MQI UK (Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK) has reflected on Prime Minster David Cameron’s speech in Birmingham today. MQI UK acknowledges the PM’s more measured tone compared to his previous speech in Slovakia in June in its attempt to broaden the scope of extremism to include far right groups and not to single out Muslims as being the sole focus of extremism. We also welcome the PM’s recognition that Britain is a successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, and that its diversity is its strength.
We should take some positives from the speech, such as acknowledging that the vast majority of Muslims condemn ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and that the causes of radicalisation and terrorism are multi-factorial. In particular, we regard ideology as a major factor, and we believe that ideological and theological justifications for violence and murder should be tackled in the most appropriate way. We also agree that the actions and rhetoric of groups such as ISIS should be de-glamorised.
We are not however comfortable with the PM addressing cultural problems like forced marriage and FGM in the same speech, which risks these issues being conflated with Islamic teachings. Islam clearly and categorically condemns these practices, which cannot be justified in any way or form or under any guise of so called cultural norms.
On the matter of ‘grievance justification’, it is our view that perceived grievances to do with foreign policy and unresolved international disputes or injustice are prime motivators for radicalisation, and while these should never be used as an excuse or pretext for violence, these issues do require addressing through open debate and constructive engagement with those who harbour these grievances. Simply dismissing these ideas and sweeping the matter under the carpet is not a viable option.
We are concerned that ‘extremism’ and what constitutes ‘radical ideology’ is not entirely clear from the PM’s speech, and the impact this may have on the principle of freedom of speech. We would recommend more consultation with grassroots Islamic organisations to ensure there are valid and workable definitions of these terms, which do not directly or indirectly discriminate against Muslim communities and do not criminalise dissent, nor compromise open debate and discussion that are so essential in a democratic society.
We welcome moves to assist Muslims and other communities towards greater integration and civic participation, to increase opportunities and to address issues of identity and belonging, and at the same time to foster greater inter-cultural exchange between all communities. We look forward to receiving more detailed policies on these and all other issues covered in the PM’s speech in due course. MQI UK is willing to work with or be party to further discussions or share our expertise with other organisations pursuant to tackling radicalisation and terrorism, as well as promoting community cohesion and integration.
As a grassroots Islamic organisation, MQI UK is proud to have been at the forefront of tackling religious extremism. Examples have included youth camps and activities to raise awareness of extremism and how to counter it, the launch of the Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings in 2010, and more recently the launch of the Curriculum on Peace and Counter-terrorism on 23 June 2015 as part of its Peace Education Programme (PEP). For more details please contact: