UK Politics

Winds of Change?

The latest British Muslim writer to come forward with some sensible and serious comment is Sarfraz Manzoor:

If the problems lie within the Muslim community so do the answers but the seeds of the solutions lie inside the hearts of law-abiding moderate Muslims. The religion I was raised in has been hijacked; it is high time that those of us who recall when being Muslim was about personal conduct not politics challenge those who think what they are doing is in the name of Islam. This requires nothing less than a new articulation of British Muslim identity, a passionately argued and persuasive and optimistic version of what it means to be British and Muslim. It is a version of identity that reflects the way that British Islam is being practised peacefully and quietly every day rather than the poisonous political strain that has intoxicated a small minority.

Read it all. This piece comes after Hassan Butt’s strongly argued article in The Observer and yesterday’s post on Comment is Free from Asim Siddiqui. Then of course there was the recent publication of Ed Husain’s book The Islamist which seems to have helped in waking up many people to the previously minority view that Islamist terrorism is actually the chosen action of Islamist terrorists and is part of their political programme.

A clear dividing line (and sharp argument) is now emerging between those British Muslims who are anti-Islamist – (ie opposed not only to acts of terrorism but to the political ideology of Islamism) and those Muslim Brotherhood affiliated (and other) activists who reject terrorism as a tactic in the UK but support it elsewhere and who have a political outlook hostile to liberal democracy and a strategy firmly tied to grievance politics. It will be fascinating to watch this argument take place. There has already been one positive result – no longer will the media, or anyone else, be able to make the mistake of pretending that the Muslim Association of Britain or the Muslim Council of Britain represent ‘British Muslims’ – their strategy in gaining a platform and a foothold of credibility through astutely taking advantage of ignorance in the media worked for a while but is now being defeated.

To the horror of the Islamists and their allies on the far-left new organisations are emerging with different perspectives such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and one hopes this is just the start of a new pluralism within the immigrant communities of the UK.

Something else has changed in the past week and it is certainly not just the result of a few articles from ex-Islamists and sensible mainstream British Muslims. After the failed bombings in London and Glasgow there has been much less of the ‘we had it coming’ apologist claptrap in the media reaction and a much greater willingness to accept that Islamist terrorists mean what they say and are what they are.

Of course there are still some left parroting the same nonsense as they have produced over the past five years. Simon Jenkins in The Guardian today comes out with his same old “leave it to the coppers” line. If Brown wants to turn over a new leaf in the campaign to contain the Islamist menace he should leave it to the police. He should have set the nation an example and been happy to remain asleep. In the Independent, comic Mark Steel thinks it is worth pointing out that “Most Druids are crazy, but they don’t normally bother anyone. However, if Stonehenge was bombed on the Summer Solstice, and teepees set ablaze…. you’d soon see the odd one behaving strangely outside a nightclub or airport.”

Harry’s Place and other blogs used to get very worked up about the likes of Jenkins and Steel but I suggest it is time to simply laugh at them and then ignore them. The debate that really matters isn’t the one featuring comedians and weary Fleet Street columnists but it is the one that is now raging between British Islamists and those British Muslims who have decided to call time on them.