The 'Muslim Patrols' and the 'Jewish Patrols'
Reports of Hasidic patrols in New York highlights the fact that extremists across the board should be rejected by each religion's core constituents
It's only natural, since we broke the story of the Muslim Patrols, that every Tom, Dick and Shariatmadari has had their say about the incident and what it means for Britain and its Muslim communities,
Writing in The Guardian today, David Shariatmadari essentially argues that homophobia and intolerance are not exclusive to Islam. He's right. They're not. He mentions that other the other Abramahic religions have a problem with homosexuality too. Which they do. And also, with what they class as 'immodesty'.
The Muslim Patrols video, much like the Mohammed cartoon aftermath, showed how extremists prevail against the Muslim communities they seek to represent (and let me be clear... do not).
In New York, there have been reports of what I guess you might call 'Hasidic Patrols', or rather, incidents where shop owners are receiving threats and phone calls asking them to remove underwear-clad mannequins from the windows of religious neighbourhoods. This is of course ridiculous, and the incident wherein a woman's bedroom was broken into and her mobile phone stolen was both truly disturbing and obviously criminal.
These patrols are likely as intimidating for young Jewish women in New York as the Muslim Patrols are for young women in East London. One Rabbi said, "They walk into a store and say it would be a shame if your window was broken or you lost your clientele."
The responses from British Muslim communities and New York Jewish communities has however been encouraging, with the East London Mosque denouncing the Muslim Patrols, and Assemblyman Dov Hikind of NY stating of the self-styled 'modesty committees', “If you want to advocate modesty, do your thing, but when you stuff it down my throat physically, that undermines us and hurts us."
Self-appointed zealotry is incredibly damaging for religions, which I think should, by-and-large butt out of people's lives unless they are invited in. A recent study, 'Faith in the Public Sphere' showed how in Britain, the most prevalent actors from the Muslim community are not Imams or community appointed individuals, but rather, actors who claim to represent Islam, but in reality, represent only their selfish interests.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Brotherhood's vehicle in the UK, outperformed even the Archbishop of Canterbury when it came to representing their respective religions in the media over the last decade.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, and I'll probably keep having to say it as long as I live: religions and their followers have a duty to restrain, resist and reject the extremists in their ranks.
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