One of the encouraging developments of the last few disturbing days and weeks is the emergence of a growing number of Muslims who are speaking the truth about the religious nature of the attacks upon Britain and the west. Accounts such as Ed Husain’s book The Islamist and similar statements by a number of other young Muslims, particularly other former radicals who have renounced the jihad, are helping change the terms of the debate. It is simply not possible for Muslims to claim that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, or that it is enough to condemn terrorist violence, or that foreign policy is the cause, when other Muslims are pointing out the lethal dishonesty of such an approach. Here is Safraz Mansoor, for example, in the Guardian:
As tempting as it is to say ‘not in my name’ when faced with the terrifying facts of Islamic radicalism, the uncomfortable truth is that those who perpetrate and support such extremism do so in the name of Islam. It is no longer enough for British Muslims to pretend it is someone else’s problem or to retreat into the usual ritual of bashing the media. Denial is no longer an option and British Muslims need to accept that the cancer of extremism affects their entire community. They also must utterly and without equivication denounce the use of violence. One might think this would be a relatively straightforward matter but in the past even a simple denunciation has been difficult to extract from the self-appointed community leaders who seek to speak for Muslims.
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.
Here is Asim Siddiqui, also in the Guardian:
No, it’s not foreign policy that’s the main driver in combating the terrorists; it is their mindset. The radical Islamist ideology needs to be exposed to young Muslims for what it really is. A tool for the introduction of a medieval form of governance that describes itself as an ‘Islamic state’ that is violent, retrogressive, discriminatory, a perversion of the sacred texts and a totalitarian dictatorship.
When the IRA was busy blowing up London, there would have been little point in Irish “community leaders” urging ‘all’ citizens to cooperate with the police equally when it was obvious the problem lay specifically within Irish communities. Likewise for Muslim ‘community leaders’ to condemn terrorism is a no-brainer. What is required is for those that claim to represent and have influence among young British Muslims to proactively counter the extremist Islamist narrative. That is the biggest challenge for British Muslim leadership over the next five to 10 years. It is because they are failing to rise to this challenge that the government feels it needs to act by further eroding our civil liberties with anti-terror legislation to get the state to do what Muslims should be doing themselves. If British Muslim groups focus on grassroots de-radicalisation then this will provide civil liberty groups the space they need to argue against any further anti-terror legislation.
Alasdair Palmer in the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday:
Hassan Butt is another who spent several years as an extreme Islamist before coming to understand that the people with whom he was working were ‘evil’. Mr Butt used to act as a fund raiser - he says he raised more than £150,000 - for fundamentalist terrorist groups. He doesn’t see any change in attitude among their members. His family have rejected him for what they see as his ‘treachery’. His friends have all deserted him. Some of his former colleagues have openly told him that they want him dead. Earlier this year he was stabbed in the street for his ‘betrayal’. Last week, the windows of his house were broken, and his front door smashed, as a further attempt to intimidate him.
He believes that the moderate Muslim community is ‘in denial’ about the extremists in its midst. According to Mr Butt, many imams who preach at mosques in Britain ‘refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever, and instead repeat the mantra that “Islam is peace”, and hope that all of this debate will go away. This has left the territory open for radicals… I know, because [when] I was a recruiter, I repeatedly came across those who had tried to raise these issues with mosque authorities, only to be banned from their g rounds. Every time this happened… it served as a recruiting sergeant for extremism.’
And in the Sunday Times Shiraz Maher, a former friend of one of the Glasgow bomb suspects, Bilal Abdullah, and a former fellow member of Hizb ut Tahrir, said:
Like myself, Bilal didn’t have any non Muslim friends and the circle of Muslims he chose to socialise with was small and selective. But he certainly trusted and respected us. I think this was because he recognised we shared the same ultimate vision as him for Iraq and the wider Muslim world. We only differed over our choice of method.
And so it was through my involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir and its ideology of extremist political Islam that I came to befriend Bilal, the alleged would-be bomber. That’s why I believe it’s wrong to distinguish between ‘extremism’ and ‘violent extremism’ as the government has been doing in recent months. The two are inextricably intertwined. Without movements such as Hizb ut-Tahrir creating the moral imperatives to justify terror, people like Bilal wouldn’t have the support of an ideological infrastructure cheering them on.
These Muslims are under enormous pressure to shut up or to change their tune, and in the case of Hassan Butt at least have been physically attacked. They are extremely courageous to speak out like this, and deserve all possible support and protection.
They also make the British government, which has banned all mention of Islam or Muslims in connection with terrorism, look like imbeciles.