muslim problem
Freedom of Religion

The problem with ‘The Muslim Problem’

Trevor Kavanagh, political editor of The Sun, wrote an article yesterday gracefully entitled: ‘Now Philip Hammond is finally Out he must shut the door behind him and take control over our laws, our trade and especially immigration‘. It was all fairly standard Brexiteer fare until the last section, which segued into the thorny issue of child abuse gangs and the fact that they tend to stem from a particular community. Kavanagh writes:

The common denominator, almost unsayable until last week’s furore over Pakistani sex gangs, is Islam.

Thanks to former equalities chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham’s Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.

One of the Pakistani perverts starkly identified the gulf between some Muslim men and the white British women they regard as prey: “They are good for one thing, for me to f*** and use like trash.”

Trevor Phillips did indeed say it’s time to call a spade a spade: he thinks it’s wrong to call them ‘Asian sex gangs’, which is altogether too discursive, not to say a little evasive and rather racist, and so we ought instead to refer to them as ‘Muslim sex gangs’, because:

It insults the largest single ethnic minority group in the UK – Hindu Indians who consider themselves Asian and the many East Asians who have the UK their home.

Neither group has been even remotely associated with these crimes.

What the perpetrators have in common is their proclaimed faith. They are Muslims, and many of them would claim to be practising.

It is not Islamophobic to point this out, any more than it would be racist to point out that the most active persecutors of LGBT people come from countries where most people are, like me, black.

It isn’t entirely clear why ‘Muslim sex gangs’ should be more acceptable to Trevor Phillips than ‘Asian sex gangs’, for Muslims are as diverse and variable in their worlds as Asians are in theirs. What is to be gained by tarnishing the faith of the peace-loving Ahmadiyyas or that of the pure and tranquil Sufis just because of a few recidivist Sunnis? Would Baptists really tolerate the chronic and global cases of systematic child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church being termed ‘Christian child abuse’? But Kavanagh likes the proposal, because:

British authorities have long deliberately disregarded Muslim sex crimes — soon likely to be a racist offence itself — including outrages such as female genital mutilation and “honour” killings.

Such contemptible treatment of women, including Muslim women, is not just despicable — it would have been inconceivable here on such a scale only a few years ago.

He longs for the day when the UK Government is back in control of UK immigration, and muses: “What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?”

The Muslim Problem?

Germany had a Jewish problem in 1933. Jews weren’t forming sex gangs or mutilating their own girls, but they were accused of ruining Germany by conspiring to liquidate German wealth and capital for their own uses. When Hitler determined that their presence was no longer conducive to the national interest, they were rounded up and dispatched to the ovens, as they were throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

Does The Muslim Problem have a comparably effective Final Solution? Is Trevor Kavanagh expecting Philip Hammond and Liam Fox (or Amber Rudd and Theresa May) to round up Pakistani sex gangs and deport them to, um… Pakistan?

That wouldn’t actually be an unreasonable punishment for lawless Pakistani immigrants. And while we’re at it, we could take back control of our borders (and empty quite a few prison cells) by deporting all foreign nationals who break the law of the land or otherwise offend against British culture and democratic customs. But we read that the Newcastle sex gang was “mostly British-born, of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish backgrounds”.

What do you do with British-born ‘Muslim sex gangs’? Re-education? Castration? Lock them in Room 101 with a herd of pigs and force-feed them bacon sandwiches?

You see, that’s the problem with The Muslim Problem: it discriminates against one specific faith community and incites ill-feeling towards all members of it. It inclines toward crass caricatures of Muslim identity and dehumanises the faithful, loyal and peaceful followers if Islam. To paraphrase Trevor Phillips: it insults the followers of the second-largest religion in the UK, the vast majority of whom have not been even remotely associated with these crimes. Just as the definition of the Jewish Problem consigned millions of Jews to torture and murder, so the articulation of The Muslim Problem will cause a backlash against all British-born Muslims and those of other countries.

Now is not the time for knee-jerk journalism stoking anti-Muslim sentiment: the solutions to these societal tensions are to be found in the pursuit of theology; in robust comparative religion; in the fearless pursuit of Christology versus Prophetology. As the Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden wrote a few months ago, ‘We need to talk more about Jesus and Mohammed and less about Christianity and Islam‘. The divine mission is to witness to God’s truth, not to denigrate any of those who are made in His image.

And we certainly don’t need to convey to all Muslims that their existence or mere presence is a ‘problem’, for that way lies the validation of hatred, prejudice and faith suppression. If the problem was Jews and their Torah yesterday, and it’s the Muslims and their Qur’an today, why not Christians and their Bible tomorrow? The potential for all people of faith to be cast as outsiders or ‘others’ is ever-present. The ever-enlightened liberal-secular inquisition must forever deal with the ‘problem’ of religion, for we have all been judged and found wanting.