It's not a phobia – it's rational to fear Islam
By MINETTE MARRIN - SUNDAY TIMES
Added: Sun, 23 Jan 2011 22:45:58 UTC
It is lucky for Baroness Warsi that her inflammatory speech on Islamophobia last Thursday was eclipsed by even more sensational political news stories.
Otherwise Sayeeda Warsi’s muddled comments at Leicester University would have attracted even more attention and rage than they did and her political future might be at even greater risk than it is.
This is what makes people in this country wary of Islam in many of its forms, in one place or another: the centrality and inescapability of religion, the loss of freedom of thought and expression, the harshness of sharia (Islamic law), the patriarchal suppression of women, including their inequality under sharia, the medieval punishments for apostasy, adultery and even theft, the insistence on a cruel form of animal slaughter, the violence and anti-Semitism of many sacred texts, the disinclination to integrate with the host culture and finally — one can argue — the incompatibility of theocratic Islam with democracy. To find all those things alarming as possibilities is not to be Islamophobic or racist. It is to be reasonable from a western point of view.
Of course, Islam means different things to different Muslims and an outsider cannot know quite what any particular person or group holds dear. But it is clear there are Muslims in Britain who wish to silence free speech (by terrifying those who criticise Islam, starting with Salman Rushdie) and many other Muslims who will not stand against that. There are many who trample on the rights of women and there are many others who appear to have no interest in belonging to the wider society: there is subtle and increasing pressure for the introduction of sharia here, with some success already, and this is alarming to anyone concerned with the idea of equality under the law and the virtues of English law.
There is evidence for such fears. A study by Policy Exchange showed that 37% of British-born Muslims aged 16-24 would prefer sharia here, 37% would like to send their children to Islamic state schools and — incredibly — 36% think Muslims converting to another faith should be punished by death. What’s more alarming is that older Muslims are much less likely to take these attitudes and are far less alienated than their children’s generation.
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