Tag Archives: islam

How we name our enemy’s ideology really matters

All complex thinking requires language; either words and sentences or symbols and equations. In conflicts we particularly need to think clearly. Our chosen words must pass two critical tests:

A. Have we defined the enemy accurately?
B. Will our words unite “our side” or divide it?

In state warfare, the enemy’s name is normally obvious. On 3 September 1939 Britain’s Prime Minister accurately declared that “this country is at war with Germany.”

We called Germany’s ideology Nazism; Nazi being an abbreviation for National Socialist German Workers Party.

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Attacks in Nice

Embed from Getty Images

As a Liberal Democrat and a Muslim, I condemn the senseless murder of Samuel Paty and the attacks in Nice on 29 October. Such heinous attacks are completely against the teachings of Islam, which prohibits terrorism or extremism under any circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the people of France and with everyone affected.

These horrific attacks, perpetrated on the false pretext of defending the honour of Muhammad, The Holy Prophet of Islam (“The Holy Prophet”) have led to outrage and exacerbated tensions between Muslims and French society. They risk damaging relations in Britain too.

Like many Muslims, I consider the derogatory cartoons depicting The Holy Prophet published by Charlie Hebdo and other publications to be offensive, distressful and provocative, but they do not justify violence. The cartoons do not serve the objective of free speech, which is to encourage debate and find truth. Instead, their only purpose is to ridicule and cause offence, knowing it to be hurtful to Muslims.

Regardless of the dishonest attacks on the character of The Holy Prophet, to react violently is totally wrong.  The opponents of The Holy Prophet often abused and mocked him. But he responded peacefully and never permitted any of his companions to react.

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More in common – my visit to my local mosque

Campaigning for the General Election has been suspended twice in recent days, and rightly so. Last Sunday, we paused in memory of Jo Cox, her lifelong work to show that we have more in common and her tragic death, whilst in recent days we ceased campaigning in the wake of Monday’s atrocious terrorist attack on Manchester by those who wish to use death and destruction to drive us apart.

Last Saturday I visited the North West Kent Muslim Association for their public open day, and now feels like a good time to write about that visit. Like many people, I learned something about Islam while at school, but had never been inside a mosque before, and to be honest, I would have struggled to tell people where my local mosque was.

Dartford’s mosque is on Crayford high street, in a converted church building. For the open day, they had set up an exhibition in their community room, focusing on the fundamentals of Islam, the relationship between Islam and Europe (including the many things that we have gained from Islamic cultures, such as coffee drinking) and on Islam and Science.

As both a Liberal and a Christian however, the most interesting parts of the day for me were the discussions with local Muslims. I was surprised to see the mosque had separate entrances for ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ (though we were all welcomed through the same gate this time). However, women at the mosque assured us that this was not a sign of inferiority or subjugation for either sex and that they felt that Islamic law and practice was there to guard their equality rather than undermine it.

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LibLink… Paddy Ashdown: It’s not a fight against “us”, it’s Islam vs Islam

Mali rebel - License Some rights reserved by MagharebiaIn an article in today’s Times, Paddy Ashdown concedes that David Cameron is probably right that the so-called War on Terror (a term Paddy dislikes) will go on for another decade. Paddy argues that we need to recognise that the way western countries have been operating doesn’t work. What is needed now is to recognise that the fight is between different factions of Islam. It should be our job to help out moderate governments where we can.

He outlined why the “invasions, main battle armies and occupation” of

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Nick Clegg publishes his message for Ramadan

You can find it as Muslim News – here’s an excerpt:

We in the Liberal Democrats have always championed religious tolerance, and we are proud of the diverse traditions in our country. We recognise the importance of the principle of Zakat to Muslims, especially at this time, and I deeply regret that Islam can be unfairly portrayed in many parts of the media especially when Muslim communities in this country do so much excellent charitable work.

The full article is here.

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Opinion: The Wisdom of Clare Short

Clare Short, in her book, An Honourable Deception?, talks about religious fanaticism. She makes the point that the Iraqi body count website calculates that between the 9/11 bombings and February 2004, there were roughly 3,500 deaths resulting from Islamic extremist attacks on Western targets. In comparison she points out that over 13,000 non-combatant civilians died as a result of the Iraq war, as well as another 3,000 in Afghanistan, and 3,000 Palestinian civilians.

Looking at these figures – and acknowledging that many more Muslims have died in violence in the Balkans, Pakistan, Chechnya – it is easy to see why young Muslims living in these countries have a view of the world that includes a sense that the world values their lives much less than those of, say, me, a typical western male…

Obviously any member of a western government would shout me down were I to make such a claim to their face. Any Western liberal democracy places the utmost value on human life, regardless of race, religion or gender. At least, so any Bill of Rights you care to read would tell you.

But that’s just the point. It’s easy to legislate for a concept, but to live up to that all the time is not easy.

We shouldn’t shy away from the fact that any democratically elected government that values its prospects for re-election jealously protects the lives and interests of its citizens. Couple this very understandable bias with the fact that none of the most powerful and influential governments in the world are Islamic nations and you get the situation that, in any multinational forum – be it the G8 or the UN – it is the interests of the richer, western liberal democracies that are put to the fore not those of the Islamic world.

Look at the Darfur genocide. Were that happening in the UK there would be an overwhelming response, not only to protect those being oppressed, but to bring the oppressors to justice. It is not outside our power to take such actions when these events occur -even in the Sudan, but our governments choose to take less action because there is no reason to take any action other than a moral obligation.

It is this narrow self-interest that is the major driving force behind every country’s foreign policy. However, it is arguably at the root of most of the problems in the world. The fact is that the ‘war on terror’ has killed far more Muslims than it has anyone else. I say that we should forgive the Muslims of the world for thinking that the world doesn’t care about them. Fair point, really. This view is borne out of a dispassionate examination of the facts over the last couple of hundred years.

It is this feeling of impotence in the face of an unjust world that is at least partly driving young Muslims into the arms of extremist recruiters. If we are to overcome these problems, we could do worse than learn lessons from the UK’s attempts over the years to resolve the sectarian problems in Northern Ireland.

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