Enough is Enough !
Since 9/11 and 7/7, hatred of Muslims coupled with the spectre of Islamophobia has become the norm rather than the exception.
Anti-Muslim bigotry has to all intents and purposes has become so casual and widespread that it has been normalised and is now indeed an inherent part of British culture.
We can safely say that to call a Muslim woman wearing a hijab as being’ oppressed’ or a Muslim male sporting a beard ‘a terrorist’ is considered to be ‘cool’ in many sections of British society. Indeed, Baroness Warsi quite rightly pointed out a few years ago that ‘Islamophobia’ had passed the dinner table test within the upper echelons of society. The Runnymede Trust in its seminal work argued that ‘religious literacy’ is lacking at all institutional levels and sectors in the United Kingdom and failure to engage in this work will only fuel Islamophobia in the coming decades.
We need to ask ourselves the question how we have got to this stage in 2018 nearly seventeen years on from 9/11 and thirteen years on from 7/7. The answer to this question is quite complex and needs further examination. The conveyor belt of attacks upon Muslims ranging from accusations of failing to integrate to the ideology of the Islamic tradition being the incubator of so called Jihadist terror sweeping the world has created a toxic environment that has now left every Muslim fearing for their safety in this country.
Politicians and political parties have never really understood Islam or Muslims and one fears they never will or probably do not want to. The Conservatives for example did not even care about the Muslim vote in the last two elections because they felt that they were going to take their vote elsewhere. David Cameron was seen going out of his way to court the Hindu and Sikh vote in 2015 but refused to be seen with Muslims. Zak Goldsmith was given the green light to conduct one of the nastiest and vindictive election campaigns ever seen in this country against Sadiq Khan in the London Mayoral campaign by Cameron and his entourage.
Last month, the Prime Minster Theresa May said Russia and ’Islamic terrorism’ were the biggest threats the world face. Reckless use of words does more damage to Muslims coming from the Prime Minister than the likes of Paul Golding, Jayda Fransen and Tommy Robinson. Islam is not synonymous with terrorism first and foremost and will never be. Islam does not condone or promotes the killing of innocent people anywhere under any circumstances. Therefore, the actions of certain Muslims or groups such as ISIS/Daesh are not in any way shape or form sanctioned by the Islamic creed.
Labour under Tony Blair were the architects of the toxic environment that Muslims find themselves through the creation of the PREVENT strategy. PREVENT has been a spectacular and abject failure over the last 13 years in that the programme has ended up being less about combating radicalization and rather focuses on criminalising and policing thought in Muslim communities under the pretext of safeguarding.
Anyone who opposes PREVENT is by default accused of failing to prioritise the safety of children which is an insult to those who have genuine and legitimate concerns about the direction the government’s counter-terror strategy is heading in.
Certain local authorities in recent years have given public space to far -right groups such as Britain First and EDL to hold demonstrations that have damaged community relations and the local economy in the long run. The very presence of these groups has fuelled anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry in towns and cities across the country and in turn some local authorities having manufactured a previously non-existent problem have appealed to government for counter-terror funding to preserve jobs that have been under threat due to the ideological austerity mission which started in 2010 designed to make the state smaller.
The Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group set by the government has been nothing but a damp squib and sop to the Muslim community.
The group was given the remit of tackling anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred and providing guidance to government ministers. The group has achieved very little in recent years primarily because a raft of Home Secretaries have not bothered to attend the meetings held in London and actually listen to what the members of the working group have to say.
Furthermore, the group has attempted to force the agenda on Islamophobia only to be told to concentrate on planning event to mark the festival of Eid!!!!! (see Dr Chris Allen article Why I Quit the Government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-chris-allen/anti-muslim-hatred-working-group_b_6064866.html
The media also is culpable in fuelling Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry through its reporting of news. Unfortunately, the media has a lack of diversity and does not possess the right quality and calibre of people who can provide a fresh insight into what Islam is and what the faith represents as far as British Muslims are concerned in Britain today.
Channel 4 Dispatches programme ‘Who speaks for British Muslims’ was the tip of the iceberg of the problem facing British Muslims. The programme was poorly researched and failed to provide an objective view in terms of who actually does speak for British Muslims let alone deal with the question in the first place! The programme instead turned into a diatribe against two Muslim organisations namely CAGE and MEND and the strategy used by the programme makers was very much contrary to fair and unbiased reporting.
This now brings us to present which is that life for many Muslims in the United Kingdom has become worse and is getting worse day by day. Many Muslims are now fearful of going about their daily lives now as they are faced with threats of intimidation and violence. Muslims are now looking over their shoulder now waiting for the next news headline to break or new government policy announcement that targets them.
The situation is now at breaking point which begs the question which direction we are now heading in going into the next decade.