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Part of the problem, not the solution: Baroness Warsi, centre, with David Cameron and William Hague. They have never addressed radical Islam

"The good news is that government is finally dealing with the issue and it is now a priority," said the government minister in a BBC film last month. And of which of the panoply of issues currently facing our country was this speaker thinking? The stalled economy? Youth unemployment? No. The words were spoken by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the "minister for faith", and the issue she was happy to report as a UK government "priority" was the tackling of "Islamophobia".

Coming just days after the bombing of the Boston Marathon by two young radical Muslims, Baroness Warsi's comments were not just poorly timed — they were poorly thought through. The killing of three people and injury of more than 260 others would have been the perfect time for Britain's only Muslim cabinet minister to address and assault the ideology which causes such attacks: radical Islam. B Days later, a soldier was beheaded by Islamists on the streets of Woolwich. But — aside from attacking the most irrelevant, fringe extremists like Al-Muhajiroun — Warsi has never taken up this role. This is not just her own failing. It is an exemplar of a wider cultural failure. 

In the first years after 9/11 there was some success in turning the global spotlight onto what Islamic fundamentalists believed, taught and aimed to achieve. But then — at some point in the last five or more years — that spotlight was turned around. It was not on the extremists but on the rest of us — Muslim and non-Muslim — that it settled. It became all of us who were the problem — not the crimes of the fundamentalists but our response to them. The primary problem was no longer Islamic fundamentalism but "Islamophobia". This narrative has not only become pervasive in our societies — it has become dominant. It is stopping us from dealing with the most severe challenge to our security. It is time to unfold the lie.

I have long argued — in this magazine and elsewhere — that the very word "Islamophobia" is a nonsense term. A "phobia" is something of which one is irrationally afraid. Yet it is supremely rational to be scared of elements of Islam and of its fundamentalist strains in particular. Nevertheless the term has been very successfully deployed, not least because it has the aura of a smear. "Islamophobes" are not only subject to an irrational and unnecessary fear; they are assumed to be motivated (because most Muslims in the West are from an ethnic minority) by "racism". Who would not recoil from such charges?

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Ahmed Mashaal Ali
June 27th, 2014
3:06 PM
Defining Islamophobia: Islamophobia literally means an exaggerated or irrational fear of Islam. In fact, we may say that there are several "Islamophobias". Going back in history, we could say that there was one of the key or major "Islamophobias" in action during the wars that were launched by the crusaders on the Arabic Islamic World. The basic exaggerated or irrational fear of Islam as expressed through the new term "Islamophobia" dates back to the early nineties and gained momentum after 9/11/2001. Dr. Zaki Badawi of Britain said that a group of Muslim scholars, including him, coined the term "Islamophobia" to warn against the escalating amount of Islamophobic episodes, which is in essence equal to acts of racism and discrimination. However, the term was used after that to take on somewhat different meanings by different groups.2 Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, which is used by millions of people around the globe, provided a detailed report on the term Islamophobia3 According to wikipedia, Islamophobia is the fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims or Islamic culture. Islamophobia can be characterized by the belief that all or most Muslims are religious fanatics, have violent tendencies towards non-Muslims, and reject as directly opposed to Islam such concepts as equality, tolerance, and democracy. It is viewed as a new form of racism whereby Muslims, an ethnoreligious group, not a race, are nevertheless constructed as a race. Islamophobia as a term is coined like " Germanophobia & Russiaphobia, and so on" The Runnymede Trust has identified eight components that define Islamophobia from their perspective4 These eight components are widely accepted by governmental & non-governmental circles that are concerned with the issue of Islamophobia. These components are: 1- Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static & unresponsive to change. 2- Islam is seen as a separate 'other'. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them. 3- Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist. 4- Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a 'clash of civilizations'. 5- Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage. 6- Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand. 7- Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society. 8- AntiMuslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.5 Kofi Anan, former UN secretary general, in a UN seminar on Islamophobia said: "When the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia".6 Stephen Schwartz, an American writer has defined Islamophobia as: "The condemnation of the entirety of Islam and its history as extremists, 'denying' the existence of a moderate Muslim majority, regarding Islam as a problem for the world. Treating conflicts involving Muslims as necessarily their own fault, insisting that Muslims make changes to their religion and inciting war against Islam as a whole

July 12th, 2013
11:07 AM
excellent article.

June 3rd, 2013
10:06 PM
Of course the term 'Islamophobia' is a nonsense, but the people who use it do not employ the suffix 'phobia' to indicate a supposed fear which is at least the term's proper meaning. They use it to denote what they seek to portray as an antipathy based on prejudice. The word is therefore illiterate. But it is also something much more pernicious becauase it is not meant to convey any truth, but is deliberately constructed in order to convey a falsehood. The word, in short, is itself a lie.

June 2nd, 2013
12:06 PM
A reasoned analysis of the question which reaches the heart of the matter. Islam, all varieties, has form. Religious or ethnic minorities in Muslim majority states do not enjoy the full civil rights of the majority. They do not do so because they are not Muslim and consequently must be "punished" for their apostacy. Apostacy because God's world is Islamic and we miserable humans have rebelled and turned to false doctrines such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism etc. The prophetic revelation in Arabia set the world back on the straight path. Salvation came through the Arabs. The Prophet brought God's final word. By supercession the Torah and the Gospels were old hat. Ahl al kitab, people of the book or Abrahamic covenant, Jews and Christians may be but in practice both must be made to feel the pain of their collective obduracy. Dhimmitude was and is the result. In the dar al islam, the Muslim world, there is only one opinion that of the Qur'an and the Hadiths. The opinion may be open to legalistic interpretation but the source cannot be questioned. Set against this background Islam sits very uncomfortably in the diaspora. To Muslims the non-Islamic world is the dar al harb, a war zone, a place where jihad, in one form or another, is a religious obligation. Ultimately the whole world must become the dar al islam. The ignorant will be converted or brought low. All this conflicts with concepts of conscience, notions of individual freedom, humanism etc. That is what we are faced with. Apologists and orientalists have painted an exotic image of Islam. Golden ages in Al Andalus, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad etc removing from the picture the fact that Islam was established by conquest. Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians in the Near East were Islamized not by choice but by progressive and systemic inculturation at the hands of a powerful military machine. To Muslims this is God's work, but as Benedict XVI in his quote from Byzantine sources made clear that is not how the rest of us see it. But, of course,we are apostates, qufar, so we would think that wouldn't we.

June 2nd, 2013
12:06 PM
" the extremist versions of the religion are a factor in such cases, and judges, in British courts, have said as much and more." How is the extremist version a factor in such cases? Its not, the offenders were far removed from religion per se. Lets not forget some of the offenders had Muslim victims too.

Robert S
June 1st, 2013
11:06 PM
Excellent article as always. To me Douglas Murray is simply the very best commentator there is on islamism. It would be very interesting to hear his thoughts about the rise of the fascistic and antisemitic extremal right in Europe which, I guess unfortunately, do share the secular anti-islamists' concern about muslim immigration, though for other racist reasons. Is there a risk that moment grow as strong or stronger than the secular anti-islamist moment? Will it weaken the secular moment? How dangerous will it be for Europe?

Thomas R
June 1st, 2013
12:06 PM
Douglas - thanks as ever for another well-written and excellent analysis

Malcolm McLean
May 31st, 2013
5:05 PM
Stonings weren't very medieval. You're thinking of Ancient Israel.

Peter Paul
May 31st, 2013
1:05 PM
Douglas, you know very well that there is only one islam and the governing elites across Europe are scared stiff of it.
May 31st, 2013
11:05 AM
Surely it is necessary to address the fact that the problem is Islam and not Islamism, as if those engaged in and suppoting violence are ignorant of the teachings of Islam. On the contrary, the read the 109 passages in the Koran inciting violence against non-Muslims and obey them. That being so how can they not be considered to be simply devout Muslims? In the UK 24% of Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism, and over 100,000 positively support it. Certainly these represent statistical minorities, but can we really consider 100,000 Muslim supporters of terrorism and 900,000 sympathisers of terrorism to not represent Islam? If a coachload of people called the Anti-Homosexual Death Squad arrived at the border in Dover we would expect them to be turned away as being not conducive to the public good. But each year tens and even hundreds of thousands of Muslims are invited into the UK who hold views which are inimicable to our British way of life. 65% of Pakistani Muslims reject the freedom of religion we enjoy in the UK and believe that those leaving Islam should be murdered. These are mainstream Islamic views, not Islamist views. Do we really want to allow more and more supporters of such views to settle in the UK? Yet this is what is happening. Islamophobia is certainly a red herring, but so is the idea of a tiny Islamist population among a peaceful and tolerant Muslim majority. The facts don't show that at all. Islam is the problem - let's say that it is. We are completely able to distinguish between a dangerous ideology and those who hold it to various degrees. Not all Muslims are dangerous by any means, but Islam is. We cannot hide the reality behind different euphemisms.

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