According to one of the cables released by WikiLeaks, the U.S. believes that the British have made “little progress” in winning over its Muslim community. The author is right to be alarmed but shouldn’t be surprised. The U.K., like the U.S., has been courting extremists in moderate clothing as part of its outreach and has failed to stop Islamist trends in the country as a result.
The August 2006 document says that although the British government invested “considerable time and resources” into reaching out to the Muslim community after the terrorist attacks in London on July 7, 2005, a productive relationship has not been established. As an example, the cable mentioned “The Muslim community’s reaction to the arrests of 24 of its own sons—a kneejerk reaction blaming [the government]—shows that its leaders too have far to go.” It complained about how Muslim leaders attributed homegrown extremism to British foreign policy, using the problem to vindicate their political views.
The cable correctly points out that the British Muslim community has not waged an ideological offensive against Islamic extremists, instead denying that an ideological motivation is even the cause. The British government is also at fault, as its ignorance of who it embraces has sidelined moderates and empowered those with the views it seeks to combat.
For example, a supporter of Hizb ut-Tahrir who once referred to the “terrorist slaughter machine of the Zionist state of Israel” named Azad Ali was appointed to an advisory panel for the counter-terrorism chief of the Crown Prosecution Service. Asim Hafeez, who became the head of intervention at the Office of Security and Counterterrorism, has been described as a “hardcore Salafi.” And Mockbul Ali, who was put in charge of countering extremist ideology at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has used his position to try to gain entry to the U.K. for Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the rabidly anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood theologian. Ali is also a member of the Foreign Office’s Engaging with the Islamic World Group and has been accused of promoting the Brotherhood.
The ignorance of the British government is so strong that then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown attended an event by a charity tied to Hamas called Muslim Aid, which Brown heaped praise upon. It was well-known that the charity sends money to the Islamic University of Gaza, which is operated by Hamas, and the al-Ihan Charitable Society that acts as a front for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Muslim Aid is also part of an umbrella organization led by the aforementioned al-Qaradawi and has given money to at least six other Hamas fronts.
The British government has also made the mistake of using Muslim Brotherhood-connected groups like the Muslim Council of Britain to manage relations with the Musllim community. The government suspended its engagement with the organization in March 2009 after the deputy-director general signed a letter calling for attacks against any warships assisting the blockade of the Gaza Strip and urged the “Islamic nation” to “carry on with the jihad and resistance against the occupier until the liberation of all Palestine.”
Taxpayer money has even been given to these fake moderates. The Centre for Social Cohesion has reported that $80,000 was given to the Muslim Welfare House, a member of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, an umbrella organization often viewed as a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood. The think tank writes that three of the Muslim Welfare House’s directors also served as directors of the Muslim Association of Britain and one verbally supported Hamas.
The top-down approach by the Islamists is matched by a bottom-up strategy of political infiltration. The recently-elected executive mayor of Tower Hamlets, a borough of London, is closely tied to the Islamic Forum of Europe, an organization which undercover journalists have found to be dedicated to establishing Sharia law through the taking over of institutions. Mayor Lutfur Rahman has used his position to insert Islamist texts into libraries, appoint associates of the Islamic Forum of Europe to senior positions and distributed taxpayer money to groups tied to the IFE. Moderate Muslims have also complained about his actions in marginalizing them. A study by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center likewise concluded that Hamas had “infiltrate[d] British politics, media and universities.”
The hostility towards the British government by the Muslim community can lead to a lack of assimilation and if the rest of Europe is any indication, the slow dissolution of the state. France has 751 “Sensitive Urban Zones” that are populated by Muslim immigrants that are so hostile to the state that law enforcement doesn’t exercise effective control. These are the areas that exploded in the aftermath of the publication of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons and have since been the scene of large riots in response to law enforcement actions, with the latest happening in July. Greece has also seen similar riots, particularly in May 2009 after a police officer was said to have desecrated a Koran.
This trend may be coming to the United Kingdom. Radical Islamic gangs whose members openly aspire to become suicide bombers have formed and the British government has begun listing certain “ethnic minority communities” as areas where military personnel are told not to where their uniforms.
The diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks brings attention to a serious problem in Britain. The government must be more aggressive in magnifying the voices of genuine moderates who challenge the Islamist ideology, such as the Quilliam Foundation and Dr. Taj Hargery who publicly laments the Wahhabist domination of Islamic institutions. He has called multiculturalism “the biggest disaster to happen to Britain since World War II.” “It has given the extremist mullahs the green light for radicalism and segregation. We have, we must, adjust to British society,” he preaches.
The British government has stumbled in its outreach to the Muslim community because it has chosen to appease, rather than undermine, the groups guilty of anti-Western agitation. Their powerful voice and smooth talking have led the government to erroneously view them as the gatekeepers to the Muslim community that must be won over. One of the greatest weapons the Islamists have today is the ignorance of the Western governments.