No Solutions to British Muslim Problems without Mutual Respect

No Solutions to British Muslim Problems without Mutual Respect
Logo of the defunct Quilliam Foundation

Jonathan Russell of the Quilliam Foundation has a logical premise on which he bases his piece about the signatories of the Joint UK Muslim Statement. It is indeed a valid assertion that the signatories did not offer any solutions.

When I read the joint statement, it did not appear to have any proposed solutions. Without mincing any words, the declaration appears to be a desperate call for attention as to how the British state is effectively marginalizing and criminalizing being Muslim. I wholeheartedly agree with the signatories and also believe that other Commonwealth states like Canada and Australia are following Britain blindly, and consequently, disturbing delicate community relations of millions of established Muslim families. "What you tear apart now may not heal for generations. Think before it is too late!" is the message that jumps out of the stark words.

Before the point-by-point analysis which Mr. Russell left out, it is fair to say that Quilliam cannot talk about Muslim representation on that list of scholars due to the pot-kettle-black problem. Quilliam has government connections but no community roots and many names on that list of signatories are respected individuals deeply embedded within the mainstream Muslim communities of Britain.

Here is what the signatories said:

  1. "We reject the exploitation of Muslim issues and the ‘terror threat’ for political capital, in particular in the run up to a general election." All I ask for Mr. Russell is whether such scapegoating of vulnerable sections of society (welfare recipients, Muslims, Eastern Europeans) is not an established election cycle practice of politicians where they try to exceed each other in "nastiness". The Muslim problem is exactly the same as the non-existent Eastern European immigrant deluge of 1 January 2014.

  2. "We deplore the continued public targeting of Muslims through endless ‘anti-terror’ laws. There have been around ten pieces of legislation since the year 2000, all giving huge powers to the state, which have fuelled a media hysteria even though in most cases no crime was committed." I could not find a single public case of a terrorist incident on UK soil that resulted in harm to life and property and that happened because the hands of law enforcement or a judge were tied due to insufficient legislation. If there are any, they should be cited. The incessant 'anti-terror' legislation with its incremental increase in number of days of detention and incremental erosions of privacy just keep the government and ministers in the news as 'tough on terror'. There is ample evidence that the politics-media-politics cycle is now self-perpetuating.

  3. "We reject the portrayal of Muslims and the Muslim community as a security threat. ... witch-hunt ... McCarthyite ... signs of increased Islamic practice as signs of ‘radicalisation’." Well said! There is no established causal link between religious devoutness and likelihood of terrorism sympathies. The teenagers fleeing to ISIS are not your devout ones and their problems and symptoms need to be explored within the context of British culture.

  4. "The expedient use of undefined and politically charged words like ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ is unacceptable as it criminalises legitimate political discourse and criticism of the stance of successive governments towards Muslims domestically and abroad. ... ." The infamous case of Moazzam Begg is enough proof.

  5. "Similarly, it is unacceptable to label as ‘extremist’ numerous normative Islamic opinions on a variety of issues, founded on the Quran and Sunnah ... ." Remember when jihad in Afghanistan against Russia, and then in Bosnia was legitimate? How can the government muzzle an edict from the same scholars that jihad in Syria is not legitimate when the British government itself is opposed to the Syrian regime? Have we ever considered that maybe it is this dichotomy that de-legitimises the British government in the eyes of impressionable and idealistic youth who go to join militant groups.

  6. Affirmation of British values. It should not be controversial.

  7. "We affirm our concern about peace and security for all. We, however, refuse to be lectured on peace-building and harmony by a government that plays divisive politics and uses fear to elicit uncertainty in the general public, whilst maintaining support for dictators across the Muslim world, who continue to brutalise any legitimate political opposition to their tyranny." Ouch! Again, it is the semblance of hypocrisy that de-legitimizes the government's quest to stop young impressionable people from joining militant ranks.

  8. Affirmation of British values. It should not be controversial.

  9. Affirmation of British values. It should not be controversial.

There is a strong chance that the problems Mr. Russell enumerates, to which the signatories do not provide a solution, are not the problems that the signatories are trying to raise awareness about. If so, then perhaps both sides are talking past each other, not quite unlike the British government and British Muslims.