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Are British Muslims Inarticulate?

by Shamsur Rehman Khattak

posted in News and Society

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British Muslims through the lens of Majid Nawaaz of the Quilliam Foundation are supposedly inarticulate who depend on leftist ideological dogma to perpetuate a state of incompatible culture and "ghettoization" propounding the assimilationist policies. However, the UK is a universalist society based on British values that were most notably championed by Amnesty International in securing his release from an Egypt prison when he was incarcerated for terrorist related activities. Perhaps the hypocrisy is that Nawaaz is embracing totalitarism under the pretext of his version of reformism.
The fallacy of the argument that British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs are somehow regressive leftist sedatives perpetuating a state of victimhood to score petty ideological points against "the West" is based on weak presumptions and limited understanding of British Muslims or values. In fact, British values have been around since the Magna Carta in one form or another and Convention Rights have been around since the last great war to protect against state oppression or persecution. It is also worthy of note that the true interpretation of Islam is totally compatible with the Magna Carta and Convention Rights.
However, the idea propounded by Nawaaz (a self proclaimed intonation of a libertarian Muslim) that there is some conspiracy to impose a version of Islam on the indigenous population of UK is barren rhetoric designed to feed the rapacious appetite of the far right movements like UKIP and EDL in Britain. Nawaaz presupposes that there is homogeneity and it somehow displaces loyalties because of political or religious conflicts in lands far away. But this simplistic view painfully ignores the socio-economic disquiet in British politics. It ignores the disempowerment of youth and women as a consequence of patronage politics amongst British Muslims. It disregards the sensationalist media portraying this community as a suspect community.
Whilst we acknowledge there is a small misguided minority in Britain that do hold religious ultra-literalist views of "them against us" or "Islam is under attack from the west", these people must be won over by reigning them in from the wilderness and winning their heart and minds through political engagement. The alternative is alienation and irresponsible derision designed to feed Nawaaz's or the political far rights insatiable covet for attention. It is asinine to fabricate a nexus between events abroad and criminality of a minority on our shores along religious apparition to provide a platform for Nawaaz's or the far rights benighted views of this community.
The jittery inflections that he posits in support of his assertion that 1000 British Muslims have joined ISIS is more to do with dog-whistling to the far right agenda rather than acknowledging the criminality of ultra-literalist religious grooming by unscrupulous internet predators that is the ISIS cyber-machinery. However, Nawaaz is reminded of our pride and confidence in our judicial system to stand the tests of time whether its wars or ideologies to deal with the challenges facing our great nation. Nawaaz may remain fixated with the notion that British Muslims live in a vacuum of impregnable religiosity but in reality it is he who lives in a vacuum of impregnable ignorance and ought to stick his nose out into the real world of British Muslims once in a while and smell the coffee.
I am a Liberal Democrat and British Muslim. I for one do not subscribe to his proposed derogation from human rights and British values in the name of religious reformism or further alienation of British Muslims who have contributed to the British way of life in more ways than he cares to grapple. Perhaps the real hypocrisy is Nawaaz advocating totalitarism under the pretext of reformism in respect of British Muslims.
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