BRITAIN’S two million Muslims are being led astray.
Instead of facing up to the problem of extremism in their own ranks they are being encouraged to wallow in an imagined sense of victimhood.
The result will be an even bigger divide between Islam and mainstream British society and a growing regret among non-Muslims that this country should ever have allowed a substantial Muslim population to spring up in its midst.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari – leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, the main umbrella group for Islamic organisations – used Remembrance weekend to unleash a tasteless broadside against his adoptive country. Bangladesh-born Dr Bari claimed Britain was in danger of becoming like Nazi Germany, with Muslims cast in the role of the Jews.
“There is a disproportionate amount of discussion surrounding us. The air is thick with suspicion and unease,” he complained. “Every society has to be really careful so that situation does not lead us to a time when people’s minds can be poisoned as they were in the Thirties.”
There are so many objections to this analogy that one hardly knows where to start. But the first thing to say is that it is a grotesque exaggeration. Jews in Nazi Germany were murdered by the million. Britain does not have gas chambers.
At a time when Britain was commemorating the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in order to protect the freedoms we enjoy today, Dr Bari’s remarks are not only offensive to Jews but also an insult to the memory of the fallen of two world wars.
Second, Dr Bari was seeking to appropriate for Muslims the role of victims. In fact, because of the growing numbers of militants within their ranks, they are much more accurately cast as victimisers.
It was British Muslims who committed mass murder on July 7, 2005. It is Muslim extremists whom MI5 is keeping under surveillance by the thousand because of the danger they pose to the rest of us.
My third objection to Dr Bari’s outburst is the very idea that an Asian-born Muslim should seek to pontificate about the erosion of freedom in the democratic West. We are having to compromise our ancient liberties in Britain because of the pervasive threat of Islamist terrorist atrocities.
But the compromises we have made still leave all Britons, including Muslims, vastly more free than anyone who lives in any country with a Muslim majority population.
From the crack of rhino whip against protesters in Pakistan to the all-embracing repression of dissent in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic world is a byword for despotism and human rights abuse.
There is no Muslim country on the planet which ranks as a stable democracy. So wouldn’t it be nice for Muslims in Britain to thank their lucky stars and concentrate on campaigning for democratic reform in their motherlands rather than attacking our way of life? Fat chance.
Which brings me to my fourth objection. As immigrants into a long-established and stable society, should it not be incumbent on Muslims to adapt, to fit in with mainstream British culture? Sounds like good manners to me.
Last week there was a report that the floor of St Paul’s Cathedral has been damaged by the number of visitors it has had to cope with in recent years. It has been left pock-marked and eroded. The chief villains are women who have visited wearing stilettos. Advice is being issued that future visitors should wear flat, rubber-soled shoes.
The loudmouth leaders of British Islam are the equivalent of the self-centred stiletto wearers who have damaged St Paul’s. They are abrasive rather than soothing presences, leaving dents and craters in our civilisation.
Dr Bari says his passion is to integrate British and Muslim cultures but insists that integration must go both ways. He means that Britain must change to suit Muslims.
In his weekend interview Dr Bari gave hints about what he would like to change. He showed scant regard for freedom of expression, saying that Sir Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel Satanic Verses should have been pulped.
Neither did he defend freedom of choice, recommending instead that British families should adopt the Asian tradition of arranging the marriages of their children.
“I prefer to call them assisted marriages,” he said. I bet you do, Dr Bari. But arranged is a more accurate term. And that is leaving aside the vile practice of forced marriage where the unwilling participants are made to get hitched upon threat of violence, normally as a ruse to get an extra immigrant in from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Why isn’t Dr Bari’s organisation doing more to campaign against honour killing? How about the systematic electoral fraud that disfigures democracy in many of Britain’s new Asian ghettos?
What has he to say about recent figures that showed immigrants from four Muslim countries – Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia – in general make a low economic contribution and are highly dependent on state benefits?
British Islam desperately needs a new generation of leaders with the courage to face up to its internal shortcomings rather than perpetually squealing “racism” and heading up the blind alley of victimhood.
It could learn from the Afro-Caribbean community which has spawned leaders such as Trevor Phillips and Tory candidate Shaun Bailey who is talking openly of a generation of young men lost to drugs and guns because of neglectful parenting, especially by absent fathers.
There is precious little sign of Islamic leaders being willing to challenge their own communities in a similar fashion. As one looks ahead it is hard not to be filled with a sense of foreboding.