Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Article excerpt

What was amazing about John Ware's 'A Question of Leadership' on Panorama last Sunday was that it has taken nearly four years since 11 September for such a programme to be made. It simply and successfully did the basic journalistic job of asking difficult questions. The chief object of the questions was Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Sir Iqbal was juxtaposed with moderate Muslims who unequivocally repudiate the doctrines of Islamist extremism and various apologists for them. What did he think of a group of people affiliated to the MCB who say that those who mark Christmas 'will find a permanent abode in hellfire'? 'It's a view that they hold, ' said Sir Iqbal. The MCB had 'no control'. Did he still think that Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses should be banned? There was 'no law, sadly', he replied, which could do this, but he had high hopes of the religious hatred Bill which is on the way.

His view of Abul A'la Mawdudi, the thinker who advocated the methods of fascism and communism and taught that 'Islam has not a trace of democracy'? 'A renowned scholar.' And of Sheikh Yassin, main ideologue of Hamas and supporter of suicide bombing? 'A renowned Islamic scholar.' One felt some sympathy for Sir Iqbal, because secular questioning about religious belief is often hard to answer in terms which an unbelieving audience can understand. But the question left in one's mind was, what is the point of the MCB, supposedly the umbrella organisation for virtually all British Muslims? If it must accept pro-terrorist affiliates, if it cannot condemn suicide bombing and the killing and capture of British troops in Iraq unequivocally, if it opposes freedom of speech, what, as they say, does it 'bring to the party'? Either it is itself extreme, in which case the government should have nothing to do with it, or it is too weak to help the cause of moderation.

On the day that the programme went out, the Sunday Telegraph reported that the MCB's media spokesman, Inayat Bunglawala, has been selected for a Home Office 'task force' to tackle extremism. I know Mr Bunglawala quite well, and find him bright and charming, but he has written, I discover, that Hamas is 'an authentically Islamic movement' and 'a source of comfort for Muslims all over the world'. If one wants extremists tackled, one must go elsewhere.

This alarming quotation from Mr Bunglawala appears in an excellent new report, Islam in Britain, published by the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. The report went to press before the 7 July attacks in London, but appeared after them, so the following prediction it makes reads horribly well: because of the radicalisation of Muslim youth in British cities, it warns, 'The traditional reluctance of British-born Muslims to attack the UK may not hold out much longer.'

Inthe debate about 'Islamic terrorism', those who dislike the phrase quite often point out that people did not refer to 'Catholic terrorism' or 'Protestant terrorism' in Northern Ireland. This is more or less true (although one occasionally heard both phrases used), but there is a reason for it. The great majority of republican terrorists were/are Catholic and the great majority of loyalist ones were/are Protestant, but on neither side did the leaders preach that terrorist murder advanced the Kingdom of God or guaranteed the killers a place in heaven. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.