From the Times Online, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
THE head of Britain’s race watchdog urged Muslim leaders yesterday to speak out more against terrorism and called on them to do more to support the rights of Muslim women.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said that Muslim protestations that Islam is opposed to the crimes carried out in its name could be taken seriously only if those assertions were acted on in Britain.
It’s high time someone said that.
His remarks aroused immediate protests from Muslim leaders, who said that they had been assiduous in condemning terrorism. A senior insider said that Mr Phillips”s remarks on this issue could be interpreted as Islamophobic, although he said that there was much else in the speech that was good.
They missed the point. He didn’t say they hadn’t condemned terrorism. He said they hadn’t ACTED on their condemnations. Was he wrong?
Speaking to an audience of Muslim academics at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Mr Phillips said: “Though I know it is irritating to many of you, and feels unjust that you have to do this time and time again, it remains important for mainstream Muslim leaders to point out that British Muslims have no time for terrorism, and call on anyone who practises it in the name of Islam to cease.”
He praised the work of the Muslim Council of Britain in combating terrorism. This year the council took the unprecedented step of writing to every mosque urging worshippers to exercise vigilance against terrorism. However, Mr Phillips went on to speak out about the issue of women in Islam. “It remains crucial for Muslim leaders to remind the rest of us that true Islam does not compel young women to travel thousands of miles to be given away by their families to men they do not know and to whom they do not want to be married. It remains vital for Muslim leadership to denounce those who claim that they have a cultural right to impose circumcision on young women.”
He added: “Muslim protestations that the faith is opposed to the depredations and crimes carried out in its name . . . and that it regards equality of women as intrinsic to Islam can only be taken seriously if we see those assertions being made flesh here in our communities.”