Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Ramadan Message and the Emergence of British Islam

The video message of Prime Minister David Cameron, and the tweet from President Obama, wishing the Muslims well, as they begin observing the month of fasting in Ramadan is really a nice gesture; it makes as small contribution to neutralise the acidic clash of civilisation, which is manifested in the various conflicts around the world. Many of us, Muslims and non-Muslims are still bitter about the illegal Iraq war and Western leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the Israeli python strangling and suffocating the Palestinians – but we also need to acknowledge the just intervention in Libya that helped to prevent a bloody massacre by the Libyan dictator, and the masses in the West are now more sympathetic towards the Palestinians. Many of us also wanted to see Western troops, preferably helped by Turkey and other Muslim nations to remove the murderous Syrian regime.   

It is not just the Muslims who are reluctant to acknowledge the positive gestures emanating from Western leaders; the British comedian, Frankie Boyle, replied to President Obama’s tweet  “I wish Muslims of America & around the world a month blessed with the joys of family, peace and understanding” with the following “the ones you force-feeding in Guantanamo or the ones you bombing” and it went viral.  Indeed, had Obama closed down the camp as he promised, his tweet would have been amplified in the Islamic world.   

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Imams’ Sermons and the ‘British’ Street Groomers

Last Friday, Imams in various mosques around the country delivered a political sermon (khutba) for a change - it was not about the awful situation in Syria or Burma, but on the domestic issue of street groomers; the men in question entice vulnerable young girls with gifts, drugs and alcohol for sexual exploitation, and if necessary employ violence to keep them in chains. Imams do not need to deliver sermons or pass a fatwa, it is common knowledge that adultery, rape, prostitution, drugs, and alcohol are explicitly forbidden in Islamic law, and the jurists are unanimous on this. The sermon sent out a political message - it implied some level of collective guilt on the wider Muslim community, as if they have to bear some responsibility for the actions of the street groomers. One is naturally compelled to ask the simple question: what’s the connection between the street groomers and the wider Muslim community? Is it simply their Muslim names and heritage? Had the street groomers committed armed robbery or murder, would a similar sermon be delivered?

What about the fact that the street groomers are predominantly British; many were born and raised here through the education system, so should the society not feel the collective guilt too, and deliver a similar sermon? Of course, the media deploys the race card in a subtle manner, the British tag is conveniently dropped and they are described as Muslim or Pakistani street groomers. They are not as British as Tommy Robinson, Nick Griffin, Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, Gary Glitter, Mark Bridger, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady!  The adjective of ‘Muslim’ or ‘Pakistani’ implies the acts are somehow linked to their religious or cultural roots, no relation to their British identity and the values of the wider society that ‘ironically’ permits alcohol (drugs) and casual sex, as opposed to the Islamic heritage of the street groomers.