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British Muslims Must Reject Intolerance To Defy Extremists

British Muslims Must Reject Intolerance To Defy Extremists

Commentary

2 min read

Members of the Muslim community gather in Manchester's St Ann's Square.

Ed Husain Senior Advisor

Posted on: 25th May 2017

As Londoners, we have lived through terrorism. We have become defiant and remain vigilant. In an odd way, we expect to beat the enemies of our country in and from London. So when Manchester was attacked, we felt the pain in unexpected places within our collective selves. Our Islamist foes, however, are determined to shock and subdue us. We are under attack from a source that is political and protected. 

Our enemy is political because the people who become suicide bombers are products of movements that have political aims. They are not ordinary Muslims, but Islamists. The religion of Islam with its emphasis on five daily prayers, charity, love, kindness and compassion is not enough for them. They wish to create a caliphate with their new form of a harsh Islamism, an ideology built on political grievances, opposing normal Muslims and the West. Their dedication to an Islamist state is total. Islamists see this as God’s law and superior to democratic law. 

Our enemy is also puritanical. Islamists of the worst variety mix their political aspirations of creating a caliphate with extreme, literalist adherence to Muslim scripture. They see music, dance, nudity, female beauty that is uncovered, and alcohol as abominations that are forbidden. Unlike most normal Muslims who wish to live and let live, Muslim puritans or Salafists wish to be better and superior to all others. They cite scripture and say that not disliking forbidden things is a sign of weak faith. Defying centuries of Muslim consensus, they seek jihad or holy war forcefully to bring change. 

Killing men and women who are dancing or enjoying freedom is part of that Salafi puritanism: they targeted Tiger Tiger club in Haymarket in 2007, killed people having fun in Bali in 2002, Sousse beach in Tunisia in 2015, Tel Aviv’s Michael bar in 2005, Istanbul’s nightclub earlier this year.

Too often in Britain, in the name of freedom we provide protection for this murderous mindset. This mix of political ideology and puritan theology leads to the global curse of Salafi-Jihadism. We must stop protecting it. The Manchester murderer, Salman Abedi, was the child of Libyan Muslims who came to Britain in 1994 seeking freedom from the tyranny of Gaddafi. Here, he was radicalised and there are thousands more like him.

Where we encounter their intolerance, misogyny, anti-Semitism, hatred for homosexuals, spite for music and dance, venom for love and beauty, we should confront it. We lack the confidence to do so. This is not Islamophobia. Most victims of Salafi-Jihadism are ordinary Muslims. In Britain, teachers, imams, politicians, social workers and families must not protect intolerance, but reject it.

This article first appeared in the Evening Standard.

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