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Sunday 16 July 2006

It is time to embrace mainstream Muslims

ANOTHER week, another blizzard of horrifying, confusing international headlines about bombs and bodies and accusations and threats - all involving Muslims.

Who was responsible for murdering 180 train-travellers in Mombai on Tuesday? Kashmiri separatists? Probably not. Pakistani guerrilla groups? Possibly. But the hot money at the moment is on local Muslim militants of the kind who murdered 257 and 60 people respectively in Mombai in 1993 and 2003.

We know who provoked the latest Middle East crisis. First, Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier and, as the Israeli army went into Gaza to find him, fired rockets across the border at Israeli towns, thus keeping Israel on the offensive and making life even greater hell for the ordinary Palestinian people.

Hizbollah launched a raid into Israel, killed eight soldiers and kidnapped two more, and as Israel responded with air strikes, a land attack and a sea blockade, which are having a devastating effect on the lives of the ordinary citizens of Lebanon, Hizbollah rained rockets across the border. All this is devastating for the fragile democracy of Lebanon, but is extremely convenient for Hizbollah's Iranian paymasters, who need a Middle East crisis to take the pressure off them over a nuclear programme which threatens us with God knows what in the future.

India knows it has an internal Islamist problem, though its appeasing government prefers to blame Pakistan, but this latest atrocity may force it to face up to the reality that there is an enemy within that must be dealt with.

Israel, in its uncompromising way, is sending its neighbouring governments the same message. Deal with the terrorists in your midst, or suffer serious consequences.

Last week, in London, people were remembering the serious consequences of failing to deal with home-grown terrorists. There was more uncompromising rhetoric from the Prime Minister, yet, on Friday, the New Statesman journalist, Martin Bright, presented a Channel 4 programme called Who Speaks for Muslims, which showed how the reality was about appeasement. Having been provided by a whistle-blower with many restricted documents from the British Foreign Office, Bright showed how the government is obsessed with cosying up to radical Islam at home and abroad, believing that somehow, they will deliver peace. The Muslim Task Force after 7/7 was top-heavy with radicals.

The Muslim Council of Britain, which is best pals with the government and claims to represent all Muslims, is closely intertwined with the Muslim Brotherhood, an international alliance of sexist, homophobic imperialists who want to bring everyone under the medieval rule of Sharia law.

Tolerant members of the Muslim Brotherhood endorse the murder of apostates, Israeli Jews and British and American soldiers in Iraq; the intolerant would rub out all infidels, even Robert Fisk.

Recently, outrage over the prevalence of forced marriages (typically, a British teenager will be taken to a rural Pakistani village and terrorised into marrying a cousin who wants a visa) led the government to announce it was legislating against them: after the Muslim Council of Britain said criminalising such marriages would be "another way to further stigmatise our communities", the government caved in without a fight.

On his programme, Bright interviewed moderate Muslims who are trying to fight back. Haras Rafiq, an extremely able, articulate and thoughtful Rochdale businessman, who was brilliant at a seminar I attended last week, has set up the Sufi Muslim Council to speak for the 80 per cent who are not political Muslims. Dr Chetan Bhatt, another Sufi, is also challenging Whitehall to turn away from radical Islamists and engage with the true mainstream, who worry about jobs, mortgages and education.

I know four foreign-born but London-based Muslims well. Very different in their backgrounds or levels of religious orthodoxy, they are as one in their ambition that their British children should have a successful and peaceful life. All are eloquent about the need for the government to stop pussy-footing around, crack down on radical Muslims and stop listening to the self-styled community leaders who do not represent the community.

But, as in Ireland, the government flirts with the radical fringe and ignores the moderates. There are maybe 1,500,000 Muslims in Britain. Ireland has around 25,000, but the problems are exactly the same. The 80 per cent or so who accept the laws of the country want to live with their neighbours in peace and tolerance, yet they see the lunatic fringe feted and even bankrolled by politicians, media and academia.

The Establishment seem anxious to listen to the blood-thirsty imam from Saudi Arabia or Pakistan who has come over here to rant against the West; no one is interested in the view of the shopkeeper who is worried about the health service.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and half-a-dozen dangerous organisations based in Dublin, who approves of suicide-bombing, beating women and executing homosexuals, was recently flown to Istanbul from his Qatar home, at the expense of the British taxpayer, so he could address a conference and talk behind-the-scenes to Foreign Office officials. Some of them think he's "mainstream".

Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, a Bangladesh MP who hates Hindus and Christians, is in England this weekend, although members of the Bangladeshi community have pleaded with the authorities to keep him out. Why was this man - whose party received just 6 per cent of the votes in the last election - allowed into Britain. Because Mockbul Ali, the Foreign Office's Islamic issues adviser, said he was "mainstream".

There is much more of horrifying detail on how the British government is messing up the response to Islamofascism in When Progressives Treat With Reactionaries: The British State's Flirtation With Radical Islamism, a pamphlet downloadable from Policy Exchange.

Read it, and ask yourself if Ireland is not replicating every mistake Britain is making.

We can win this war only by being tough with radical Islam, while encouraging the mainstream to integrate peacefully and successfully.

In Ireland we have much to do, and we should do it, before we experience our own home-grown atrocity.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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