The governments’ school inspectorate, Ofsted, announced it would be asking Muslim schoolgirls why they wear the hijab, over concerns that it could be interpreted as “sexualisation of young girls”. This follows a series of intrusive Ofsted interventions over the past years, that have resulted in the closure of many Muslim schools, madrassah’s and tuition centres on the flimsiest of reasons. Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham, earlier this year, lost an appeal case after Ofsted criticised it for segregating the sexes. Olive Tree School in Luton was criticised by Ofsted as a “hotbed of extremism” after pupils as young as nine were questioned about their views on homosexuality.
The Ofsted inquisition sits within a wider project of the Conservative government to ferment a deep-seated hatred of Islamic practice. The Tory government in 2010 abandoned the former Labour government’s equally abhorrent policy of carving a division between ‘extremism’ and the ‘mainstream’, opting to pursue a more aggressive approach. That policy was observed to have failed, bringing the Muslim community squarely against the call to reform what the West found unacceptable within Islam. The new approach would now depict all Muslims as ‘an enemy within’, insidiously linking peaceable Islamic practice and concepts with extremism and terrorism. The most innocuous observance of Islam would now be coloured with fanaticism. Cameron, echoing Kipling’s ‘white man’s burden’, called it a “muscular liberalism”, asserting the supremacy of Western ideology.
We have seen in the past two years alone, calls to impose no-platform policies on council premises, ‘deradicalisation’ programmes, the power to regulate madrassah’s and close down masaajid’s (closure orders). Muslim women have been depicted as vulnerable to male influence, requiring compulsory English lessons and children have been reported to programmes for living in ‘terraced houses’, practicing Islam and wearing Palestinian scarfs.
Theresa May said in October that she would no longer accept those that “tolerate extremism”, echoing Blair’s 2005 speech declaring “the rules of the game are changing”. Most of these initiatives come in a flurry of policy announcements but never make it to Parliament, such as the well-publicised Extremism Disruption Orders, banning speech and publication together with May’s “full spectrum approach”. These were touted as key Tory measures, yet have been quietly buried like many such initiatives.
What is apparent with all these proposals is they have been met with condemnation from many quarters. The government’s own terror watchdog Max Hill said in October there was a danger of creating “thought crimes”. Dominic Raab, Minister for Justice spoke of the extremism disruptions orders as “eroding basic principles of freedom that won’t make us safer”. Tory grandees Lord Lamont and Lord Gummer voiced serious concerns about the threat to free speech. In 2016 the Open Society Justice Initiative called the government’s Prevent programme deeply flawed and should be re-examined, “Prevent’s targeting of non-violent extremism and ‘indicators’ of risk of being drawn into terrorism lack a scientific basis. Indeed, the claim that non-violent extremism – including ‘radical’ or religious ideology – is the precursor to terrorism has been widely discredited by the British government itself, as well as numerous reputable scholars.” UN Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, did not mince his words when he declared, “By dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, Prevent could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it”. The National Union of Teacher’s passed a motion in 2016 calling for the Prevent strategy to be scrapped, implying it caused “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staffroom”.
Observing this failure, the government has decided to double down on its strategy and strengthen and widen Prevent amongst other measures. It begs the question, why? If it is clear that the approach to date to tackle the so-called extremism problem has failed, why continue with the same approach if it has ended up alienating almost all reasonable Muslims? The answer is simple, the Tories like Trump, have resigned themselves to creating a fear and loathing for the Muslim community. One may look at the contemptible London mayoral campaign to observe how they attempted to whip up hatred against Islam to win office and discredit Sadiq Khan as an extremist sympathiser.
Dear Muslims. This fermenting of hatred across the West is a well-orchestrated strategy to depict the 1.8 billion Muslims as ‘the other’, the menace that needs to be treated as a security threat. The West see that the return to a just Islamic system of governance across the Muslim World is now an inevitability and thus fostering this hatred will enable them to pursue a policy of containment towards the rise of Islam. What we are observing is a new McCarthyism, where ordinary peaceable Muslims are viewed with suspicion. The Tories, through the constant slew of anti-Islamic announcements are radicalising Western public opinion to prepare to fight a returning Islamic order after the regimes that litter the Muslim world finally crumble.
To approach Islam with ill intentions is not new. It began with the Quraysh and their propaganda about the Messenger of Allah (saw). The Crusades were a continuation of this hatred and 200 years of colonialism have all contributed to presenting Islam in a negative light. The West wishes to reinvigorate this message of hatred because they see Islam’s time has come. Allah (swt) says, “Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater.”
Dear brothers and sisters. Islam was not extinguished when the Quraysh plotted against the Messanger (saw), nor was it at Badr or Hunayn. Islam established itself across the Arabian Peninsula and then met the tyranny of the Romans and Persians. It entered the hearts of the Christians and Idolaters until they embraced the message of Tawheed with equality in front of Allah (swt). Islam governed with justice and it is with its absence that the world observes injustice. The Message of Islam is not extremism and it is far away from terrorism. It is a light for all mankind.
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it”. [As-Saf:8]