Since 9/11, not only police officers, but New Labour ministers, the Home Office, Foreign Office and pseudo-left journalists and councils have sought to promote ‘cohesion’ by appeasing Islamist groups which aren’t quite as extreme as al-Qaeda. They have turned them into the sole authentic representatives of British Islam, although as Haras Rafiq and Abdal-Hakim Murad show, they are nothing of the sort, and branded serious investigation into obscurantist politics as religious prejudice.
Elements within the government thought that if they could co-opt the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami and ignore their foul beliefs, they would isolate the terrorists to their right. Even Labour now admits that the policy has been a practical failure and moral shambles. Elsewhere, however, a mushy multicultural feeling persists that it is somehow ‘insensitive’ to apply universal values.
Far more vulnerable people than journalists are suffering from the double standard. Earlier this year, the Centre for Social Cohesion issued a report on honour killings and beatings. South Asian and Middle Eastern women’s groups reported an increasingly widespread trend. Officials who should treat all women equally were deciding that where their community’s religious and cultural practices conflicted with the law, the law had to give way.
Zalikha Ahmed, director of the Apna Haq refuge, told the report’s researchers: ‘We don’t visit the station when certain Asian officers are on because some of them are perpetrators and one of them said that he would not arrest someone who used force on his wife.’ A worker in a women’s group in the north, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, added she had been ‘appalled’ by an Asian ‘chief inspector who had offered to help a family track a girl down’.
The report’s authors noticed that women’s groups appeared to have problems with one force in particular. It was the West Midlands police.