It is that time of the year: a hectic month as the British people recover from their frenzied Christmas shopping, briefly punctuated with the peace of the annual family get together, only to be followed by scrambling over various items thanks to the hype produced by corporations eager to increase the debt through boxing day “sales”. As the recovery from these activities begins and the damage to the bank accounts dawn, we take advantage of this lull for some customary reflection.
This year has been a particularly unsettling one; the sordidly racist campaign which ultimately culminated in Brexit; the far-right terrorist attack claiming the life of Jo Cox – the first killing of an MP in 26 years; the B-movie being played in the US starring Donald Trump, the West-wide rise of the far-right and unleashing of political and social xenophobia, security globalisation via totalitarian measures like the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda; Britain passing one of the world’s widest and intrusive surveillance laws; the list goes on. Sadly, it is the Muslim minority, either through scapegoating or being subjected to the fruits of this dangerous concoction of nationalism, disenfranchisement through the global neoliberal order, and neoconservative domestic and foreign policies, which has by and large, bore the brunt.
The former oil executive and Etonian Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently stated that there was a need to move away from the notion that ISIS has “nothing to with Islam”:
“If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it… A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that… This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Isis is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.”
The argument seems ostensibly balanced. After all, the theological element is mentioned as a factor (albeit a defining one) and Welby highlights the Christian militia in CAR, as well as the Hindu nationalist persecution, though, limiting it to Christian persecution whilst ignoring the rape and killing of Kashmiri Muslims by an army overseen by the fascist PM of India, Narendra Modi. However, the reporting, language and timing of his statements, upon closer inspection, reveal a smokescreen for a continued agenda to target Islam.
A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain. One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.
The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:
- Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
- There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
- Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
- Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
- Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
- Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.