The English Defence League and its Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish sister organisations have been created as a non-racist, inclusive voice for all those concerned about the influence of radical Islam in Britain and the multiculturalism that appeases it and, as the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission himself has said, encourages segregation when we should be working to integrate minority communities fully into British society. In combating this challenge to our hard-won freedoms, British Muslims have an important and unique role to play.
The membership of the English Defence League as it currently stands is for the most part non-Muslim, although with a few notable exceptions. Thus, when extremists declare that it is part of Islam to hate all non-Muslims, and that it is a religious duty to try to turn our society into a Sharia state, we are in a bind. As non-Muslims, who are we to tell them that their interpretation of Islam is wrong? Why would young Muslims, whom they target for recruitment, listen to us non-Muslims if we tell them that that is not what Islam is about? Not only would we have little credibility, but it is presumptuous in the extreme for us to even try and tell Muslims what is or isn’t part of their religion.
As it is, large numbers of non-Muslims in Britain have accepted that the extremist portrayal of Islam is the correct one. The conclusion that they have drawn is that Islam is thus incompatible with British society and liberal democracy. This was the view articulated by Nick Griffin on Question Time. Indeed, the extremist interpretation of Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy, as they themselves have declared. But is that true Islam? Non-Muslims cannot speak on that point.
That is where loyal British Muslims come in. As Muslims, you have the credibility to tell the extremists, and the many concerned British non-Muslims, what is and isn’t Islam. We know it must be frustrating to be asked again and again to prove yourselves to be peaceful and loyal when for most of you that goes without saying and you just want to be left alone to live your lives like all the rest of us. But our society is facing a threat and as Britons who love this country and its liberties, it is as much your fight as ours—indeed, British Muslim communities are often the first to feel the rise of extremism—and you are uniquely placed to challenge both the Muslim extremists and those non-Muslims who have accepted that the extremist version of Islam is true. As mentioned before, we can’t say who represents true Islam. But you—the patriotic British Muslim population—can, and there isn’t one among us who wouldn’t like you to be proved right.
We would love for any Muslim—indeed any person—who shares our aims to get involved. Even if you’re just curious, please join our forum and see who we are.