Dewsbury Labour MP Shahid Malik has lost confidence in Britain’s Muslim ‘leaders’.
Last Tuesday, after a 90-minute meeting with John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, to discuss the challenges of extremism and foreign policy, I emerged and was immediately asked by the media whether I agreed that what British Muslims needed were Islamic holidays and sharia (Islamic law). I thought I had walked into some parallel universe.
These ‘leaders’ response to learning of the alleged plot to kill 1000 people over the North Atlantic had been to suggest that if Britain changed its laws to (inter alia) downgrade the weight of Muslim women’s testimony in court the ‘leaders’ would be better placed to prevent terrorism.
Maybe some of these “leaders” believed that cabinet ministers were being alarmist, that the terror threat posed by British extremists was exaggerated. Maybe they thought that the entire plot and threat were the “mother of all smokescreens”, a bid to divert our attention from the killing fields of Lebanon. Or maybe it was another symptom of that epidemic that is afflicting far too many Muslims: denial. Out of touch with reality, frightened to propose any real solutions for fear of “selling out”, but always keen to exact a concession — a sad but too often true caricature of some so-called Muslim leaders.
Malik is right. Muslims in this country need new leadership able to respond in a less blinkered fashion to the non-Muslim world. If they continue living in this absurd state of denial the only people who will benefit are the BNP.
Where Malik leads may others follow.