In a speech on Tuesday February 26th February 2008, the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, gave his views on the debate about Shariah law that had been sparked by comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Cameron said, "I don’t believe that by introducing sharia law we will make Muslims somehow feel more British, more content with life here and more than happy to work for a common good. In my view the opposite is the case." He also argued that "It would provide succour to the separatists who want to isolate and divide communities from the mainstream. And it would, crucially, weaken, destabilise and demoralise those Muslims who embrace liberal values and desperately want to integrate fully in British society." Cameron also expressed his concerns about the failure of Muslims in Britain to view themselves as British. He said, "In America, 47 percent of Muslims think of themselves of Muslim first, American second. In Britain, it’s nearly twice that – with 81 percent of Muslims thinking of themselves as Muslim first and British second." He went on to extol the virtues of Britishness, defining it as "a confidence in the history and the institutions of our country, a basic belief that we’re lucky to live here".
In a previous speech on January 29th 2007 Cameron said that, "Those who seek a sharia state, or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP."
These comments follow on from an array of attacks and slurs against the Muslim community from Cameron, his colleagues and his attack dog think tanks. As well as comparing those who call for the Shariah to the BNP, Cameron and his ilk have made accusations about forced marriages, called for the banning of Islamic political parties, urged the government to ban Muslim scholars from entering the UK and pressurised Muslim members of the Conservative Party into remaining silent over Western foreign policy.
Not surprisingly, Cameron made no reference to the recent revelation in the British media that the Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to announce in his March 12 Budget that the Treasury will go ahead with plans for so-called "Sharia bonds (Sukuk)". A Treasury spokesman said, "We want the City of London to be one of the gateways globally for Islamic financial products and we want it to be competitive on all products you can imagine, so we should be competitive on Islamic finance as well as any other. Just because of your faith, there shouldn’t be any issue about your access to financial services in the UK." It is unlikely that Cameron, who regularly browbeats the Muslim community to accept "Britishness", will want to similarly browbeat the City of London, forcing Britain to sacrifice its commercial interests by refusing to enter the booming Sukuk market.
He also made no mention of the recent international Harris poll that found that nearly 30% of British people believe it’s impossible to be both a Muslim and a Briton, 38% think the presence of Muslims in the country is a threat to national security and 46% believe that Muslims have too much political power in Britain. While bemoaning the lack of community cohesion, there was also no mention of Crown Prosecution Service figures that show that 82% of convictions for identified religiously aggravated offences in 2006 involved attacks on Muslims.
Cameron’s relentless public invective against Islam and Muslims is clearly fuelled by a wider political agenda – the former British PM Blair and former Home Secretary Clarke have also made strong criticism of Shariah and have stated clearly that Britain will not tolerate Shariah or the Caliphate in the Muslim world. The wider political agenda is to force Western liberal values on the Muslim community in Britain and on the Muslim world. Cameron and the wider political establishment are incensed by the adherence to the Shariah by Muslims in Britain and the widespread calls for its return to the Muslim world and are therefore seeking to mobilise opinion against it under the guise of an attack on multiculturalism. They have supported the wrongful arrests, and convictions of many Muslims under draconian terrorism laws who have nothing to do with violence. To then expect any kind of "a basic belief that we’re lucky to live here" it reminiscent of an imperial age, treating Muslims as ‘subjects’ and not ‘citizens’.
Cameron’s narrative of Britishness as the confidence in Britain’s "history" needs further critical scrutiny. The establishment view that Britain’s post-colonial contribution to the world has been the promotion of democracy, human rights, peace and overseas development is highly questionable. A faithful account of Britain’s history would note that Britain, under all governments, has been a key ally of some of the world’s most repressive regimes. The victims of Britain’s pre- and post-war colonialism will rightly question Cameron’s romantic view of Britain’s history. The independent author Mark Curtis has "calculated that Britain is complicit in the deaths of around 10 million people since 1945, in conflicts or covert operations where Britain has played a direct role or where it has strongly supported aggression by allies, especially the US." And this was in the post-World War Two era where the mantra was one of democracy, freedom and human rights.
There is undoubtedly a tide of global Islamic resurgence which rejects the imperialist era of Western backed dictators and brutal occupation in the Muslim world. While the era of imperialism has brought instability and bloodshed to the Muslim world, the era of the Shariah and the Caliphate brought stability and a flourishing civilisation. The Shariah rules on economics which oblige the distribution of wealth, rather than hoarding, ended poverty in Africa, instead of enslaving it. The Shariah brought rights to women when they had none [Europe was still debating whether women had a soul] and created a society where Muslims and non-Muslims lived in harmony. The Shariah establishes the principle of the rule of law over the despotism, anarchy and vigilantism that sadly characterises the Muslim world today.
Indeed, it was the implementation of the Shariah in Andalusia that led Hume to write "Side by side with the new rulers lived the Christians and Jews in peace. The latter rich with commerce and industry were content to let the memory of their oppression by the priest-ridden Goths sleep, now that the prime authors of it had disappeared. Learned in all the arts and sciences, cultured and tolerant, they were treated by the Moors with marked respect, and multiplied exceedingly all over Spain; and, like the Christian Spaniards under Moorish rule – who were called Mozarabes – had cause to thank their now masters for an era of prosperity such as they had never known before." Of that era, Gibbon wrote, "In a time of tranquillity and justice, the Christians have never been compelled to renounce the Gospel or to embrace the Qur’an."