By Aqeel Bin Fadl
The CTS Act will be enforced into statutory legislation before the elections in May. The fact that all MPs backed the issuing of this bill means regardless of which party wins, all will champion the CTS Act. The negative reaction by the Muslim community since the announcement of the Bill back in September has been ignored in its entirety only confirming the anti Islamic narrative embedded in the British establishment.
The CTS Act is designed to root out “extremism” by using the state institutions such as Ofsted, the charity commission, the NHS and those in the public service sector such as teachers, doctors, social services e.t.c to report subjective indications of “extremism” which will then be further pursued by the police, security and intelligence agencies. For example if any child even as young as 4 years of age express thoughts, opinions or actions which appear to be alien to “British Values” and hence “extreme” then they would be treated as a suspect for potential “radicalisation” and terrorist acts in the future.
The CTS Act has been the centre of attention in the Muslim communities as it has direct implications that will affect all segments of the Muslim community. To combat the CTS Act Muslims have united in various campaigns such as the “Stop the Bill” campaign before it was enacted, writing letters to MP’s, the education and health care institutions, signing petitions, as well as holding a number of public meetings around the country to raise awareness about the new legislation.
It is imperative that the objective behind these actions is clear lest the outcomes we seek are different. This could be counter-productive and potentially backfire on the Muslim community. One thing that’s clear however, is that voting for any of the political parties in the coming elections will only legitimise the policies against Islam. Muslims have no room for political manoeuvring within the secular liberal political paradigm that is in direct ideological conflict with the values and objectives of the Muslim community. To participate in a political framework that has for decades proved to be at odds with Islamic values such as the pressure to conform to liberal values such as same-sex marriage, non-segregation, banning of non-stunned meat to list a few will only further drag Islam into the Western idea of modernity and “Christianise” Islam until it is no longer distinguishable to “British Values.”
Moreover, the declining trend in voting polls by the general population has not occurred in a vacuum. The political apathy is indicative of a society that is witnessing fundamental ideological contradictions of the British democracy. For example, the bailout of the banks with tax payer’s money following the economic crisis contradicted the concept of free market economy. More recently the HSBC scandal, which saw the exclusion of monetary figures being left out by the bank from as far back as 2007, so large organisations could pay less in taxes saving them millions exposed the “rule of law” having one rule for the rich and another for the poor. Extra judicial rendition, complicity in supporting dictators, complicity in CIA torture are a few examples from a long ugly list of ideological contradictions.
History has shown us that the successful way to deter antagonistic policies is by creating an opinion against it through intellectually undermining the arguments used to justify those policies. By projecting a strong clear unified opinion it is possible to deter or even change the government’s policy. In such a case, a government would either scrap those plans or result in absolutism which would only further expose the weakness of the government. In such a scenario the moral integrity of the government would be made redundant.
We can learn from the Sirah how the Prophet PBUH and the companions were able to generate an intellectual atmosphere that resulted in the Quraysh continuously changing their tactics to attack Islam. From torture to propaganda to boycott and even attempting to reach a compromise, each policy was repudiated due to the firm adherence and conveyance to the message of Islam. The tyranny of the Quraysh exposed their intellectual bankruptcy even amongst their own clan such that the boycott ended after Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah went around the Ka’bah seven times addressing the crowd who were present, he said, “O people of Makkah, are we to eat and clothe ourselves while Banu Hashim perish, unable to buy or sell? By Allah I will not rest until this damn boycotting document is torn up.” Abu Jahl, who was nearby, exclaimed, “You lie, by Allah it shall not be torn up.” At this point the other four Zama’ah, Abu al-Bakhtari, al-Mut’im and Hisham, who had dispersed among the crowd, shouted back in support of Zuhayr. Abu Jahl realized that it was a matter which had been arranged beforehand, so he feared the worst and backed off. When al-Mut’im went to tear up the document he discovered that white ants had already eaten it except for the words ‘In your name, O Allah’.
We can also learn from examples in recent history such as in the 1950s, when the African-American Civil rights movements reached boiling point. This revolution saw a number of leading figures who made pivotal impacts, the likes of which included Malcom X, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. They gained strength by their numbers and allied against racial segregation and discrimination. This eventually culminated into a greater awareness of the racial discrimination and led to a public opinion that pressurised the government into prohiniting racial segregation. Whilst we recognise that the underlying problem of racism has not been resolved due to an inherent flaw in the concept of nation states, the point here is to show the ability of people to shift a political position by developing an opinion that undermines the moral and intellectual authority of such policies.
Similarly, women’s suffrage gained momentum in the early part of the 19th centuryaim the UK as women became increasingly politically active (demonstrations, disrupting public events, pampheting etc) that resulted in women gaining the vote.
Thus the way we should respond to the CTS Act is not through challenging legislation through the political framework but challenging it by exposing the intellectual weakness of the argument used to justify the CTS Act amongst Muslims and Non-Muslims. By exposing the narrative that non-violent ideas lead to violence when in reality research has consistently shown that it is grievance of government policies such as the war in Iraq/Afghanistan or the permission for cartoons to be published against the Prophet PBUH that leads to violence. Moreover, the CTS Act will result in antagonism between Muslims and local authorities due to the default position of suspicion on the Muslims and will lead to the branding of innocent Muslims.
Such arguments should be presented to all sectors of the community including those who are expected to implement the CTS Act which include teachers, doctors, social services, police e.t.c as well as educating them about those key ideas that the government are trying to criminalise such as the aspiration of Muslims to live under a Khilafah in the Muslim World. This will weaken their conviction in these policies and will result in a public opinion against the legislation scuppering the government’s plans and providing the space for Muslims to express their Islam. The intellectual cracks of secular liberal politics will be exposed as well as the tyrannical nature of the government presenting an opportunity for the wider society to learn about Islam.