Hate Crimes Soared in England and Wales After Brexit | Time.com

 Latest UK stats:

Hate crime offenses in England and Wales rose to the highest point yet recorded in the year leading up to March 2017, according to official figures released on Tuesday by the government.

There was a 29% spike in recorded hate crimes— which include any crime motivated by religion, race, sexuality, disability or transgender identity— in the 12 months before March 2017 (80,393 offenses) compared to the same period between 2015-16 (62,518 offenses)

The vote to leave the E.U. in 2016 and better recording methods attributed to the rise, the government said. “The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the E.U. referendum” Britain’s Home Office, or interior department, said in a statement.

Anecdotal accounts flooded social media of attacks on some European communities in the country following the vote to leave the E.U. in June, which Leave campaign critics attribute to a rise in xenophobic rhetoric during and after Brexit campaign.

Hate crimes are still under-reported especially when the crime is committed online, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for hate crime, said in a statement . ” I will be working alongside the Government to strengthen our nationally co-ordinated response to hate crime” he said.

The majority of offenses recorded during the period were motivated by race. The report notes that there was a spike in the number of racially or religiously aggravated offenses after the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack in March, when a man killed 5 people after driving a car into pedestrians and stabbing a police officer.

Provisional figures provided by the police showed jihadist attacks over the summer led to a four-month sustained increase in hate crimes, starting with Westminster attack followed by the Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge attack on June 3. The level of hate crime offences decreased in the following days and the pattern repeated itself after the Finsbury Park attack in June 19— when a van ploughed into worshippers near Finsbury Park mosque.

Disability and transgender hate crimes saw the largest increases 2016-17, with a 53% and 45% increase respectively compared to the year before, but the Home Office said these spikes were driven by improved identification and recording of offenses, as opposed to a dramatic increase in attacks.

Despite the rise in offenses, prosecutions for hate crimes actually declined in the year to 2016/2017, from 15,442 to 14,480 people. “The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions in 2016/17 and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years” Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said in a statement.

“Police have improved the reporting procedures across forces, but we can do better at securing convictions – we need anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to report the abuse and the abuser to police to make sure these offenders are brought to justice” Hamilton said in a statement.

Source: Hate Crimes Soared in England and Wales After Brexit | Time.com


Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it): Shaista Aziz

Aziz on the first UK audit on racial disparity:

Ms. May announced she had commissioned the report in September 2016 but it was only published last week, alongside the Prime Minister’s call to address “burning injustices.”

The report is the latest in a number of government reports released this year alone into the state of Britain’s minorities, focusing on integration, the criminal justice system and social mobility.

There is nothing new in the report – but the one thing it has succeeded in is this: there is now accessible data stored in one place, laying bare the ugly truths of structural racism in Britain. There are huge discrepancies in the opportunities afforded to and the value of life placed on non-white people in Britain.

The audit shows black men are nearly three times more likely to be arrested than white men, and black children three times more likely to be excluded from school. Black, Asian and mixed-race women are most likely to experience common mental health disorders. Mental health is a complex health issue – but let there be no doubt, racism and the impact of racism is visceral. For many on the receiving end, it manifests mentally and physically.

The same day the racial audit report was released, a report by the Runnymede Trust and Women’s Budget Group showed how the government’s cruel and disastrous austerity program is disproportionately impacting women of colour the hardest. They are still most likely to live in poverty.

The report says the poorest black and Asian households have faced the largest fall in living standards: 19 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Tinkering and repackaging structural systems of racial oppression rather than reforming and dismantling them is something our political leaders and establishment have perfected over the decades.

As evidence of the deepening structural racial injustice and disparity keeps mounting, so does the deliberately dishonest rhetoric about racism.

Britain has never been comfortable about talking about race; any attempt to talk about racism truthfully and meaningfully almost always turns into an exercise of defensive derailment.

In 2017, in Britain (just as in the United States) racism is being weaponized by the powerful against minorities and the marginalized.

Even when reams of data and the realities of our lives show we are being denied our rights to live as equal human beings and citizens, we are told the data is creating a culture of victimization and victimhood. We need to stop playing the race card, they say.

This is the ultimate political punching down.

The shameful, uncomfortable truth is that there is a lack of genuine political and societal will to tackle structural racism in Britain. Because, in order to dismantle structures of oppression, it is the privileged who have to make way for change – and it is not in their interest to turn the tables on a system that they benefit the most from and denies minorities our rights.

Source: Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it) – The Globe and Mail

Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | The Guardian

Sound, although same rationale could be applied to single sex schools:

Schools in Britain will no longer be able to substantially segregate boys and girls, after the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational faith school in Birminghamhad caused unlawful discrimination by separating the two sexes.

The court overturned a ruling by the high court last year involving Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school that had been strongly criticised by Ofsted school inspectors for failing to uphold British values.

On appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act by strictly segregating pupils from the age of nine, teaching them in different classrooms and making them use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy was also applied to clubs and school trips.

About 25 other mixed schools in England have similar rules and they now face having to overhaul their policies in the wake of the ruling by Sir Terence Etherton, the master of rolls, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Beatson.

Ofsted said it would now look closely at the other schools with similar policies, which includes several Orthodox Jewish and Christian faith schools.

“Ofsted’s job is to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life in modern Britain,” said Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, after the ruling was announced. “Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason.

“This case involves issues of real public interest and has significant implications for gender equality, Ofsted, government, and the wider education sector. We will be considering the ruling carefully to understand how this will affect future inspections.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We welcome today’s confirmation by the court of appeal that it is unlawful for a mixed school to segregate girls and boys completely. Socialisation is a core part of a good quality education, just as much as formal learning and, without it, we’re harming children’s life chances right from the start.”

The appeal court judges said segregation had been tacitly approved by the Department for Education and Ofsted in the past, so the schools involved should be treated sympathetically and given time to adjust their policies.

“The relevant central government authorities should not pivot in the way they have gone about this without recognising the real difficulties those affected will face as a consequence,” the judges said in their ruling.

The ruling applies only to co-educational schools. Single-sex schools are given a specific exemption from discrimination claims related to admissions under the Equalities Act, although it is unclear if the provisions would extend to arguments that both sexes suffer from the absence of the other.

In ruling that Al-Hijrah had unlawfully discriminated against its pupils, the court stated: “An individual girl pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a boy pupil because, and only because, of her sex; and an individual boy pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a girl pupil because, and only because, of his sex. Each is, therefore, treated less favourably than would be the case if their sex was different.”

Source: Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | Education | The Guardian

ICYMI- No room for complacency: The Economist on #Antisemitism

Good overall assessment, picking up on the Institute for Jewish Policy Research covered in an earlier post (Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News):

ALL over Europe, there is concern about an increase in anti-Semitism, and deliberation over how to respond. Earlier this month the Parisian home of a 78-year-old Jewish community leader was attacked by intruders who shouted: “You are Jews, where is the money?” Along with his wife and son, the man was taken hostage, beaten and robbed, in what the government acknowledged was “an act …directly related to their religion”. Around the same time, the former head of a school in Marseille made waves by saying that when he was in charge he would advise Jews against enrolling, for fear of harassment.

Meanwhile the Vatican recently co-organised a symposiumin Rome on anti-Semitism and minority rights in the Middle East, at which Tony Blair was the main speaker. The former British prime minister declared:  “There is anti-Semitism in the East, but also in the West. There are manifestations in European countries, and also in the United Kingdom.”

So how bad are things in Mr Blair’s homeland? On the face of things, Britain is a relatively good place to be Jewish. When anti-Semitic feelings across Europe are compared, the UK tends to do well. But a new study by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research gives an unusually nuanced picture of opinion in Britain.

It found that hard-core anti-Semites, who “express multiple anti-Semitic attitudes readily and confidently”, amounted to 2.4% of the population, while a further 3% could be described as “softer” anti-Semites, expressing somewhat fewer negative views. To probe their opinions, respondents were invited to react to propositions like “Jews think they are better than other people” or “The interests of Jews in Britain are different from….the rest” or “Jews have too much power in Britain…”

The study said that there was a “much larger number of people who believe a small number of negative ideas about Jews but…may not be consciously hostile or prejudiced towards them”. It found that 15% of Britons agreed at least in part to two or more anti-Semitic propositions, with a further 15% agreeing at least in part to one of them. The researchers’ interpretation was cautious:

“This emphatically does not mean that 30% of the population of Great Britain is anti-Semitic…Rather the 30% figure captures the current level of the diffusion of anti-Semitic ideas in British society, and offers an indication of the likelihood of British Jews encountering such ideas.”

The report also tackled the sensitive question of how far hostility towards Jews is linked with negative feelings towards Israel. It found the two mind-sets to be correlated, but not co-extensive. Thus 86% of those British people who hold no anti-Israel attitudes hold no anti-Semitic views either; but among those who hold a large number of anti-Israel attitudes, only 26% are completely free of anti-Semitic feelings.

Still, there clearly are people who are strongly critical of Israel, but not anti-Jewish, and a somewhat smaller contingent who harbour anti-Semitic sentiments but have no particular gripe with the Jewish state. As the report puts it, “anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes exist both separately and together.”

Meanwhile Germany this week joined Britain, Austria and Romania in adopting a working definition of anti-Semitism drafted last year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a Berlin-based body. It says:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition is controversial. It has been criticised by some British Jews on the political left who argued that it could muzzle legitimate criticism of Israel, and by a leading British barrister who concluded after studying the text, and the accompanying guidelines, that it was both too narrow (it might fail to capture some anti-Jewish conduct) and too broad, in the sense that free speech over the Middle East, for example in universities, might be curtailed.

In its recommendation on how to apply the definition, the IHRA tries to give an idea of how far, in its view, disapproval of Israel can reasonably go. It says that “manifestations [of anti-Semitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

The European Jewish Congress, which styles itself as the “sole political organisational representative of European Jewry”, hailed the German move as “vitally important”. It would help to change a state of affairs where “astonishingly, anti-Semitism used to be defined by the perpetrator not the victim”.

Source: No room for complacency

Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

Despite the headline, a more nuanced poll and study than most on antisemitism or other forms of racism and prejudice:

More than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view, according to a study of attitudes to Jewish people.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research said the finding came from the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Britain.

But it said the study did not mean that British people were anti-Semitic.

Researchers also found a correlation in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes.

The study found a relatively small number of British adults – 2.4% – expressed multiple anti-Semitic attitudes “readily and confidently”.

But when questioned about whether they agreed with a number of statements, including “Jews think they are better than other people”, and “Jews exploit holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, 30% agreed with at least one statement.

Despite this, the researchers said they found that levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain were among the lowest in the world.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which has recorded high levels anti-Semitic crime, said: “We believe the new findings, data and nuance in this study will help us to work even more effectively with partners inside and outside the Jewish community to tackle this problem.”

The report said about 70% of the population of Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews and did not hold any anti-Semitic ideas or views.

Muslim views

The IJPR’s researchers questioned 5,466 people face-to-face and online in the winter of 2016/17 – 995 of these were Muslims, although a smaller number of Muslims were included in the statisticians’ nationally representative sample.

They found more than half of Muslims (55%) held at least one anti-Semitic attitude.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, director of the IJPR, said: “Our intention here was not to make any broad generalisations about the Muslim population and their attitudes towards Jews.

“There does seem to be some relationship between levels of religiosity in the Muslim population and anti-Semitism.”

The institute said it wanted to promote an “elastic view”, making a distinction between people who are clearly anti-Semites, and ideas that are perceived by Jews as anti-Semitic.

In December 2016 the government adopted an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism: “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”.

Questions on Israel

The researchers also questioned people about their views on statements about Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.

Their report said fewer than one in five people questioned (17%) had a favourable opinion of Israel, whereas about one in three (33%) held an unfavourable view.

The report said: “The position of the British population towards Israel can be characterised as one of uncertainty or indifference, but among those who hold a view, people with sympathies towards the Palestinians are numerically dominant.”

Dr Boyd said: “Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views exist both together and in isolation.

“The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well.”

The study also revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes were higher than normal among people who classified their politics as “very right-wing”.

Among this group they were two to four times higher than among the general population.

The researchers said the prevalence was considerably higher among right-wingers than on the left.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, from the Liberal Judaism movement, said: “The report is important for helping us understand where the anxiety comes from within the community at large and for understanding why anti-semitism seems to be the prevailing discourse within the community.

“We must be really careful that it does not come to define us and that we celebrate the positive interactions with society at large.

“What is arguably more important … is to educate and interact, to be more outward facing and open to discussion than inward facing.”

Source: Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

ICYMI: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

Not too surprising:

Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West.

“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate (HnH) chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report which was released on Wednesday.

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”

The report, billed as “one of the most comprehensive studies of English attitudes towards contemporary issues”, found that despite views on immigration “softening”, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society”.

The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.

The study found older people were more prone to Islamophobia, “painting a worrying set of views” which HnH said would require “significant effort” to address.

Anti-hate charity Tell Mama told HuffPost UK that it was not surprised by the survey’s findings and called on mosques and Islamic institutions to do more to “break down barriers”.

“We know, given the levels of aggression towards victims, that there is a foothold taking place within small sections of the UK, around anti-Muslim hatred,” Tell Mama director Iman Atta said.

“For the survey to show that 25% of Brits believe that Islam is a dangerous religion, is concerning and we need more mosques and Islamic institutions to engage with their neighbours and break down barriers that there may be. Also, for 52% of respondents to believe that Islam poses a threat risk to the West shows that a lot more work needs to be done by Muslims and NGO’s to counter such growing divisions.”

Atta added:  “We are the vanguard of trying to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and we call upon others to join us in standing against all forms of hatred, including anti-Muslim hatred. There is much work to be done and clearly, there is a long road ahead. If we do not challenge this, it will strengthen Islamist extremism as well as alienating large numbers of Muslims.”

Source: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

New national council to issue progressive rulings for Britain’s Muslims | The Guardian

Worth noting:

Britain’s most senior Muslim clerics are to set up their first national council to issue progressive religious rulings that “embed Islam in a 21st-century British context”.

Qari Asim, one of Britain’s most prominent imams, said the central religious authority would promote an interpretation of Islam that was in line with British values.

Asim, the chief imam of Makkah mosque in Leeds, said the British Muslim community was crying out for an authoritative and credible voice that could speak out on issues as diverse as terrorism, obesity, organ donation and Islamophobia.

“People are proud and confident of their religious identity as well as their national identity, but at times they’re not getting enough theological or doctrinal guidance on some of their daily issues,” he said.

The national body, to consist of senior imams who will consult experts on issues, would be the first central religious authority for British Muslims. It would deliver religious rulings on topics that attract diverse views across the Muslim community, with the aim of providing clarity to young British Muslims, Asim said.

“This is about providing clarity on some of the sociopolitical issues, whether it be forced marriages, [female genital mutilation], honour killing,” he said. “These practices are not sanctioned by the faith Islam but they are cultural practices that have penetrated the Muslim community of particular backgrounds.

“The attempt is to embed Islam in a 21st-century British context. It’s about contextualising Islam in Britain.”

Asim, 39, was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2012 for working to build bridges between communities in Leeds since the 7 July 2005 terror attack. He is an adviser to a commons inquiry into sharia councils and has campaigned against forced marriages and domestic violence. The imam is seen as a leading progressive figure in the British Muslim community.

Unlike the Church of England, there is no hierarchical structure to Islam in Britain, with most mosques operating independently. Asim said the new body would make rulings in a similar way to national religious bodies in many Sunni Muslim countries, although here it would be independent of government.

“It would lose credibility if it was state-backed or state-influenced,” Asim said. “The intention isn’t to have a mouthpiece for the government: it’s about providing a credible, authoritative voice for Muslims.”

Asim said: “We see the need for this as Muslims are continually being asked to speak on behalf of other Muslims. It’s a council that will be able to speak on behalf of other Muslims and also challenge the establishment where needed.

“We want to protect our young people from the extremist narrative [of those] who are brainwashing and recruiting them, but at the same time we want them to feel comfortable and confident in their national heritage and uphold the values of democracy, rule of law, justice and compassion.”

Asim, who described Thursday’s terror attack in Spain as depraved, said there would be diverse views on issues including abortion, organ donation or climate change, but that organisation would seek to come to a formal position by a unanimous or majority vote and after hearing expert opinion on those topics.

“There are going to inevitably be diverse views on different issues, but the point is that we have a dialogue and debate about them and reach some form of consensus, whether it be unanimous or a majority, where there is clarity for young British Muslims,” he said.

ICYMI – UK ‘has stripped 150 jihadists and criminals of citizenship’ | UK news | The Guardian

Given the recent attacks in the UK, hard to say that revocation acts as a deterrent:

More than 150 jihadists and other criminals have been stripped of their citizenship and banned from returning to the UK, it has been reported.

Ministers stepped up the “deprivation orders” amid fears the collapse of the so-called Islamic State terror group will lead to an influx of militants from Syria, according to the Sunday Times.

Quoting official figures and security sources, the paper said more than 40 suspects have had their right to a passport removed this year, with about 30 targeted since March.

It added those who have had their citizenship removed include gunmen and “jihadi brides” who have travelled to Syria.

 They are all dual nationals, including British-born people with parents of different nationalities, as ministers cannot take away citizenship if it would lead a suspect stateless.

A senior security source told the Sunday Times: “There’s an awful lot of people we have found who will never be coming home again. Our number one preference is to get them on trial. If we don’t think that’s possible, we use disruption techniques.”

Last week the Home Office revealed just six suspects in Britain who cannot be deported or prosecuted are subject to terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims).

The security minister, Ben Wallace, said: “Prosecution and conviction is always our preference for dealing with terrorists.

“Tpims (terrorism prevention and investigation measures) are one of a range of powers at our disposal to disrupt terrorism-related activity where prosecution is not possible.”

Source: UK ‘has stripped 150 jihadists and criminals of citizenship’ | UK news | The Guardian

Synod slams high cost of British Citizenship – Migrants’ Rights Network

Could not agree more. Same issue (but to lesser extent) in Canada given five-fold increase in adult processing fee from $100 to $530 2014-15:

The cost of applying for citizenship in the UK is too high, unfair, and risks undoing the work of integration, General Synod was told at the annual gathering of the Church of England’s top decision-making body.

The Synod debate highlighted the issues faced by those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK who face a prohibitive cost – currently £1,282 for each adult – to apply for citizenship. Those who do not apply for citizenship but have indefinite leave to remain cannot vote in elections, have more limited travel options and cannot take up their full civic responsibilities, despite paying tax.

A motion, passed unanimously by Synod, asks the Archbishops’ Council to make recommendations to the Government on the issue, and encourages bishops in the House of Lords to address the issue in debates.

Ben Franks, the member of the House of Laity who initiated the debate, sad “Many of those who are eligible to apply for citizenship are working in the low-pay sectors of our economy due to their uncertain status making well paid employment more difficult. Many people save over years to pay for their applications, there are also those whose difficult situation leads them to go into long-term, high-interest debt from unscrupulous lenders to do so.”

Source: Synod slams high cost of British Citizenship – Migrants’ Rights Network

I applaud British Islam’s refusal to bow to the establishment | Giles Fraser | Opinion | The Guardian

I don’t really understand Fraser’s arguments. Is he against integrating into Britain’s civic life? Does it not make sense for religious institutions themselves find ways to integrate into society? Is refusal good for communities and society? Is respectability necessarily a bad thing?

Back in May, at the Roundhouse Poetry Slam, the brilliant Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan took to the stage to denounce the importance of being one of those good Muslims, as opposed to one of the bad ones. I refuse to have to prove my humanity to you by cracking a smile, and saying how “I also cry at the end of Toy Story 3”, she said, her voice shaking with intensity and focus. I won’t try to tell you about “the complex inner worlds of Sumeahs and Aishas.” “No,” she insists, “this will not be a ‘Muslims are like us’ poem. I refuse to be respectable … Because if you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human.”

I wholeheartedly applaud this refusal of respectability. I’m not asked to flaunt my moral or emotional credentials in order to be treated decently. I’m not asked to demonstrate that I am not a radical, or prove that I am an asset to society. Yet this is what immigrant communities, especially those that come with some “foreign” religion, are regularly pressed to do

A report out this week, chaired by the MP and QC Dominic Grieve and titled The Missing Muslims, encourages adherents of Islam to greater participation in civil society and public life. It calls for more British-born imams and greater integration of Muslims into British cultural life.

It’s not a bad report, and its intentions are worthy. It recognises that there are problems with the Prevent agenda – which is an understatement – and it wonders out loud if an official definition of Islamophobia, along the lines of that used for antisemitism, should be explored. But, as with so many of the numerous reports about British Muslims, the focus is always on Islam as a problem to be solved and the need to distinguish between good Muslims and bad Muslims.

This good Muslim/bad Muslim distinction has history, of course. It was precisely this distinction that the British colonial authorities used to separate the secular, wine-drinking, western-integrated, moderate Muslims who were prepared to collaborate with British rule and the suspiciously religious, uppity, bearded Muslims who refused to bend the knee to colonial power. As the Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan has rightly pointed out, the good Muslim/bad Muslim distinction is entirely unhelpful, not least because it associates being good and moderate with some diminution of a Muslim’s religiosity. The distinction effectively says: if you are brown and pray more times a day than the local vicar then you should probably expect to have your phone tapped.

There is another problem with establishment bodies calling for Muslim participation within civil society. The British establishment has a longstanding and highly effective strategy when forced to deal with a “foreign” religion they don’t really understand – they seek to transform it into a mini version of the Church of England. This is how it works: first they encourage an organisational coherence, and crucially a hierarchy, and then they draw the newly established leadership into the establishment, with invitations to the Queen’s garden party and possibly a seat in the House of Lords. They did this with Jews in the 19th century. And they are trying to do it to Muslims in the 21st.

Jews called it the Minhag Anglia. The very idea of the chief rabbi, for instance – not a traditionally Jewish institution – was modelled on the office of archbishop of Canterbury, and its office holders took to behaving likewise. Take Hermann Adler, appointed in 1891. Adler styled himself “Very Reverend” and started wearing gaiters. He liked dining in London clubs and was made a CVO, Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. “He gave the Chief Rabbinate a high, unique dignity, ensuring that the Jews would be accorded official representation in national life,” wrote Rabbi Raymond Apple in a 1998 essay. Others saw it differently: he was the “willing captive of the gilded gentry”, wrote one columnist of the time.

This same strategy of drawing Muslims into the establishment has been at work for some time. But it’s a much harder sell because Islam is so much more theologically resistant to hierarchical thinking. It shuns the idea of popes or archbishops and insists that all human beings have equal access to God. This is what I most admire about British Islam. Its bolshy “Protestantism”. Its refusal to be bought off by official trinkets. Its refusal of respectability. 

Source: I applaud British Islam’s refusal to bow to the establishment | Giles Fraser: Loose canon | Opinion | The Guardian