Scottish Daily Mail
We British Muslims have
THERE is nothing in Islam that can justify the taking of an innocent life, nothing that can condone what murderous Islamic State fanatics have done in its name. This gang of criminals has bought our faith into grave disrepute and besmirched its honour. Muslim leaders must act before it is too late. We must demonstrate that this horrendous slaughter in Paris was not sanctioned by us or perpetrated with our blessings. And we must prove to young impressionable Muslims that we do not condone this carnage.
The French Muslim community should have acted more assertively already. They should be marching in the streets, chanting ‘Not in my name!’, ‘Not in the name of Islam!’
But instead, there is an eerie silence. They are doing nothing tangible to oppose the poisonous ideology that originates from Saudi Arabia and lies at the heart of IS theology, and which sadly has infected European Islam. In Great Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Islamic Society of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain should be bussing in Muslims from Scotland, Wales, all over the United Kingdom, to protest in our capital at what happened. They should be organising a mass ‘Not in our name’ march of all Muslims, irrespective of sect or denomination, condemning IS unreservedly for all it stands.
A tiny rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
night is not good enough. Prominent Muslim organisations need to spearhead the fight against IS and the ugliness and intolerance that it represents.
It is not the first time that these selfproclaimed Muslim groups have failed us.
In the aftermath of the tragic July bombings in 2005, there was no co-ordinated response or protest march organised by the UK Islamic community. Fifty-two innocent people, including five Muslims, were murdered, but no Muslim organisation took to the streets shouting ‘not in our name’.
Yet, Muslims can mobilise ourselves whenever we believe it is warranted.
For example, we were quick to gather collectively in protest against Salman Rushdie when his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses was accused of blasphemy, and quick to march in London in 2006 against the Danish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.
Yet if there had been a mass rally by Muslims immediately after the London bombings a decade ago, there would be less extremism in the UK today. It would have sent a powerful message that Islam does not countenance bloodshed, except when it is in legitimate selfdefence. And, if we had done so, we would not have more than 750 young British people going to Syria to join IS.
So why do we play the fiddle while Paris burns? Muslims are fettered by a misguided loyalty – by the idea that we must not ‘wash our dirty linen in public’ and criticise our faith, because our enemies will take advantage.
This is rubbish. The Koran says the highest loyalty is not to Islam, but to truth and justice. We have a responsibility to make sure this sort of atrocity does not happen again.
If we do nothing, our inaction gives a twofold message: first, to the Muslim community, that innocent French lives do not matter; and second, to the vast majority of the British population, that we are condoning murder.
In France, the collective silence from the country’s Muslim leaders will again be interpreted as tacit acquiescence. It will aid and abet Marie Le Pen’s National Front in next month’s important regional elections.
IS is a toxic corruption of our faith, a cancer in our midst.
Not only do we need to resist its jaundiced conflation of jihad (inner struggle) with bloody aggression, but we must also combat IS for its anti-non-Muslim, homophobic and repressive female ideology.
Muslims need to condemn unreservedly the horrific slaughter that took place on Friday night. We must show that we will defend the values of this great society – and, in this way, we will also show that we protect the true teachings of Islam.
Dr Hargey is director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford