This is an article about three words: Islamophobia, Racism and Muslimness.
2019 will be full of challenges for our work and responding to these three words.
One of those challenges is the ongoing work of the APPG on British Muslims. (APPG stands for All Party Parliamentary Group. All-Party Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues.)
In November 2018, this group issued a report on Islamophobia.
The title is:
Report on the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia / anti-Muslim hatred
But what is Islamophobia? After 50 pages of this 72 page report, we read this conclusion:
Having heard a wide cross-section of viewpoints from academic experts, parliamentarians, lawyers, community activists and, importantly, voices from within British Muslim communities, the APPG upon consideration of the vast body evidence presented to us, proposes the following working definition of Islamophobia:
ISLAMOPHOBIA IS ROOTED IN RACISM AND IS A TYPE OF RACISM THAT TARGETS EXPRESSIONS OF MUSLIMNESS OR PERCEIVED MUSLIMNESS.
Though the reader is assured that this definition has no legal weight or implications we venture to guess that it, and the full report, will be promoted as the benchmark for legal consideration. It will be used as another stick to beat and silence people who are critical of Islam.
How significant is this report? The Muslim Council of Britain (who by the way would like to fancy themselves as speaking for all Muslims in the UK but does not) welcomes this report and definition of Islamophobia. It is also supported by The Aziz Foundation. And one of its projects is a Muslim Leadership Development Programme.
Two weeks after publishing their report 75 academics and 750 British Muslim Organisations and institutions have endorsed the definition. One Local authority has also passed a resolution to adopt the definition.
Of the many submissions to the APPG British Muslims, one of their favourite sources and quoted (five times) is Tell MAMA, a group that lost its government funding in 2013 for telling lies about attacks on Muslims.
So we have a made up word – Islamophobia – now being granted a serious inquiry with reverential respect. But to be fair, the Report touches on the linguistic problem with the word, noting that ‘phobia’ refers to an irrational fear; and that some groups had urged the dismissal of the term itself as not being real or helpful. The Report says:
Such has been, for example, one of the main arguments advanced by Douglas Murray, associate director at the Henry Jackson Society and author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, who has long argued that the fear of Islam is not irrational but in fact, “supremely rational”, because Islam can be both violent and extremist.
How convenient for them to quote Douglas Murray, piously demonstrating how widely they have canvassed for other perspectives. A more honest approach would have been to invite Mr Murray to appear before the group and to select the issues (and way of describing those issues) that he wished most to be associated with his name.
This objection is dismissed because to abandon the word would encourage ‘right-leaning spokespeople to reject the entire concept and thus delegitimise the problem.’ The problem is, apparently, discrimination, prejudice and violence directed towards Muslims simply because they are Muslim.
This dismissal, of course, side steps the nature of Islam itself and the affect those teachings have on Muslims. But if those teachings do indeed encourage behaviour that is violent and discriminatory towards non-Muslims then it is rational to understand those teachings and be wary of their effects on Muslims.
Muslim terrorists claim those teachings as motivation for their despicable deeds but this Report is silent as to whether or not Muslim terrorists (ISIS and Al-Qaeda etc.) are telling us the truth. Instead this Report wants society to bend over backwards to avoid anything that could possibly be perceived as hurting the feelings of Muslims.
Does society not have the right and duty to protect and defend itself against the destructive effects of a violent, extremist and discriminatory ideology?
Now with all the resources mustered by 17 MPs and eight members of the House of Lords, society is encouraged once again to link racism to any disagreement with Islam and its teachings. But racism is not defined at all. So we must repeat yet again that we abhor any racist expressions or behaviour. And also repeat that Islam is not a race but a belief system and Muslims can be of any race.
So far the Police and the CPS agree with us. The EDL were carefully scrutinised after our 1 September 2018 demo in Worcester. Earlier, after our demonstration on 21 July the Muslim Community was assured that members of the EDL would “be arrested if they [the EDL] chanted slogans openly against Muslims…”
But the police concluded, after reviewing many videos etc, that the EDL did NOT break any laws. ‘As a result of this, it was deemed that no criminal offences under the Public Order Act had taken place.’ Therefore we conclude that speaking, chanting, and shouting out against Islam is NOT racist or in any way illegal.
However, next time the Police will have this new report to guide and encourage their decision-making.
According to this new definition ‘Muslimness’ is a no go area for discussion and debate, as that too is linked to racism. But what is Muslimness really? Is it anything that smacks of Islamic culture or practices or dress or speech or what?! Or maybe it is to do with Arabness or anything that comes from the Middle East?! And what would all this actually mean in practice? How could anyone be accused of targeting it if we do not know what it actually is? Would it include keeping quiet on such matters as:
- Full-face coverings,
- Female genital mutilation,
- Wife beating (Quran 4:34),
- Refusal to shake the hands of dirty kaffirs (Quran 9:28),
- Praying every Friday for “victory over the unbelievers” (Quran 2:286)
- Halal food promotion and force-feeding in our schools and offices,
- Muslim men ‘marrying’ up to four women at one time (Qur’an 4:3),
- The killing of apostates (Bukhari 009.084.057),
- The prohibition of Muslims making friends with non-Muslims (Quran 3:28),
- The eternal hatred of non-Muslims and especially Jews (Quran 60:4, Qur’an 3:112, Qur’an 2:61),
- The eternal oppression and war on all non-Muslims (Quran 9:29),
- The so-called marriage of Mohammed to a nine year-old girl (Bukhari 005.58.236),
- The belief that Mohammed is the perfect man and example for all time (Quran 33.21),
- Terrorism as a means of changing society (Quran 8:39)
For these and other aspects of Islam are we to be silent? Some of our Parliamentary overlords are telling us to shut up. Why? Because, apparently, Muslim citizens of the UK are unable to deal with the emotional fallout of criticism of their beliefs.
One obvious solution to this social problem is for the APPG on British Muslims to simply define, elaborate on, and defend Islam itself. But they would rather deal with the symptoms than to take on the core of the problem. Let them first prove to us, and the rest of society, that Islam is indeed good for this country and is compatible with our traditional values and history.
We won’t be holding our breath.
In fact, quite the opposite: we will be using our voice, loud and strong, to criticise those aspects of Islam and the behaviour of Muslims who threaten us and our way of life.