Forgive my transgression but I am about to commit a terrible sin and speak badly of Maajid Nawaz. His counter extremism organisation Quilliam, based in Russell Square, is a difficult group to figure out. On the one hand Nawaz speaks a lot of sense. He draws attention to grooming gangs, has advised Muslim women against wearing the veil, called out left-wing violence, and talks directly about terrorism and radicalisation.
There was the dishonest Guardian hit piece on Tommy Robinson authored by a Quilliam staff member. And there are inane, regressive-left statements from Quilliam’s executive director, Adam Deen.
There are deeper, less immediately tangible problems too. Nawaz is one of the only vocal critics of Islam that a certain type of Guardian subscribing left-liberal will listen to. Tommy Robinson sends such people into convulsions. They’re unlikely to accept Anne Marie Waters, or anyone else connected with Ukip. Non-left-wing street demonstrations cause them to faint.
But Maajid Nawaz, they can stomach. If you see everything through the lens of identity politics, and are saturated in progressive media hysteria about far-right extremism, then Nawaz’s minority status and left leaning politics make him a safe bet. Basically, he ticks the right boxes if you’re a brainwashed metropolitan leftist. Which is not to talk down his credentials, it’s to say that brainwashed metropolitan leftists don’t think in terms of credentials, they think in terms of identity.
This scenario, in which so-called liberals entrust Quilliam with the task of confronting Islam, seems increasingly reckless. The sense I get is that in Quilliam’s constant counter warnings about far-right extremism, coupled with explicit animosity toward Tommy Robinson, they’re intentionally manipulating public perceptions.
Sure, they seem to be implying, you could support Anne Marie Waters. You could engage with Robinson’s message. You can look into what the Football Lads Alliance are doing and attend a demonstration. But mightn’t that all be a bit right-wing..? Wouldn’t it be much safer to let those respectably left-of-centre, Guardian-approved chaps at Quilliam sort it all out instead?
I mean, haven’t you heard? After 1400 years of totalitarian carnage, it turns out all it takes to reform Islam is a nicely located office full of smartly dressed London liberals.
And there lies another key point. The core message pushed out by Quilliam is that of reform. But is reform likely, or even possible? Have you seen anything to indicate—after a solid decade of Quilliam working full-time on it—that this reform is coming?
A sign that reform is possible would be that after ten years of working on it, the situation had improved. Well let’s see. This year in Britain, there have been four Islamic terror attacks, killing 36, and injuring 377, along with the Finsbury Park Mosque attack, which killed one and injured ten. It’s unprecedented. The situation has become not better, but considerably worse.
And besides which, who agreed that the elusive Islamic reformation—with its raped English girls, and its murdered English children, and its ripped up English buses—should take place in Britain? How much longer do we keep pretending there will be a breakthrough? Another decade? A hundred years? One more millennium and a half?
On his LBC radio show last Saturday, Nawaz explained to a caller from Manchester that stoning people to death isn’t a good idea, and the clip was then widely shared on social media by his approving fans.
But wait a minute. We’re cheering because a former extremist explained to a dark ages zealot that stoning people to death is bad? Is this what it’s come to, in Britain, in the twenty-first century? And I’m supposed to… what exactly? Applaud? Put away the stones? Rejoice that the reformation is proceeding, one retard at a time?
Tellingly, he also managed to drag in an underhand comparison to Tommy Robinson and Donald Trump while condemning the caller’s beliefs. He said that what the caller advocates is worse than what either Robinson or Trump believe in, but this is no compliment. It’s a subtle means of undermining his opponents’ reputations by surreptitiously placing them on a spectrum of extremism with homicidal religious fanatics. Regardless of whether you support or oppose them, neither Robinson nor Trump deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as people who believe in stoning adulterers to death.
In the end, a man on the radio pointing out to fanatics that their beliefs are sickening doesn’t strike me as a glorious achievement, it seems more like a hideous regression. Hearing people openly air such grotesque ideas simply underlines what a dreadful situation the country has allowed to develop.
Let’s not get tricked into thinking that any of this is normal. It’s tragic that such thinking is present in modern Britain, and it’s only because of the endless tolerance and civility of the British people that there hasn’t been a great backlash against Islam.
Such restraint is admirable, but we must also be careful not to send out the message that religious idiocy will be tolerated in the long term. Britain is not Islamic, and Islam is not relevant to any aspect of our society. We owe precisely nothing to this foreign faith, and have no obligation to tolerate it for a second longer, should we choose not to. The rules should be clear: foreign religions can operate, but only as long as they make not a single imposition into non-believer’s lives, integrate with British values, and never break the law.
But Islam, of course, is not following these rules.
And it’s concerning that a constant barrage of culturally relativistic pro-Islam hectoring from the Guardian, the Independent, and other left-wing media is conditioning the younger generation to believe that it’s normal to have pockets of barbaric thinking—such as that expressed by Nawaz’s LBC caller—in our midst.
Or to think we must have sympathy and patience with violent theocratic fascists. Or that everything will be fine if we just let Maajid Nawaz get to work at Quilliam. And that we can’t really hope to understand the problem anyway, because if you haven’t studied the ridiculous Islamic texts you care nothing about, then you’ve no place in the discussion. The discussion about your own secular country, and the safety and liberties of everyone you know.
Britain has had its reformations already. It’s a country which has battled for and won gay rights, women’s rights, racial equality, and freedom from the tyranny of organised religion. Are we really going to do it all over again, with another religion? And all the while divert our attention—with candles and sing-alongs—from mutilated bodies, and bombs on trains, and throats slit open by the River Thames?
We don’t know whether or not Islam can be reformed, it looks close to impossible in an acceptable time frame. And considering the stakes, it’s barely worth considering as a realistic solution.
Also published at Country Squire Magazine