söndag 13 september 2009

Struggle for the soul of British Islam hots up

The Times February 15, 2007 Länk:

The “anger” of some Muslim community “representatives” with the Independent Police Complaints Commission — after its “whitewash” of the Met’s conduct during the Forest Gate raid — deserves to be taken with one big pinch of salt. The terms of trade are slowly shifting against their brand of victim culture. And, deep down, they know it.

The late Frank Chapple, the long-time leader of the electricians’ union, was wonderfully dismissive of such noisy groupuscules. “ ’Ere, boy, know what these Trots are like?” he would ask rhetorically of the Militant Tendency. “They’re like the Red Indians surroundin’ the ’omestead in those early cowboy films. The camera flits from one window to the next and it looks like there’s ’undreds of ’em. In fact it’s the same three geezers runnin’ round.”

The same sort of characters also peddled a narrative of a “community under siege” after the recent Birmingham raids. But for all the talk of an imminent explosion, there was no riot in Brum — or Forest Gate.

Birmingham will prove politically more significant in the long term. Since then, more and more British Muslims have piped up effectively to proclaim “not in my name”. They are fed up with the atmosphere of oppression and extremism in their neighbourhoods; as far as they are concerned, the main threat to Muslims are, well, other Muslims. And they believe that their “leaders” have done far too little to fight this.

Mohammed Naseem, the “moderate” chairman of the Birmingham Central mosque, personifies the problem. He attracted much attention recently when he opined that Britain is starting to resemble a Nazi state. Everyone pays court to him as a “community leader”. Yet whom does Dr Naseem actually represent? He ran as the Respect candidate for Birmingham Perry Barr in the 2005 election, against the impeccably nonsectarian Labour incumbent Khalid Mahmood. He won a mere 5.7 per cent of votes — compared with Mr Mahmood’s 47 per cent. Enough said?

In what way is Dr Naseem “moderate”? In comparison to troublemaking local factions such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, he no doubt is. But there is very little in Dr Nazeem’s world view that divides him from the extremists. Like them, he propagates the myth of Muslim victimhood. He toldPanorama after 9/11 that “in our mind, we are not convinced that those people who perpetrated these actions were actually Muslims”. He said similar things about the 7/7 bombers, much as he condemned that atrocity.

Dr Naseem can denounce 7/7 until el Andalus becomes Muslim again, but the fact remains that he caters to the sense of oppression that fuels jihadi violence. David Cameron rightly gave him short shrift when he visited the Birmingham Central mosque a few days after the police raids. The Government is no less contemptuous. Indeed, it was noted at the highest levels that the response of the Muslim Council of Britain to Dr Naseem’s enormities was a deafening silence.

This has reinforced the emerging cross-party realisation that the MCB and other Islamist front groups are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Last week the Department for Communities and Local Government announced £5 million in grants to nonpolitical local groups, thus effectively bypassing the MCB. Significantly, the first batch of the new equality commissioners contains not a single Islamist.

It won’t hurt the Government much. As Munira Mirza’s path-breaking study for Policy Exchange shows, a mere 6 per cent of British Muslims think that the MCB represents them, and 51 per cent feel that no existing Muslim institution does so.

That said, the struggle for the soul of British Islam is far from over. The MCB has lost its favoured-son position, but it is still not finished. Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, took the symbolically important step last year of addressing the launch of the genuinely moderate Sufi Muslim Council. But of itself, that can’t undo the massive asymmetry in funding — often from abroad — in favour of radical Islamist groups.

Add that to the legacy of years of multiculturalist policies, which have entrenched an almost clientelist relationship between the State and some of the most vocal Islamist groups. Some officials, not least at the Department of Communities and Local Government, calculate that it will be back to business as usual once Tony Blair goes.

Down at the grassroots, it’s been a history of one step forward, three quarters of a step back. Pro-MCB individuals still get government money, even as the organisation itself is increasingly shunned. Despite Dr Naseem, the Birmingham Central mosque (which has been advertising martial arts classes and some kind of “weapons training” on its website) is still a recognised official partner of West Midlands Police.

Or take the Finsbury Park mosque. When Abu Hamza, aka the “Hook”, was kicked out, the marginally less sectarian Azzam Tamimi was favoured by the Met to clean the place up. This demagogue is against suicide bombing in the UK, but doesn’t oppose “martyrdom” operations elsewhere in the world. Some gain.

A struggle is also going inside the Conservative Party. By endorsing Dame Pauline Neville-Jones’s authoritative Conservative Party report on national cohesion, Mr Cameron has made clear what he thinks of the Islamist establishment. It does not reflect the first instincts of the MCB-friendly faction led by Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Attorney General, or the party vice-chairman, Sayeeda Warsi.

Mr Cameron has further stated that the bar ought to rise dramatically for the admission of extremists, such as the Egyptian Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, into the country. Qaradawi was invited by Ken Livingstone, with Foreign and Commonwealth Office backing, because he is against al-Qaeda violence. But this bigot backs other forms of jihad elsewhere in the world. Mr Cameron believes that such selective opposition to violence is not enough: you cannot promote national cohesion on a pick-and-mix basis.

Perhaps the boldest aspect of the report is its rejection of “victim culture” — blaming Britain and the West for the ills of the Muslim community. Thus, Dame Pauline states that the “inferior status” of Muslim women is at least as much of a stumbling block to upward mobility as “Islamophobia”. Even after making this contentious claim, the roof hasn’t fallen in on her head.

There is a vast opportunity here for Mr Cameron to speak up on behalf of the more progressive elements in British Islam and to marginalise the loudmouths. If he does so, he will be pushing at an open door. Gordon Brown’s people know it as well. The race is on.

Dean Godson is research director of Policy Exchange


Michael Portillo

Opening quote When Abu Bakr says that Britain has become a police state for Muslims I ask myself what sort of state he would like us to live in Closing quote

Michael Portillo

Inga kommentarer: