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Doublespeak on Islam

eye on the news

Doublespeak on Islam

New London mayor Sadiq Khan’s radical-friendly past casts doubt on his reassuring words. May 12, 2016
Politics and law

Say what you will about newly minted London mayor Sadiq Khan, but the man has chutzpah. When likely Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that he would make an exception to his hypothetical Muslim travel ban and welcome Khan to the United States, Khan demurred. “Donald Trump and those around him think that Western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam,” the Muslim mayor said. “London has proved him wrong.”

Khan’s assurances about “mainstream” Islam in Britain are undermined by the findings of an extensive recent survey of British Muslims. The study, conducted in connection with an April 2016 documentary, “What British Muslims Really Think,” shows that hundreds of thousands of Khan’s countrymen hold views utterly incompatible with those of free societies on matters of jihadism, politics, and culture. Consider that, of the 1,081 individuals surveyed to represent the views of Britain’s more than 3 million Muslims:

Only 74 percent completely condemn “suicide bombing to fight injustice”;

Only 66 percent completely condemn stoning those who commit adultery;

Only 53 percent completely condemn violence against those who mock Muhammad;

Only 34 percent would contact police if they believed someone close to them was involved with jihadism;

23 percent believe Sharia law should replace British law in areas with large Muslim populations;

52 percent believe homosexuality should be illegal;

31 percent believe polygamy should be legal;

39 percent believe women should always obey their husbands;

35 percent believe Jews have too much power in the UK.

These indicators only confirm how seeds of Islamist supremacism have spread throughout British society; chilling episodes over the last decade have made the dangers clear. Britons remember, of course, the 7/7 jihadist attacks in London in 2005, but much more recently, at least 1,500 British Muslims have emigrated to join ISIS, and outspoken Islamist cleric Anjem Choudary has been charged with supporting the group. In 2014, the Rotherham Borough Council released a report detailing a sexual-abuse scandal in which at least 1,400 children from 1997 to 2013 were “raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated.” Reportedly, those who knew of the crimes remained silent for fear of being called racists, as the perpetrators were Muslim immigrants.

Also in 2014, a government investigation uncovered Operation Trojan Horse, an organized effort to Islamize Birmingham schools. Such episodes would not have come as a surprise to anyone who read British journalist Melanie Phillips’s 2007 book, Londonistan.

As Daniel Johnson writes of Sadiq Khan’s hometown:

Here in London, which is home to about a third of British Muslims (including thousands of migrants who live below the radar of the authorities), we have already seen the assertion of power by political Islam. The takeover of Tower Hamlets by a corrupt Islamist politician, Lutfur Rahman, may be a harbinger of things to come. Last year he was removed from office by special commissioners, but for five years Rahman and his cronies ran a borough of nearly 300,000 people, distributing a budget of more than £1 billion. . . . The Muslim “block vote” is such a formidable electoral force that for Islamists to dominate a city it does not need to have a Muslim majority.

Khan, Johnson writes, “has worked hard at projecting a moderate image as a modern, liberal Muslim with no sectarian baggage. He no longer protests, as he did in 2004, that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi perhaps the most influential preacher in the whole Islamic world—is ‘not an extremist’. . . . He has carefully distanced himself from Babar Ahmad, who was later convicted of terrorist offences, and other extremists with whom he was once associated.” Khan’s other dubious associations are worth noting. He reportedly shared a platform on at least nine occasions with alleged Islamic State-supporting South London cleric Suliman Gani; attended a 2006 rally against the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad, headlined by Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-linked Dr. Azzam Tamimi, who threatened “fire . . . throughout the world” if publishers failed to cease running such cartoons; represented anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in an attempt to overturn the U.K.’s ban on his entrance to the country; and consulted with the defense team for Zacharias Moussaoui, the would-be twentieth hijacker of 9/11.

Johnson chronicles Khan’s extensive record as a solicitor representing Islamic extremists. Most notoriously, he spoke in favor of incorporating Sharia law into the British legal system in 2004, saying, “There are some . . . uncontroversial areas of Islamic law which could easily be applied to the legal system . . . in the UK.” One of these uncontroversial areas was polygamy, the recognition of which would allow Muslim husbands in the U.K. to enjoy tax exemptions on inheritance for multiple spouses. Khan also spoke out against laws stopping forced marriages. And in a 2009 interview with Iran’s English-language Press TV, Khan referred to so-called moderate Muslims as “Uncle Toms.”

Does all of this reflect compatibility between London’s “mainstream” Islam and Western liberalism? The most charitable interpretation of Khan’s words and actions would be similar to that taken by the Obama administration regarding Iran’s jihadist leaders—that their words are “merely for domestic political consumption to appease the hardliners.” Yet, even if one accepts such rationalizations,  the existence of such a powerful contingent of “hardliners”—in Khan’s case, in the heart of the West—is hardly reassuring.

Khan has spoken of how he will back Britain’s Jews “when it comes to the challenges the Jewish community will face,” and reportedly believes his disgraced anti-Semitic Labour Party colleagues ought to “undergo training on tackling anti-Semitism.” Khan also previously voted for gay marriage, which puts him further at odds with the Islamists with whom he has interacted in the past. Could it be that his liberal words and gestures are the ones meant “for domestic political consumption”?

Either way, Khan’s response to Trump was telling, especially when he said: “Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both of our countries [the U.S. and Great Britain] less safe—it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of extremists.” Here, he uses the same rhetoric as other Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups in the West, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which paints Westerners as aggressors who incite jihadism with their words, instead of holding jihadists responsible for their own savagery.

If Sadiq Khan truly wishes to separate himself from Islamists and establish himself as a Western liberal, he would proclaim that words and cartoons don’t kill people, jihadists do, and that totalitarian Islamist ideology has no place in Western democratic societies. And if Khan’s London really is the bastion of liberalism that he claims, he will be joined by thousands of Muslims in support of such words and efforts. We probably shouldn’t hold our breath.

Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images

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