Although the Prime Minister’s speech about British Muslims’ lack of values was couched in politically correct and not overtly Islamophobic language, the messages from the EDL in Luton and from Munich were the same and on the same day. While we welcome Mr. Cameron’s review of the ‘Prevent’ funds that were being spent in strange ways — such as bus ads and false media reports — we still don’t understand which ‘British values’ Mr. Cameron was talking about.
The ‘values’ that he enumerated are defined by law in his country, Muslims vote here and are fighting for democracy in Egypt and Palestine, and Muslim views on homosexuality are espoused by many in the Conservative party. Islam has its own take on women, which is exemplified in the odd statistic that the majority of white British converts to Islam are women.
So where is the problem? The problem is indeed Islam! Islam abhors hypocrisy, an unfortunate trait of the West, especially the original English, their language and their ways. An illegal war is an illegal war, no matter how you spin it, especially if the casus belli keeps changing. Democracy is democracy for Hamas and for Egypt and for Iran and for China. The Church of England had no comment on Prince Charles keeping a mistress for years, but quite recently refused to marry them in church, but blessed them later. This is incomprehensible to the simple Muslim mind: Muslim women had the right of inheritance and divorce before Henry VIII formed the Church of England.
Going back a bit in British history, the only discernible and constant British values appear to be the pursuit of reason, principled debate and the rule of law — by Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Germanics, Celts, Normans and many others. And of course, a penchant for the pint — something where there will always be a gulf in values with Muslims!
By generally not subscribing to American foreign policy and American consumerism, a segment of British Muslims are a robust modern voice engaged in vigorous dialogue and debate about global issues, social issues and are now a full contributing stream to ‘British values’. If Britain is increasingly being defined as a result of these Islamic voices, it may be that these are the only voices not afraid of speaking out and the rest are so stuck in corporate media backlash and poll-sensitive sound-bite politics. If the only major politician to call out Cameron was a Muslim MP, Sadiq Khan, then what does it say about the modern bearers of British values?
In the post-Crusades and post-Empire period, one of Britain’s current global roles has been the incubator of modern Muslim thought — it is looked up to by most of Europe and the United States as an expert on this enigmatic religious-social-political behemoth. From the contributions of Jinnah and Iqbal down to Zaha Hadid and Tariq Ramadan, Britain and its real values (see below) have been much more influential in the modern Muslim world as they have been in Europe or in NATO. It is time to embrace this modern role and not to rely on a rhetoric of popular but non-specific ‘values’ that are not backed up by facts and can safely be considered as a wink and a nod in trying to outflank the EDL and BNP on the right.
Radicalism of thought is a British tradition, and it is not the same as extremism and both are not the same as terrorism.
With the lone sane voice of Sadiq Khan, the silence from Labour and the Liberal Democrats has been deafening. All that is left is a British Glenn Beck — hopefuls should apply to Murdoch’s media outlets and a reference from the Conservatives will help.