In a Channel 4 documentary called What Britain’s Muslims Really Think, presenter Trevor Phillips presented survey evidence suggesting that large numbers of British Muslims don’t want to integrate and dislike Jews and that many thousands of them support extremist views including terrorism and suicide bombing.
The British Muslim community has responded in the usual way…
Smear the polling company
“Lets not forget ICM is one of the polling companies that wrongly predicted the 2015 general election. The stats just don’t hold enough weight.” (Nazia, 35, W. Yorkshire)
Cast doubt on the methodology
“Other issues include the fact that the study targeted areas that were at least 20% Muslim and a large chunk of the sample were born abroad. If the study was conducted where English is not widely spoken, how do we know the participants fully understood what they were being asked?” (Nazia, 35, W. Yorkshire)
Hint that even asking these questions is divisive and Islamophobic
What is going to happen to our stated desire to build robust social cohesion if we keep singling out British Muslims as unique special cases? And what is it that is really underlying such constant scrutiny? (Rachel Shabi, Al Jazeera)
Nothing to do with Islam. It’s ‘cultural’, innit?
Moreover, Trevor Philips and the show portrayed segregated schools as an Islamic problem, that somehow where a school finds itself admitting children of a certain colour, that it is a religious issue. I would argue that this is a cultural and geographical issue and conflating religion with state school segregation is ridiculous. (Ibraham Ilyas, 18, Birmingham)
There’s no such thing as a ‘Muslim’
Being a Shia Muslim I wish Wahhabi or Salafi elements of society weren’t able to answer on my behalf. (Zaynab Mirza, 32, London)
I have a degree in social sciences, majoring in grievance studies
“We were presented in an extremely negative light. We were othered.” (Ismail, 32, Dewsbury)
Some Muslims are doctors, nurses, and teachers – so that makes everything nice
The show did not look at all at the positive contribution Muslims have made to Britain; that we serve as doctors, nurses, teachers and we actually aid the community we live in. (white convert Sarah Ward Khan, 36, London)
None of this is to give sexism, homophobia or any other prejudices a free pass. Nobody is suggesting that it’s brilliant that a minority of British Muslims support stoning – or, for that matter, that 45 percent of the overall British population would bring back hanging. (Rachel Shabi, Al Jazeera)
Lovely Nadija from Great British Bake Off make everything nice
But when there are 13 Muslim MPs, a British Muslim candidate for mayor of London, a Muslim dragon in the Dragons’ Den, and a Muslim winner of the Great British Bake Off, it seems that in reality, Muslims are very much part of British society. (Miqdaad Versi, Muslim Council of Britain)
Nothing to do with Islam. Did we mention this already? Well, it isn’t. And here’s some made-up stasticoids from a parti-pris organisation with affiliations to the Muslim Brotherhood…
Have you noticed something glaringly absent from these responses?
At no point does anyone seem to be suggesting that there is a serious problem here which Muslims need to address.
Perhaps there isn’t.
Perhaps, for example, you think it’s perfectly OK that – as the programme reported – a nine-year old boy at one of the Trojan Horse schools in Birmingham suggested that his middle-aged Muslim headmistress was a “slag” because she wasn’t wearing a headscarf.
Or that boys at the same Birmingham state primary school would act like religious police and clout girls not wearing the veil over the head.
Or that there are now 85 Sharia councils in Britain which – according to Zurich professor Elham Manea, herself a Muslim – are enforcing on Muslim communities (especially with regard to marriage) a version of Islam as extreme as that practised by the Taliban or in Manea’s native Yemen.
Or that over 40 per cent of the mosques in Britain are controlled by the Deobandis, promoters of the same form of fundamentalist Islam as the Taliban.
Or that in part two of BBC Radio 4’s excellent investigation into the Deobandis, researchers found literature in a London mosque aggressively promoting the kind of hatred against the supposedly heretical Ahmadi sect which led to the recent murder of a peaceful Muslim Glasgow shopkeeper?
Call me an Islamophobe but I’m not sure that any of the above represent shining examples of a community that is bending over backwards to accommodate itself with the host culture.
Isn’t about time we heard a bit more from British Muslims about what they plan to do remedy this?
I worry, you see, that if they’re not careful that harmless, peace-loving religion of theirs might start to get a bad rap.