(Published in European Action No 23)
Any attack upon another’s religion is a violation of a human right. A man’s religion is his free choice of worship and should be inviolable. Let us make it clear that the politicisation of religion is the real cause of so much human strife and suffering and not the religion in itself. Religion is often attacked by atheists and other secularists as being responsible for the slaughter of millions over the centuries ... and it is the cynical political manipulation of religion for secular ends that concerns us here.
Here in Britain (and elsewhere in Europe) we have this ugly phenomenon of some fringe parties adopting a violent type of religious intolerance as a nationalistic platform. Its exclusive target is Islam and what is perceived to be ‘the threat of Islamification’, supposedly challenging Britain’s identity as a Christian nation. Are we really justified in claiming to be a Christian nation?
Where did all this begin? What are its origins? Attacking anyone for his religion was unheard of in the days of Mosley’s Union Movement. Mosley always said, “We do not attack people on account of what they were born [what they are] but solely on what they do”. This is a perfectly sane and rational point of view and can not be challenged on any moral grounds. At that time, Mosley was referring to what was described as ‘the quarrel with the Jews’. He would say the same regarding Muslims, always consistent, and he abhorred any ill-treatment of the under-dog. In Mosley’s case, there was never a quarrel with Muslims. Quite the opposite. He regarded the Arab world as Europe’s natural ally.
I believe this bogus ‘crusade’ against Islam erupted at the time of the end of the Cold War, when international communism dealt its own death blow. The Age of Ideology came to an end leaving an enormous vacuum waiting to be filled by a much-needed external threat in the form of another global bogeyman. That is when the idea of a ‘war against terrorism’ was first hatched with the Middle East in mind and the new neo-con global agenda linked to Israel and a New World Order. The rest is history, as they say.
Far-right opportunists latched onto this conspiracy theory, opposing Islam worldwide, as an ideal substitute for a previous ‘external threat’ now re-invented as the Muslim ‘enemy within’ ... the militant Muslim with his eye on world domination. Ring a bell?
A new vocabulary was needed in order to articulate this myth. We had ‘jihadists’ and then ‘islamofascists’. ‘Jihadist’ is a clear corruption of a noble and pious obligation for the religious. It has no political equivalent. Jihad means the daily struggle to improve oneself as a religious person, having a subjective dimension as well as an obligation to the greater well-being of the community. It does not mean holy war, which is a cynical invention of the self-styled, latter-day ‘crusaders’ stirring up religious hatred. This is but one example of how Islam is being distorted and how it is being misrepresented by the far-right groups, without which they are completely moribund in terms of ideas.
All of this has been cobbled together to create a grotesque caricature divorced from reality ... reality being one of three Abrahamic faiths experiencing a revival that was once the Christian experience, uplifting and dynamic. This is ‘Islamification’ to the conspiracy theorists ... meaning Islam gaining in size and strength but it is only in terms of the religious without a political base. This is where the conspiracy theory falls flat on its face.
Although Muslims recognise the Ummah as the world community of Islam, it has no political organisation as such and is simply the recognition of a universal brotherhood of the religious. Universality is a characteristic of all the major religions and Islam is no exception.
This brings us to another weakness in the claims of the anti-Islamic far-right. There is a mad idea that only ‘British’ religions have a place in these isles, corralling their ‘British gods’ within a sanitised cordon off North West Europe. Universality is too much like the nightmare of world government which, as all good Empire Loyalists know, is a Jewish communist conspiracy in the pay of New York bankers. How Muslims fit into that equation is something that only the complete paranoiac can incorporate into his tangled web of a mind.
We find them defending the Christian values of Britain against the ‘alien’ faith, the interloper and destroyer of the true faith. Christianity has its roots in the Middle East, the Holy Land, as does Islam. If Islam is deemed alien then so is Christianity and, of course, the predecessor of both, Judaism. That any religion should have a national identity is absurd in the extreme ... equally as much as the idea of a Christ renewing his British passport with the Home Office.
Christian values are not British values. They are universal values ... meaning they are for all mankind. Islamic values are so similar that the same universality applies. How these giant faiths co-exist is a mark of our nation’s tradition of tolerance and the magnanimous nature of its people. Whether church, mosque or synagogue — they are all centres of religiosity and the human feeling that there is something greater than all of us. This is higher than any politics.
Then there is the scaremongering concerning Sharia Law. This is regarded by the anti-Islamic ‘crusader’ as barbaric, involving torture and mutilation unto which no Christian should succumb. For the benefit of the ignorant, Sharia Law is for Muslims only, being based on the Holy Qur’an ... perceived to be the word of God. The reasoning being that God is higher than man, so it follows that God’s law is higher than man-made law.
The Jews in Britain have their Beth Din, Jewish ecclesiastical courts for the religious. This is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. Surely it follows that different faiths must have different needs. What a dull, grey world it would be if everything in our society were to be standardised and subject to a one-size-fits-all rule on matters of law and regulation. Yes, we have diversity and there should never be coercion to conform to a single standard way of living. I say that Muslims are entitled to another tier of law if their faith demands it. There will always be our tier of secular law ... but there is nothing wrong with choice. According to Islamic injunction, a Muslim is obliged to honour and respect the laws of a host country and to do otherwise is deemed un-Islamic, of course.
We have large Muslim communities settled in Britain that have become part of a permanent demographic change. Second, third and fourth generations have adopted much of our culture, as one would expect, but most retain the faith of their fathers and those before them. Islam is now firmly rooted here and it deserves to be respected and understood ... not attacked as a conspiracy.
Have I changed my mind on the immigration issue since the days of the 1960s when our slogan was ‘Stop Immigration — Send Them Back to Good Jobs and Conditions’? It was always a humane policy and one that became part of a wider economic solution for Britain and Europe. At that time, reversing non-white immigration was a very reasonable and practical proposition. Fifty years later, it is a different world that has left many far behind but one that demands a rethink if we are to preserve our European culture in peace and in prosperity.
All things are in a state of becoming. It is a law of the Universe. Race and culture are no exception in the great movements and upheavals that occur from time to time. Races have always migrated and moved around the world.
However, ‘Islamification’ is nothing more than a cheap scare tactic. This must be understood first. Islam saved Europe before when the Arab Empire civilised Andalucía for hundreds of years while Europe lived in the Dark Ages. Islam can again have a benevolent influence upon our lives in terms of morality, human character and a code for families and communities. After all, it is a complete way of life for the believer in a way that the Christian churches never quite managed to pull off for their flocks.
In these times of economic stress and uncertainty many of us are struggling and finding it all very difficult. The solution is not to turn on a perfectly innocent, hard-working community because it appears different in custom and worship.
I am often urged to seek out what unites us rather than to knock the far-right for its short-comings. I would apply that same principle to all other groups and communities living alongside us during these difficult times.
What should unite us all is a common interest in survival as people first.