Myth Busters 3: Lock Up Your Daughters!
This week we cover the myth that Muslim values are incompatible with British values.
Nationalism and Nationalist movements
These parties encourage people to feel others are not like us, and this unlikeness is rooted in their national identity. Their vision of a ‘true Briton’ is one that shares blood with a historic Christian, racially homogeneous Britain, that never really existed. This vision is problematic because how we view Britain should mirror the reality of our multicultural society, not a hypothetical society from a by-gone era.
Intolerance and racism
Whilst nationalists think in terms of historical destinies, racist and xenophobes perceive what they believe to be eternal contaminations. Thus, prejudice often manifests itself, not across national boundaries, but within them. In other words, whilst some parties may have an anti-EU stance others will endeavour to justify domestic repression and domination against our Muslim invaders who have secretly been converting the Queen’s swans to Islam. Unfortunately, for these groups, a Muslim Briton can never truly be British. Why, because they believe that Islamic morals are inherently incompatible or opposed to British values.
After Nick Griffins 2009 appearance on Question Time he claimed that he was the victim of a “lynch mob” audience drawn from a city that had been “ethnically cleansed” and was “no longer British”. This rhetoric suggests that the nation needs to be ‘protected’ from different cultures and religions which are inherently anti-British, subsequently, there are often calls to re-conceptualise what it means to be British, so as to reflect Britain’s culturally diverse nature.
What are British values?
The report, Creating the Conditions for Integration, published in February this year states that core values and experience must hold us together and that we should promote British values such as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and treatment. Critics argue that social cohesion is not about securing everyone’s loyalty to a single set of values, but everyone’s view of society and recognising their place in it. The young generation would be less likely to steal a pair of trainers or a bag of rice in the middle of a riot if they felt part of a community. Crossbench Baroness Prashar said in a speech “integration is not a one-way process; and diversity and pluralism do not threaten cohesiveness, inequality does.”
What are Muslim values?
Myths perpetuated concerning Islam often claims that it promotes misogyny, religious wars and terrorist activities, yet no more than a fraction of a fraction of Muslim’s are part of extremist groups. Women are too often oppressed in the name of culture and religion; unfortunately most religions are male-dominated. Before 9/11, at the United Nations Conference on Population and Development in 1994 and the UN Woman’s Conference in Beijing 1995, The Vatican and other Conservative Christian groups joined with right-wing Muslim forces in their opposition to women’s human and reproductive rights, so this is not just an Islamic problem. To highlight these issues, Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans, spent a year following the literal instructions for women in the Bible. She refused to touch her husband during her period, slept for a weekend in a tent, in her garden and sat on her own cushion so she did not make anything else unclean (Leviticus 15-18). Along with standing in front of a “Welcome to Dayton” sign holding a poster that read “Dan is awesome” as the Bible advises that a virtuous woman’s husband is “praised at the city gates” (Proverbs 31:23).
Simply put, the values of Islam are no better or worse than any other main religion. The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib includes the writings of Hindu and Muslim saints in its holy scripture, whilst the Qur’an includes many sections of the Bible. Here are some Islamic quotes alongside some quotes from British civic life you may recognise:
Treat others the way you would like to be treated VS. He will not enter Paradise whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct. Sahih Muslim, Hadith 15
If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all VS. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say something good or keep quiet. Prophet Muhammad(s) as reported by Abu Huraira–mutafakkun ghalai.
Rome was not built in a day VS. Be patient (in adversity); for, verily, God will not let the reward of the righteous be wasted. The Holy Quran, Chapter 11, Verse 115.
Are they incompatible?
Britain prides itself on being a secular and multicultural society where all religions are allowed to be practised and where all races, communities and cultures co-exist, but the rise of Islamophobia has been a serious problem in recent times. We have seen violent protests, demonstrations and even attacks of mosques by people claiming to be political groups. It is also unfortunate that much of what we hear about Islam in the media is negative. Take the Rochdale paedophile ring case for example, which made the front page of every national newspaper, it was mentioned time and time again that the men who sexually abused the young girls were Muslim, along with assertions that their race, religion and culture were huge factors. Yet in Derby earlier this year, fifteen girls aged 13 to 15, many of them in care, were preyed on by seven middle-aged white men with methods similar to the Rochdale perpetrators. Yet only the Guardian and the Times reported it, with no assertion that somehow these crimes where reflective of British culture or speculation that the men’s abusive nature were symptoms of their race or religion. Evidence submitted by Dr Chris Allen shows that 74% of the British public claim that they know ‘nothing or next to nothing about Islam’, 64% claim that what they do know is ‘acquired through the media’, press coverage relating to Muslims in British national newspapers had increased by approximately 270% over the decade and 91% of that coverage was deemed negative.
Politicians and the media have unfairly tarred all Muslim’s with the same brush by promoting the myth that ‘Muslim values are incompatible with British values,’leaving some leading commentators (myself) asking ‘can’t they just eat cake and all get along?’ Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon in a speech said “as we rightly condemn those who burn flags on the return of our brave troops, we should also recognise the efforts of Muslim communities whose youth groups have raised thousands of pounds through poppy appeals and… recently celebrated Her Majesty’s Jubilee by raising a quarter of a million pounds for British-based charities.”
Communities by and large live side by side in harmony and mutual respect but the constant questioning of Muslim loyalty and British identity, the lack of awareness or interest in minority cultures and the stereotyping of all Muslims as potential terrorists or terrorist sympathisers can cause social tensions as it did with UK based Irish Catholic communities in the 70’s. Most Muslims condemn acts of terrorism, they want a safe and peaceful society where they are respected and treated equally, and thus their values are no different to any other law-abiding citizen, which sounds compatible to British life from where I sit.