British Muslims Must Confront the Radicals; (1) the Muslim Debate (2) Five Years on from 9/11, One London Muslim Warns That Saudi-Fuelled Extremism Is Corrupting Islam - Yet Few in the Community Dare Speak Out

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

British Muslims Must Confront the Radicals; (1) the Muslim Debate (2) Five Years on from 9/11, One London Muslim Warns That Saudi-Fuelled Extremism Is Corrupting Islam - Yet Few in the Community Dare Speak Out


Byline: WAQAR MIRZA

AS WE British Muslims mark the fifth anniversary of September 11, we are seen by many as an oppressed group of people. Racism and British foreign policy have been blamed for our oppression.

Although neither of these are blameless, it is clear to me that our main enemy is not the British Government. It is the jihadis in our midst.

Our peaceful, previously harmonious community is being infiltrated and exploited by fundamentalists, many financed and supported by Saudi oil money, who stand for a kind of Islam that the vast majority of British Muslims privately reject. Yet we are doing little publicly to stop it.

The roots of this dangerous situation lie in the teachings of a man called Abdul Wahab, whose precepts became influential in Saudi Arabia and have spread across the world. According to Wahabi ideology, women should be uneducated, men should be judged on the length of their beards and the entire world should be governed by its values.

There must be war between believers and non-believers. And Wahabis' idea of non-believers includes many Muslims themselves.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other groups all spring from this single root.

Yet Wahabi ideology bears no relation to Islamic teachings and does not chime with any kind of Islam that I, or most British Muslims, recognise.

Without many Muslims realising, and below the radar of white British society, groups preaching this hardline version of Islam are steadily moving into and winning control of mosques and other Muslim groups in towns and cities across Britain. They may not directly preach terror - but they create a climate where intolerance and dogmatism is the norm, and violence becomes possible.

In one mosque in the Home Counties which I know well, a Wahabi group has mounted a skilful takeover, winning control of the management committee.

Their organisational skills made up for their lack of numbers.They exploited our traditions of hospitality towards strangers to turn, over a period of years, what was a moderate and liberal place of worship into a place where, as recently as last month, the imam preached that Pakistan's President Musharraf was an enemy of Islam.

This mosque now discourages women from attending. Many of the liberal Muslims who once worshipped at that mosque have voted with their feet. But they have not opened their mouths.

Our young people, British Muslim university students, are routinely targeted by violent and intimidatory extremist groups on campus. My own son, an undergraduate at a college of London University, was threatened with violenceby one of these groups, al-Muhajiroun, after appearing on TV to condemn terrorism. I had to move him out of his flat near the campus and resettle him elsewhere.

At a Muslim television station based in London, women employees are encouraged to work separately from the men by the scholar presenters. The programmes feature extremists who broadcast that Western society is corrupt and that Muslims who indulge in "infidel" practices - such as, for instance, taking out life insurance - will be damned. …

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