Yesssss – finally the progressive liberal Muslims are starting to get a voice in the UK media. The Independent quotes four who were on Panorama last week.
Last week four British Muslims told the BBC’s Panorama why they believe the government is right to identify “non-violent extremism” as the ideology that helps lays the ground for violent extremism. They explained that this non-violent ideology is the politicised version of puritanical Sunni Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia and which has been exported to Britain and around the world over decades.
The programme showed how Salafi Wahhabism is wreathed in anti-westernism, contempt for parliamentary democracy, reactionary attitudes to gender equality and gay rights, and disdain for other faiths. Through its UK-based adherents, this puritanical strain of Islam has taken on a life of its own here with a proliferation of Islamic teaching institutions, activist groups and Islamic satellite channels. It “takes young Muslims to the front door of violent extremists” said Sara Khan.
And yet many on the left persist in thinking that Islamism is an ally.
Adam Deen runs an institute promoting “critical thinking and rational thought” among British Muslims. He told Panorama that puritanical Islam is “a cancer. We have to pinpoint where the problem is.” It is rare and brave for British Muslims to speak with such candour. They know how hard it is for many ordinary Muslims, let alone extremists, to accept that Islamic theology is prone to being turned into bad theology when it morphs into a toxic political ideology.
Barely had transmission begun when Deen’s twitter account was hit by a stream of abuse. He was a “coconut aren’t you lad?” (brown outside, white inside); a “scumbag white man”; a “white liberal man”; a “kafir lover” (a derogatory Arabic term for “infidel” or “disbeliever”); he had been paid by David Cameron to “become a complete donkey for the Home Office, Kafir lover”; he was a “Kafir apostate” (a Muslim who had abandoned Islam) who should go to Saudi to be “executed”; a “little snake”; “quite frankly mate, get lost” – and so on.
Of course. That’s what Twitter’s for, innit.
Likewise Khan was dismissed as a “feminist” who was “parroting the same rhetoric” as another interviewee Manwar Ali. An ex-Afghan jihadi who has long since renounced violence, Ali explained that dividing the world starkly into “them” and “us” (believers and non-believers) was the first step on the road to violent extremism.
See the Twitter comments above.
Last autumn, Khan led a campaign by Muslim women against the “barbarism of Islamic State” promoted by The Sun newspaper’s front page featuring a woman wearing a Union Jack hijab. This provoked a mouthy young Islamist called Dilly Hussain to describe Khan as “the government-friendly desperado”. He is deputy editor of a new website called 5Pillars which refers favourably to the extremist organisation Hizb-ut-Tharir as “working for the re-establishment of the Caliphate”.
While Hussain sermonises about “Islam’s true teachings of brotherhood” he also does a particularly venomous line in abuse against the “sisterhood”, describing Khan as an “airhead” who belongs to an “ultra-minority of secular liberal ‘Muslims’ who service nothing and no one but Islamophobes.” He has likewise called another female Muslim critic a “stupid liberal cow”, a “fat cow” and a “p***head” who writes “drunken liberal garbage” and should “do one”.
The personal vituperation and constant smearing by Muslims of co-religionists who dare to challenge this kind of non-violent extremist narrative helps explain why more have not put their heads above the parapet.
There’s much more; read the whole thing.