Friday, 17 April 2009

Comment on Ed Husain op-ed, What Binds Brits together?

Here is the Op-Ed at the Gurdian website.

Mr Husain, the man who wrote the Islamist,(which i reviwed here) has this to say on the values that bind people of the UK together.

key points from the OP-Ed

"Last week's arrest of alleged terror suspects reassured many in Britain. The suspects are all – bar one – from Pakistan. There was an unspoken sense of relief among many that at least they were not British. But why? Why do we expect not to be attacked by "our own"? Why is "home-grown terror" more terrifying? What in Britain glues us together to prevent us from turning on one another?"

"Let's cut to the chase: we have a problem with connected identity here in Britain. It's not just Muslims such as Khan who feel disconnected from Britain – the problems of atomised, self-centred existence are widespread. The "nothing-to-do-with-me-guv" mindset has caused us damage. It has made us unwilling to find common ground with our fellow citizens."

I believe though, you answered your own question. How can (Muslim) non-drinkers and drinkers get on? How can we reconcile the values of collective obligation with individualism. How can you reconcile the culture or reason, discourse and scepticism with the culture of obedience, faith and group-loyalty?

"We need to move beyond simplistic debates about identity and engage with the deeper issues that are at stake. Too often, commentators have suggested that a united society can be built on shared tastes in sport, food, and clothing. This is not enough: such arguments overlook that the 7/7 bombers played cricket, ate fish and chips and dressed in jeans. We need a deeper debate about the core values that can bind us together as a nation."

from Ed Husain, writing in the Guardian.

My View

I dont believe you can. Two choices face us from this conclusion.

1. We continue on the same path of not seriously engaging with Muslim separatists, by apologising for them, stating that there is not a problem with them or their ideology, that the problem is really US foreign policy. British policy regards Muslims at the minute is to engage with the non-violent extremists. This is a very short-sighted policy. The problem is not terrorism, it is the values of freedom and inquiry that are under threat. The extremists might not use violence, but they use ever other tactic to coerce others into complying.

2. Both the Government, the establishment and the intellectual class can and should wage intellectual war on Muslim separatists. We need the same kind of response that was present during the cold war intellectual battles over communism. The ideology of Islam and the politics of Muslim separatists will erode in the face of unrelenting, challenging scepticism from the larger population. Secondly, we need to give larger voice to people like yourself MR Husain and someone like Ayan Hirsi Ali. We need to encourage and support Female Muslim rebellions, and quests for independence.

The goal of creating a tolerant and reasonable Muslim population in the UK is a worthwhile goal. Why? For the reason that ideas spread, that relatives back home might pick up on whats going on with their UK cousins. That many silenced, progressive Muslims, might draw inspiration from the modern Muslims in Britain. One of the sad observations from MR Husains book is that England is such a hotbed of extremism, that it outdoes even the Saudis in rhetorical fervour, that many young British Muslims grow up to be the most radical kinds of Muslim. This, of course, can be changed, but only if their is willingness to do so, at present, I do not see such will.



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