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As the former leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui was uncompromising over the Iranian fatwa imposing the death sentence on Salman Rushdie for insulting the Prophet. When Iran relaxed it in 1998, Dr Siddiqui complained they had no authority to do so. Then came 9/11, and a resurgent, politicised Islam emboldened in its quest to expand its influence in the West.


(Cover illustration by Michael Daley)



By 2005, Dr Siddiqui’s entire outlook had changed: he reflected gloomily that Islam in Britain was on a collision course with the rest of the country. It was, he mused, as if the protection afforded to Muslims to practise and proselytise every aspect of their faith — short of physical jihad — counted for little. Islam seemed to have become all about “rights and no obligations. I think, by and large, this is the direction the Muslim community is taking, leading to victimhood, a grievance culture. We don’t seem to be grasping what makes a people respectable, lovable, likeable. You know, if you are a problem person, who wants to know you?”

How prescient he was. Judging by the reaction to the latest collision between Islam and the values of British society, critical self-reflection still eludes this country’s most politically active Islamic organisations.

Last autumn a survey suggested that thousands of state primary schools had adopted the hijab as part of their official school uniform. Another survey showed that for 42 per cent of Islamic faith schools, including some that are state-run, the hijab was compulsory.

For many Muslim women, the hijab is a modesty garment historically connoting the idea that women are sexual objects for men otherwise incapable of controlling themselves. Responding to these polls, the Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, wondered if little girls were being conditioned to become sexually modest before puberty to ensure they remained modest for the rest of their lives instead of allowing them an unfettered choice when old enough to make an informed decision. Were schools, especially those funded by the state, colluding in this conditioning? Was community peer pressure to conform perhaps contributing to the rise? In which case, said Ms Spielman, Ofsted could give headteachers “the confidence and strength to act”.

Individual freedom is a core British value, and the Chief Inspector is the ultimate custodian of child welfare in schools, so to most people these would seem to be perfectly reasonable questions to explore.

The polls came on the back of Dame Louise Casey’s review into integration, which found that women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage especially face “a double onslaught of gender inequality, combined with religious, cultural and social barriers preventing them from accessing even their basic rights as British residents”. In conversation Dame Louise characteristically puts it more bluntly: “The level of misogyny within some of that community was jaw-dropping.” Or as Churchill might have put it, the influence of Islam “paralyses the social development of those who follow it” because “in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property.”
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Anonymous
June 21st, 2018
8:06 AM
Actually Tommy Robinson is in jail for being in contempt of court whilst serving a suspended sentence for - yes, you guessed it! - being in contempt of court

amcdonald
June 17th, 2018
10:06 PM
Would the abolition of the death penalty for apostasy in Islam lead to it`s total collapse, empty mosques and no signs or symbols of Islam anywhere in the world ?

amcdonald
June 12th, 2018
4:06 PM
Zeeshan Ali is free to speak. Unlike Tommy Robinson who`s in jail for speaking his truth. Only Morrissey and Mary Anne Waters dare to speak the truth to and about Islam (see her YouTube vid Dangerous Words,Stockholm etc). The book Beyond Terror by Mary Anne Waters is now available. She`s as good as Camille Paglia and Douglas Murray. It`s also true that the marvellous muslim,feminist artisr Sarah Maple is exhibiting in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. It`s essentially an exhibition of `Remainia` retro-aesthetica.

Zeeshan Ali, MEND
June 11th, 2018
10:06 AM
Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development) is dismayed by yet another attack by John Ware (“The battle for British Muslims’ integration”, May) and concerned that his misrepresentation of Mend’s actions and intentions is based on cherry-picked facts and is a biased and inaccurate representation of the totality of our work, in line with a preconceived critical narrative. In particular, there is a singular absence of any of the positive work we have undertaken over the past four years. Mend works tirelessly not to make, in Ware’s words, “alarmist claims” but rather to shine a light on an issue routinely dismissed by politicians, newspaper editors and self-proclaimed experts. Ware fails to mention the numerous documents produced by us (all available on our website for anyone, without needing an investigation) that detail presentations, briefing documents, fact-sheets and easy-read guides on numerous topics affecting the British Muslim community. These have been produced for the sole benefit of educating Muslims and non-Muslims on contentious issues, and not to “position conservative Islam in the mainstream”. The only conclusion we can come to as to why he fails to mention them is that considering them would be dissonant with his negative narrative and thus fail his subjective test for “suitable evidence”. Ware also failed to mention the work our volunteers have done and regularly do in fighting Islamophobia. In February, Paul Moore was convicted of attempted murder after he ran over a Muslim woman in Leicester. As reported by both BBC and ITV, it was Mend volunteers who supported her family, pushed for the police to pursue the case and raised media awareness of it. This was a case that attracted national media attention, and we have to ask why Ware did not report this as an example of Mend’s commendable work. Another notable absence was the “Love a Muslim day” originated by Mend’s regional manager that brought together faith and non-faith communities in numerous events across the country. This was in response to a letter calling for violence against the Muslim community. Mend’s “Love a Muslim day” was reported by all mainstream newspapers and a number of independent journalists but seemingly missed by Ware. Aside from Mend’s work, Ware also ignores the many accolades that we have received recognising our work. The World Economic Forum ranked our work as “best practice” in human rights “protection and promotion”; the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights rated our work as “best example for civil society organisations”; and the EU Parliament magazine stated: “The EU could learn a lot from Mend’s work on counter-radicalisation through engagement.” The WEF, ODIHR and the EU are highly-respected international institutions and it is remarkable that Ware has not cited their considered views on the quality of our work. Tackling all forms of Islamophobia is and will remain Mend’s main objective, and we will keep striving to ensure that racial and religious discrimination is eradicated from society undeterred by sensationalistic accusations. If Ware wishes to criticise Mend’s operation then we do not discourage him. This is to be expected in a healthy democracy, and every organisation is continually evolving and learning from its mistakes. However, biased criticism is rarely informative or useful, and we would expect higher journalistic standards from someone as experienced as Mr Ware. Zeeshan Ali, Media and Policy Analyst, Mend, London E3

Greg Aniol
May 23rd, 2018
4:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad - i got your point - to the certain extend .... Why not boys? Boys' problems should be also approached. If they grow up with unhealthy perception of women then definitely should be also educated. I am NOT trying to say that young girls should dress up whatever way. They (as well as boys) should be educated by family and school to respect themselves. However my (and not only my) perception of girls dressed in the cloth bags is not necessary built up on their self respect rather than religion based oppression - tell me if I am wrong. If you are calling few year old girl in the school skirt sexually marked but the other one wrapped with the cloth bag not you must have very disfigured perception of reality and sexuality. Again - religion plays here massive part. Education - to be honest - is a huge problem in the UK. Not schools but parents and overall society is guilty of actions dragging it down. Kids arent encouraged to learn; teachers are scared of pushing them, parents (many of them, not all) do not give a damn, expecting the state to look after their own children. Underachievement ethos guides far too many families. Those families transfer down generation sickening attitude. To summarise - Muslims, Christians or any other imaginary friend followers - as long as not trying to enforce religious rules making others to obey them - let them pray at home to whichever of gods they want. Human decency hasn't been built on sacred books but on common experience built over the thousands of years. Remove religion from the arguments and then not much would be left to argue about. Work hard and don't rely on others to think on your behalf, respect people and have own ambitions. This should cover the most

amcdonald
May 17th, 2018
7:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad`s comment is a perfect example of unreasoning.

Anon
May 13th, 2018
7:05 PM
Why does the government not support the more liberal British Muslims in this noble cause?

Iftikhar Ahmad
May 5th, 2018
7:05 PM
Hijab Why is it that we always have these conversations about girls? I never read articles about what boys should or should not wear. I have never read articles about what boys should be allowed to do, only girls. Maybe that is more the issue. Why? It would only be a good idea if you planned to make the families feel so unwelcome that they end up removing their children to be educated at home. But don't then be surprised at the number of home educated Muslim children rising. Maybe that's the overall agenda to make Muslims as outcasts? Muslim girls who wear the hijab to primary school will be asked why they wear it by inspectors. The reasons given will then be recorded in school reports, amid concerns girls are being forced to wear the headscarf by their parents. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, announced the move on Sunday. This is none of Ofsted's business. In fact it is discrimination. Ofsted should be instructed to back off. Can you please focus on the primary children/girls who are dressed like grown women with short skirts and such which would be deemed as sexualisation of girls. And is this about sexualisition Ms Spielamn or Fundamentalism? I think your a little confused and need to make up your mind because I would say its about Islamophobia. Imagine being questioned about why you dress the way your parents tell you at 8 years of age!? What do you say? “Sorry, I’ll tell them they are wrong”? Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? The problem is, before they start the quizzing, they're making public exactly what the girls should get prepared to reply (by their family) to be allowed to keep the hijab. With all the time to rehearse. Any child asked by an inspector why she’s covering her hair should reply.. 'its a free country I can wear what I effing want''!! We do not need inspectors chasing Muslims just because we hate them. Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? What is the role of the Government can any of the hijab haters answer This? Or do we need another PREVENT policy to target certain group of people? I bet all the readers who have kids have forced their kids to go to sleep, brush their teeth, wake them out of bed, eat dinner etc, wear a helmet whilst riding bike and so on...So what is wrong with telling your kid to cover the head to if one wants to. There is nothing wrong with this as long as its achieved peacefully and through education. Of course they are forced or at least required to wear hijabs by parents because it is the parents who bring up children according to their tradition, religion or both. Freedom of religion is imperial . One can choose what to believe in an practise it , it' not the government' job to dictate what you should eat, how you should dress ,when you should pray ..it only has the power to coerce it' civilians but it should just focusing on providing services and infrastructure and education and so on. So they need to send inspectors instead of assuming that it's the parents brainwashing the kids. Interesting. Maybe they expect to find some 7 years old girls who will give them a detailed report of all the faiths they thoroughly researched before choosing Islam because it's the one they believe provides the answers to all their existential and philosophical questions. Parents are free to teach their children what they want as long as it' not harming them physically or mentally. Its called education not force. I guess every parent has the right to educate their child into doing something which they believe is good (as long as its not a crime etc). It's the parents that they should be questioning, not the children. No good asking the girls. If they are made to wear it, they will be made to say they aren’t, since that’s what the Inspectors want to hear. Everybody knows who the Inspectors spoke to. How nice of them. Huge swathes of children in Birmingham leave school without 5 GCSE but that doesn't seem to concern Ofsted too much. In fact they label schools Outstanding when they cannot even get half their pupils to this benchmark! We, as parents want to raise our girls. It is our responsibility, no one else's , even Ofsted. Ofsted should be looking at the reasons why children &young people are suffering an epidemic of mental illness, clue: it’s not because they lack resilience. Instead they are joining in with the rights obsession over what women and girl wear and bashing Muslims

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