Monday, November 27, 2017

Transforming Britain: European Islam

"We get both kinds of extremists. They both espouse the same garbage -- and in the middle is us."
"Upstairs is filling up -- start moving them [an excess of worshippers] to the upper hall of the community centre!" 
"[Born in Barking] Do I feel scared walking down the street? No, London is my home."
Ashfaq Siddique, Al-Madina Mosque, Barking, East London
Image result for photo, muslims praying  in parking lot, al madina mosque
Roughly 9,000 attend a morning prayer at Al Madina Mosque in the working-class neighbourhood of Barking. The tensions in the area once seemed peripheral to London.  Andrew Testa Photos/The New York Times

"The culture has changed completely. The English, traditional people are just not there anymore."
"It is getting frightening. On a Friday afternoon there are Muslims coming out of the woodwork. In 15 or 20 years, this will be a Muslim state completely."
"Look, the mayor of London is a Muslim! If nothing is done about it, they are going to be running this country."
Mark Stubbs, 59, Roofer, Barking 

"He [a local politician] is trying to do what he believes will protect his people."
"We are trying to tell him, 'Hey, we are the same people'. If something happens to the United Kingdom, we will be with you by your side to protect it!"
Asim Khan, Pakistan-born financial adviser

"People hear things about Muslims in the media and say, 'Let's kill Muslims'."
"But London is different than any more place. We feel like our roots are here. We feel proud of London."
Khalid Salem, 36, Egypt born, Uber driver

Over twelve percent of London's inhabitants now are Muslim. London further distinguished itself as a pluralist society by electing a Muslim mayor a year and a half ago. That no doubt delighted the Muslims who have been seen and heard in public to state their belief that it is only a matter of time before Britain becomes a Muslim sharia state. Londoners are truly conflicted; on the one hand proud of their acceptance of others, on the others alarmed that the heritage and culture they so value is dissipating beyond recognition.

Muslims feel comfortable living in Britain. Britons don't feel quite as comfortable living in their country, surrounded by Muslims wearing conspicuously different clothing, speaking an entirely different language, faithful to a religion that is inimical to the presence of other religions in its most basic instructions to its faithful. The occasional sight of large numbers of Muslim men prostrating themselves in public to pray because despite the proliferation of mosques their numbers are insufficient to serve the population of Muslims.

That from time to time an eruption of Islamist psychotic violence strikes killing people in surprise attacks with the refrain 'Allahu Akbar!' ringing out for good measure is not comforting to non-Muslims, and nor are the attacks taking place elsewhere in Europe, informing Britons that their turn once again, is coming up. That there are among them foreign-born clerics preaching in Arabic of the divine merits of jihad represents another alert and discomfort. The event feared by native Britons is not one Muslims will comfort them for, standing foursquare with them.

In 2015 the BBC took a poll to discover that 45% of British Muslims agree that clerics preaching violence against the West represent "mainstream Islam". With all of this baggage little wonder there's an uneasy truce between the two populations; one indigenous the other of immigrant stock so far from the countries of their heritage, religion and culture. All three of which they bring with them when they emigrate, importing some elements of culture that do no favours to the welcoming nation.

It's too easy for those who view the presence of a significantly growing population of Muslims as a menace to their traditional way of life as 'bigots', expressing 'Islamophobia' through distrust and suspicion. In another nearby borough of London, Dagenham, neighbour to Barking, Peter Harris, leader of the local branch of UKIP, a nationalist conservative group, has done his utmost to forestall the building of additional community centres and mosques to accommodate that growing number of Muslims. 

White British natives like himself, according to Harris represent "an endangered species" in London, with the borough he represents "the front line" of a battleground".   He will go to any length to contest any initiatives to use available space for Islamic community centres with spaces for prayer rooms. Considered far-right UKIP, the British National Party succeeded in winning roughly 20 percent of the vote (U.K. Independence Party).

At the Al Madina Mosque, Ashfaq Siddique places flyers in the mosque's lobby reminding those in attendance of their 'religious duty' to report signs of radicalization to a confidential police hotline. On the other hand, he disagrees with the Home Office's counterterrorism program, Prevent which requires teachers, social workers and other government employees to notify local coordinators (usually a police officer) of any Muslim matching a checklist of "warning signs".

This kind of 'domestic surveillance' targeting Muslims doesn't sit well with the community. "Concerned parents come to us and say, 'I don't want to go to the police; the Prevent program will tag my child'," said Siddique.

This is the 'catch-22' Britain faces.

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