Where are British moderate Muslims?
by Enza Ferreri
If there are moderate Muslims in the UK, this is the moment for them to make their voices heard.
Pakistan’s Railways Minister has offered $100,000 for the murder of the filmmaker of The Innocence of Muslims.
In any civilized country, he would be not only fired from his cabinet position but also arrested for the crime of incitement to murder. Instead, Pakistan’s Prime Minister has excused him, and people in his country have demonstrated in his support.
Pakistan is a member of the British Commonwealth. Its High Commissioner to the UK, the equivalent of ambassador for Commonwealth countries, has defended the Railways Minister in an interview with Sky News.
Various British Muslims have also been interviewed, and they invariably expressed the opinion that, if freedom of speech should be protected, then the Pakistani minister is within his rights to say what he wants, and after all, he only hurt one person, not many like the controversial filmmaker. This is Muslim logic for you.
All this is reminiscent of what happened at the time of the Salman Rushdie affair, when opinion polls among British Muslims were showing the majority in favour of the fatwa against the writer.
Let’s not forget that many UK Muslims have come here from Pakistan, so much so that the derogatory term for Asians in Britain is “Paki”.
When we consider Pakistan, the country’s blasphemy law and its use to persecute Christian minorities in the most shameful way and the support that this law enjoys among the Pakistani population, and then we look at this latest episode of a government minister publicly inciting to murder with impunity and people taking to the streets defending him, we have to draw the conclusion that, if there are moderate Muslims in Pakistan, they must be very few or very silent or both.
Is the same true of British Muslims, many of whom are of Pakistani extraction?
Interestingly, Muslim figures prominent in the UK, always displayed for public consumption as representatives of moderate Islam, have turned out, under greater scrutiny, not to be so moderate after all.
Member of the House of Lords Lord Ahmed “savagely attacked Tony Blair for giving Salman Rushdie a knighthood, ...threatened to mobilise 10000 Muslims to prevent democratically elected Dutch MP Geert Wilders from speaking in Parliament, this is despite his own invite of the anti-semitic Israel Shamir who has been accused of denying the holocaust”.
The Pakistani-born peer also said: “Even if I have to beg I am willing to raise and offer £10 million so that George W Bush and Tony Blair can be brought to the International Court of Justice on war crimes charges”.
Former Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan “is the lifelong friend of Babar Ahmad, a man indicted in the US on charges of ‘conspiracy to provide material to support terrorists, namely the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen; providing material to support terrorists; and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country’. Ahmad ran a website recruiting jihadi militants to go and fight the Russian in Chechnya and Coalition troops in Afghanistan. When arrested, he had in his possession plans for an American carrier battle group with written notations on it like ‘vulnerable to RPG’”.
Journalist Mehdi Hasan, former senior political editor of The New Statesman, on separate occasions called non-Muslims people of no intelligence and compared them to animals and cattle (in so doing revealing, on top of everything else, his speciesism).
And former co-chairman of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi, unelected, appointed to the House of Lords, amidst public expenses frauds scandals, breachings of both the Ministerial Code and rules on financial declarations, found time to run a business her partner in which, Abid Hussain, has been a leading member of Hizb ut Tahrir, a radical Islamic group the Conservatives promised to ban when they were in opposition.
Disliked by Tories, called by one of them “the worst party chairman” we've ever had, Warsi, who is of Pakistani origin and maintains strong ties with that country, has now more power than ever, with two crucial cabinet posts and a seat at the National Security Council.
Enza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based author and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L'Espresso, La Repubblica.