So, where are all these British Muslim moderates?
The Prime Minister was right to highlight the wider narrative that leads to Islamist violence. Trouble is, in British Muslim society “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” are part of the mainstream, and no-one has the courage to say it
So, it’s congratulations to Bethnal Green schoolgirl Amira Abase and her Australian “ginger jihadi” sweetheart Abdullah Elmir on the occasion of their wedding.
After all the anguish over Amira and her pals fleeing Blighty during school half-term to join ISIS, finally we have the happy ending we’ve waited for. Romance isn’t dead, although the groom hopefully soon will be.
MPs pretend they don’t know what motivates people to swap suburbia for Syria to become psycho killers or the rape slaves of psycho killers. They walk on eggshells for fear of causing offence.
Well, this week, the prime minister finally did what no other politician has the guts to do. Instead of being politically correct he was just, simply, correct.
Unveiling the Government’s new counter extremism strategy, David Cameron declared war on Muslim, “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” and, “overpower mainstream voices”.
Welcome words indeed. The trouble is, the very reason MPs are scared to speak out is that in British Muslim society “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” are part of the mainstream.
Forget mad mullahs like Anjem Choudary. Their upside-down opinions are outside Muslim society and, indeed, sanity.
Rather, consider a piece of work like Ajmal Masroor, a popular publicity-grabbing imam who regularly crawls out of his moral cesspit to appear on cosy BBC sofas posing as the voice of progressive Islam.
Last August, London’s Palmers Green mosque, a “moderate” institution whose congregants do interfaith work with the local Jewish community, rolled out the red carpet to Masroor, who spent 30 minutes educating his hushed audience about “abusers” in the UK “Jewish lobby”, the “Jewish supremacist ideology” that “holds our government hostage” and how Obama has been “bought” by “Zionists”.
His filthy tirade, which can be heard here (it starts in Arabic but moves to English after a few seconds) ends with an impassioned plea to “Keep struggling” or you “won’t enter paradise”. Masroor’s hands are not bloodstained, but his mouth surely is.
Now consider the public statements of mainstream community organisations that have ill-served British Muslims for decades.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) infamous official response to the 7 July 2005 London bombings still chills the bones 10 years on:
“We do naturally feel deeply for the sufferings... yet we also remind ourselves of the verse of the Qur’an, “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity… We call on the international community to work towards just and lasting peace settlements… and help eliminate the grievances that seem to nurture a spiral of violence.”
In other words, the 52 victims probably had it coming.
It should be stressed that that was a decade ago and the MCB has come a long way since such comments and its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Today’s soundtrack can be just as sinister. On Monday, in response to Cameron’s constructive call for a united front, Asghar Bukhari, the paranoid founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee who last month accused Zionists of “creeping into my home and stealing my shoe”, said:
“The vast majority of Muslim communities see David Cameron, his government and his policies as being at the forefront of alienating them, demonising them and pushing them into a corner.”
Why constructively engage when you can take knee-jerk offence?
So where are all these "mainstream" voices of reason being “overpowered” by radicals? Where are all the progressives determined to put paradise-seeking genies like Ajmal Masroor firmly back in their bottle?
They exist, but you can count those who put their head above the parapet on one hand with fingers to spare.
A Muslim leader is yet to emerge to take the mantle of the late, great Zaki Badawi. Before his death in 2006, this brave enemy of extremism, who coined the helpful term “British Islam”, told the Guardian:
“I want the government to help me train better imams. It’s cheaper than having to combat the effect of bad imams.”
Badawi was shocked at the number of Muslim leaders who can’t speak English being imported from Saudi Arabia. He firmly believed British Islam must be rooted in British values.
Nine years on, Badawi’s legacy lies in tatters. Today’s default Muslim position on ISIS could hardly be more passive: “We’re not responsible for the extremism of others so why must we apologise for it?”
Every chance to declare all-out war on the malignant cancer in their religion is greeted with embarrassment, obfuscation or obscene silence.
For all David Cameron’s big plans and brave words, only the revival of Badawi’s brand of progressive British Islam can prevent growing numbers of young Muslims from teetering on the edge of a moral precipice.
Until then the loonies will always have the loudest voices.
Richard Ferrer is the Editor of the Jewish News. He’s also worked at the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, and edited the Boston Jewish Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @RichFerrer
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