Questioning Islam

On the evening of Sunday the 18th of November members of For Britain went along to a meeting in Preston under the provocative heading of: 

On the evening of Sunday the 18th of November members of For Britain went along to a meeting in Preston under the provocative heading of: 

Questioning Islam; Is it now time to establish the Islamic Caliphate in the UK?

(The advertising poster went on to say): “Many questions are being asked about the place of Islam in the modern world. With the chaos of Brexit and the breakdown of some of the social structures in the UK, can the Islamic caliphate provide a solution?”

If you have always wanted to talk about this subject and ask a Muslim a question about Islam or Muhammad that you haven’t before, in case of offending or upsetting them, then please join us (for this talk)”

For Britain fully believe in democracy and debate in a free society, so rather than employ left wing tactics of trying to close an event down that we fundamentally disagree with the premise of, a number of members decided to attend and ask the questions as requested. We did not announce to anyone that we were to attend, as we did not want to create any undue attention, and always mindful of the threat against our members from the far left, we did not want to necessitate security. At no point did anyone mention that we were members of For Britain, we attended as normal members of the public. 

The meeting was promoted by an organisation called The Light Foundation, based in Preston. From a reading of their website The Light Foundation appears to be an Islamic community and outreach organisation.

I would estimate that there were between 40 and 50 people in attendance, and I would also estimate that more than half were Muslim (all male). The panel was made up of two Muslim spiritual leaders and was chaired by a young Muslim solicitor. The event took place in a church hall, not a mosque.

Straight out of the blocks, one of the Panel, Adam, said ‘no’ he did not think this was time for a Caliphate in the UK! He then followed up immediately with the provocative question; “so, should we all just go home now then?” Of course the audience did not get up and leave, instead conversation, dialogue and questions between the audience and panel and also between members of the audience ensued robustly for the next couple of hours.

Of the questions from the floor, one included what the panel thought about the Asia Bibi situation in Pakistan. While the answer came back from the Panel that the film footage and reports of civil disruption and riots were described and disturbing and wrong, however as far as I could see there was no actual full condemnation for Asia Bibi’s conviction, imprisonment and treatment, and this left us all with the worrying feeling that such a mindset could exist in a civilised country such as Great Britain.

The question was also asked; could the Panel point to a successful caliphate in operation in any country around the world. The short answer was ‘no’, but the historical example of the imperialistic Ottoman Empire was offered up as the most recent example. This was a trend for many of the questions, a lack of direct answers. When examples were put forward of Muslims committing damaging acts (e.g. UK Terrorist attacks / the damage to British working class and Sikh girls caused by mass grooming), the ‘go to’ answer of the Panel was always pretty much ‘these are Muslims that are interpreting Islam incorrectly’. As an afterthought, there is a real lack of effort from these types of foundations to target these ‘not real Muslims’ that are apparently smearing the name of Islam. If a cartoon, not hanging a Christian or Israel can bring tens of thousands onto the streets protesting that Islam is insulted, why not terror, grooming etc? Surely that is more damaging to their religion? Indeed, ‘not in our name’ marches organised against Islamic terror have seen a backlash from many in the Muslim community. The meeting was well behaved, but in some moments partisan feelings did come close to the surface, not that that this is a criticism, as these are emotive subjects and this was the point of the evening. At one stage a Muslim member of the audience talked about current ‘racism’ towards Muslims’ carried out by the ‘far right’, (of course Islam is not a race – it’s a system and ideology). This is predictable narrative, and what Islam and it’s apologists tend to do, frame the idea of ‘racism’ along with negative responses made towards Islam. The question later came from the Chair of what people thought of ‘Islamophobia’? I responded to that question, I said I did not recognise Islamophobia as genuine term, but rather a contrived word to silence questioning and play to a victim narrative. In discussions after the event, the same subject was again broached, and I asked why the words Hindu-phobia, Buddhist-phobia or Christian-phobia are never used (or have even been invented), and how in my opinion this is because none of these religions have got the rest of the world seriously concerned in the 21st Century. They also do not wish to exploit the power of claiming victim narratives and starting to get ‘special’ privileges by relentlessly pushing this agenda.

After the forum came to an end, a number of the non-Muslim audience were asked if they would like to go for bite to eat. So I found myself, along with three other non-Muslims, going to continue the debate with about 15 or so Muslim males who we had just had some heated discussions with. This continued across the restaurant table.

Islam is in the headlines on a daily basis and I have to ask, why was this so poorly attended by non-Muslims generally; no journalists seemed to be there ‘to ask those searching questions’ and where were the ‘passionate and often screaming social justice left’ to scrutinise these Islamic preachers? There were around seven For Britain members in attendance and asking the bulk of the questions from the floor. I’ll finish by saying that I went to the event with a desire to challenge and debate, I thank all those involved for putting it on, but I continue to believe that Islam is an extremely duplicitous and dangerous system, and the evening has not changed that view. To re-enforce this, the evening was then misrepresented by the Light Foundation claiming ‘far right islamophobes turned up and asked questions like why are you building more mosques’. If a church invited people to question Christianity, and atheists turned up to ask some direct questions, the church would not then smear the attendees afterwards and paint a false picture of the evening. The reality is, this event was in fact a publicity stunt to create a narrative and this is exactly why Islam has a reputation for being duplicitous. We would urge the Light Foundation and others to focus on the very real and demonstrable problems within Islam and to be more honest in their motives and in their dialogue.

By Ian Mack


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