A further attempt towards imposing what is an ‘authorised’ Islam and what is unacceptable Islam
For some years political figures have talked about a‘British version of Islam’. One wonders if, after the recent verdict in the‘Milestones’trial, we are a step closer to an ‘Authorised’ version of Islam.
The trial judge described this as “the first substantial case of its kind”
In summing up, he chose to ignored the defendant’s plea that he was absolutely not ‘glorifying terrorism’ by publishing this material – much of which is widely available from mainstream retailers.
The trial relied on portraying a set of ideas presented in these works – which differ or conflict with secular liberal ideas. Instead of arguing the weight of the relative ideas, the court has effectively criminalized them as some sort of ‘precursor’ to terrorist violence.
The trial looked at the Islamic justifications of these ideas and brought witnesses whose opinions differed with published works. But by judging against the defendant –and the works he published – the trial judge has effectively legalized one opinion, and criminalized the other.
By prosecuting this case in this way the state has put ideas on trial; for if it was solely interested in the issue of incitement to violence, the court would not have spent days hearing witnesses giving their views on these ideas – and would not have put so much weight on small-print issues – such as which sentences appeared in a bold font – to argue there were implied meanings in the text.
This is a further attempt towards imposing what is an acceptable Islam and what is a forbidden Islam; what is ‘authorised’ by the state – and what is not.
It is a process has been advancing for years.
In 2003, the think-tank Civitas published a work that went into great details exploring which Islamic ideas were acceptable and unacceptable to them in their report titled “The West, Islam and Islamism” [co-authored by Baroness Cox who famously invited Geert Wilders to address the UK Parliament in 2010 and who is a co-founder of an organization that is aimed at “maintaining a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel”].
They concluded: “It is not enough for the vast majority of decent, peaceful, law-abiding Muslims to renounce terror in principle: they also need to renounce the view-frequently expressed by Islamists-of an inevitable war between Islam and the rest of the world. If they choose to live in Western liberal democratic societies, they must accept the values of liberal democracy-as Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and others have done for many years”
All the evidence suggests that this was the policy adopted by successive British governments – both Labour and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
In 2009 the Guardian newspaper leaked that a definition of ‘extremism’ went far further than advocating ‘terrorist’ violence, but included many of the political ideas of Islam.
The decisions by Home Secretary Theresa May to exclude Zakir Naik and Raed Salah from the UK, similarly point to an official criteria that has little to do with violence and everything to do with ideas.
The message to Muslims in Britain could hardly be clearer. If you wish to be engaged as citizens with an equal worth to other citizens, you must denounce and distance yourself from any Islamic ideas that conflict with secular liberal norms.
The on-going Prevent strategy clearly illustrates many of the methods by which the government hopes to achieve these end. Security Minister, James Brokenshire, confirmed in November 2011 that the current British government intends continue the policy and to widen its remit to address ideas it calls ‘non-violent extremism’.
Similarly, the message to Muslims around the world – in particular those Arab countries currently going through a process of rapid change – could not be clearer. If you establish a system that conflicts with the norms established by expect to be treated as a pariah state by the West.
It is ironic, that states such as Britain, and others, who claim that religion should have little do with politics spend so much effort trying to redefine Islam.