Dhimmi? Dummy? Thinker! Good Pickles

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rodin_thinker_detailSo this quick post is my two pence worth of opinion on the controversy around the UK governments letter to Islamic leaders over there.

The Muslim Council of Britain is questioning the governments position,making in my opinion ludicrous claims against the letters words and intent.

The Council should perhaps focus more on folks like Anjem Choudary.

see the letter here

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One Comment

  1. Alfie says:

    From the Economist:
    “EVEN as Eric Pickles, the communities minister, was drafting a plea to British imams for stronger, moderate leadership on January 16th, some were demonstrating the need for it. In their Friday sermons, many condemned the Paris killings of the previous week. Yet their condemnation was often qualified. Though only a tiny minority are jihadist sympathisers, Britain’s 2.8m Muslims are less temperate than they like to be considered.

    In mosques in Birmingham, London, Derby and elsewhere, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were condemned more fiercely than the massacre of its staff. In Birmingham and probably elsewhere, imams preached that the killers could not have been Muslims. Set aside the drivel put out by some British and American media after the killings—including a risible suggestion, aired on Fox News, that Birmingham is a Muslim city where infidels fear to go—and there is still cause to worry about the mood and drift of Britain’s fastest-growing religious community.

    This is the context in which Mr Pickles’ amiable letter was sent. It praised British Muslims’ contribution to society. It did not spell out, but might have done, that they are well represented in ecumenical groups, are starting to produce admirable role models—especially in sport—and that they are no more radicalised than other European Muslims. Relative to the size of their community, there are reckoned to be more Belgian jihadists in Syria than there are Britons. Nonetheless, Mr Pickles and his co-author Lord Ahmad, a Muslim peer, requested more help from the imams in “explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity”. That was also well judged.

    British Muslims are diverse, in provenance and belief, and becoming more so, as immigrants from Somalia and Afghanistan dilute the existing South Asian stock. Many are prospering: the 50,000-strong Shia Ismaeli community is one of Britain’s best-connected. Yet many Muslims are poorly integrated into the liberal mainstream, culturally and, in the ghettos of Birmingham and Bradford, actually. In the typically defensive attitude of Muslim leaders, they can also seem resolved to remain so. That is the context in which Mr Pickles’ letter was received. “Is Mr Pickles seriously suggesting, as do members of the far right, that Muslims and Islam are inherently apart from British society?” tutted a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, a large umbrella group. Plainly, he was not suggesting that.

    The Muslims living in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, where Bagehot spent a day, are by their own admission a community apart. Sparkhill’s population is less than 10% white and 70% Muslim. The Irish pubs and grocers that once dominated the area have mostly closed. A rare survivor, Bournes, a family purveyor of “Irish turnips” and Clonakilty pudding, stands out among the curry shops like a memsahib in a harem.

    Bagehot finds this wonderful. It has made Sparkhill more colourful and no less welcoming or law-abiding than nearby white working-class areas. Yet the local leaders and businessmen he spoke to, working in jewellery and kebab shops, tended to view the Muslim preponderance as a problem.

    They considered it indicative of British Muslims’ failure to crack on—richer Hindus have dispersed to Birmingham’s leafier suburbs. A couple also worried about the ignorance that introspection can breed, as reflected in the fact that around 40 Brummie Muslims are in prison for terrorism offences. That appears to make Birmingham Britain’s likeliest place to be radicalised, noted Jahan Mahmood, an historian. Some worried about how Sparkhill looked to outsiders. “I can see how people might come here, freak out, and say, ‘England is not English any more’,” said Mohammed Ali, a local artist, over a plate of masala cod and naan.

    If the poverty of Sparkhill’s Muslims were the only reason for their inwardness, prosperity would fix it. Yet there are reasons—not least, Sparkhill’s many flash motors and other displays of wealth—to suggest that cultural conservatism is another factor. It is especially evident among second-generation British Muslims who, having abandoned their parents’ native language, food and clothing, often find in Islam a uniquely powerful immigrant identity. Mr Ali, a bearded 37-year-old whose relish for communal harmony coexists with conservative Muslim views, is a typical case. “Our parents were too busy working hard to think about religion much,” he says. “Our generation is saying: ‘I choose to be Muslim, this is how I make sense of the madness.’ ”

    The suddenness of this cultural embrace shows. Britain’s born-again Muslims often have a sketchy grasp of their religion, and can be gulled. “There is a lot of confusion,” said Sajid Iqbal, a Pakistani journalist who has spent over a decade observing his British co-religionists. “Extremists are not nearly so well recognised as they are in Pakistan.” And there are plenty of them.

    Getting their niqab in a twist

    Over 40% of British mosques are run, and most British imams schooled, in the Deobandi tradition, which tends to be hostile to integration. Hence the spread of the niqab, which some Deobandi preachers consider obligatory for women, in places such as Leicester where it was until recently uncommon. According to WikiLeaks, the American State Department’s former chief adviser on Muslim relations, Farah Pandith, considered Leicester’s Muslim community the most conservative in Europe.

    Such cultural conservatism is tolerated in multicultural Britain, and many Muslims appreciate it. “This is the best country, you are free to pray, free to go to the mosque,” said Lal Muhammad, an Afghan selling phone cards in Sparkhill. Nor, as the Paris attacks suggest, is France’s unbending secularism necessarily superior. That suggests Mr Pickles’ polite request was, though worth making, not terribly likely to succeed. The inwardness and resentfulness of too many British Muslims will endure—at least until the second immigrant generation gives way to the third.”

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