British Islam or Islamist ideology? Book review in the New Humanist

The eponymous “battle” is between those who want to see British Islam as an integrated, constructive presence in a plural society based on democracy and human rights, and those who place Islamic supremacism ahead of citizenship and equality. She calls her enemy “Salafi Islamism”, a combination of a religious ideology that sees “true Islam” as an austere, back-to-basics Salafism and an Islamist political ideology that, in an ideal world, would like to see everyone living under an Islamic Caliphate with sharia law.

Read the full review HERE.

The Islamist-led assault on Prevent

The following is a summarised extract from the third chapter of The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon. Prevent plays a central role in the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy and yet it has been systematically undermined by Salafi-Islamist extremists. Why?

There has been a campaign to misinform British Muslims and the wider public about Prevent, part of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy. This comes at a time when the security threat to the UK from ISIS and al-Qa’ida remains at ‘severe’. Prevent has become an ideological battleground for Britain’s Salafi-Islamists, determined to render the brand toxic.

At the same time, Salafi-Islamists offer no alternative to Prevent. Instead, they spread entirely fictitious stories about how Prevent operates, present the policy incorrectly as an attack on all Muslims and use the strategy to drive a wedge between Muslims and British society. Prevent is far from perfect but those of us who oppose terrorism want a strategy that safeguards vulnerable individuals.

CAGE is a group in the Salafi-Islamist convergence that has been at the forefront of attacking Prevent. It entirely misrepresents its workings and objectives. CAGE claims Prevent is fostering a state-sponsored Islam, spying on Muslims and conducting extra-judicial tribunals. These unfounded assertions are designed to foster fear and suspicion among British Muslims towards Prevent.

Most worrying, the arguments advanced against Prevent by Salafi-Islamists are becoming common currency in the student movement and education trade unions. The leadership of the National Union of Students has campaigned alongside CAGE against Prevent. They seem entirely oblivious to the wider aims of the Salafi-Islamist convergence and CAGEs shocking comments about convicted terrorists, portraying them as victims of the British state.

To read more – get your copy of The Battle for British Islam – click HERE to order on Amazon.

 

How Salafists and Islamists have combined to promote an extremist agenda

The following is a summarised extract from the second chapter of The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon. The chapter describes how Salafists and Islamists once competed against each other before realising they could more effectively achieve their aims by uniting. The result has been an extremist wave that has overwhelmed British Islam today.

Throughout the 1990s, two ideological strands competed for the loyalty of British Muslims seeking a globalised Islamic identity: Islamism and Salafism. The former operated like a political party advocating a caliphate governed by sharia law; the latter called for what it believed were the traditions and teachings of the first three generations of Muslims during and after the life of the Prophet.

Both opposed integration into wider British society and offered an identity based entirely on faith. Otherwise they were in opposition to each other. On university campuses, the two sides clashed and violence was not unknown. But after 9/11, the dynamic changed dramatically. With the emerging War on Terror, Islamists and Salafists replaced competition with co-operation.

They were not only reacting to counter-terrorism legislation, which they characterised as a war against the whole of Islam, but also the emergence of community groups advocating a reconciled British Muslim identity. This was anathema to them. Realising that the reconciled view would attract many ordinary Muslims, they went on the attack.

To read more – get your copy of The Battle for British Islam – click HERE to order on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How we can stop young Britons being radicalised by Daesh

The following is a summarised extract from the first chapter of The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon. The chapter begins with the story of a teenage girl called Muneera who very nearly left for Syria with her friend to join ISIS back in 2015.

 Muneera told her intervention provider Leila that living in the ISIS caliphate would be like “Islamic Disneyland” as she termed it. Leila had been allocated to Muneera under the UK government’s Prevent programme to help undo the damage done by terrorist radicalisers.

The teenager was a third-generation British Muslim born and raised in the UK. There had been no signs of teenage rebelliousness with Muneera and she was very close to her parents. But after seeing a TV news report on Syria, she spent an increasing amount of time on Twitter where she was drawn unknowingly into a terrorist support network.

One of these people was a young boy from Blackburn aged just 14 and a 15-year-old girl from Wembley. Leila noted that it was a “fast track radicalisation that happened in just a matter of weeks”.  The 14-year-old was already plotting a massacre of army veterans at the 2015 Anzac Day parade in Australia. Incredibly, from his bedroom in Blackburn he was directing an older boy thousands of miles away to commit murder.

In just two weeks after setting up his Twitter account, the 14-year-old had 24,000 followers becoming an ISIS “fanboy”. Muneera and the girl from Wembley were now drawn into a very dangerous triangle. The Wembley girl was bursting to flee to Syria but the boy urged restraint. However, the girl forged ahead convincing Muneera it was time to go.

Muneera attempted to leave the UK twice and on the second occasion was stopped by the police. She and her family consented to refer the matter to Prevent, stopping her falling into the criminal justice system. With Leila, she began to address the issues that had led her so close to terrorist engagement and a very long prison sentence. Eventually, she expressed her regret in the form of a poem:

With their lies I was drowning deep,

Convinced I was picking a rose without any thorns…

To read more – get your copy of The Battle for British Islam – click HERE to order on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘We must stand up to extremism’ – Sara Khan tells Bradford University audience

A HIGH-profile human rights activist spoke at length last night to an audience at Bradford University about her work countering extremism.

Sara Khan, 37, who grew up in Bradford and still has family in the city, lectures and advises the Government, the European Parliament, police, schools, the media and communities on how to combat the rise of radicalisation in Britain.

She was invited to the informal ‘conversation lecture’ by Blackwells Bookstore, in the university, to talk about her book, The Battle for British Islam, to mark Academic Book Week.

For the full report, click here.