The Travesty of a Peaceful Muslim Majority: Are Muslims in denial of the violence their religion is unleashing?

Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is the Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, an organisation with well-established ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi’s views on Jews, homosexuals, and non-Muslims (who he fondly refers to as Kuffars) are available at the click of a mouse. His fatwas and fundamentals of Islam bind millions of Muslim followers. Qaradawi is also referred to as the ‘global mufti’ because he has the status of a superstar, not just in Islamic countries but in many parts of Western Europe where Muslims form a significant part of the population. Although he has been banned from certain countries, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, got on his humanitarian horse to defend the human rights of Qaradawi despite the fact that Qaradawi openly calls for the annihilation of the Jews and maintains that, “Allah imposed Hitler upon the Jews to punish them.”  Sadiq Khan was the chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s legal affairs committee and was involved in defending Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. In 2004, Khan even gave evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in which he said, “There is a consensus among Islamic scholars that Mr Al- Qaradawi is not the extremist that he is painted as being.” Yet, when Khan was elected as the Mayor of London, we were told that it was the victory for multiculturalism and whoever pointed out his ties to Islamic extremists was dismissed as an Islamophobe. In part, we are paying the price for our cowardice and reticence to call a spade a spade.

The non-Muslim world is constantly told that Muslims are not one homogeneous group and so we cannot hold them or their religion accountable for the odd nut job who beheads a soldier on the streets of London, or a priest in France or a committed school teacher doing his duty of eliciting debates or even an old lady seeking her spirituality at Notre-Dame de Basilica. Muslims from Bangladesh to Bosnia are diverse in colour, culture and clothing; yet, they are bound by an Islamic code of conduct and the feeling of a community that is referred to as an Ummah. This community has a set of attachments, values, and narratives; they also rally behind common causes and tend to dislike the Jews, to say the very least.

The Jewish community accounts for less than 1% of the French population, but they are victims of almost half of the recorded racist attacks in France.[1] While the rest of Europe was forced to deal with its harrowing anti-Semitic or more specifically, anti-Jewish past, post-WWII, the Ummah or the Muslim community has been allowed to carry on with their views on the Jews. As a consequence of this, Muslims are the most violent perpetrators of crimes against the Jews in Western Europe.  From the torture and brutal killing of Ilan Halimi, whose life was snuffed out at the age of 23, to the defenestration of the 85-year old Mireille Knoll, France has been in denial of its new anti-Jewish narrative.

Money poured into Islamic centres from Saudi Arabia and Qatar has ensured the survival of the anti-Jewish narrative. In an attempt to combat this narrative, the stroke of genius came from Nicolas Sarkozy who was inspired by Napoleon’s success in assimilating the Jews of France. Sarkozy wanted to create an Islamic body along the lines of Le Consistoire Central Israélite de France (the Israelite Central Consistory of France). The Jewish Consistory brought the Jews into the French fold, but this was achieved by awarding their rights as individuals and not as a community. However, when it came to the French Muslims, the influence of their Ummah outweighed the rights of an individual, so it became impossible to bring Islam into the French fold.

Nevertheless, in 2003, Sarkozy’s obsession led to the foundation of Le Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (the French Council of the Muslim Faith, or CFCM). On the surface, it seemed as if the organisation would serve as an intermediary to resolve issues, but in time it emerged that the CFCM had been completely taken over by the radicals who had close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2016, money was thrown at another organisation called la Foundation de l’islam de France (the Foundation of Islam of France). The French government was gullible enough to believe that it would serve the community and the nation well. However, it emerged that its President had close ties to the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,[2],[3] Erdoğan’s Turkey clearly highlights the country’s Islamic identity and its fascination with the Ottoman era can hardly be ignored. Whilst Erdoğan styles himself as the new Pasha and laments his lost territory, his wife puts a slant on the culture of harems and presents it as a centre of education and inspiration. Turkey’s main opposition party has called for a parliamentary inquiry after the directorate of religious affairs said that under Islamic law, girls as young as nine could marry. Meanwhile, every ex-colonial power is expected to do a mea culpa except the Ottomans, or for that matter any Islamic Empire that subjugated vast populations of the world.

As things stand, organisations like the CFCM have failed to integrate the Muslims into the French mould, but they have succeeded in creating a separatist narrative in France. Both the organisations oppose France’s secular or laïque nature and openly back issues like organising public prayers to gather momentum for building more mosques. Muslims praying in public places ranging from streets to parking lots are now commonplace in France even though they are fully aware that they are breaching France’s law of 1905. The French Republic does not fund places of worship with the exception of two French territories, Alsace and Moselle. Both these territories joined the French Republic much later and under special terms and conditions. This fact is used as an Achilles heel to corrode the secular nature of France. Since France will not fund any mosques, the oil-rich theocracies come to the rescue of their Muslim brothers.

Nicolas Sarkozy won praise when he banned Sheik Qaradawi from entering France, but in truth, it was just grandstanding because Sarkozy was the first to roll out the red carpet for the Emir of Qatar, and Qaradawi is the star of Al-Jazeera which is a state-owned Qatari channel.  Sarkozy’s endorsement of the theocracies meant they could build on their ties and attachments within the Muslim community (Ummah) in France. Since then, Qatar has been making massive investments in France’s troubled neighbourhoods or banlieues.[4] Qatar also funds projects all over Europe, where it hopes to build similar narratives. Currently, it is funding over 140 projects, and Italy alone is benefitting from 47 of these. Is it a mere coincidence that the heart of Catholic Europe is the prime object of their affection?[5] The projects include mosques, community centres, Quran memorising centres, and centres that take care of Muslim needs from birth to burial. Qatar Charity, a benevolent organisation, doles out money to projects for the Ummah. The charity conforms to the Islamic values of Zakat. Globally, this concerns over 8,148 mosques and 490 Quran recitation centres.[6] In 2009, Switzerland attracted unwanted attention for banning minarets. It was much ado about nothing because the Swiss find it hard to shut their doors on money, and they keep absorbing Islamic funding.[7],[8],[9] It was no surprise to learn that the Muslim Brotherhood Propaganda Museum in Geneva received CHF1.4 million from Qatar. The museum’s display blurs the facts with hyperbole in an attempt to show the influence of Islam in almost every aspect of our lives. Above all, it is a showcase of Qatar’s soft propaganda skills. Oddly, the French parliament has given Qatar a clean chit for its financing activities despite the country’s close ties to Sheik Qaradawi, who is the star of its state-funded television channel, Al-Jazeera. This raises serious questions about Qatar’s aspirations of sowing the seeds of political Islam on French soil.

Be it Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, they all have narratives of Islam that push for Islamic identity in every aspect of our lives. Thus, France spends endless time and energy debating clothes or our sense of decency, food and halal, women and their rights, and of course, heretics and homosexuals. The fundamental difference is that Islam has fused civil code and religious code into one unit that serves as a political tool for their Ummah which is spread across the world.

Since the past decade France has been hit with a spate of terrorist attacks. From the streets to the schools, Islamists with a motive to instil fear in society have committed acts of beheading and called for the annihilation of Jews and Armenians. All these acts are a result of the narratives built with Islamic funding and while President Macron has announced his law against religious separatism and foreign funding, the truth of the matter is that France’s 1905 law does not permit state funding to build any religious centres of worship. In retaliation, even countries that have no Muslim populations in France have hit back at him simply because they feel a sense of attachment to their community across the world.

While there is no denying that the story of Christianity has witnessed violent chapters, the peoples of Europe have managed to set aside centuries of religious violence and moved from darkness to light. The Islamic sphere, however, has been unsuccessful in reducing the influence of religion in cultural, let alone political, spheres. They have gone down the path of monarchs and dictators. Only a minority of Islamic countries are run by secular democracies. To make matters worse, Islamic scholars or Imams reserve the right to issue fatwas or rulings, which wield enormous influence in the Islamic world from Istanbul to Islamabad and beyond.

Every western democracy failed to register the signs. Back in 1938, the celebrated British writer, H G Wells, published his book titled ‘A brief history of the world’. Unhappy with the writer’s views, a thousand Muslims, mostly from the working class, marched in East London and flung copies of his books into the flames. They claimed Wells’ views were disrespectful and insulting to the prophet Muhammad. That was in 1938 when Britain’s Muslim population was negligible, but they had managed to voice their opposition. Today East London is a thriving hub of Islamism and the neighbourhood bears little or no resemblance to British values. Oddly enough, from the Wells’ affair (1939) to the Rushdie affair, while the British had put policies in place to accommodate Islam, there was no policy in place for Islam to accommodate to their nation. Today, lampooning Christ is commonplace; no one loses sleep over it, and those who do are unjustly ridiculed. In many ways, the cultural Christian sphere is hypocritical in the sense that it refuses to stand up to uncultured intolerance from other spheres.

The struggle to bring Islam into the fold of the French Republic or for that matter any western democracy is futile unless the Muslim majority is willing to revisit the violent verses of the Quran. The believers who have submitted to Islam claim the book is the final word, closed to interpretation as it holds the words of Allah himself. A minority of believers are willing to revisit the concepts using their existing principles of Ijtihad or independent reasoning. Had the majority held this view, we might have been looking at a somewhat modernised Islam. As things stand, the Muslim majority of the world (which is peaceful) has turned out to be the most impotent majority, willing to be held hostage by its deranged fringe minority. Perhaps it is time the Muslim majority faced up to the reality that this is their Golem to slay.

[1]   Bureau national de vigilance contre l’antisémitisme.

[2]   Controverse autour du prochain président de l’islam de France, 5 June 2017, Libération.

[3]   Ahmet Ogras, le nouveau président du CFCM qui laisse perplexe, 30 June 2017, Europe I.

[4]   Qatar pours cash into France’s troubled suburbs, 25 September 2012, France 24.

[5]   Qatar Papers- Georges MalBrunot & Christian Chesnot.

[6]   Ibid.

[7]   The Role of Swiss Financial Institutions in the Plunder of European Jewry, PBS frontline.

[8]   Qatar ends funding of Swiss Muslim Cultural Institute, 24 April 2019, Swiss Info.

[9]   Dirty money: Swiss banks, the Mafia, money laundering, and white-collar crime, Thurston Clarke.