At Large

Voices of Muslim Moderation

It's not so much the existence of the U.S. and U.K. that annoys them as the very fact that those two countries have governments that any pursue policies at all.

By 8.23.06

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Ali Miraj is a young British Muslim who may go places in the British Conservative Party. He has been twice endorsed by the Conservatives to contest Parliamentary elections and is a board member of the Conservative Party Policy Review on International and National Security. He has written an article in the conservative Daily Telegraph in the immediate aftermath of the airliner bombing plot, headlined: "Muslim anger must be recognized." He says a recent poll indicates more than 100,000 of 1.6 million Muslims in Britain see nothing wrong with terrorism against Britain such as the 7/7 train bombings (some others put the number higher).

He continues that in many mosques up and down the country,

We are constantly reminded that there is a perpetual battle between the righteous (Muslims) and the "kuffar" (non-believers). You will find no "love thy neighbor" sermons of the kind I heard as a child at an Anglican primary school.

In addition to this, anti-Jewish sentiment appears to be hard-wired into a number of Muslims I meet. At the last general election, I remember being told by some of Watford's taxi drivers, slurping the froth from their pints of lager, that they could not vote for me as the leader of my party, Michael Howard, was a Jew.


He then got down to what might be seen as the nitty-gritty:
But it is the foreign policy pursued by the US and Britain, not deprivation or a clash of values, in my view, that is the principal catalyst of radicalization. A leaked Home Office report on relations with the Muslim community from 2004 itself recognized the 'perception of double standards in British foreign policy.'

Tony Blair argues that Muslims have a "false sense of grievance" towards the West. He is wrong. The overwhelming majority of Muslims find themselves on a continuum ranging from "deeply upset" to "extremely angry."

The sense of frustration at the injustice faced by Muslims across the world as a consequence of the foreign policies of the West (principally the US) is palpable. Mr. Blair's refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire in response to the current war in Lebanon only reinforces the view held by more than half of British Muslims that the war on terror is a war on Islam ...


So, surprise! Surprise! Islamic terrorism is the West's fault. In Britain it is also, it seems, Tony Blair's fault for being insufficiently opposed to Israel. Mr. Miraj continues: "There is no doubt that all British Muslims, not just their self-proclaimed leaders, must to do more to combat intolerance in their midst. That task is made more difficult when, despite all the mass protests against the war in Iraq, the Government is seen not to have listened."

While he acknowledges that Blair did call for the intervention in Kosovo to save Muslim lives, this evidently does not win him or his Government much gratitude: "The Government must recognize the anger that its foreign policies arouse. There is much talk of strengthening the [Muslim] moderates and rooting out extremists, but policy-makers should be aware of how rapidly the moderates are becoming frustrated. The disturbing reality is that as their frustration grows, so will the fringe prepared to resort to violence."

Shortly after this, James Chapman reported in the Daily Mail on the outcome of talks between about 30 prominent moderate Muslim leaders and British "Communities Secretary" Ruth Kelly aimed at defusing extremism and encouraging Muslim moderation. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott also attended. Some of the Muslim leaders at this meeting of minds, for their part, made a series of demands including official Muslim religious holidays in Britain and Sharia law.

Chapman reported: "Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organizations of the UK and Ireland, said: 'We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.'"

This of course implies that Moslems are not being given religious rights at present, though how this fits in with "Mosques up and down the country" (there are now several thousand) I am not sure. I have written elsewhere of such bizarre recent cases as an English lady being forced by police to remove a collection of toy china pigs from her front window in case passing Muslims saw them and were offended, and prison officers being prohibited from wearing Cross of St. George badges because of alleged Crusader associations -- I have a thick file of things like this. Chapman continued:

Dr. Pasha said Miss Kelly had agreed to look at the proposals, though her spokesman insisted later that she did not favor any legal change which would give 'special treatment' for the Muslim community.

Some of the moderate Muslim leaders told Miss Kelly that important days in Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha should be made public holidays for Muslims. Some (not all) the Muslim leaders attending also said Sharia law should also be introduced in Britain. While this specifies stonings and amputations as criminal punishments, Dr Pasha said moderately that he wanted it only for family, not criminal, law.

"We are willing to co-operate but there should be a partnership," Dr Pasha was quoted as saying. "They should understand our problems then (sic) we will understand their problems."

There was apparently no suggestion that countries like Saudi Arabia should in return publicly recognize and celebrate Christian festivals and holidays, or that Westerners or Christians in Islamic countries should be given their own courts too.

A statement by three Muslim MPs, three peers, and 38 community groups said the alleged "debacle" of Iraq, combined with the recent failure to do more to bring about an immediate end to the Middle East conflict -- presumably a reference to the Israel-Hezbollah fighting -- had encouraged Muslim extremists in Britain.

In another development, Britain's most senior Muslim police officer, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, has blamed racial profiling at airports for adding to tensions and Muslim resentment -- this at a time when, according to the Telegraph, British police are involved in more than 70 anti-terrorist investigations involving more than 100 suspected Islamic extremists.

Let us step back and consider briefly what Britain has apparently done in the way of foreign policy to earn the homicidal, suicidal hatred of so many Moslems who have been born in Britain and lived their lives with the protection, benefits, and opportunities it has provided.

Well, Britain has supported the U.S. in Iraq in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, a ruthless, aggressive dictator who threatened to destabilize the whole region. Since then it has, like the U.S., spent lives and treasure keeping the peace and preventing or attempting to prevent massacres and genocide between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and in trying to build a more normal civil society. Many Iraqis have expressed very emphatic thanks.

It has likewise supported the U.S. in Afghanistan in overthrowing the Taliban, a medievalist regime, utterly intolerant of the rights of women, minorities and other religions, which sheltered the most dangerous terrorist movement on Earth, and again it has supported the U.S. in trying to build a more normal civil society there.

In regard to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah the case against Tony Blair is apparently along the lines that he has not denounced or denied Israel's right to defend itself against enemies bent on its annihilation (though many of his party and government have).

Supporting the U.S. is, apart from other considerations, a legitimate and indeed vital British diplomatic objective in itself. Looked at in even the most cynical light, Britain's support for the U.S. can be seen as an insurance payment for its own security (Britain won the Falklands War only because of U.S. help, which was given even though the U.S. paid a heavy diplomatic price in alienating Argentina and other Latin American countries). Britain is also acting in no more than its legitimate national interest if it is trying to safeguard oil supplies.

Whether or not any of these actions and objectives are mistaken or impractical or badly carried out (I have been very critical of many aspects of the Blair Government's policies) is here beside the point: they are decisions made by Britain as an independent and democratic sovereign state. In any event, Islamic terrorism against the West and the Anglosphere was well under way before these particular foreign-policy initiatives were embarked on. The U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, for example, did not provoke 9/11 but resulted from it. Muslim terrorist leaders at other times and places have frequently made pronouncements along the lines that the West will be destroyed not for anything in particular that it does but for what it is.

Nor is the point whether these spokesmen for moderate Islam are acting as advocates of Western capitulation or are truly and objectively setting out the facts as they see them. I have no doubt many Muslim leaders are genuinely horrified by what is happening, want to find ways to stop it, and are giving the best advice they know.

No, the real point is that they -- or at least many of them -- claim or imply that the only way to stop Islamic terrorism in Britain is for Britain to very largely surrender, to abandon its friends and allies and those who share its values and share a willingness to defend them, and to move a long way towards becoming a quasi-Islamic State, allowing its policies to be determined by threat.

One might think of the lines of 'Allo! 'Allo! regarding the cafe owner in occupied France and the German garrison commander: "We have a good working relationship." "Yes, you do what he says and in return he doesn't shoot you."

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About the Author
Hal G.P. Colebatch's "Immram," Counterstrike, is being published by Australian publisher Imaginites.