The language of Eric Pickle’s letter is predictable and stating the obvious: ‘But there is more work to do,’ ‘show them these men of hate have no place in our mosques or any place of worship,’ ‘We know act of extremism are not representative of Islam.’ Too often these phrases are repeated when statesmen, commentators and writers fail to understand why Islamism exists.
But the letter pricks and creates a sense of snub. Many including Baroness Warsi is angered that the Muslim Council of Britain and other well-known groups representing British Muslims are not invited to have meetings with the Prime Minister. They feel slighted and angered because despite installing security cameras inside the mosques and committee members having to routinely meet the local police, Eric Pickles is acting like a man kicking up a storm in self-defence against his own shortcoming to understand that the victims of Islamphobia cant be asked to do more to counter extremism. And out of his own admittance he acknowledges that the Muslims came out in support of Charlie Hebdo cartoons around
Before we surrender to the drone of condemnation it is crucial to note that Eric Pickles wants the mosques to promote ‘British Islam,’ which is no different from ‘British values.’ My efforts to Google the word ‘British Islam’ fail to produce any definition, so Pickles must be accredited for inventing it. For the faint-hearted Ummah loving Muslims the coinage of the phrase would be seen as another attempt to contaminate the pure soul of Islam, for the much robust and Sharia-loving die-hard fanatics boiling with rage about the injustice of having to live amidst the critics of Quran and Mohammad and lamenting that Islam is given a cult-like status which supports violence, it is viewed as an attempt to harass them. But if ‘British Islam’ is anything close to resembling ‘British values’ then secularism has been broadly applied to convince Muslims that they must reform their traditional beliefs in order to be seen as not opposing secular values.
The oft-repeated garble that ‘Islam is a religion that cannot be forced against the will’ is not going to work in defence of Muslims when analysing the data on Forced Marriages by Home Office where it is reported that 42 percent of forced marriages cases involve Pakistani girls and in cases from 60 different countries majority are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Morocco. In a secular country the right to chose to marry or refuse to marry someone is denied to many Muslim girls.
If a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate receives death threats after posting a cartoon image then the compromise with religious beliefs and freedom of speech is becoming a lethal weapon to suit the purpose of extremists. It was not a cleric from a far away Muslim land who charged Maajid Nawaz with blasphemy, a British Muslim commentator Mo Ansar, who is at ease debating Islam on social media with views that are objectionable on amputation, gays and women’s rights encouraged this kind of lunatic stance on images of prophet. The incidence brings to the table discussion whether Muslims are able to strike a balance to convince that religion is not going to permeate in the fabric of British society and challenge the freedom of expression.
Reinterpretation of Islam to suit the purpose has to end.