Response to Melanie Phillips by Inayat Bunglawala
November 25th, 2003
For some reason Melanie Phillips appears to revel in inciting your readers against the Muslim community. In her piece in Monday's Daily Mail she asserted that 'clerics have hijacked mosques up and down the country to incite young Muslims to hate the west and even recruit them to terrorism,' yet she did not feel it necessary to adduce any evidence to show that this was indeed the case. There are over 1000 mosques now in the UK, perhaps Ms Phillips would like to point out exactly which ones have been hijacked? In fact, apart from the notorious example of the Finsbury Park mosque from which Abu Hamza was evicted earlier this year, I cannot think of a single mosque which comes anywhere near her description.
She then praises the Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane for calling on British Muslims to choose between the 'British way' of non-violence and political dialogue and the 'way of the terrorists'. The irony of these remarks having emanated from a representative of a government that ignored massive worldwide protests, bypassed the United Nations and waged an unlawful war on Iraq appear to be lost on Ms Phillips. The British Muslim community was certainly overwhelmingly opposed to the war against Iraq. However, they showed their opposition by participating with their fellow British citizens in huge and entirely peaceful anti-war demonstrations up and down the country. Moreover, the Muslim community's fears that a war on Iraq - under the guise of trying to free Iraq of its elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction - would only exacerbate the phenomenon of terrorism and increase anti-British and anti-American sentiment around the world, are now, regrettably, proving to have been well-founded.
To defeat the dreadful phenomenon terrorism we surely have to examine some of the underlying causes which are giving rise to it. We learned this lesson in Northern Ireland. It seems to me that Ms Phillips does not like this idea because we may then - among other things - have to take a closer look at Israel at it's scandalous treatment of the Palestinian people together with the role of our own governments in supporting various tyrannies in the Muslim world.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain