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Response to speech by Sara Khan given in Leeds 2019-11-05
Response to speech by Sara Khan given in Leeds 2019-11-05
Last updated 06/12/2019.
Sara Khan is the lead commissioner at the Commission for Countering Extremism.
Our overall assessment looks at three aspects in general plus some specific points:
You quite rightly want to build trust in and between communities and groups and that is something that we all would like.
However, trust cannot be built on deception and evasion. As we have previously stated, the elephant in the room remains the unwillingness to address the nature of Islam and Islamic doctrines and we have provided evidence from unimpeachable sources to support our assertions that there are solid grounds for concerns regarding Islam-sharia.
Trust is best built by talking openly about issues in our opinion.
2 Echo chamber thinking:
We hope we are wrong here but the impression we have formed to date from your report and speech plus the underlying reports you commissioned is of interaction with a large echo chamber of officially recognised counter-extremism groups who by virtue of being endorsed by or funded by national or local government all espouse an orthodox, politically correct and essentially left wing/'liberal' mindset. A mindset critiqued in various ways by these articles:
Douglas Murray Spectator 17th January 2015:
"In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’... All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting. ‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion. And fourthly, because unless mainstream politicians address these matters then one day perhaps the public will overtake their politicians to a truly alarming extent."
Also this paper, written in 2007 by a former US intelligence analyst, Stephen Couglin, on the danger of ignoring what the jihadists say and the doctrinal basis for their actions: “TO OUR GREAT DETRIMENT”: IGNORING WHAT EXTREMISTS SAY ABOUT JIHAD (added 27/11/2019)
That mindset, we believe, excludes the concerns of many ordinary people such as the lady I happened to meet in a hospital car park a few months ago. She was in her 70s, quite ordinary but a mention of immigration brought forth the statement “Tommy Robinson is right, I don't know if you have heard of him...”. As was expressed in our initial letter, it is those concerns that lead to large numbers of people in the UK thinking:
“Most Brits Think Islam ‘Incompatible’ With UK, Third Say It Is Violent”
and “New research points to significant and widespread levels of public anxiety over immigration from mainly Muslim states”
Anti-Semitism within Islam: (added 26/11/2019)
This is one of the most virulent and rising forms of extremism in the UK today, yet the role Islamic doctrines and teachings play here are largely ignored. From Panorama 2010:- "British Schools, Islamic Rules" teaching children questions such as "List the reprehensible qualities of the Jews?" through to surveys by ADL (Anti-Defamation League) which show anti-Semitism by Muslims in Europe to be circa 4.9 times greater than the general population in the UK.
Cardiologist Vera Kosova, a German Jewish immigrant from Uzbekistan, provided these balanced, pellucid insights on such findings when interviewed recently at the Frankfurt Book Fair, 10/19-20/19 (posted with English subtitles 11/7/19):
“It is important that the Antisemitism debate be led openly, honestly and broadly. There’s a right-wing Antisemitism; there’s a left-wing Antisemitism, and there is Muslim Antisemitism. Muslim Antisemitism clearly dominates in the statistics, and also does especially among the surveys done among the Jews. The German police crime statistics don’t apply, because they do not represent the reality. That’s because as soon as the perpetrator cannot be clearly identified the crime is assigned to the ‘right’ end of the spectrum. We’re not going to solve these problems in this country by doing this, and that’s certainly not going to stop Antisemitism.”
Finally, it is imperative to acknowledge and hold accountable the most authoritative, mainstream Islamic religious teaching institutions—Sunni and Shiite alike—that continue to promote canonical Islam’s most virulently Antisemitic tropes from the Koran, and traditions of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Sunni Islam’s Vatican, Al-Azhar University, and its previous and current Grand Imam Papal equivalents, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), and Ahmad Al-Tayeb, respectively, epitomize these trends.
Tantawi, arguably the greatest modern commentator on the Koran, in addition to serving as Al-Azhar Grand Imam from 1996 until his death in 2010, provided this summary gloss on the Koranic depiction of Jews, emphasizing its timeless relevance:
(The) Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah (see Koran 2:61/ 3:112 ], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places (4:46) , consuming the people’s wealth frivolously (4:161), refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do (3:120; 5:79), and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted (lascivious) envy (2:109)…only a minority of the Jews keep their word…[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims (Koran 3:113), the bad ones do not.
More ominously, Tantawi’s exhaustive modern analysis of Islam’s defining, canonical sources concluded by sanctioning bigoted—even violent—Muslim behaviors towards Jews.
[T]he Jews always remain maleficent deniers….they should desist from their negative denial…some Jews went way overboard in their denying hostility, so gentle persuasion can do no good with them, so use force with them and treat them in the way you see as effective in ridding them of their evil. One may go so far as to ban their religion, their persons, their wealth, and their villages.
You can either dismiss the concerns behind those points as people being fooled by 'far right' activists and continue down the path of censorship and silencing people/groups that voice concerns about Islam-sharia. Alternatively you can try and understand why, across the world, there are a plethora of groups and individuals voicing concerns regarding Islam-sharia, concerns that are not echoed for other groups such as Buddhists, Hindus etc.
The former path of trying to silence or at least mute criticism of Islam will, we are sure, be warmly welcomed by the likes of Begg and Anjem Choudary as it is in effect a backdoor Islamic blasphemy law. Indeed we are close to that with the appalling definition of 'Islamophobia' produced by an extremely gullible set of MPs and the likes of CAGE and MEND.
The latter path is a much harder and uncomfortable philosophical position as Scruton pointed out in this excellent article:
The problem is that bad philosophy is attractive and optimistic – why else would you be taken in by it? – whereas good philosophy is sceptical, with nothing to recommend it besides its truth, which is also its most depressing feature.
It is undeniable that criticising Islam-sharia as a belief system will reflect to some extent on the Islamic community as a whole but when we are faced with Islamic texts and doctrines as they are and systemic misquotes of the Quran after scenes of horrific slaughter, those criticisms are something that they need to face.
Our present Prime Minister reportedly seemed to understand this back in 2007. Whether that is still the case is another matter? “Boris Johnson insisted that 'Islam is the problem' and Islamophobia is a 'natural reaction'” (added 30/11/2019)
Equally, the journalists and politicians that fail to expose the deliberate misquoting of verse 5:32 by excluding the context and the exceptions are complicit in perpetuating the problem for the sake of having a quiet life now!
The ordinance is in reference, as per the preceding verses, to the killing of Abel by his brother Cain. Verse 32, which begins “for that cause” (reason), meaning “for the reason Cain killed Abel,” is followed by the decree given to “the Children of Israel” (i.e., the Jews) who, according to Muslims, received an earlier set of scriptures. Effectively speaking, this is applied to Muslims who as the new chosen people should not kill other Muslims. The verse likewise sanctions killing as an act of vengeance against those who kill or cause disharmony in the umma. Based on the two verses that follow (33–34), what appears on the surface to be a peaceful message is in reality a warning:
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment; Except for those who repent before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.—Sura 5, 33–34
Also this is a very good explanation of this misleading misquotation of verse 5:32:
“…whosoever killeth a human being… it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…”
3 A 'sticking plaster' approach:
Concerns regarding Islam, misrepresented as “anti-Muslim prejudice” and the counter narrative of 'nowt to do with Islam' are evident in the examples you cite of Sunderland and the local council that continued to work with an extremist.
The latter two are both sides of the same coin of denial and for that matter so is the “it is unfortunate to see an anti-counter-extremism lobby regularly peddle these false claims.”. These are examples of the echo chamber mindset of political correctness that has been pushed so heavily that is has become the dominant philosophy.
You deal with the surface expressions of concern regarding Islam-sharia which, I would agree in general terms, are frequently poorly expressed and sometimes based on misinformation. However, the commission neither appear to see or are unwilling to recognise the undercurrents that have produced people and groups questioning Islam-sharia around the world.
What you do not address is the essentially reactive nature of these concerns about Islamic doctrines and actions in the name of Islam, you simply file them under the heading “hateful extremists”, essentially something to be squashed. As stated a above, an approach that adherents to Al-Muhajiroun will no doubt happily endorse.
There is no hint of even an attempt at understanding the motivation behind those protesting about Islam-sharia. What analysis the commission have done appears to be either of the genuine far right such as National Action or the commission has mutated concerns about Islam into “anti-Muslim prejudice”.
The commission state that they want to take a “human rights and evidence” based approach to extremism, thus it is frankly amazing that, so far as we have being able to determine, none of the many items quoted by Sharia Watch have been cited in either the main report or in the sub-reports on specific issues.
That is, in our opinion, a serious failing of both this speech and the report on which it is based but one that fits with the head in the sand 'Islam is innocent' approach or as Macron recently put it after the latest slaughter of police staff in Paris, “a distortion of Islam”. We have previously addressed concerns about the report here. To date we have only received a holding reply.
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against “stigmatising” Muslims or making the link between Islam “with the fight against terrorism.” Macron also condemned what he called the “irresponsibility” of political commentators for the “fatal shortcut” of linking Islam with terrorism.
It is disturbing that Emmanuel Macron’s views align with those of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, who also argued against all fact that “it was wrong to ever equate Islam with terrorism, declaring that any form of ‘radical Islam’ does not exist. Khan continued (at the UN) to declare that ‘there is no radical Islam. There is only one Islam.’”
In our view, you need to commission another paper dealing with the impact of Islamic doctrines on both Islamic thinking and society as a whole. In this, the approach needs to be a world-wide, holistic view because negative influences on people within the UK can just as easily emanate from the Middle East, Pakistan or elsewhere eg:
Pakistani Islamism – Flowing Into The UK
Will the UK become another Pakistan? The definitive answer is yes. The only question is when. In November of 2017, Islamists from the Sufi school of Islam laid siege to Islamabad for three weeks on the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat ("finality of the prophethood of Muhammad"), a belief that is part of Islamic shari'a's blasphemy laws. The ideas articulated by Islamists in Pakistan are being preached in British towns and Europe – publicly and in mass rallies, as discussed below. In an earlier article, I have defined Islam as a movement of ideas, Islamism as the peaceful methodology of Islam and jihadism as the weaponised version of Islamism.
In recent decades, Ahmadi Muslims, pejoratively dismissed by clerics as Qadianis and persecuted by the Pakistani state and society, have found shelter in the UK. Ahmadi Muslims will be at the receiving end of Pakistani Islamism flowing into the UK because they are accused, inaccurately, by Islamists of not believing Muhammad to be the last prophet. Ahmadis do believe that Muhammad was the last prophet, but also argue, much like the Sufis do, that God talks to and mediates with mystics. However, the Islamists – Deobandis or Sufis – have determined that Ahmadis are guilty of blasphemy by not believing in Muhammad to be the last prophet.
Jamaat-e-Islami Official Tells Crowd In Birmingham: "Unless Nizam-e-Mustafa [The Prophet Muhammad's System Of Governance] Is Established... There Cannot Be Peace"
To some extent that approach is understandable from national politicians and government who do not want the extremely thorny problems that will be thrown up by addressing the nature of the Islamic belief system e.g.
“The way I see it, what ISIS did was that they want to force the reality of today’s living to be following what is in the source of Islamic teaching. Everything they [ISIS] did, they have the justification from the authoritative references of Islamic teachings.”
Among Muslims and non-Muslims, there is an urgent need to address those obsolete and problematic elements of Islamic orthodoxy that underlie the Islamist world view, fuelling violence on both sides. The world’s largest Muslim organisation, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, of which I am General Secretary, has begun to do exactly that.
The truth, we recognise, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of Shariah that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict.
The same approach from a body that has deliberately set itself apart from government in order to be able to critique government policy where required isn't as understandable.
Your case study – Sunderland:
The commission classes “Islam teaches these men that women are nothing and that they can beat and abuse them at will...” as 'hateful extremism', therefore we need to look at the evidence behind the original statement. This is something the commission have conspicuously failed to do.
The author has little personal knowledge of the case in Sunderland so cannot comment on the specifics of that particular case but the wider narrative behind it is of some Muslim men abusing women. That has been noted in some of the more honest media outlets e.g. Daily Telegraph:
“Men of Pakistani heritage treated white girls like toilet paper.”
The logic behind your current approach would suggest that you class the Daily Telegraph and the columnist as 'far right' based on that commentary. To some extent we would class the comment as dubious because it refers to “Pakistani heritage” and not to predominantly Muslim men who happen to be of Pakistani heritage in the UK. Similar problems elsewhere in Europe have occurred with Muslim men of Arab and North African heritage.
This quote from a court case illustrates the problem (Updated 16/11/2019):
was taught that women were "worthless" at the Islamic faith school he attended, also claiming that he was not aware it was illegal for him to have sex with a child because his education had left him 'ignorant' to British law.
Another incident, small but telling! These men are getting their ideas from the teachings of sharia: - Council of Europe - "In Islamic family law, men have authority over women" (added 05/12/2019)
“Austria: Kosovar at police check says ‘I do not talk to women, they have no rights,'” translated from “Österreich: Kosovare bei Polizeikontrolle ‘Ich rede nicht mit Frauen, die haben keine Rechte,'” PolitikStube, December 4, 2019 (thanks to Searchlight Germany):
The kidnap and forced conversion of non-Muslim girls is a regular occurrence, particularly in Pakistan but also in other places within the Islamic world.
“according to Aurat Foundation, around 1,000 women and young girls from religious minorities in Pakistan are forced to convert to the religion of the majority [Islam] and marry their kidnappers every year. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believes that more than 20 Hindu girls are kidnapped every month. “
The connection between Islamic doctrines and CSE/attitudes to women is briefly discussed here:
Then there is the report by the Council of Europe quoted in our initial letter:
In this study I shall be looking at the general principles of Sharia law in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights...
In Islamic family law, men have authority over women.Surah4:34 states: ‘Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.’While wives clearly have a duty of fidelity, husbands do not. In Sharia law, adultery is strictly prohibited. Legal doctrine holds that the evidence must take the form of corroborating testimony from four witnesses to prove an individual’s guilt. These witnesses must be men of good repute and good Muslims. The punishment is severe and degrading, namely ‘a hundred lashes’. In the case of rape, which is seldom committed in public before four male witnesses who are good Muslims, punishing the rapist is difficult if not impossible. In practice, this obliges women to be accompanied by men when they go out and is not conducive to their independence. While divorce by mutual consent is enshrined in Islamic law,18the application has to come from the wife, since the husband can repudiate his wife at any time. There is also the question of equal rights with regard to divorce arrangements such as custody of children.
The ECHR judgment expressing concerns regarding: “its [sharia] rules on the legal status of women”
Council of Europe resolution 2253:
The Assembly denounces in particular the fact that in divorce and inheritance proceedings – two key areas over which muftis have jurisdiction – women are at a distinct disadvantage.
The Assembly is also concerned about the “judicial” activities of “Sharia councils” in the United Kingdom. Although they are not considered part of the British legal system, Sharia councils attempt to provide a form of alternative dispute resolution, whereby members of the Muslim community, sometimes voluntarily, often under considerable social pressure, accept their religious jurisdiction mainly in marital issues and Islamic divorce proceedings but also in matters relating to inheritance and Islamic commercial contracts. The Assembly is concerned that the rulings of the Sharia councils clearly discriminate against women in divorce and inheritance cases.
Then there are the references in the Quran:
Does Islam teach that a woman is worth less than a man? Absolutely. The only debatable point is by what degree.
In Islam, sexism is mathematically established.
Quran (2:282) - (Court testimony) "And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women."
Muslim apologists offer creative explanations to explain why Allah felt that a man's testimony in court should be valued twice as highly as a woman's, but studies consistently show that women are actually less likely to tell lies than men, meaning that they make more reliable witnesses.
Quran (2:228) - "and the men are a degree above them [women]"
This is often taken to mean authority or responsibility - although it is not literally in the Arabic text.
Quran (5:6) - "And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it"
Men are to rub dirt or water on their hands to purify themselves, following casual contact with a woman (such as shaking hands).
Quran (2:223) - "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will..."
A man has dominion over his wives' bodies as he does his land. This verse is overtly sexual. There is some dispute as to whether it is referring to the practice of anal intercourse. If this is what Muhammad meant, then it would appear to contradict what he said in Muslim (8:3365).
Quran (4:3) - (Wife-to-husband ratio) "Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four"
Inequality by numbers.
Quran (53:27) - "Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names."
Angels are sublime beings, and would therefore be male.
”And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise.”
“O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers - We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess - that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.”
A man is permitted to take women as sex slaves outside of marriage. Note that the verse distinguishes wives from captives (those whom their right hand possesses). [Verse 33:50 also provides a convenient exemption for Muhammad!!!]
The last point on Quranic verses 4:24 and 33:50 is echoed in the Shafi'i manual of sharia law:
K32.1 Women and children of the land that has been conquered are considered booty of the war and they are considered slaves. Everything belongs to the Imam first and after he takes a fifth of the booty the rest is given to the soldiers who were involved in the war. If the slave becomes a Muslim this conversion does not set him free and he will stay a slave. Captivity is the absolute consequence of Muslims war with non-Muslims and is not exclusive to elementary Jihad or defensive Jihad, even in the presence of the prophet or Imam and with their permission. If Jihad was done without the permission of prophet or Imam, all the booty is given to the Imam.
K32.3 The master who owns a woman slave can use her in any way for his sexual pleasure; he can marry her if he wants. In intercourse the satisfaction of the female slave is not important at all. The female slave does not have to be Muslim convert. Even if she is pagan the sexual intercourse is Halal (permissible). A female Muslim is not allowed to have sexual relation with her slave without marriage. The male slaves are considered “mahram (impermissible, taboo)”. The Koran has emphasized this point. The Mola (Master) not only has the right to marry his female slave without her consent but he is also allowed to lend her to another man without her consent to have sexual intercourse without marriage. He also has the authority to marry her to one of his male slaves.
From the Maliki school of sharia: (Update added 16/11/2019)
32.6b. Women of the People of the Book It is halal to have sexual intercourse with women of the People of the Book if you own them as slaves or are married to any of their free women, but it is not halal for either a free man or a slave to have sexual intercourse with slave girls from among the people of the Book through marriage to them.
[This is based on the ayat of Allah, "or what your right hands own." We read in adh-Dhakira that because the People of the Book have been honoured by the Book and addressed by the Almighty Lord, their women and food are permitted. Others lack this honour by their deprival. It is reported from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar ibn al-Khattab that it is not permitted to marry a free Kitabi woman by evidence of the ayat of al-Baqara. He says, "There is no shirk greater than her statement that her Lord is 'Isa."]
The above, being part of the Quran and sharia law, is being reflected in at least some mosques in the UK: (added 24/11/2019)
"Yes, boys, you CAN have sex slaves: Outrage as British Muslim cleric at mosque where Cardiff jihadis were radicalised tells teenagers that 'captives' are permissible under Islam in vile sermon"
Reflect on the above in the context of how ISIS treated the Yazidi people! Also, the Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram!
Summing up the above in a speech or a tweet as “Islam teaches these men that women are nothing and that they can beat and abuse them at will...” is hardly extremism, more a reflection of a reality that too many wish to ignore. As Scruton said:
“good philosophy is sceptical, with nothing to recommend it besides its truth, which is also its most depressing feature.”
Other points from your speech:
“They spread anti-minority disinformation and conspiracy theories online and offline”
Response: If you feel any of the points we make falls into those categories, please explain why? Sharia Watch is open to debate.
“Thanks to those of you who attended our workshop yesterday, we want to hear your thoughts on how our definition works on the ground.”
Response: It doesn't work so long as it refuses to consider the role of Islamic doctrines especially sharia.
“To date there has been little discussion of the victims of extremism; “
Response: This is very true, especially of ex-Muslims whose apostasy from Islam is punishable by death under sharia law! Council of Europe:
“Apostasy results, firstly, in the apostate’s civil death, with the estate passing to the heirs, and, secondly, in the apostate’s execution if he or she does not recant.”
Nissar Hussain who was beaten with iron bars and required an armed police guard to collect the family belongings after being forced from their home!
“They spread anti-minority disinformation and conspiracy theories online and offline, amassing hundreds of thousands of views to normalise hate and recruit others to their cause. Stephen Yaxley Lennon in conjunction with Rebel Media for example promoted one campaign which amassed 100,000 views.”
Response: The real problem here isn't SYL, it is the sharia and Islamic doctrines that promote intolerance, make non-Muslims 2nd class citizens, make men superior to women and sanction jihad. That is what most people who are concerned about Islam are opposing. That should be clear from the many ex-Muslims who are extremely critical of Islam-sharia. Although that isn't to say that SYL's methods are always the ideal way to approach a particular issue. To re-iterate various earlier points and please do say if you think that any of these points constitute “disinformation” or a “conspiracy theory”?
Islamic scholar Yahya Cholil Staquf: “This includes those portions of Shariah that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims”
Council of Europe - “non-Muslims do not have the same rights as Muslims in civil and criminal [sharia] law”
Shafi'i manual of sharia: "Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying warfare to establish the religion"
“Some councils felt able to talk about some forms of extremism in their area, for example the far right, but found it uncomfortable to discuss others, for example, Islamist extremism, in fear of causing offence or a lack of understanding.
Our report also gives an example of one council who did not take a more robust response to an extremist in their area, even after the High Court declared this individual, an imam of a mosque, to be an extremist who had spouted religious violence, antisemitism and other extremist behaviour.
Our case study showed, that despite the High Court’s ruling, it appeared to be business as usual for this imam and a poor response from the council and civil society (including other faith leaders), contributed to a lack of an effective response in challenging his extremist behaviour and beliefs – and not challenging this is how normalisation happens.“
Response: “found it uncomfortable to discuss others for example, Islamist extremism” - Why was such a key point as the ECHR judgment on sharia omitted from your timeline?
In truth, if the commission cannot face up and publish/discuss the ECHR judgment on sharia law and the subsequent follow ups by the Council of Europe are you any better?
“or a lack of understanding”
Response: The commission can help to rectify this for those councils that lack understanding by initiating discussion of the ECHR judgment on sharia and other points made in our recent letter. Open, robust debate is by far the best way to spread knowledge.
“Some of the accusations levelled at the counter-extremism strategy included the claim that “taking counter-extremism money in any circumstances legitimises the strategy of the state which approaches Muslims as criminals” and that the “counter-extremism strategy relies on premise that Muslims are predisposed to violence and therefore require monitoring and surveillance”. “
Response: This is a common tactic, switching focus away from Islam-sharia as a belief system to Muslims(individuals). It is Islamic doctrines that require scrutiny. What flows from such scrutiny will possibly be many awkward and painful choices but that is no reason to avoid subjecting the Islamic belief system to proper, in depth scrutiny. The very visible damage being inflicted around the world on a daily basis by adherents of that belief system cannot be ignored.
That is why we are calling on the commission to initiate a proper, robust debate on the points we have raised!
This point about what we should tolerate and not tolerate is very appropriate:
“Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.”
What a crucial point! The greatest barrier to dialogue is our failure to separate people from their ideas. When that happens, people become afraid to challenge bad ideas because they feel like they’re demeaning the person who holds them. But people are not their beliefs—they have beliefs, but they are not identical with their beliefs. That’s a vital distinction, which Sheen helps us see.
“Behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about or make the moral case for violence...That draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group, and that cause or are likely to cause harm.”
Response: Given the above would the commission agree that is exactly what sharia law does?
Islamic scholar Yahya Cholil Staquf: “This includes those portions of Shariah that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict.”
For clarity, this response will be published on Sharia Watch and possibly elsewhere. If you feel any of the above points are wrong or misrepresent Islam-sharia or your own position please let us know because we agree with you that open, robust debate is the best way forward. As the Phil Collins song goes, “We always need to hear both sides of the story”!