Gatestone, by Denis MacEoin, July 30, 2015:
- With Islam, how it is possible to dialogue with a faith that denies the divinity of Christ, regards the Bible as corrupt, believes that all Christians are the inferiors of Muslims and are destined to hell fire? What is there to talk about if both sides are to be honest about their beliefs?
- When members of ISIS murder apostates, it is hard to condemn them, as that is what the Prophet did. When they take slave girls as war booty, that is what the Prophet did. Waging jihad is an injunction in many chapters of the Qur’an.
- I do not know what copy of the Qur’an Pope Francis has been shown, but it is clearly very different to any copy in my possession, whether the original Arabic or a translation.
- When hate preachers in British mosques convey a violent or intolerant message to their congregants, they do so by quoting the Qur’an as the Word of God, thereby sanctioning acts of jihad. To ignore this is to hamper us in our efforts to bring Muslims into peaceful relations with the West, with all non-Muslims and especially with one another.
- What was striking was that, instead of successive generations of Muslims becoming better integrated into British society, the younger they are, the more radical they become. Apparently the majority of Muslims do not feel particularly progressive.
- Only 34% of British Muslims believe the Holocaust happened. 62% of Muslims here do not support freedom of speech. Only 7% of Muslims in the UK consider themselves as British first. CSP Poll this year reported that 38% of Muslim-Americans say Islamic State (ISIS) beliefs are Islamic or correct. Figures such these are indicative of a wider level of acceptance of extreme ideas than your comments and those of many politicians suggest.
On June 19, when Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke at the 2015 Global Security Forum in Bratislava, one section (under the heading ‘Clarity’) drew widespread attention from the media and politicians, and from some the religious realm.
In that passage, Cameron spoke about the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, or, in Arabic, Da’ish). “In ISIL,” he started, “we have one of the biggest threats our world has faced.” He went on to express concern about the way in which young British Muslims were being drawn into the ISIS web through the internet or within their communities:
The cause is ideological. It is an Islamist extremist ideology — one that says the West is bad and democracy is wrong that women are inferior, that homosexuality is evil. It says religious doctrine trumps the rule of law and Caliphate trumpsnation state and it justifies violence in asserting itself and achieving its aims.The question is: how do people arrive at this worldview?
How does someone who has had all the advantages of a British or a European schooling, a loving family, the freedom and equality that allow them to be who they want to be turn to a tyrannical, murderous, evil regime?
There are, of course, many reasons – and to tackle them we have to be clear about them. I am clear that one of the reasons is that there are people who hold some of these views who don’t go as far as advocating violence, but who do buy into some of these prejudices giving the extreme Islamist narrative weight and telling fellow Muslims, “you are part of this”.
This paves the way for young people to turn simmering prejudice into murderous intent. To go from listening to firebrand preachers online to boarding a plane to Istanbul and travelling onward to join the jihadis. We’ve always had angry young men and women buying into supposedly revolutionary causes. This one is evil; it is contradictory; it is futile – but it is particularly potent today.
I think part of the reason it’s so potent is that it has been given this credence.
So if you’re a troubled boy who is angry at the world, or a girl looking for an identity, for something to believe in and there’s something that is quietly condoned online, or perhaps even in parts of your local community, then it’s less of a leap to go from a British teenager to an ISIL fighter or an ISIL wife, than it would be for someone who hasn’t been exposed to these things.
For what may be the first time, a head of state dared to make a connection between ordinary Muslims and extremism, by arguing that fundamentalist views might be quietly condoned online, or perhaps even in parts of a local Muslim community.
A report written in 2007 by this author for the British think tank Policy Exchange, titled “The Hijacking of British Islam,” exposed the existence of hate literature in mosques across the UK. As soon as it was published, all hell broke loose, and everything possible was done to pretend that our evidence had been somehow faked. Many British writers and journalists such as Douglas Murray, Samuel Westrop and myself have tried over the years to draw attention to the realities of Islamic ideology and practice in schools, shari’a courts, and in politics, but we were severally rebuffed.
But now, over one thousand young British men and women have travelled to Syria and Iraq to support the Islamic State, and it is becoming clear to everyone that something is amiss — not with British society, values or aspirations, but in parts of our two million strong Muslim community. Innes Bowen’s study of the UK Muslim population, “Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam,” shows in some detail just where these radical influences may come from.
Inevitably, Cameron’s references to the Muslim community brought condemnation from the usual suspects (and one unusual one). Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of a Muslim think tank, the Ramadhan Foundation, found the remarks “deeply offensive.” The Muslim Council of Britain found Cameron’s statement “wrong and counter-productive.” In a radio interview, Muslim Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi argued that, “To make the comparison he has done the way he has done, it is not only unhelpful but actually wrong.” Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who sits in the House of Lords, described the speech as “misguided” and “demoralizing.”
That Muslim leaders might respond this way was not surprising. Muslims in the UK, with several notable exceptions such as Haras Rafiq and Majid Nawaz, have been in denial for decades, and show few signs of facing up to the dangers facing them any time soon.
The unusual rebuke came, not from a Muslim, but from Britain’s most important Catholic prelate, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. Speaking on LBC Radio on the day of Cameron’s speech, the Archbishop spoke unfavourably about the Prime Minister’s remarks on Muslims. His remarks bear quoting almost in full here:
The interviewer started by saying that “he [Cameron] seems to be laying this squarely at the door of the Muslim community. Too many people in the UK are sliding into violent extremism. He’s warned that British Muslims risk quietly condoning ISIS. Do you think that’s fair?”
To this, Nichols answered:
No. I think the community is a very diverse community. I was at a Muslim meeting last Saturday week. It was a Shi’a Muslim meeting. It was looking at dialogue and how people live together. And then they were absolute in their condemnation of ISIS. So there are many voices, Muslim voices in this country, that condemn ISIS and condemn it absolutely. We don’t hear those [voices] in the public media very often, but they’re there. It is an enormous challenge to Islam in this country, and I know many of the Muslim leaders are deeply, deeply concerned about this. I would say for most of them and the families they represent, they feel a bit helpless in terms of the access to the Internet and to that whole seduction and manipulation that goes on. I think they need help with that.
On the face of it, the Archbishop’s remarks are worthy of respect, since he is active in interfaith work and considers it to be his mission, like that of the current Pope Francis, to work for peace and conciliation. But interfaith work can often be marred by an underlying refusal to come clean about beliefs that contradict those of others.
With Islam, I have to ask how it is possible to dialogue with a faith that denies the divinity of Christ, denies that he was crucified or resurrected, denies the Trinity, denies Mary as the mother of God, denies the belief in original sin and salvation through Christ, regards the Bible as corrupt, believes that all Christians are the inferiors of Muslims and are destined to hell fire? What is there to talk about if both sides are to be honest about their beliefs?
Even if a majority of Muslims may be concerned about extremism in their midst, there are reasons to think that David Cameron’s view is close to the mark: that some Muslims unwittingly or wittingly condone what goes on because much of it is in keeping with the Qur’an, the hadith [traditions], the Shari’a law books, and Islamic practice from the time of Muhammad.
Denis MacEoin was born in Belfast, where he learned at first hand the dangers of religious strife