Listening to Islamists, you’d think that they are about ready to pack their bags and leave for a utopian Caliphate. Well, some of them did and joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, only to find it was not what they’d hoped for. Now many of them have come back, missing the luxuries afforded to them in Western democracies. But the ones that never left, well, they stayed only to endlessly complain about ”Islamophobia” and how hard done by they are because they’re discriminated against for being Muslim. This is the picture they paint and constantly promote.
But it is a false one.
If you want to get a real picture of what life is like in Britain for Muslims, ask them, not the Islamists who claim to speak for them. What you’ll hear is that life is better today than it was half a decade ago. These findings come from a recent poll carried out by Savanta ComRes.
The nationwide survey was commissioned by Hyphen, a new digital magazine outlet focused on issues important to Muslims across the U.K. and Europe.
More than 1,500 U.K. Muslims were asked about their future aspirations and their socioeconomic position in Britain. More than half (53%) of respondents believe their lives are better today than they were five years ago. In regards to participation in society, 68% of respondents felt it had increased over the same period.
There’s more good news. The poll found that a majority of British Muslim respondents (53%) said there was an improved acceptance of Muslims in the U.K. The poll found three in five (59%) respondents reported life was better here compared to other countries in Europe
When asked what their biggest priority is for the next five years, respondents were most concerned about career progression (27%), saving money (26%), and buying a house (15%). These findings clearly paint a hopeful picture of Muslim life in Britain. Yes, they do report some problems with “Islamophobia” in the work place. For example, the report found that 37% of all Muslims reported instances of Islamophobia, but that figure spiked by over twenty percent to 58% for black Muslims, which suggests that the issue maybe racial, rather than just religious.
The data demonstrates why we should listen to British Muslims and not to Islamists. Clearly, such an approach should be taken in response to alleged controversies involving UK Muslims.
Take for instance the recent decision from cinema chains Cineworld, VUE, and Showcase who were forced to cancel screening the Lady of Heaven film because of threats from Sunni Islamists who came out in their droves to protest against a film they considered blasphemous, as it depicted the Prophet Muhammad and disparaged the Sahaba (companions of Muhammad). The protests, consisting of mainly men, featured chants of ‘Shia kafir’ made against the makers of the film who belong to the minority Shia sect within Islam.
Videos circulated of protestors promising that cinemas would face consequences if they decided to continue screening the film. A petition was also organised which generated over 130,000 signatures. Cinemas were left with no choice but to cancel screening the film due to security concerns.
While this episode was clearly an attempt to implement Islamic blasphemy laws in the U.K., the majority of British Muslims were clearly not concerned by the film.
They just didn’t care.
There are over three million Muslims in Britain. So when you look at how many people were at the protests, you’d struggle to count at least 200. Even the petition, which claimed: “Muslims will not accept screenings of the film,” only got over 130,000 signatures. That is only around three per cent of support from Muslims in Britain. The fact that even on a contentious issue such as blasphemy, this issue appears to be pretty far down on the list of concerns of British Muslims.
We have come a long way since the Rushdie Affair in 1988 when author Salman Rushdie published his novel: The Satanic Verses. He was accused of blasphemy and as a result, a fatwah (religious edict) was made by then supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini to have him assassinated. The reaction to the publishing of the book, resulted in riots breaking out across the world and a number of bookstores were bombed in London, High Wycombe and Guildford.
We didn’t see a reaction to this degree following the release of the Lady of Heaven, so it seems Islamists are losing support from their co-religionists. But that’s not to say the threat has disappeared completely, because it has not.
Islamists want to speak for British Muslims and be the gatekeepers between them and everyone else. This should be resisted at every opportunity. What concerns Islamists clearly does not concern the vast majority of Muslims living in Britain.
When it comes to British Muslims, we must always listen to what they have to say, not the Islamists.
Hard data supports this and demonstrates that life in Britain for Muslims has gotten better and that just goes to show that Muslims value being a part of British society. They do not want parallel legal systems such as blasphemy laws, otherwise you’d have seen a much larger turnout in protest against the Lady of Heaven.
It didn’t happen.
British Muslims are not allowing themselves to be dragged into issues that that don’t really concern them and this is a change in direction that Islamists do not want. So, when it comes to defeating Islamism in the west, it is necessary to listen to what British Muslims have to say and not the Islamists. The picture you get from British Muslims, is very much different to the one that is painted by the Islamists.
Wasiq Wasiq is a journalist specializing in defense and terrorism. You can follow him on Twitter: @WasiqUK