Union, now their allies are Islamist extremists: if the aim is not to bring down western, liberal society then I don’t know what it is.

[5TH 77] The SOAS conference that you describe highlights a serious problem. It seems that Islamism enjoys the services of a body of apologists which is much larger than Fascism could ever assemble and possibly even larger than that enjoyed by Communism in its heyday. In one way, then, Islamism may be a bigger problem than earlier totalitarian ideologies. [The Times (£)] Read more

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