Friday, September 21, 2007

Catholic Herald: ‘We cannot turn Muslims into traditional Britons’

There was a time, not so long ago, when the British Establishment asserted that one could not be Roman Catholic and British, if only by virtue of the fact that Roman Catholics owed superior allegiance to a foreign head of state, the King of the Vatican, whose laws and dictates were superior to English law in every instance where the two conflict. Their campaign of attrition against the English church, their terrorist threats against the Protestant monarchy, and their (suicide?) bombing exploits at the Palace of Westminster, all conspired to convince the state that the religion was not just anti-Protestant, but anti-Christian, anti-democracy, anti-liberty, anti-Enlightenment, and anti-freedom-of-speech and conscience.

One might therefore expect The Catholic Herald to view the plight of Islam with a degree of sympathy. But they seem intent on inflicting upon this minority religio-political system the very bigotries they accused the Protestant majority of inflicting upon their religio-political system in ages past (or present, if one heeds the opinion of Cardinal Keith O’Brien). It is not only perceived in the opinion of the paper’s editor-in-chief on Muslim schools, but also in articles like their review of God’s Continent by Philip Jenkins.

The theme is ‘the influx of Islam into a rapidly secularising Europe, its nature and its possible outcomes’. There is a cursory mention of what Christians and Muslims have in common – ‘belief in an omnipotent God who created us for a purpose, and requires of us a way of life and prayer in order to reach him (which) puts us into a minority set up against a consciously secularised society’. But then there is the difference: in Europe at least, Christians are in decline, perceived largely as harmless eccentrics, while ‘Muslims are seen as a dangerous invading force seeking to change our society, and ready to go to extreme lengths to achieve this’.

The problem is that recent legislation in the UK tars all religions with the same brush: ‘so the regulations and movements which seek to defend democracy against the threat of divine fiat spatter us both’. The Catholic Herald asks: ‘It is even alleged that controls applied to faith schools or sexual discrimination, use the fear of Islam as a foil to attack Christianity (and in particular Catholicism – which is a kind of backhanded compliment). Of course we do not have bombs in our hands. And that makes all the difference. Or does it?’ While (accurately) observing the problems associated with immigrating Muslims, they forget how equally-applicable the words once were to British Roman Catholics:

The Muslim community consists of immigrants often separated from society by language, culture or location. This may be in part their fault, but it is a common feature of all large immigrations. The children of immigrants find it difficult to overcome prejudices which bar them from even the first rung of the ladder; their lives seem meaningless and frustrating. Their defence is to deepen their immersion in their own group, and, in some cases, to define themselves by anti-social behaviour. But, add to this a religious ideology which makes this behaviour feel virtuous and you have a perfect recipe.

And the following is worthy of quotation at length:

Islam contains many schools, from the extreme to the rational, so it is not hard to find a justification which suits psychological need. Even the Koran, which may appear to provide a solid rock of certainty, is not so. There were several versions of the Koran as late as the 10th century, when the current version became canonical. And there are Muslim scholars of note, not popular with their co-religionists, who interpret the book and its doctrine in contextual and hermeneutic terms not dissimilar to modern scientific exegesis of the Bible.

The general, and more mature, members of the Muslim community may disagree profoundly with extreme doctrines, or accept their inappropriateness within the country of their adoption. But it is hazardous to give this a public voice, let alone to co-operate actively with the authorities in identifying the dangerous groups. I am reminded of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland. Nor have we helped in the past by giving safe havens to extreme voices, which still speak through the internet and elsewhere.

But Jenkins does see some hope. The further a Muslim community is from the Arab hinterland, the more likely it is to adapt to Western society, and the many attractions it has to offer. It will be a long process, but the Muslims are not in Europe for the short term, most of them will stay indefinitely. In fact, we might not want them to abandon all their values for those of the Babylon in which they now live.

Multiculturalism – in effect insulating different cultures in parallel – was never a good idea in our tight little island, and it has been replaced by the ideal of integration. But we have to realise that this does not mean absorption in the sense that we turn all the Muslims, and the many other immigrants we have, into traditional English people. We have to be ready to change too. The result will be a new mixture. Undoubtedly the fundamental basis of the rule of law and democracy will remain but our habits and our attitudes will be modified. And a characteristic of the new society will be that we value the diversity of traditions.

There will be limits of course and, while maintaining as wide a diversity as possible, the issues that threaten integration will need to be tackled sensitively, and often on a case-by-case basis. Refreshingly, Jenkins sees this as a potential opportunity for European Catholicism. In adjusting to change there will be a greater awareness of the roots of our traditional society, and no doubt a higher value placed on us as a creative and contributing minority. Currently there is an exaggerated respect for Muslim rights, born at least in part of fear. In the future, broader society may recognise that creative minorities have something to contribute to the whole. And creative minorities must acknowledge the rights of broader society to disagree with them.

Meanwhile, we might remember St Bernadette’s remark that the only thing she had to fear was bad Catholics. Living out our religion fully in all its dimensions is the strongest of all the arguments we can mount.

So is the only thing we have to fear ‘the bad Muslims’?

Cranmer can hardly wait for Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party’s Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, to reveal her thoughts upon these complex religio-political issues. As the first Muslim woman to sit in the Shadow Cabinet (or, indeed, any cabinet), she has a considerable burden of expectation upon her shoulders. She professes to believe in ‘greater equality’, yet she has used election leaflets which were hostile towards ‘gay rights’ and an equal age of consent. For her, the Islamic view of the family, society and religion are the pattern to which we must conform. Her actions speak loudly, and she has never said otherwise. She also advocates dialogue with the extremists intent on destroying us, and that must mean appeasement.

How Sayeeda Warsi will balance her belief in the innate superiority of Islam with a Party dominated by kafir in the land of the kuffar remains to be seen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How Sayeeda Warsi will balance her belief in the innate superiority of Islam with a Party dominated by kafir in the land of the kuffar remains to be seen."

She will simply keep her beliefs muted and wait upon the arrival of more colonists to tip the balance their way.

21 September 2007 at 11:31  
Anonymous najistani said...

"Currently there is an exaggerated respect for Muslim rights, born at least in part of fear. In the future, broader society may recognise that creative minorities have something to contribute to the whole. And creative minorities must acknowledge the rights of broader society to disagree with them."

Creative minorities??? So what does Islam create apart from insecurity, intimidation and mass murder? Islamic culture has been moribund for 500 years. The only thing it has to offer the modern world is a retreat into the Middle Ages. Apart from oil, Muslims do not produce any material or cultural products that the rest of the world wants, and when we look at what Islam contibutes to our vibrant multicultural society we see only customs and behaviour patterns that we discarded centuries ago.

Q: What's the difference between Dar al Islam and a pot of yogurt?

A: The yogurt has a living culture.

21 September 2007 at 12:08  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

I am surprised that you have not mentioned the Jewish experience in your posting.

I have had a great deal of experience in teaching Muslims both in the school system and at university.

The view advocated by all Muslims I taught is that Sharia law should be used to replace the law of the land. When it was explained that this might be difficult in Britain, it was pointed out to me that Islam must be practised wherever it happens to be. There was no question of accommodation to other points of view.

In practice this meant that parts of the curriculum, such as the Holocaust, the Diary of Anne Frank and questions to do with the Middle East were gradually being taught in such a way as to appease the Muslims in the classes and to vilify Jews and Judaism.

As for Ms Varsi, she is so arrogant that on Question Time earlier this year, she was gently chided by David Dimbleby for forgetting that she was only in the Shadow Cabinet. For she was speaking as if she were already in power.

Not all faiths are the same. Some preach a religion of a compassionate God who is with us at all times and forgives us. These religions preach of the value of repentance, love and feeling for the 'other'. The main religions which teach this are Judaism and Christianity (and yes, certainly Catholicism). Buddhism also teaches concepts of love and compassion but does not regard itself as a religion.

Furthermore, Judaism also teaches love for family, community and society, and most of all, adhering to the law of the land you are living in, even when this might come into conflict with Jewish law itself.

I have discussed this with Muslim pupils, and they laughed me out of court.

For them, no compromise is possible and any religion that seeks to come to terms with modernity is bound to flounder. This is some of the nicer things they said.

Interestingly enough, here in Israel, Muslims seem to have a much more modern approach to things. Yes, they are not happy with everything they see around them. But which minority ever is?

However, I can have a very reasonable conversation with my Muslim pupils here, without being drawn as a pig burning in an oven, with the caption: 'One that got away from Hitler', which was my experience in a mainstream Bolton school, tolerant of their Muslim minorities.

So, I feel that the proliferation of Muslim schools is not necessarily the answer and might even foster the lack of compassion and love which has been the hallmark of the Muslim community in Britain for far too long.

After all, Jews weren't only immigrants. They were refugees. I would suggest that they have been model citizens in Britain, maybe too model. Maybe a bit more spunk from some of the downtrodden Jewish minority (do get a video of Channel 4's recent 'War On Britain's Jews') would have helped other Britons to see who really needs assistance in 2007.

21 September 2007 at 12:10  
Blogger Peter Kirk said...

belief in an omnipotent God who ... requires of us a way of life and prayer in order to reach him

This description of salvation by works may be what Roman Catholics and Muslims have in common, but it is not shared by Protestant Christians who deny that "a way of life and prayer" is a way of reaching God.

21 September 2007 at 12:24  
Anonymous The recusant said...

His Grace omits to mention in contrasting Islam and Catholicism (Roman sense) that Protestantism is also an alien creed imposed on the indigenous (Catholic) population of these islands by force and violence using foreign armies when required. It most certainly was not welcomed universally and dissenters continued to be executed for a further 250 years or so. During this period the church (ecclesiastical community J) established not only rejected the sacrificial priesthood they actively and enthusiastically sought to destroy it, hence the position of Rome today that Anglican orders are invalid in this context.

The vast majority of these ‘anti-Protestant, anti-Christian, anti-democracy, anti-liberty, anti-Enlightenment, and anti-freedom-of-speech’ dissident were Englishmen who had fled these lands in fear of their lives but returned as heroic priests to minister to the faithful knowing full well their fate by the New Christians in the event of being caught, and many were not disappointed.

Indeed known Recusant families had additional prohibitive taxation, supplementary fines, proscribed status and were either barred from or heavily restricted in the availability and occupation of public offices. In short something less than dhimmi status in their own land.

I would suggest that far from it being Catholicism that has it methodology in common with Mecca, Geneva and Wittenberg are the natural heirs and successors to the heathen in this regard.

However as for quotes I prefer this one: “I hope that by going to visit the pope I have enabled everybody to see that the words Catholic and Protestant, as ordinarily used, are completely out of date. They are almost always used now purely for propaganda purposes. That is why so much trouble is caused by them.”

Geoffrey Fisher - Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961.

21 September 2007 at 13:11  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I find it strange. Hindus and Sikhs seem to be responsible people causing no great security threat, and the way Indians have developed in this country says as great deal about the Muslims Britain has imported.

Most came from Mirpur in Kashmir, or from Bangladesh; and were selected for their backwardness and cheapness as coolie labour for cotton and worsted mills. They were from backward villages and bound together by family, tribal, and village ties which were replicated within England's inner cities.

The Sahibs then proceeded to cut deals in return for access to these village loyalties - Jack Straw built a powerbase in Barbara Castle's constituency of Blackburn through Mr (now Lord) Patel......Keith Vaz made Leicester into his rotten borough.

The radicals now want to fuse all the ethnic groups into a political force - an Islamic Party - but that too is a case of politicians trying to organise something that is not driven by popular demand. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are at loggerheads and hardly likely to wish an Islamic Party to represent them having seen the disaster religious parties brought them in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The politicos undermined the common basis of The Raj which was the reason that Britain could actually run The Subcontinent with so few British troops. The Indian Army did not win VCs in two World Wars, nor volunteer in huge numbers to fight for the British Empire because we expressed our delights at their culture; but because they were co-opted into ours.

Since the British suffered necrotising fasciitis with respect to their national culture and identity, and the English turned into wet, weak and feminised blubberers in need of therapy; it is easy to see why contempt is a response to such Self-Abnegation and Self-Pity.

Protestantism is what built the country and Cromwell even intervened to protect the Vaudois from Catholic persecution...but he was a leader of men not women

21 September 2007 at 13:11  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I would suggest that far from it being Catholicism that has it methodology in common with Mecca, Geneva and Wittenberg are the natural heirs and successors to the heathen in this regard.

I take it you have bought a bumper pack of Indulgences before besmirching the name of the greatest Augustinian of them all - Martin Luther

21 September 2007 at 13:13  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Mr Voyager,

Sent my cheque off to the Pope just last week for 50 plenary and 100 partial, the Vatican is having a sale. Off now to worship an image or two but if you’re interested I have a bit of the True Cross for sale, going cheap?

21 September 2007 at 13:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His grace and other readers need to be squeezed a little...coz your all so full of the brown stuff...(was that an innuendo?)..

Not all muslims living in this country support what youve mentioned!

Sure Sharia law should be the way of life for a muslim...but not how it has been demonised by the taliban and the western media.

Lastly this country has values like honesty, helping your fellow man, rule of law....things non existant in many if not all islamic countries....thats why as a muslim ...i love this country!

21 September 2007 at 14:31  
Blogger Straight Mike - tells it as it is said...

In reply to:- "Sure Sharia law should be the way of life for a muslim...but not how it has been demonised by the taliban and the western media."
The UK is a Christian country and yet affords Muslims the right to worship - are Christians afforded the same freedom in Muslim countries? I think not!!And in granting them the right to worship here doesn't mean that Sharia law should take precedence over the law of the country.
Clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in the United Kingdom, one the UK law and another Islamic law, are clearly wrong. If they can't agree with parliamentary law,
independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps they should go.

21 September 2007 at 15:22  
Anonymous Alexandrian said...

What an education one gets from reading the comments of Your Grace's erudite communicants. From Dr. Lancaster I learn that "Not all faiths are the same". From Mr Kirk I learn that Roman Catholicism and Islam are basically the same in their teaching about salvation, but that Protestant Christianity is different.

How I wish that the Religious Affairs correspondents of our newspapers and the Religious Education teachers in our schools understood these things.

21 September 2007 at 17:40  
Anonymous 4micah said...

As I see it, Europe's Muslims need their own Reformation, or maybe just a schism. So long as there are cables of belief between London and Riyadh, there will be great tension in Britain.

21 September 2007 at 19:05  
Anonymous Voyager said...

As I see it, Europe's Muslims need their own Reformation,

You obviously know little of the Reformation. It was not enacted over tean and biscuits in a conference room - it was very very bloody....I think you are witnessing the "Reformation" in Islam at present. Bin Laden wants to go back to some golden age and is trying to bomb and intimidate people into following him......if most Muslims did he wouldn't need so much terrorism to cow them

When you google Reformation you might add Peasants Revolt which was the biggest uprising in Europe until the French Revolution

21 September 2007 at 19:10  
Anonymous najistani said...

Latest word to enter the English language - APOSTAPHOBIA

"...the new openness brought to the world through globalisation and developments in information and communication technologies is causing the power stakeholders and religious dictators of the non-free world to be seriously gripped by apostaphobia – a well-founded fear of loss of adherents, which is manifested primarily as uncompromising repression and denial of fundamental liberties, by violent and subversive means,"


21 September 2007 at 20:08  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Dr Irene Lancaster -
If you are still reading this post's comments, please do tell us more about your experiences of teaching where you say that the the way in which the Holocaust was taught was altered to appease Muslims and that Jews were vilified. Tell me what you mean.

22 September 2007 at 18:03  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

In schools with a large Muslim majority, the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust was played down. Israel was referred to as a "Nazi state'. Anyone who was not liked, or who appeared 'mean' was called a 'Jew'. This was particularly the case in sports lessons.

In one school in Bolton a pupil whose parents had come here from Pakistan drew a picture of a Jew as a pig being burned in an oven, with the caption 'the one which got away from Hitler'.

At one time, Manchester LEA banned the word 'Israel' from the curriculum, even in RE, because a Muslim group had demanded this at the town hall.

Some Muslims refused to learn about other religions, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, which are part of the national RE curriculum. Buddhists and Hindus, on the other hand, had no objections to learning about other religions.

Finally, when the Koran had to be taught as part of the curriculum, some Muslim pupils objected that no non-Muslim or female should teach the subject, because they were 'unclean'.

In no case were the powers that be willing to take any action at all, even though everything I have described is against the law and also against the anti-racism policies of the respective local authorities.

It's called appeasement, and I am talking about the time before 9/11 as well as after.

22 September 2007 at 21:51  
Anonymous Lega Nord said...

Dear Dr. Irene Lancaster,
I strongly believe these beasts deserve discrimination. We should either send them back home or confine them in ghettoes. In no case should they be granted citizenship: Muslims belong to the Ummah, they can't be loyal to our countries.

23 September 2007 at 17:19  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Lega nord - Are you quite mad? Do you hear yourself?

Dr Irene - Interesting. My own experience of schools has never been quite that. But then I have never taught in Muslim majority areas. I am not sure what the solution is but I feel certain it is not, lega nord, to behead them.

28 September 2007 at 23:10  
Anonymous Cecco d'Ascoli (formerly known as Lega Nord) said...

(I stopped using this name because I am no spokesperson so my views do not necessarily correspond to the official party stance)
Dear snuflleupagus
Mine was a provocation.
Have you had a look at their slogans? If they play with death and hate, why can't we? If they discriminate our fellow Christians in their countries, why can't we just let them know their freedom isn't boundless? Don't you realise they brought barbarianism and ignorance back to our civilised and tolerant lands? I am neither fool nor mad, I'm just a very scared person like everyone in this forum.
The very thing I can't grasp is WHY they hate us. Why does this white guy in the picture here above (the one with the placard "You will pay Europe") loathe his own country, his own civilisation, his own religion: maybe in his Islamic furour he hates even his parents because they're kafir our whatever. Got the picture? There are thousands more converts like him every year. It's a flood! I fear that my sons may be dhimmis (aka slaves) of these beasts come from faraway countries just to conquer us.
So spot who're the real barbarians.
I'm afraid, that's all.

29 September 2007 at 10:28  

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