Sunday, December 09, 2007

When is moderate Islam not?

I posted the other day an entry about the British-born daughter of an imam in the UK whose life is being threatened by her family over her decision to leave Islam for Christianity. This wasn't an isolated incident, and it seems the problem is more widespread in Britain than one might like to think.
Sofia Allam simply could not believe it. Her kind, loving father was sitting in front of her threatening to kill her. He said she had brought shame and humiliation on him, that she was now "worse than the muck on their shoes" and she deserved to die.

And what had brought on his transformation? He had discovered that she had left the Muslim faith in which he had raised her and become a Christian.

[ ... ]

"My mother's transformation was even worse. She constantly beat me about the head. She screamed at me all the time. I remember saying to them, as they were shouting death threats, 'Mum, Dad - you're saying you should kill me… but I'm your daughter! Don't you realise that?'?"

They did not: they insisted they wanted her out of their house.
The lengthy article probes the trend a bit deeper than others like it, and points out the British authorities' shameful treatment of the problem as well as the fact that the problem isn't limited to extremists. But it shies away from any theories as to its causes.
Religious persecution of the kind Sofia suffers, however, is increasingly common in Britain today. It is hard to get an accurate notion of the scale of the problem, not least because very few of the people who leave Islam are willing to complain to the police about the way they are treated.

"Intimidation is very widespread and pretty effective," says Maryam Namazie, a spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She believes that many of the deaths classified as "honour killings" are actually murders of people who have renounced Islam.

"I get threatened all the time: emails, letters, phone calls," she says. "When I returned home this afternoon, for example, there was a death threat waiting for me on my answering machine…" She laughs nervously.

"A lot of them aren't serious, but occasionally they are. I went to the police about one set of threats. They took a statement from me but that was it - they never contacted me again."

That treatment is in sharp contrast to the seriousness with which the Dutch and German police responded when members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in those countries made complaints to the police about death threats.

[ ... ]

But it is not only extreme Muslim families that believe it is their religious duty to threaten, and even kill, members who renounce the religion.

"My father could not be described as an extremist," insists Sofia, who is now 31. "We read the Koran and prayed regularly together, but he never insisted on my wearing Islamic dress and he was quite happy that I went to the local comprehensive, which was all girls, but not by any means dominated by Muslims."
Finally, hidden among the quotations gathered from "moderate" Muslim leaders in Britain, is the fact that while those spokespersons denounce the practice in Britain, they refuse to denounce the practice itself:
Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), says that it is "absolutely disgraceful behaviour… In Britain, no Muslim has the right to harm one hair of someone who decides to leave Islam."

Inayat Bunglawala, also a spokesman for the MCB, insists that such behaviour in Britain is "awful and quite wrong. The police should crack down on it."

[ ... ]

The reluctance to condemn sharia law is widespread. I asked Mr Bunglawala, for instance, to condemn the Islamic states that imposed the death penalty for apostasy. He did not do so, merely commenting that "it was a matter for those states".
My own theory on how and why the trend has seen such an increase in recent years comes partly from Sofia's own statement of how "...attitudes have hardened over the past decade." The "past decade" has seen not only a swelling of the Muslim population in Britain, but a concomitant trend among the British government--and, indeed, large segments of British society--to bow and scrape to the more extreme Muslims while at the same time prosecuting for "hate speech" those who speak out against Muslim extremism. Another concurrent trend has been one of repressing British national identity, culture and traditions out of fear of "offending" those of other cultures and faiths.

The combination of these three makes for a "perfect storm" in which a minority feels emboldened and entitled to do as they see fit, while the majority frets over what to do about it.

2 comments: said...

One of the key things for us to do is to stop worring about the EU (which isn't a problem) and Europe (which doesn't have the same problems) and start focusing instead on the following:

1. Stop all Commonwealth marriage visa commitments. Or raise the age of marrying to 25 or above and insist the wife speaks English

2. Stop welfare for immigrants fullstop

3. Raise the bar of respect. For too long this country has allowed its image outside and within to be the butt of a joke. Hence kids grow up thinking this country sucks and is not worth respecting. As a kid that's what i grew up learning at any rate. Eventually i got to a point where i figured i wanted to be a part of something somewhere that mattered. Otherwise I would have joined with whichever political body seemed like it offered something. In Bradford and East London I can see why kids think they should join these groups. I can also see why football has become nationalistic. I guess this is what the government means by hearts and minds. Right idea. Wrong execution. We need to say were Great and mean it.

4. Social values. I'm a relaxed catholic but I can see how good christian values have shaped this country. When i was at catholic school we had girls and boys from India and Pakistan. None of them had any problem rocking along to mass or attending assembly. The parents wanted their kids to learn respect manners and values that Brits were (once) famous for. This is before we got the stuffing knocked out of us for this because it wasnt 'cool' to speak nicely and have manners anymore. Everyone had to pretend they were LA or NYC gang kids. Ironic really because most Americans I meet are incredibly polite with impeccable manners.

5. Law and order

6. As for Labour - compare Labour now to the Labour of the 70s. Worlds apart. Not sure whats to be done there but we are living through a major shift in old Left and Right akin to the 19c under Disraeli.

7. In ten years I would be surprised if there is a Union Jack flag. I hate that thought and do blame Labour.

(bit of a rambling irrelevant comment sorry!)


Anonymous said...

Most of the Western Muslim establishment is comprised of Islamist groups claiming to be moderates. True moderate Muslims reject Islamic supremacy and Sharia; embrace religious equality and democracy.

What is a moderate Muslim? According to a dictionary, a moderate is a person who is opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion. Yet, majority of the public seem to be struggling with the definition of a moderate Muslim. Perhaps we can make this task easier by defining a radical Muslim and then defining the moderate as an opposite of the radical.

Muslims Against Sharia compiled a list of issues that differentiate moderate Muslims from Islamic radicals. Hopefully you can help us grow this list. 2008/01/what-is-moderate-muslim.html

Poll: Who is a moderate Muslim? 2008/01/poll-who-is-moderate-muslim.html