OPINION: So, where are all these mainstream Muslim moderates?

 In this three image combo of stills taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police Kadiza Sultana, 16, left, Shamima Begum,15, center and 15-year-old ISIS bride Amira Abase go through security at Gatwick airport, before they caught their flight to Turkey.
In this three image combo of stills taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police Kadiza Sultana, 16, left, Shamima Begum,15, center and 15-year-old ISIS bride Amira Abase go through security at Gatwick airport, before they caught their flight to Turkey.

So it’s congratulations to Bethnal Green schoolgirl Amira Abase and her “ginger jihadi” sweetheart Abdullah Elmir on the occasion of their wedding.

After all the anguish over Amira and her pals fleeing Blighty to join ISIS during half-term, finally we have the happy ending we’ve waited for. Romance isn’t dead, although the groom hopefully soon will be.

MPs pretend they don’t know what motivates British citizens to swap the home counties for the caliphate to become psycho killers or the rape slaves of psycho killers. They walk on eggshells for fear of causing offence.

Well, on Monday, the prime minister finally did what few other politicians have the guts to do. Instead of being politically correct he was just, simply, correct.

Unveiling the Government’s new counter extremism strategy, David Cameron declared war on Muslim “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” and “overpower mainstream voices”.

Welcome words indeed. The trouble is, the very reason MPs are scared to speak out is that in British Muslim society “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” are part of the mainstream.

Forget mad mullahs like Anjem Choudary. Their upside-down logic falls way outside Muslim society and, indeed, sanity. Rather, consider a piece of work like Ajmal Masroor, a popular publicity-grabbing imam who regularly crawls out of his moral cesspit to appear on cosy BBC sofas posing as the voice of progressive Islam.

Last August London’s Palmers Green mosque, a “moderate” institution whose congregants do interfaith work with the local Jewish community, rolled out the red carpet to Masroor, who spent 30 minutes educating his hushed audience about “abusers” in the UK “Jewish lobby”, the “Jewish supremacist ideology” that “holds our government hostage” and how Obama has been “bought” by “Zionists”. His filthy tirade, which can be heard here, [it starts in Arabic but moves to English after a few seconds] ends with an impassioned plea to “Keep struggling” or you “won’t enter paradise”.

Masroor’s hands are not bloodstained, but his mouth surely is.

Unveiling the Government’s new counter extremism strategy, David Cameron declared war on Muslim “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” and “overpower mainstream voices”.
Unveiling the Government’s new counter extremism strategy, David Cameron declared war on Muslim “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” and “overpower mainstream voices”.

Now consider the public statements of mainstream community organisations that have ill-served British Muslims for decades.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s infamous official response to 7/7 still chills the bones 10 years on. “We do naturally feel deeply for the sufferings… yet we also remind ourselves of the verse of the Qur’an, “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity… We call on the international community to work towards just and lasting peace settlements… and help eliminate the grievances that seem to nurture a spiral of violence.”

In other words, the 52 victims probably had it coming.

It should be stressed that was a decade ago and the MCB has come a long way since such comments and its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

But today’s soundtrack from some quarters seems just as sinister. On Monday, in response to Cameron’s constructive call for a united front, Asghar Bukhari, the paranoid founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee who last month accused Zionists of “creeping into my home and stealing my shoe”, said: “The vast majority of Muslim communities see David Cameron, his government and his policies as being at the forefront of alienating them, demonising them and pushing them into a corner.”

Why constructively engage when you can take unthinking offence?

So where are all these mainstream voices of reason being “overpowered” by radicals? Where are all the progressives determined to put paradise-seeking genies like Ajmal Masroor firmly back in their bottle?

Some exist, but you can count those who put their head above the parapet on one hand, with fingers to spare.

A Muslim leader is yet to emerge to take the mantle of the late, great Zaki Badawi. Before his death in 2006, this brave enemy of extremism, who coined the helpful term “British Islam”, told the Guardian: “I want the government to help me train better imams. It’s cheaper than having to combat the effect of bad imams.”

Badawi was shocked at the number of Muslim leaders who can’t speak English being imported from Saudi Arabia. He firmly believed British Islam must be rooted in British values.

Nine years on, Badawi’s legacy lies in tatters. Today’s default Muslim position on ISIS could hardly be more passive: “We’re not responsible for the extremism of others so why must we apologise for it?” Every chance to declare all-out war on the malignant cancer in their religion is greeted with embarrassment, obfuscation or obscene silence.

For all David Cameron’s big plans and wise words, only the revival of Badawi’s brand of progressive British Islam will prevent growing numbers of young Muslims from wilfully teetering on the edge of a moral precipice.

Until then the loonies will always have the loudest voices.

• First published at www.thecommentator.com

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