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The Quiet Death of Moderate Islam

This is a guest post by Mehrdad Amanpour

Let’s turn the clock back 20 years and imagine that South Africa still has an Apartheid government. Now imagine that in Europe, we have a sizable Afrikaner community and that a significant number of people within that community openly support Apartheid. Would it be fair to describe those people as extremists?

Indeed, given that mainstream consensus accepts overwhelmingly that Apartheid is an extreme ideology, would there be any repercussions in Europe, legal or otherwise, if one were to describe such people as ‘bigots’, ‘racist scum’ or worse?

Now let’s go further and imagine that a proportion of the Apartheid-supporters not only believes in racial segregation, but also believes that the punishment for miscegenation ought to be death by say, lynching.

However, let’s assume that the pro-lynching Afrikaners are mostly law-abiding and that their support for lynching is based upon sincerely held religious beliefs – after all, some in the Dutch Reformed Church once believed that black Africans belonged to a lower race than whites and that black skin was the ‘mark of Cain’.

Let’s also assume that their religious leaders assert that their religion commands them to obey the laws of the countries in which they live and that that any support for lynching applies only in an ‘ideal Apartheid state’?

Does being law-abiding and supporting something abhorrent, but only in an ‘ideal’ state make an individual ‘moderate’ by default? Does it confer on that personfa the automatic right to be tolerated, respected and defended from hostility?

Is it conceivable that a religious or community leader would be allowed to advocate lynching, even in an ‘ideal’ world, in a church, community centre or student meeting, without being prosecuted for hate crime and harassed mercilessly by anti-fascists?

Could someone ever say such a thing on BBC radio without being pilloried by the interviewer and generating a massive, public outcry?

When I was a child, my relatives would tell me that the hadud punishments of stoning, beheading and limb amputation weren’t part of modern Islam – such practices belonged to another time, in the same way that burning witches in Europe belonged to another time. I was told that the only Muslims that supported such practices were ‘backward’ and the only places that practiced them were ‘barbaric’ – in time ‘education’ would enlighten these simple folk and drag them into modernity.

Yet I’ve grown up and seen the opposite happen.

These days, one can happily believe and even state publicly that the death penalty should apply to anyone who has sex outside of marriage, takes part in a homosexual act, insults the Prophet or leaves Islam without being ‘extreme’.

As long as one says “in an ideal Islamic society”.

HP ran a piece about Abdul Qadeer Baksh, Chairman of the Islamic Centre in Luton. Baksh asserted on BBC 3 Counties Radio that every moderate Muslim believes that gays would be executed in an ideal Islamic state. Whilst the presenter, Olly Mann did challenge him on this, I couldn’t help but feel irritated by Mann’s lack of outrage – the challenge was far too polite almost to the point of being deferential – “Er, I do accept that you said in an ‘ideal’ Islamic state”.

How does ‘ideal’ make any material difference to the hatefulness of what was being said?

Forgive the ugliness of my anology, but imagine that one of our fictional Afrikaners had said, “Blacks would be executed for miscegenation in an ideal Apartheid state”. Would Mann have been so circumspect in displaying his disgust and outrage at such a statement?

On Question Time, Nick Griffin infamously said: “I shared a platform with David Duke, who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a totally non-violent one by the way”.

How we all laughed – who couldn’t see the absurdity of Griffin’s caveat?

Which is why it is so hard for me to bear the inability of so many Europeans to see and react appropriately to the unacceptable extremism that has become mainstream in Muslim society.

Whilst Griffin’s equivocations are picked up immediately, Muslim spokesmen get away with weasel words all of the time. The general pattern goes like this:

“Doing / supporting [insert abhorrent view] is un-Islamic. This is Britain. Islam commands British Muslims living in Britain to obey British law.”

The caveats are “Britain” and “British”. Listen for them then despair as I do at the interviewer, who’ll either not notice and certainly won’t ask: “Hold on, why are you using caveats? Do you think it’s okay to non-British Muslims to [insert abhorrent view] outside of Britain or in an ideal Islamic society?”

The bitter irony is that as vile as Griffin, Duke and their respective groups are, I doubt that hardly anyone belonging to the BNP or KKK actually advocates the execution of non-whites – even in a twisted ‘ideal’ world. What’s more, even if they did, it would be inconceivable that they would ever get away with saying such a thing in public without suffering very serious legal consequences and attracting massive negative publicity.

So why is it so much less despicable for a Muslim spokesman to say that gays ought to be killed on BBC radio? Is the life of a gay man really of lesser value than that of a black man?

What ever happened to rationality?

As HP exposes all-too-frequently, throughout Europe, in mosques, Islamic centres and student Islamic societies, there are Muslims who have no qualms about stating openly their support for the type of ‘ideal Islamic state’ that Baksh hopes for.

They do it secure in the knowledge that bien pensants will politely put their fingers in their ears and face the other way, whilst at the same time foolish organisations such as Hope Not Hate (HnH) and the rather more sinister Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and militant Antifa organisations in Europe will attack mercilessly anyone who is too vocal in criticising the persons or groups who hold and promote such horrific world-views.

The irony.

In a rational world, Baksh would now be a social pariah and facing prosecution for hate-crime whilst being hounded unrelentingly by anti-fascist activists.

But in reality, he’ll remain lionized as a ‘community leader’, no doubt feted by Luton’s great and good – the local council, ‘community’ police quango, media and political class.

What’s more, can there be any doubt that he’ll be welcomed with open arms at any UAF meeting he chooses to attend? Indeed it seems he’d find himself among like-minded people.

If one were to ask a member of this ‘great and good’ to describe what they imagine a ‘moderate’ Muslim believes, then they’d probably prefer to describe the views of someone like me rather than the views of someone like Baksh.

But if you asked the same person to engage with a Muslim ‘representative’, they’d go for someone like Baksh every time. And there’s the contradiction – even though it’s convenient to pretend one thing in public, the media and the political class know deep down that people like me no longer represent the views of British Muslims.

I believe that hadud punishments are wrong – killing or maiming a human being is never justifiable. I support free speech, even if it is critical of the Prophet or challenges the beliefs of some Muslims. I believe that adults must be free to have consensual sex in private with whomever they wish. I believe that a Muslim must be free to leave Islam. Crucially, I believe that these rights must apply here, everywhere, today and forever. And I believe that any such ‘crimes’, if they are even crimes, are for Allah alone to judge.

Whilst I’m not alone as a Muslim in holding such beliefs, people like me are very much on our own. We face overwhelming hostility from the ‘vast majority of moderate Muslims’. We’re accused of causing fitnah and of being murtad – apostates, and as such we too warrant the death penalty alongside homosexuals in Baksh’s ideal Islamic state.

It’s ironic that in modern Britain, it is far, far more dangerous for me to state my beliefs in public in than it is for Baksh to state his.

What chance do people like me have when the ‘great and good’, the liberal media and the ‘anti-fascist’ organisations that ought to be supporting and defending us, instead support and defend those who believe we should die? In an ‘ideal’ world.

The gutless media. The unprincipled trade unions, universities and student unions that turn a blind eye to the wickedness being promoted in their midst. The hypocritical ‘anti-fascist’ organisations that enable and defend hate. Most of all, the lickspittle political class. Shame on them all.

‘Extreme’ has quietly become ‘moderate’ whilst Europeans have been too polite, too unprincipled or too cowardly to object.

There are those who say, “Islam needs a ‘Reformation”. To them I say “Look around you – the Reformation has already taken place”.

Ali Eteraz wrote an insightful and depressing piece on this:

“According to 18th century records, the Ottoman Empire – Islam’s ruling power – had not flogged, imprisoned, or passed the death sentence on adulterers for nearly 400 years. The traditionalist Ottoman jurists had relied on the Quran’s “four witnesses” rule, which had made proving adultery virtually impossible.

Along came a self-professed Islamic reformer named Abdul Wahhab. … Wahhab said that procuring a confession was enough to stone someone to death and proceeded to do so.”

During the past two decades, the Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad.

At the same time, competing fundamentalist Shia and Sunni movements have been promoted aggressively throughout Europe, with massive funding from countries such as Iran and Qatar.

Moderate Islam is as good as dead. It didn’t stand a chance.

Throughout Europe today, someone can advocate a Utopia in which gays and apostates are killed and nevertheless expect to be considered a ‘moderate’, fully entitled to and deserving of tolerance and respect. They can even call themselves an ‘anti-fascist’.

As long as that Utopia is “an ideal Islamic society”.

I’ll end with this meeting in Norway, of moderate Muslims who make my point better than I ever could.