In a speech today at the London School of Economics, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears confirmed the government's latest tactics in its strategy for Muslims to adopt a British version of Islam.
The speech hurriedly followed leaked drafts of a revised counter-terrorism strategy called Contest-2, which clearly indicated the government's definition of extremism: to support the call for a Caliphate in the Muslim world; to support the Islamic Shariah; to believe that Jihad to fight against invasion and occupation is legitimate; to believe that homosexuality is a sin.
Responding to the speech Taji Mustafa, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain said, "In this speech, Blear's has confirmed the government's working definition of ‘extremism' and that its Prevent strategy in Muslim communities is little more than an attempt to control them in order to force a values change in Muslim communities and silence our criticism of Britain's colonial foreign policy."
"However, there are some more specific points in her speech which are worth addressing."
"Firstly, Blears has presented a policy similar to that of the RAND corporation report ‘Civil Democratic Islam' dividing Muslims into categories of extremism. The government will - for the time being - engage with all organisations bar those that advocate violence. She leaves doubt about those who have Islamic social and political views that conflict with liberalism saying she is working to oppose their views even if she has to presently work with them, until such time that secular liberal voices are empowered and established by the state."
"Secondly, she exposes once again the agenda of coercive assimilation - that Muslims should adopt western liberal values: they should celebrate the behaviour of western societies toward women, accept homosexuality and should be uncritical supporters of democracy. Moreover, they must abandon Islamic ideas such as support for a righteous Caliphate - a Khilafah "Caliphate" Rashida following the example of the Prophet (SAW)."
"Thirdly, she exposes the government's agenda to control mosques and community groups, and establish a compliant leadership through youth leadership programs. She cites ridiculous arguments about Imams being born abroad. Does she also plan to complain to the Church of England that the Archbishop of York and Bishop of Rochester were also born outside the UK? She plans to interfere in mosques in a way that is unprecedented for a state to interfere in religious institutions. In the eyes of objective observers, this only furthers the perception of weakness in liberal democracy, for this interference does not give the appearance of ‘freedom to worship' in Britain. Rather, it makes the British state look increasingly Stalinist and controlling in its viewpoint towards people's religious beliefs."
"Finally, Blears' speech is fundamentally dishonest. On the one hand she calls for a nuanced understanding of the issues on the other, she peddles inaccuracies and innuendo about calls for the ‘supremacy of the Muslim people' and calls for a theocratic state in the UK. She so easily conflates resistance in the Muslim world with ‘terrorism'. She calls for an explanation of how the ‘UK's foreign policy protects the safety and rights of Muslims elsewhere in the world', ignoring the deaths of over a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan and presents concern about this as a ‘sense of grievance'. She tries to silence debate on Palestine by blurring Muslims anti-Israel views with anti-Semitism. She once again peddles the idea that Muslim concerns about western foreign policy which started pre-9/11 somehow proves that peoples anger must be rooted in an inherently violent ideology, ignoring the 1991 Gulf war, the subsequent sanctions that killed half a million Iraqi children, the repeat bombings over a decade and the uncritical support of Israel's oppressive occupation on Palestine. All of these things show the dishonest nature of the debate by government Ministers."
"This agenda will not succeed, not least because of the inherent strength of the sublime Islamic values, but also due to the severe social, political and economic problems people see in ‘broken Britain' and because we believe people can see through the spin and appreciate the real policy beneath."