Since 911, Western regimes have launched a crusade against the Muslim world as well as against Muslims residing in the West. It makes little difference whether they are naturalized citizens or were born there, Muslims are presented as the "other" and targeted. Scandalous allegations are made against them to evoke fear in the general population while drastically curtailing the rights of Muslims. Lord Nazir Ahmed speaks out against this.
Monday June 8, 2015, 22:43 DST
Using the catch-all phrase of countering extremism and terrorism, Western regimes have or in the process of imposing new measures that threaten the human and civil rights of law-abiding Muslim citizens. Lord Nazir Ahmed, the first Muslim member of the British House of Lord has expressed deep concern over the new proposed changes to UK’s counter-terrorism and security framework. Speaking on the third day of the Home Affairs debate in the House of Lords, the Muslim peer said the proposed changes will have serious and negative implications for the human rights of citizens.
Here is the text of his speech in the House of Lords.
“There is deep concern over new proposed changes to the UK's counter terrorism and security framework. Another one of the many Anti-terrorism / Counter Terrorism Bills was announced and now initial reports suggest the drafting of key terms in the Bill such as ‘extremist’ and ‘harmful’ which will be so vague as to catch peaceful protestors.
“These changes have serious and negative implications for the human rights of citizens. There is no doubt that the government has an obligation to protect the lives and liberties of the public from harm, however it is imperative that laws intended to do so do not at the same time violate rights.
“The British Muslim community is currently feeling targeted by the new proposed legislation, and many of them fear that the government is launching a Cold War against them.
“British values, as defined by [Home Secretary] Teresa May, such as democracy, rule of law, tolerance and acceptance of different faiths are inherently Muslim values too. These are exemplified in the teachings of the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad's practices.
“The cliché that there is a dichotomy in being a Muslim and a law-abiding British citizen, is untrue and misguided. Muslims have been in Europe in large numbers since the 1950s. They are well integrated and make a very positive contribution to British society.
“It is only in the last 20 years or so that violent extremism has gained momentum. Every year Muslims contribute billions to the UK economy, they make a very positive contribution to our manufacturing, textile industry, transport, health and education and other government services.
“Our national dish chicken tikka masala and over £4 billion annual catering industry is one of the many businesses owned by them. From Olympic superstar Mo Farah; Amir Khan the Boxer, and Dragon's Den Star James Caan are all from the Muslim Community. British Muslims often cite as examples of Islamic teachings on human freedom. Key among them are:
'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' (Qur'an 2:256)
'Whosoever wills, let him (or her) believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve.' (Qur'an 18:29)
“Muslims living in non-Muslim countries consider it a religious duty enshrined in the Qur'an to respect and uphold the law of the land they are living in. Nationality and immigration laws are classified as covenants by a majority of Muslims. Thus, violating the law of the land would be tantamount to violating the Qur'anic command to strictly abide by any covenant one enters into:
Again quoting from Qur’an:
'And fulfil every covenant. Verily, every covenant will be enquired into (by God).' (Qur'an 17:34)
“Ten days ago, it was reported that Britain’s most senior Muslim police officer Mak Chisty has warned that young people who stop drinking and stop socialising with friends and stop shopping at Marks & Spencer could be in the process of becoming radicalised.
“These are ludicrous statements because it could be equally argued that ‘Stop drinking and socialising and focus on other things such as education etc' could be regarded as typical advice from parents to children.
“My Lords, recently parents complained after a questionnaire was given to year 6 children age 9 in Waltham Forest, with 22% Muslim population.
“If your Lordships have any grandchildren like mine of this age you will know their opinion about grandparents let alone about identity, arranged marriages, God and much more.
“The programme ‘Radicalisation Leading to Terrorism’ has been funded through EU – designed to ‘identify the initial seeds of radicalisation with children of primary school age’.
“The recent Trojan Horse controversy has already fuelled anti-Muslim sentiments. Child-line has reported that the number of complaints of bullying had risen during that period with young people in inner-city schools were ringing in complaining of being called names like: 'terrorist and suicide bomber.'
“For the vast majority of Muslims living in the UK, the issue of concern is not that they see a conflict between 'Muslim values' and 'British values' but that their children are growing up in a society in which an imaginary binary opposition is constantly propagated by politicians, the media and 'extremist' elements within their communities.
For example, it’s always asserted that it’s our fundamental right of freedom of speech to criticize the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), but you may be classified as an extremist if you supported ‘Palestine or Kashmir’.
“A number of surveys and studies published in the last few years have revealed that British Muslims feel more patriotic than most British people or their Muslim counterparts living in other parts of Europe. However, the context and manner in which the debate on 'British values' is taking place can be viewed as marginalising the Muslims as the 'other'.
“Muhammad Abduh (1849 -1905), one of the most influential Islamic philosophers and jurists of the modern era, once famously remarked upon his return to Egypt from a tour of Europe:
'I visited the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I returned to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.'
“When was the last time David Cameron or Theresa May visited a mosque or a Muslim community centre to reassure the British Muslims that they are part of this country, that this is their home and their contribution will never be eschewed. I know many young British born Muslims who are now leaving the UK due to this constant demonization.
“Violent extremism must not be ignored; it does need to be rooted out but we cannot win a war by silencing people. They should be able to hold differing views as long as they do not break the law and live in harmony with others. There is a danger that the proposed tougher legislation will have full power to criminalize law-abiding people. What we need as a society is a common language, common principles and dialogue.”