As I have mentioned before, I am weary of the endless programmes going out seeking to show that Islam in Britain is peachy and they are ‘just like us’. I do not want to see communal tensions raised either but enough with the damn propaganda.
But what really annoys the hell out of me is when I read yesterday that Prince Charles intends to lecture President Bush and other Americans on how they need to take Islam more seriously and be less ‘confrontational’. Oh that is going to down just splendidly. We have heard this before from Charles closer to home and my view has always been that as Britain is an overwhelmingly secular country and most tend not to take Christianity all that seriously, he has got to be joking if he thinks all too many people give a rats arse about what Islam has to offer global civilisation.
The Prince, who leaves on Tuesday for an eight-day tour of the US, has voiced private concerns over America’s “confrontational” approach to Muslim countries and its failure to appreciate Islam’s strengths. The Prince raised his concerns when he met senior Muslims in London in November 2001. The gathering took place just two months after the attacks on New York and Washington. “I find the language and rhetoric coming from America too confrontational,” the Prince said, according to one leader at the meeting.
And when I regularly read Muslims standing up and openly repudiating putting apostates and homosexuals to death, perhaps I will conclude Islam might be anything other than a blight on any tolerant culture. Oh and please, spare me the tales of how historically ‘tolerant’ Islam can be because it is only tolerant on its own very narrow terms.
It used to be that many Christians would burn or hang ‘witches’, slaughter those who did not share their denomination and kill scientific free thinkers. All of those things were done based on biblical justifications, some convoluted and other much less so.
Yet you would be hard pressed to find a Christian who would regard going back to that as desirable and I doubt many would have a problem if someone stood up and said “Yes, I know it says in the Bible that we should kill witches or people who use ‘evil magic’, but that’s barbaric nonsense and we just do not tolerate that sort of stuff any more”. Of course no one needs to stand up and say that because it goes without saying.
And when I hear lots of Muslims say “yes I know it says in the Koran that the penalty for turning your back on Islam is death, but that is barbaric nonsense and we just will not tolerate that sort of stuff any more”, then, and only then, will I think that Prince Charles is anything other than a fool for suggesting modern Islam could possibly be an overall force for good. I am not a Christian any more but I do not keep looking over my shoulder for a Jesuit with a garrotte sneaking up behind me because I dared to publicly state that fact. Ex-Muslims should feel just as free as I do to publicly repudiate their religion if that is their wish, even if there are social consequences for them in their narrower community.
Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, was also at the meeting at St James’s Palace. “His criticism of America was a general one of the Americans not having the appreciation we have for Islam and its culture,” he said.
I have news for Khalid, it is not just Americans who do not have much ‘appreciation’ for Islamic culture. Many aspects of Islamic culture are not something with which people who value tolerance and pluralism should be trying to reach an accommodation. You cannot compromise with something that is inimical and there is nothing illogical about refusing to tolerate the practice of a creed in a way that requires intolerance.