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POLITICS: Ten years on London's enlightened secularism thrives no thanks to the religious

Nowhere could you find the enlightened, educated population of London. 

I picked up my son from school today, greeting around twenty nationalities' worth of his schoolmates and their parents on the way. A Mum from Mali wished me well after offering us a trip to France in their crammed car, even though her son has Down's Syndrome: resources are scarce in that family. As we left, my son asked me if his friend Alisa could come play next week. To hear her speak English you wouldn't know it but she is Polish.

We got home. While we were playing with one of his toys, he asked me to read the instructions which were written in 5 languages. For each language I was able to point out one of his friends (in his class alone) who speaks it with their parents.

Case in point: London is very, very cosmopolitan. But also full of dazzlingly educated people. With each parent I meet, I learn a thing or two. Radiographers, Data Analysts. One Mum in my son's school had to drop her daughter off with us for the school run because she had to rush to Parliament to do some structural engineering work.

There is nothing new here. Except that today is the 10 year anniversary of the brutal July 7th bombings which killed 52 innocent civilians and marred the lives of hundreds of others. This was done by islamists as an act of revenge for Western intervention in the Middle East.

Ayman al-Zawahiri's statement, claiming the bombing as an Al-Qaeda attack, read:

"I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters."

(image courtesy of http://julyseventh.co.uk/)


Ten years on, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the gunning down of Tunisian holidaymakers being only the most recent of Islamist atrocities, our media continues to ignore the role played by Islam in this blatant trend, leaving it to morons on the political right to state the obvious: many of these attacks are motivated by Islamic text and ideology. But the only public voices willing to call Muslims out on the tacit support for Islamism are of the spine-chilling UKIP variety, equating the criticism of a religious ideology with a tacit wish to remove Muslims from Britain. Either nobody discusses the role played by the religion, or those who do can't distinguish ideas from people.

The obvious must be stated. Religion may not be the only source of the problem, but it is a significant source of the problem. The perpetrators of the 7/7 bombings, along with all other religious fanatics in the attacks which have ensued in the last ten years, have indeed found the justification for killing 'kuffar' (the godless) in the Sura of the Qur'an and the preceding Hadith. To refuse to recognise that religion plays a role in religious fanaticism is to squarely bury your head in the sand. These killers may very well have been manipulated by political leaders, and also be victims of poverty or Western oppression in its many forms. But none of this is to the exclusion of another obvious fact: religion was their stated aim, and justified these deeds both in word and even often in practice.

Rather than deal with the problem, we continue to bury our heads in the sand on this grave day. In my own neighbourhood, local blogger Rog T wrote just today:

"I am not aware of any Koranic verse that says its OK to kill and maim a whole bunch of people indiscriminately if you don't like the policy of their elected government"

He has clearly never bothered to read past page 1 of the Koran. Let me enlighten him, and any others who puts violence past the pious. This is one of the many Sura (verses) about kuffar (disbelievers):

"2:191And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it; so if they fight you (in it), slay them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers."

What part of this isn't clear?

To the likes of Rog T, sweetening the pill of piety by repeating (he does it every few weeks) that religion equals peace, is the solution. Bloggers, journalists, pundits and writers across the UK media do this, in a genuine belief that they are serving our interests.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The longer the UK's left-wing media continues to propagate these untruths, the more room for manoeuvre they are giving the extreme political right, who become the only voice willing to address the elephant in the room.

For a voice which makes some sense of all this, please watch the Youtube clip of the wonderfully outspoken Sarah Haider, addressing the American Council of Ex-Muslims. I discovered this on Godlessspellchecker's wonderful blog, and listened to his extensive interview on his latest podcast.

It's time for the liberal media to speak out, and begin a nuanced, intelligent critique of the role played by Islam in Islamism. Why does Islamism still have so much sway among Muslim moderates? What can be done to encourage skeptical, secularist and dissenting voices inside and outside the faith? How can ex-Muslims be supported and how can feminism be genuinely extended to a faith which still institutionally denies basic rights to women?

To return to the title of the blog, the success of London's multiculturalism is because secular thought is deeply engrained in everyday life, in spite of the ridiculous remnants of religious privilege in some institutions such as 'Faith' schools. Visitors even from other EU countries marvel at our thriving city and its intelligent, educated people. Up to us to give voice to a thoughtful discussion on the worrying trends of Islamism and religious bullying worldwide.

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