Boris: ‘Something About Islam’ Kept Muslims ‘Centuries Behind’, ‘Muslim Grievance’ Behind Most Conflict


Theresa May’s expected successor Boris Johnson is under fire from the Muslim Council of Britain for past comments suggesting “something about Islam” was responsible for the Islamic world ending up “centuries behind” the West.

Writing in an essay appended to his 2007 book The Dream of Rome — exhumed by the left-liberal Guardian newspaper — Johnson suggested that “a fatal religious conservatism” had held the Islamic world back, and that the more it has “fallen behind”, the more “bitterness and confusion there has been, to the point where virtually every global flashpoint you can think of – from Bosnia to Palestine to Iraq to Kashmir – involves some sense of Muslim grievance”.

‘There must be something about Islam that indeed helps to explain why there was no rise of the bourgeoisie, no liberal capitalism and therefore no spread of democracy in the Muslim world,” the Tory MP suggested.

“It is extraordinary to think that under the Roman/Byzantine empire, the city of Constantinople kept the candle of learning alight for a thousand years, and that under Ottoman rule, the first printing press was not seen in Istanbul” — as the Christian city was renamed after its conquest by Turkish invaders in 1453 — “until the middle of the nineteenth century,” Johnson suggested.

“Something caused them to be literally centuries behind.”

The former Foreign Secretary and two-time Mayor of London — who often boasts of having a Turkish Muslim great-grandfather — did add that the Christian world had also seen its share of “disgusting cruelty”, however, and that it “wasn’t so long ago that we were burning books and heretics ourselves.”

“These Muslims are not some alien species,” he insisted, suggesting, somewhat paradoxically, that modern Turkey’s poor record on human rights was in fact “one of the most important reasons for keeping the Turks on the tram tracks to EU membership” — in the hope that this would encourage “progressive forces” in the country.

The anti-Brexit Guardian was naturally keen to highlight the seeming incongruity of this particular statement with the Vote Leave campaign which Johnson fronted in 2016 warning of the risks posed by Turkey progressing from EU Candidate Country to full EU Member-State over the long term.

The Guardian solicited comments on Johnson’s 12-year-old essay from the Muslim Council of Britain, which stated: “We, of course, are of the view that Islam has a role to play in progress and prosperity, be that in the Muslim world or here at our home in the West.”

“Many of us would be interested to find out whether Mr Johnson still believes that Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom, and whether he still thinks Turkey should be admitted to the European Union, especially after the extraordinary and false claims made about Turkish and Muslim immigration during the Brexit campaign,” added the group — which was revealed to have had undeclared links to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood organisation in a 2015 government report.

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