Islamophobia, xenophobia and paranoia, is rife in the media today. There is non-stop scaremongering being spread and it’s causing more harm than good. The latest comments or suggestions rather, made by Britain’s most senior Muslim Chief Mak Chishty, has just added more fuel to an ever enraging fire. According to the Chief, these are a few signs of a Muslim on the path towards radicalisation; showing a negative attitude towards alcohol or stopping its consumption, to stop wearing western clothing, to stop shopping at Marks & Spencer because they are mistakenly perceived to be Jewish owned, or believing that Christmas is forbidden. Chishty expressed the need to monitor the private spaces of the Muslim youth, as children as young as five are being influenced by ‘extremism’.
Based on these comments, I would say that most of the Muslim population in Britain fall under at least half these categories, including myself. Alcohol is impermissible in Islam, Chishty as a Muslim knows that. There are some that drink, but the vast majority stay away from it. Many non-Muslim alcoholics give up drinking. People are killed, suffer long term illnesses, families torn apart and lives are ruined due to alcoholism. For one to give up the habit, he or she is bettering themselves. A Muslim doing it must mean they have been radicalised. Just like cigarettes and drugs, I show a negative attitude towards alcohol. It’s hard to be positive towards intoxicants that kill thousands around the world every year.
What exactly is the definition of western clothing and what’s wrong with not wearing them? What’s this fascination with people that we all have to become western to seem modern or progressive? The west seem to forget that the Middle East will always be the cradle of civilisation, and it’s the resources, riches, intellectual and social advances of the eastern world that has made the west westernised. How does a person not wearing a shirt and trousers anymore (assuming this is western clothing), make one radical? A Muslim woman who decides to cover her modesty is criticised, yet showing your skin and flaunting all you have is ‘liberating’. A Muslim practising their religion the way they should, makes them just that, A Muslim. Another thing a Muslim doesn’t do, is celebrate Christmas. So what if a five year old says they don’t want to mark the celebration because Islam forbids it. It doesn’t mean we hate Christians or disrespect the religion. We don’t force you to fast in Ramadhan or observe Eid. Do you know which other religion that doesn’t celebrate Christmas? Judaism. Maybe you should start monitoring Jewish children (sarcasm).
Muslims boycotting shops such as Marks & Spencer because they are mistakenly perceived to be Jewish owned, well that’s just absurd. Firstly M&S is half Jewish owned, or at least was founded by one. Michael Marks was born into a Belarusian Jewish family. However, that’s not the reason why Muslims (including myself) boycott them. M&S stock products which are grown or produced on illegally occupied territory in Palestine. Occupied by the Zionist, racist and murderous state of Israel. The products are grown by Palestinians, who are what can be best described as an enslaved and abused community. The boycott is a moral conscience. I love how the media forget to mention the key points. Besides, boycotting is nothing new in Britain. Remember Apartheid South Africa? During that time, Britons boycotted products from South Africa or companies that supported the racist regime. Back then it was heroic, back then it was a moral obligation and a democratic right. However today, how dare we Muslims be moral and not support Britain’s ally, Israel.
The British government has introduced some dangerous laws, and let’s be frank, they have one demographic in mind. Scotland Yard report that nearly one arrest is made a day in connection to extremism. How do you nearly make an arrest? You either do or don’t. Maybe it means the police raid a house, tear it up and when they are about to handcuff the person, they change their mind. Nearly arrested. What Scotland Yard forgets to mention, is that majority of them are released without charge. The media has a field day on the news of an arrest, but remains silent when they are released. It’s how you keep the xenophobia alive. The CTS Bill and everything that is related to it, is one of the most audacious laws in recent British history. It allows the police and relevant authorities to imprison Muslims, close down mosques, temporary expel British Muslims, restrict the freedom of speech and monitor the behaviour, with little or no evidence of anything extreme.
Radicalisation comes in many forms. It can be religious, political or social. Games, films and music has radicalised thousands around the world. Some of the content in today’s entertainment business is very disturbing. Messages of sexism, racism, hatred, discrimination, gang culture and violence are widespread. The number of youngsters re-enacting the aforementioned from the virtual world into reality is increasing. From serial killers to rapists, and from gangsters to racists, social radicalisation needs to be addressed and challenged equally. Another common factor is a country’s hypocrisy to foreign and domestic policies. British Jews are allowed to spend their summer holidays in Israel, serving and training with the Israeli Defence Force. This means that if a war does break out, then they can participate. We saw a clear example of that in the summer of 2014. The Israeli army had killed over a thousand civilians, including 500 children. British Jews were complicit. Every single Jew on return to Britain was neither questioned, arrested nor detained. The deaths of Palestinian children obviously hold no value to the British government, then again, Britain does finance the Israeli army. On the other hand, those British Muslims that travel to Syria to fight Assad, who has killed over 200,000 civilians in the last 4 years, are deemed as terrorists and will be imprisoned on their return. Hypocrisy.
Let me be clear, I do accept and understand there is genuine extremism amongst the Muslims, it’s very evident in many cases. The question is what leads a person to such a path, who is responsible and what defines actual extremism? Who you may see as a terrorist, I may see as someone different. It doesn’t mean one is wrong or right necessarily. What it does mean, is that the two viewpoints need to be discussed and a viable solution has to be achieved. I personally have no issue with Muslims travelling to Syria and fighting with a group (ISIS and their ilk’s aside), whose sole purpose is to overthrow the tyrannical government, and protect innocent civilians. Britain doesn’t have an issue with sending its army to invade the Middle East and Asia, and be complicit in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, so why worry about British Muslims in Syria protecting innocent civilians. Is it only Muslims that are subject to radicalisation?
So basically; I’m a Muslim who has changed subtly over the years, I show negative attitudes towards alcohol, I boycott M&S and other products, I don’t celebrate Christmas, I wear western clothing but also loves Islamic clothing, I support Palestine, oppose Israel and disagrees with aspects of British politics. So, am I radicalised?
(Thanks to Abdul Hamid Faruki for his guest blog)
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.