The future of modern liberalism is submission

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
A wake-up call addressed to the British government by an expert on Islam has been removed from the Telegraph website "for legal reasons".

Fortunately, it is cached by Google here.

UPDATE: As statguy notes in comments, the article has been removed from the Google cache; read it below:

The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state By Alasdair Palmer (Filed: 19/02/2006)

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.

For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.

"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.

"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.

"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."

Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that "in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law.

"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."

For someone with such strong and uncompromising views, Dr Sookhdeo is a surprisingly gentle and easy-going man. He speaks with authority on Islam, as it was his first faith: he was brought up as a Muslim in Guyana, the only English colony in South America, and attended a madrassa there.

"But Islamic instruction was very different in the 1950s, when I was at school," he says. "There was no talk of suicide bombing or indeed of violence of any kind. Islam was very peaceful."

Dr Sookhdeo's family emigrated to England when he was 10. In his early twenties, when he was at university, he converted to Christianity. "I had simply seen it as the white man's religion, the religion of the colonialists and the oppressors - in a very similar way, in fact, to the way that many Muslims see Christianity today.

" Leaving Islam was not easy. According to the literal interpretation of the Koran, the punishment for apostasy is death - and it actually is punished by death in some Middle Eastern states. "It wasn't quite like that here," he says, "although it was traumatic in some ways."

Dr Sookhdeo continued to study Islam, doing a PhD at London University on the religion. He is currently director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. He also advises the Army on security issues related to Islam.

Several years ago, Dr Sookhdeo insisted that the next wave of radical Islam in Britain would involve suicide bombings in this country. His prediction was depressingly confirmed on 7/7 last year.

So his claim that, in the next decade, the Muslim community in Britain will not be integrated into mainstream British society, but will isolate itself to a much greater extent, carries weight behind it. Dr Sookhdeo has proved his prescience.

"The Government, and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, are fundamentally deluded about the nature of Islam," he insists. "Tony Blair unintentionally revealed his ignorance when he said, in an effort to conciliate Muslims, that he had 'read through the Koran twice' and that he kept it by his bedside.

"He thought he was saying something which showed how seriously he took Islam. But most Muslims thought it was a joke, if not an insult. Because, of course, every Muslim knows that you cannot read the Koran through from cover to cover and understand it.

The chapters are not written to be read in that way. Indeed, after the first chapter, the chapters of the Koran are ordered according to their length, not according to their content or chronology: the longest chapters are first, the shorter ones are at the end.

"You need to know which passage was revealed at what period and in what time in order to be able to understand it - you cannot simply read it from beginning to end and expect to learn anything at all.

"That is one reason why it takes so long to be able to read and understand the Koran: the meaning of any part of it depends on a knowledge of its context - a context that is not in the Koran itself."

The Prime Minister's ignorance of Islam, Dr Sookhdeo contends, is of a piece with his unsuccessful attempts to conciliate it. And it does indeed seem as if the Government's policy towards radical Islam is based on the hope that if it makes concessions to its leaders, they will reciprocate and relations between fundamentalist Muslims and Tony Blair's Government will then turn into something resembling an ecumenical prayer meeting.

Dr Sookhdeo nods in vigorous agreement with that. "Yes - and it is a very big mistake. Look at what happened in the 1990s. The security services knew about Abu Hamza and the preachers like him. They knew that London was becoming the centre for Islamic terrorists. The police knew. The Government knew. Yet nothing was done.

"The whole approach towards Muslim militants was based on appeasement. 7/7 proved that that approach does not work - yet it is still being followed. For example, there is a book, The Noble Koran: a New Rendering of its Meaning in English, which is openly available in Muslim bookshops.

"It calls for the killing of Jews and Christians, and it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them. The Government has done nothing whatever to interfere with the sale of that book.

"Why not? Government ministers have promised to punish religious hatred, to criminalise the glorification of terrorism, yet they do nothing about this book, which blatantly does both."

Perhaps the explanation is just that they do not take it seriously. "I fear that is exactly the problem," says Dr Sookhdeo. "The trouble is that Tony Blair and other ministers see Islam through the prism of their own secular outlook.

They simply do not realise how seriously Muslims take their religion. Islamic clerics regard themselves as locked in mortal combat with secularism.

"For example, one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey.

'Islamic clerics do not believe in a society in which Islam is one religion among others in a society ruled by basically non-religious laws. They believe it must be the dominant religion - and it is their aim to achieve this.

"That is why they do not believe in integration. In 1980, the Islamic Council of Europe laid out their strategy for the future - and the fundamental rule was never dilute your presence. That is to say, do not integrate.

"Rather, concentrate Muslim presence in a particular area until you are a majority in that area, so that the institutions of the local community come to reflect Islamic structures. The education system will be Islamic, the shops will serve only halal food, there will be no advertisements showing naked or semi-naked women, and so on."

That plan, says Dr Sookhdeo, is being followed in Britain. "That is why you are seeing areas which are now almost totally Muslim. The next step will be pushing the Government to recognise sharia law for Muslim communities - which will be backed up by the claim that it is "racist" or "Islamophobic" or "violating the rights of Muslims" to deny them sharia law.

"There's already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions.

"Some Muslims are now pressing to be allowed four wives: they say it is part of their religion. They claim that not being allowed four wives is a denial of their religious liberty. There are Muslim men in Britain who marry and divorce three women, then marry a fourth time - and stay married, in sharia law, to all four.

"The more fundamentalist clerics think that it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the Government to concede on the issue of sharia law. Given the Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."

Dr Sookhdeo's vision of a relentless battle between secular and Islamic Britain seems hard to reconcile with the co-operation that seems to mark the vast majority of the interactions between the two communities.

"Well, it isn't me who says Islam is at war with secularisation," he says. "That's how Islamic clerics describe the situation."

But isn't it true that most Muslims who live in theocratic states want to get out of them as quickly as possible and live in a secular country such as Britain or America? And that most Muslims who come to Britain adopt the values of a liberal, democratic, tolerant society, rather than insisting on the inflexible rules of their religion?

"You have to distinguish between ordinary Muslims and their self-appointed leaders," explains Dr Sookhdeo. "I agree that the best hope for our collective future is that the majority of Muslims who have grown up here have accepted the secular nature of the British state and society, the division between religion and politics, and the importance of allowing people to choose freely how they will live.

"But that is not how most of the clerics talk. And, more significantly, it is not how the 'community leaders' whom the Government has decided represent the Muslim community think either.

"Take, for example, Tariq Ramadan, whom the Government has appointed as an adviser because ministers think he is a 'community leader'. Ramadan sounds, in public, very moderate. But in reality, he has some very extreme views. He attacks liberal Muslims as 'Muslims without Islam'. He is affiliated to the violent and uncompromising Muslim Brotherhood.

"He calls the education in the state schools of the West 'aggression against the Islamic personality of the child'. He has said that 'the Muslim respects the laws of the country only if they do not contradict any Islamic principle'. He has added that 'compromising on principles is a sign of fear and weakness'."

So what's the answer? What should the Government be doing? "First, it should try to engage with the real Muslim majority, not with the self-appointed 'community leaders' who don't actually represent anyone: they have not been elected, and the vast majority of ordinary Muslims have nothing to do with them.

"Second, the Government should say no to faith-based schools, because they are a block to integration. There should be no compromise over education, or over English as the language of education. The policy of political multiculturalism should be reversed.

"The hope was that it would to ensure separate communities would soften at the edges and integrate. But the opposite has in fact happened: Islamic communities have hardened. There is much less integration than there was for the generation that arrived when I did. There will be much less in the future if the present trend continues.

"Finally, the Government should make it absolutely clear: we welcome diversity, we welcome different religions - but all of them have to accept the secular basis of British law and society. That is a non-negotiable condition of being here.

"If the Government does not do all of those things then I fear for the future, because Islamic communities within Britain will form a state within a state. Religion will occupy an ever-larger place in our collective political life. And, speaking as a religious man myself, I fear that outcome."
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.

25 comments:

terrye said...

truepeers:

I know the British have a problem, but I find it hard to believe that English commonl law will be abandoned and replaced with sharia.

It seems a little hysterical to me.

Skookumchuk said...

terrye:

That depends. It depends on whether a society is willing to say "no" to that behavior countless times in many different ways and to provide attractive alternative ways to conduct your life. Or, like elsewhere in Europe, does it just become too much bother to ever say no?

Barry Dauphin said...

There is a long way to go before Common Law is abandoned. However, it is interesting that this article was taken down for "legal" reasons, but the books that advocate killing infidels, etc., are apparently perfectly legal. Once a liberal democracy officially declares that speech offensive to religions is to be prohibited, it opens the door to much worse than ruffled religious feathers.

Either it creates a very unlevel playing field (i.e., a secular commenter can't say boo about a religion, but the religion is entitled to print any vile thing it wishes, including overthrow of the government on religious grounds) or it opens the door to creating secular government bureaucracies to dictate or control what is acceptable speech for religious organizations, or those affiliated with religions, to make. On what basis can a secular government decide what is or isn't offensive to a religion? Giving in to the desire to curtail free speech leads to much worse situations than the harms of Free Speech.

Knucklehead said...

There are a number of things at work here. One is the not-the-least-bit-new inclination to leave enclaves and ghettos to their own devices. We've seen this many times in the US due to our national history of immigration and the black diaspora. The Chinatowns and Little Italys and Little Belfasts and the inner cities that resulted from the black diaspora here in the US have been common.

But this is not unique to the US. European cities have long had very similar things happening within them. They haven't been as immigration driven as the US examples have been but the effects are somewhat the same.

How this sort of thing develops is not difficult to fathom. The immigrants, be they completely foreign or an internal sort, are not normally welcomed in an overal sense and don't typically have a broad understanding of the culture they are moving in to. They coagulate together for their own wellbeing and the host is quite happy with that arrangement. The "host culture" doesn't generally react in a strong way against ethnic/racial enclaves until they become a problem to the host culture. That typically happens when whatever criminality is endemic to the enclave starts seeping out beyond the enclave. Another thing that happens is eventually members of the enclave begin to achieve sufficient economic affluence to begin moving beyond the enclave.

What is trickier is coming to grips with why assimilation doesn't take place and whether or not it represents an uncacceptable level of danger to the "host culture" and how those things change over time - and perhaps equally important, if time allows for the changes to take place.

I think there are some useful hints within the US experience of this type of thing.

Most of the immigrant pushes into the US came specifically to escape some aspect of the situation they left and in so far as those conditions were recreated in the enclaves they wanted to escape those. The US allowed for assimilation, regardless of whether we really wanted it or not, for a variety of reasons among which was religious freedom. Immigrants have been able to leave behind bits and pieces of their former culture as it became possible for them to do so and take up bits and pieces of the US culture as it suited them to do so.

This model worked very well for immigrants from Europe but has been more problematic for Asian and Hispanic immigrants and a real challenge for the internal black diaspora. One method for coping with the extra challenges has been through prodigious industriousness. and, to some extent, education.

"Heh, they work their butts off and they send their kids to school and make 'em do their homework" goes a LONG way toward acheiving acceptance, begrudging as it may be, in the US.

What factors combine to hinder assimilation? Unwillingness to allow it - racism is one powerful version of this. Desire not to assimilate - seperatism is one powerful version of this. Generous welfare also contributes to hinder assimilation - why take up the struggles if the basic needs of survival are taken care of.

It seems possible to me that the factors at work might be present to such an unusual extreme in the European Islamic immigrant community that they may prove to be impossible to overcome without drastic changes.

Europeans would never in a million years admit such a thing but racism/bigotry play a big role here. They are willing to extend welfare and political correct attitudes but they really don't want the immigrants worming their way into the everday fabric of their lives. (Neither do Americans but we begrudgingly accept it over time. There's not much indication that Europeans reach this begrudging acceptance level not is there much indication that Muslim immigrants are demangdin it.

Combine the racism/bigotry factor with the sepratist nature of the Islamic culture and you've got one big problem with neither side particularly interested in solving it. Islamic culture apparently has a superiority complex that strives to keep the infidel, the "other" at arms length until such time as it can be brought to submission.

Stir in the extremely generous Euro style welfare and nobody on any side of this has had the slightest reason to budge for the couple generations this immigration has been going on to date.

The wild card here is Sharia. Sharia puts a "legal" blanket over things that are criminalized within the host culture. If European countries fail to demand that their Muslim immigrants adhere to the legal systems in place, if they allow them to live their enclaved lives within a religious legal system that is seperate from the host legal system, all hope of eventual assimilation within any acceptable time frame is lost.

Sharia is the BIG difference between the immigration and diasporas of the past.

David Thomson said...

"I know the British have a problem, but I find it hard to believe that English commonl law will be abandoned and replaced with sharia."

“There is a long way to go before Common Law is abandoned.”

Nope, the de facto abandonment of Common Law is only a few years away in Great Britain. The Mullahs will take the law into their own hands within the Muslim ghettoes. Great Britain cannot save itself unless it looks to the American Constitution for guidance. The Brits and also the Euros must embrace our First Amendment principles guaranteeing free political speech. They are royally screwed if they fail to heed this advice. Their very survival hangs in the balance.

There are literally third and fourth generation Muslims living in the Old World who still do not consider themselves as full members of their host country! Think about that for a moment. A third generation resident in this country is most assuredly as American as apple pie. Most of them have forgotten their “native” tongue. Marrying outside the immediate group is perceived as no big deal.

Knucklehead said...

The most troubling aspect of this, for Europe (or England) anyway, is that the article TP points to is, essentially, what seems to be the suppression of the social version of "Houston, we have a problem!"

They seem to be disallowing a segment of their population from even raising the discussion of a potentially serious social issue. I realize I'm stretching the analogy but imagine:

Apollo 13: "Houston, we have a problem!"

NASA Misson Control: "Comms - squelch that 'problem' traffic!"

A-13: "Houston, do you copy? We have a..."

NMC: "Apollo, we cannot allow 'problem' communications. We can only talk about what went wrong after the mission has failed. Until such time as mission failure, please limit all communications to non-problem aspects of the mission. Houston out."

It seems so self-evidently dumb that it boggles the mind. Yet portions of Europe seem intent on just that sort of thing.

Peter UK said...

Forget all the talk of ghettoes enclaves whatever,call them what they are, colonies.There are large parts cities where there is no indigenous presence at all,where the old country is looked to as a source of marriage partners.
The entire culture of the colonies changes,pubs and churches close,shops change hands,schools have no children from outside the community.
It is quite likely that within these colonies Sharia law does obtain,since the police do not, as a rule, police there.The authority of the Mosque is absolute.
It is a mistake to think that the Constitution ,if written now, could avoid having all the minority interests included.In fact I would hazard that if Britain got a written constitution,as opposed to its unwritten constitution,that the inclusion of Sharia law could not be avoided.
But how well are you doing with ACLU and Atzlan?

brylun said...

Are British citizens voting with their feet?

Peter UK said...

Yes,
The word on the street,is that Britain is finished,conversations with successful people all have the same conclusion,"If I were younger,I would be gone".."There is nothing here for young people".They wont say this to those taking polls or where they can be overheard,but amongst their own.....
Unfortunately,it is those with money and transferable skills who are able to leave.

Knucklehead said...

Peter,

The "colonizers" vs. "immigrants" distinction is an interesting one. Please elaborate. It seems that with some thought we could articulate the key differences and distinctions between "colonists" and "immigrants".

Perhaps it is just me but I'd enjoy some exploration of why it might be true, or possibly cannot be false, and why it is important.

I really didn't need something like this to rumminate ;) It's giving me a headache already.

Skookumchuk said...

peter uk:

But how well are you doing with ACLU and Aztlan?

Remains to be seen if in the very long run the Southwest will turn into another Quebec. Probably not - especially now that "the border" is becoming an issue. For one thing, the cultural gap between Latin America and the US is much smaller than that between Europe and the Middle East. Also, most Hispanics are assimilators and this process is made easier by various cultural tendencies within Latin America that are bringing it closer to the US. About 25% of Central America is now Protestant, for example. And you could say it is somewhat rare to see hijab worn by the Latin lasses on Miami Beach.

An analogy might be Spanish and Italian immigration to France in the past 100 years. A tough spot or two, but there are sufficient common cultural values to ultimately make it work.

So if we impose even half-hearted controls on immigration (and some polls that I am too lazy to google have shown that Hispanics once here tend to want the gate shut behind them) we may be OK.

Peter UK said...

If any particular group of people wish to live within a clearly defined area with their own language,religion and laws and culture,further if this militates against social interaction with other groups of people and the old homeland is regarded as the source of national identity,the correct name for this arrangement is a colony.
You would be surprised how quickly this can happen,change can be astonishing within a decade,at some point the colony becomes self sustaining,there is no reason to integrate.

Eric Blair said...

Check this out: British Marxists calling liberals spineless:
http://www.workersliberty.org/node/view/5720

Those guys know what its all about in the end.

Like a commenter over at protien wisdom said: "I hate agreeing with Marxists".

terrye said...

Not far from me is a very large Amish community. Right now they are having a problem with the state because they have their own schools and Indiana has a problem with that. They also make a great many of the decisions concerning family life etc without any real input from the rest of us.

They are hard working people and nonviolent. But they live apart and are coming under increasing pressure because of everything from property taxes to the EPA to chold labor laws.

Obviously these folks are no menace and it is not my intent to compare this with Britain, but I find all this talk of of Britain being consumed to be hystrionic. Being different in and of itself is not the problem.

Muslims are not body snatchers.

But more effort does need to be made to let them know that the intolerant willnot be tolerated.

Knucklehead said...

Peter,

The case of Mexican immigration and ideas of "reconquista" of Aztlan is interesting and bears some worrisome similarities to the notions of the muslim caliphate recapturing Andalusia or even all of Europe.

Taking back California would turn into the Ransom of Redchief. And Texas isn't about to lose the Battle of the Alamo again. They won't let reconquista happen. New Mexico is another matter. That's roll over and submit lefty land there. Arizona? If the retired golfers pack up and leave the whole thing goes back to being a desert in something like 18 days or less.

What makes Aztlan and even Quebec fundamentally different is that they aren't religious or even entirely cultural issues. When push comes to shove and the choice of actual people becomes, "you can be an immigrant portion of the US or become part of Mexico", a significant portion of the immigrant population would probably realize the latter as a bad idea. The same with Quebec. Its a threat to gain some leverage but they're not likely to actually make the split.

This may also be, ultimately, true of the muslim immigrant population in Europe. If the real choice between being law-abiding citizen of a Euro welfare nation and the "Pan-Islamic Caliphate" were ever available to them the majority might be far more inclined to pick the former over the latter.

It is possible. To this point, however, the muslims in Europe seem a bit more violently assertive than the Aztecs.

Peter UK said...

Terrye,
It is all down to numbers,Bradford and Leicester will both have Muslim majorities in the not too distant future,if they haven't already.The government hasn't a clue what size the immigrant population is,once any group achieves a majority in a democracy,and voting patterns can be enforced by ethnicity,political power follows as sure as night follows day.
Not the egregious Ken Livinsgstone pandering to the muslim demographic for example.
The Labour party is very dependent on the muslim vote for inner city seats,to stay in power the will give the voters what they want.Once this takes place elements of Sharia Law can be voted in by local by-laws.

Rick Ballard said...

I don't choose to be governed by pessimism, fear or straight line projections which have never proven out over time.

There is but one muslim cockerel left crowing upon its dung heap. Should we salute him as the bringer of the dawn or have him for lunch? Ne'er let it be said that we lack for craven politicians - for we have them in our Congress, in Brussels, in the UN and scattered about like seed from a pernicious weed.

Are we then to listen to those whose only interest is their own pathetic self preservation - those willing to cow to Tehran on the basis of "they might have something nasty up their sleeve" or are we to remove the cockerel to his fitting resting place - a nice pot on the back of the stove.

I'm weary of the arguments - I know that backbone in a pol is a hen's tooth - but they derive their cowardice ultimately from all of us - and we aren't all cowards. The Islamic bums "terrorizing" Europe draw their strength in part from Europe's cowardice and in part from the cockerel's cry. Let us boil the cockerel and find out how much comes from each source.

Kill the Iranian mullahs and see how things turn out. It may not be as bad as it seems and it cannot be made worse by the trying.

truepeers said...

Yes, we need courage. That comes from knowing who we are and what boundaries we must defend. It means expecting immigrants, especially those distinguished by religious beliefs that are imperialistic, accomodate themselves to western ways, not vice versa, and having the courage to deny multiculti apologetics when integration doesn't work.

Seneca the Younger said...

Guys, the notion that the Southwest is becoming another Quebec is, not to put too fine a point on it, flat out looney. Get a map and trace the line of the Arkansas River down from the Colorado mountains toward Kansas until you get to 100°W. On the south side of the river, you'll see places like Pueblo, La Junta, Trinidad, Ratón --- Albuquerque, Taos, Española --- Alamosa, Salida, Del Norte.

That's the border of New Spain. Go anywhere south of that border, and anything from 30 to 90 percent of the population in any location speaks Spanish as a first language.

In Alamosa, I went to a Spanish-speaking kindergarden in 1960. Both my parents were gringos, but spoke Spanish because if you wanted to do business, you'd better. "Se habla Español" was common (although my favorite was "Se habla Yiddish".) And, for all the talk of La Raza and Aztlan, the proportion on Spanish-speakers is going down --- while there's a new cable channel (Sí TV) for Hispanics who don't really speak Spanish.

What's happening really is that the Spanish speakers are getting out of the Southwest and Miami, and people are noticing.

StatGuy said...

Since you reported this, the Google cache has been replaced by the message at the Telegraph site.

truepeers said...

Hah, i should have quoted more of the article; does that happen automatically or did Google inentionally delete?

truepeers said...

The Sookhdeo interview can be found here, at least for now :)

Laban said...

There's an interesting paper, written by a former race relations adviser to Bradford Council (Yorkshire, UK) which argues that whereas the first Pakistani immigrants came as immigrants, wanting and expecting to become British, todays migrants come as colonisers, expecting to replicate the way of life 'back home' in the new country.

http://bradford2020.com/pride/docs/Section7.doc

Laban said...

truepeers - I'll mail you a copy this weekend.

The_Editrix said...

Hey, thanks for that!
http://editrixblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/future-of-modern-liberalism-is.html

It will be damn difficult in the future to suppress information entirely. Don't I just love the blogosphere?