Shia hatred is a real and dangerous issue in the UK

There is no shortage of extremists ready to capitalise on the events in Syria to serve their own divisive agendas


In an article entitled, ‘Sectarian Hatred at the Heart of British Muslim community,’ The Times recently highlighted issues of sectarianism that have been bubbling in the UK for some time. These issues have been crystallised after the Syrian conflict which brought matters to a head.

The Times article highlighted a graffiti incident against a Bradford-based Shia institution that had the words ‘Shia Kaffirs’ sprayed across its entrance. TELL MAMA, the national anti-Muslim hate incident reporting project that I manage and founded, picked up this case within hours when a leading member of the British Muslim Shia community reported it into us.

The incident highlighted what many of us knew, that the Syrian conflict, combined with preachers in Muslim communities promoting anti-Shia rhetoric and a mixture of hatred towards Assad and his Shia backers (Hizbollah and Iran), were threatening to upset the fragile cohesion between both faith communities in the UK.

Whatever the driver for the Bradford incident, it was becoming patently obvious to us at TELL MAMA that there were some individuals in Yorkshire and the Midlands who were actively promoting anti-Shia rhetoric. In some instances these individuals have been quietly re-enforcing anti-Shia discussions fuelled by hatred towards Assad and the largely Shia-based military support network that is keeping his administration alive.

The first time I came across the Shia and Sunni fault-lines was in May 2013 whilst I was sitting in Edgware Road in central London. Prior to 2013, I had not seen much of a fissure between the communities, and there seemed to be an acceptance that they found common ground on issues such as Halal food preparation, countering anti-Muslim hatred, protecting places of worship etc.

However 2013 seemed to be a turning point for Sunni-Shia relations in the UK, as the Syrian war dragged on and Assad’s brutal repression of the mainly Sunni population started to appear on YouTube videos. Such readily available content no doubt fuelled public discussions in areas like Edgware Road.

I remember endless conversations taking place in the busy restaurants on this famous road which pitted family against family and business against business in endless arguments about the future of Syria, and about the future of Shia communities in Syria, Iraq and the Gulf.

Most conversations ended in a bout of shisha smoking, raised eyebrows and pats on the back, though it was clear that, however tentatively, positions were being taken and support bases tested. The conflict was beginning to have an impact here in the UK.

Sadly, there were people waiting to take advantage of these emerging religious and political divides. Keen to use any situation as an opportunity to promote extremism, Anjem Choudary and his motley crew descended on Edgware Road in July 2013.

Loudspeaker in hand, surrounded by young hotheads chanting anti-Assad and anti-Shia slogans, a few individuals decided that a group of men walking down Edgware Road were Shia. The resulting brutal assault on one of these men lead to over 10 separate cuts and bruises as he was mauled to the ground and hit with placards which Choudary’s group has previously used to demonstrate against the Egyptian Embassy in Mayfair.

A few days later, I met with the victim  and he started to tell me his story. He was a Shia and he was married to a Sunni woman. His children would be influenced by both Islamic traditions and he lived his life on the basis that sectarianism was a cancer that had continued to damage Islam and Muslim communities.

He made clear to me that the attack on him was not something that he held against the Sunni community, and he saw the attack for what it was. He believed that extremist groups were using the war in Syria as a means of opening up Shia and Sunni fractures and this was one way in which Choudary and his group were trying to attract new followers.

The war in Syria has therefore acted as a catalyst for those seeking to create and build divisions within Muslim communities. These divisions have also been manipulated and used by extremist groups who believe that Shia communities are heretics who should be eradicated through force of arms.

Yet we must also acknowledge that there has always been a small section within Sunni communities who have always taken a theological position that Shia communities are non-believers. A handful of them have been active promoting this rhetoric in the UK since before the Syrian war.

Finally, some of the people that I meet in Muslim communities believe that there is no problem and that ‘outside forces’ are at work trying to divide Muslim communities in the UK. The only forces that I see are extremists from within who seek to divide and who relish violence and confrontation.

Sadly, as long as the war in Syria continues, the risk to the UK will remain. The least that we can do is to counter and confront those who seek to sow the seeds of hatred within, to create the conflicts of tomorrow.

Fiyaz Mughal is the director of Faith Matters and the founder of Tell Mama, a project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents

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46 Responses to “Shia hatred is a real and dangerous issue in the UK”

  1. Godfrey Paul

    Islamofascism is a major threat to us in this country irrespective of the particular sect.

  2. GhostofJimMorisson

    As Doug Murray pointed out, are Sunnis who attack or verbally abuse Shias Islamophobes?

  3. SarahAB

    As I thought when I read DM’s piece – that’s more of a snark than a question.

  4. Peacelover

    How absolutely sad. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I am so thankful for the unity we have under the guidance of the spiritual khalifa Mirza ( There is no hate for anyone of any faith/sect/race/nation. Just absolute love and compassion as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught. May my Shiite and Sunni brothers unite under the peaceful banner of the true Islam.

  5. Peacelover

    Well they are a Shia Islamophobe for sure! They are also probably an everything-phobe because anyone who would attack or verbally abuse people simply because of their identity is a bigot

  6. pyewacket

    I’m sick and tired of this backward religion, not satisfied with terrorising non-believers into ‘respecting’ its doctrines, now we’re heading towards Islamic sectarian warfare on our streets. If only I could invent a mind-freeing pill to slip into the water of those whose minds have become enslaved by religious indoctrination.

  7. MahmudH

    Whilst your at it, see if you can also invent a pill to cure the poor victims trapped by a belief in capitalism, socialism, materialism, nationalism, and worst of all, those fools who believe in “free will”, “love” and “happiness”. Such ideas must no longer be allowed to cause pain and heartbreak in the world.

  8. pyewacket

    I can see why you might be trapped by capitalism, socialism, materialism and nationalism, but do please explain how one can be trapped by a sense of free will, love and happiness? The plain fact is that religious fanatics are harassing and murdering innocent people in order to appease a vengeful god. A make-believe deity conceived within the disturbed mind of a warlord. Now that really does cause pain and heartbreak, globally.

  9. MahmudH

    Free will, love and happiness are all irrational, invisible forces that lots of people believe are imaginary or impossible. A lot like religious belief. They all make people behave in an unreasonable way, and lots and lots of people have killed lots and lots of other people in the name of love or freedom.

    You think belief in God is irrational or unreasonable, but lots of things are subjective. Our opinions are one thing, the truth is another thing.

  10. MahmudH

    Yes, irrespective of the sect, irrespective of the label, irrespective of the facts, what is important is the grumble.

  11. pyewacket

    Indeed, human behaviour is all mind stuff, mostly conditioned by culture and religion. In our current era, the Islamic mindset is the most problematic of all, with its often violent intolerance of difference – for example, violent hatred between the Sunni and Shia sects (the subject of Fiyaz Mughal’s article). Also, Islam’s inherent misogyny, homophobia and dismissive attitude towards Western democracy, to name but a few of its many ills.

    Incidentally, I used to be very tolerant of all religion, but Islam takes the biscuit. That said, any form of religious belief is fine if kept safely locked up inside the believer’s head and not imposed upon others of a different persuasion. I refer to certain Islamic fanatics who will even commit murder in the name of Allah and for the so-called sin of blasphemy. Due to mass indoctrination of ancient Islamic dogma and associated violence, every airport throughout the world is on red alert. No other religion in our current era is causing such upset. This is why I’m sick and tired of Islam.
    Of course, the magic pill for those who can’t live without religion would have to be a voluntary belief in something like Jainism, a true religion of peace (at least, as far as I’m aware). If Islam could become more like Jainism, or even like Quakerism, the rest of us would feel less inclined to blaspheme in defiance of enforced religious codes!

  12. MahmudH

    It’s perfectly natural to wish that other people were more peaceful, but it neglects the fact that we don’t live in a peaceful world.

    Britain is not, and never has been, a peaceful country. We’ve been in a near continuous state of warfare, internally and/or externally since the beginning of recorded history. What sense does it make, when living in such a violent country, to wish that foreigners in a country you recently invaded, had a less violent faith?

    Islam in general is a religion that inspires greater devotion in the average believer than most other mainstream religions today. The prophet Muhammad gave wide ranging teachings, which include matters relating to politics and warfare, and which bare little resemblance to the beliefs and behaviour of modern jihadis who borrow far more from Ghenghis Khan than from the Koran.

    Of course you have the right to grumble, but doing so out of ignorance of the detail of what different groups of muslims actually believe will not help you come to terms with the nature of the world as it actually is.

  13. pyewacket

    I’m talking specifically about religion here. I know the world is not peaceful and never has been. However, in our current era , Islam kills in the name of its god. Jesus Christ preached peace, not warfare. That’s the difference. Christianity is often mocked and derided, but Christians are no longer into martyrdom. They don’t become suicide bombers or murderers when someone ‘blasphemes’ against their religion. The Koran is very violent, as is the Bible’s Old Testament. However, most modern Christians no longer take the Bible literally word-for-word, tending instead to abide by the peaceful New Testament.
    By the way, I’m not ignorant of the Koran’s contents. On the contrary, I’ve been reading it for the past couple of years, on and off, in an attempt to understand the tenets of Islam. I know that it also needs to be read in context with the Hadith.

  14. MahmudH

    You should also know then that each sect has its own hadiths, and no set of hadiths can claim to be reliable by the standards of historical methodology.

    There’s no reason to believe that the historical Jesus was a pacifist. He did after all apparently say “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt 10v34

    I don’t agree with literal interpretations of the Quran, but I do believe that it is right that the Quran puts forward teachings about the right and wrong uses of violence. And the example of the completeness of the Prophet Muhammad’s life is in a sense the true miracle of Islam – no other historical figure has achieved success in every field of life in the way he did – starting as a shepherd, becoming a trader, a husband, a father, a preacher, a warrior, a king, and a messenger of God. Thus criticising islamic theology for having teachings about violence is missing the point – individual teachings may be right or wrong, they should all be questioned and debated – but it is those religions that fail to offer teachings about violence which are unrealistic or incomplete.

  15. MahmudH

    It’s true that the Syria war has brought out a lot of latent anti-Shia prejudice. However we shouldn’t neglect the role that money from the Arabian peninsula has played in funding the growth of hard-line Salafist preachers in the UK, who are, not by accident, the most sectarian and anti Shia in their outlook.

  16. pyewacket

    As I’ve already said, very few Christians nowadays read the Bible literally which is why they don’t cry out, ‘God is great’, or ‘Jesus Christ is great’ before carrying out some atrocity in the name of their god. Should anyone do such a thing in the name of the Christian god, no doubt that person would be regarded as crazy.

    It’s important to emphasise that Christians regard the ‘sword’ described by Jesus as symbolic of a spiritual struggle of the soul (just as certain forms of jihad can be interpreted as a spiritual struggle).

    Above all, there is not a single verse in the New Testament that calls Christians to commit violence to spread the gospel. On the contrary, the Koran has many verses instructing its followers to persecute and murder Jews, Christians, adulterers, and so forth. The sword referred to by Jesus is a spiritual sword, the sword of will. He warned his disciples that following him may result in the severing of family ties, so his disciples must be ready for that.

    Aside from anything else, we all know that Jesus advised his followers to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek. Then there is the famous, ‘He who is without sin, cast the first stone’, and a woman who was about to be stoned for adultery was saved.

    And yet women in Iran continue to be stoned to death for adultery; Saudi Arabia also carries out horrendous punishments for various crimes, the punishments guided by the Koran, which is the literal word of Allah, according to all Muslims I’ve spoken to, and thus there’s little leeway for reinterpretation of the violent parts.

    Obviously, not all Muslims are murdererous religious fanatics, despite the harshness of their religion. Most allow their essential humanity to override its worst tenets. However, no one can deny that we are witnessing a deeply disturbing movement among mainly young Muslims who fantasise about the so-called virtues of the IS caliphate. And thus, the apparent ease in which IS continues to recruit jihadists from all over the world. This is what shocks most people and why many are losing patience and becoming intolerant of the Islamic belief system as whole.

    The relatively few Muslims who commit atrocities in the name of their god is nevertheless causing massive disruption globally. Their crimes are affecting the way we all live, with ever increasing need for security. Surely you can’t deny this? No other religion is causing such widespread mayhem in the world today.

  17. MahmudH

    Any genuinely held belief has consequences. Christianity lost its power over politics in Europe in the 18th century, and in the last 100 years it has lost all but a handful of its adherents in Europe. Thus the comparison with Islam and Christianity in Europe today is like comparing a barking dog with a sleeping dog.

    If you look at Africa, where Christianity still sometimes has sway over politics, you often see witchcraft on the statue books, and punishments for homosexuality.

    Christianity, for the whole 1300 years when it held political power, did believe in forced conversion, holy war, violent punishments for non violent offences and use of torture to extract confessions. Looking back from the present and claiming jesus’s teachings make Christianity more peaceful and gentle than Islam is a very ignorant form of revisionism.

    In terms of the Koran, claims that it advocates aggression or forced conversion are a misreading of the text. There are one or two confusing passages in chapter 9, but in context all calls to arms in the Quran are in line with the principles of just war theory, and forbid unjustified aggression.

    Likewise there is no mention of stoning whatsoever in the Quran, unlike the bible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t practised – it is on the hadiths , just like calls for forced conversion and murdering non believers. That’s why it is important to distinguish between different beliefs, which your blanket attacks on Islam don’t do.

  18. pyewacket

    As I said, I’m talking about the present day. I’m not a Christian, nor indeed a devotee of any organised religion, my conclusions derive from what I see happening in the world today. The actions of religious devotees speak louder and more clearly than their religious texts.

    Islam is antithetical to democracy, and thus gives the impression of backwardness. I can’t think of a single Islamic country which affords equal status to women, for example, despite different beliefs among different Muslims (which I do indeed recognise). Sufism, for instance, stands out as being different from other forms of Islamic belief, although I don’t know enough about Sufism to be certain that it’s a superior form.

    As for ‘justified’ and ‘unjustified’ violence, well the particular Muslims who join Islamic state join for the sake of violence itself. There is no justification whatsoever, despite their political grievances, to carry out such unspeakable atrocities against humanity. It doesn’t take much to offend certain types of Muslim, since even a cartoon of their prophet will incite violence.

    Point me to any Christian sect, or indeed any other religious belief system, which in our current time (most important to distinguish between the past and present) is spawning such an intense level of victimhood and associated sense of justification in wreaking terrible revenge?

    You might say it’s not in Koran, but IS do indeed carry out everything which is described in the Koran, to the letter. They are literalists. Thankfully, not all Muslims support such vile practises, but most fantasise about creating a world Caliphate which is a totalitarian concept.

  19. MahmudH

    Try the Lords Resistance Army of Uganda. They are Christian fundamentalists and their brutality was widely publicised a few years ago with the Kony you tube video. The only difference between them and ISIS is that ISIS have received money, weapons and training from Saudi Arabia and possibly the CIA.

    You think ISIS are koranic? You obviously know nothing about the Koran. Where do you think it says to murder prisoners in the Koran? Nowhere. Where does it say to burn people in cages in the Koran? Nowhere. The Koran never even says women should wear headscarves, let alone burkas. People claim the Koran advocates slavery, but that is also rubbish, based on systematic mistranslation. Nowhere in the Koran does it allow you to buy another human being, never does it say you can force anyone to work for you.

    Do you know what is really incompatible with democracy? Neoliberal capitalism. There’s no democracy in countries where billionaires own the media and the candidates. It’s all a show.

  20. anonymouse

    ehem…since you started the religious mudslinging. Maybe you should mention 900 years of wave of Crusades of murdering Christians killing in Jesus name. Okay. What about the KKK terrorising black people in Jesus name. Christian Identity abortion clinic bombing in Jesus name. I can bring loads of examples to sling to discredit Christianity all based in Scripture by people who believe in the religion. Maybe you dont know wtf you are talking about.

  21. pyewacket

    Mud slinging? If only the Islamists confined themselves to such a relatively innocuous pass time.

    I’m merely stating the obvious. In the present time, the greatest threat to Western civilization and democracy is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The crusades are history. Christians are not crusading nowadays, mostly they’ve grown out of such behaviour. As for the KKK, this is hardly gaining support worldwide in the same way that Islamic State is successfully recruiting followers. The KKK is a tiny strange and nasty group confined to parts of the USA. Likewise, the small breakaway lunatic Christians who attack abortion clinics.

    I should also remind you that I don’t support any religion, it’s all mind stuff, invented to control behaviour of the masses. What I am saying is that Islam is CURRENTLY the most problematic religious belief system in the world today. It has many millions of followers and is gaining strength in a negative way. Aside from the daily reports of suicide bombings and other related attacks, I’m particularly concerned about its attempt at imposing upon non-Islamic countries, such as the UK, an Islamic blasphemy code. It does this by threatening those who criticise the Islamic belief system and especially if they make cartoons of the warmongering prophet of Islam.

  22. pyewacket

    I’m not a Christian, so I’m not defending the faith – except to say that Christ was not a warlord like Mohammed. He killed no one. He preached pacifism, even though not all Christians follow his example. Indeed, the difference between the Koran’s Mohammed and the Biblical Jesus is that Mo spread the religion by the sword, literally. He killed many people in the process.

    Regarding Isis, they are following the violent path advocated in the Koran because they regard themselves as participating in a just war against infidels. Their aim is to Islamise the entire world. You know as well as I do that the Koran is awash with violent passages and commands to attack non believers. At risk of boring anyone else who may be reading these posts, which are getting too lengthy, I’ll post a few violent Koranic commands in a separate post shortly.

  23. pyewacket

    Incidentally, I forgot to mention earlier that I’m fully aware of the fact that the Koran does not demand that women wear the burka. This is the reason why I’ve argued with Muslim women in the UK who choose to wear it for ‘religious’ purposes and for ‘modesty’. A mad choice indeed – and totally inconsiderate to those women in certain Islamic countries who are forced to cover up and would give anything to be free of the inhumane shroud.

    Any way, here’s just a handful of the many Koranic calls to violence. Such verses are being used by IS as an excuse to kill, maim, terrorise and enslave.
    “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”


    “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves.”


    “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you.”

    “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”

    “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”


    “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that
    forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah (a penalty tax ) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”


  24. anonymouse

    Christians are crusading nowdays just not on a national standpoint. I named just 2 such groups that terrorise people.

    The extremist threat today from muslims still pales in comparison to 900 years of murdering crusaders killing on the justification of their religion.

  25. pyewacket

    How strange that you seem to be justifying present day Islamic atrocities all because of the historic Crusades! The Crusades were a response to Islamic violence, albeit the Crusaders were as vicious as the Islamists. I don’t condone religious warfare. Certainly religion has sparked a great deal of warfare throughout history due to its slavish adherence to irrational ancient texts.

    Let’s focus on the here and now, which is what really matters. How many airports worldwide are on red security alert due to the threat of Christian terrorism and the Klu Klux Klan? Only yesterday a crazed Islamist tried to murder innocent people on a train from Paris. Day after day we hear of Islamic atrocities being carried out in the name of that particular religion. Why pretend that it’s not happening?

    It amazes me just how many people remain in deep denial over the prescriptive calls to violence found in the Koran. Not all Muslims regard such versus as symbolic of spiritual or inner struggle. They feel they must emulate their prophet in the literal physical sense. This is why revisionists like Maajid Nawaz are trying to encourage Muslims to separate political Islam from religious Islam, and thus he uses the term ‘Islamists’ when referring to those whose aim is to impose a totalitarian political-religious system (incorporating Sharia law) within their host countries.

  26. anonymouse

    There is no justification for any atrocity. However, you cannot possibly condemn Islamic atrocities without looking at the very same atrocities committed in the name of Jesus (or Judaism according to Deuteronomy). Remember what Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” The Jesus I know is not as vindictive and hateful as the one you seem to know. The world would be a much better place if people like you really do follow his teachings for once instead of meeting injustice with more injustice. Grow up. You seem to be living in the same Dark Age as the Crusaders and the same hateful existence as extremist Muslims.

  27. pyewacket

    I’m flabbergasted. You are now using a straw man argument – an outright lie. I’ve stated numerous times that Jesus the historic figure was a pacifist and did not encourage his followers to kill. Where did I say that Christ was vindictive and hateful? I’ve said the exact opposite, but that not every Christian follows his example.

    Unlike Mohammed, who killed many, Jesus killed no one. Clearly you are unable to read my posts, or you choose to misinterpret my words in order to justify a falsehood.

    The Old Testament is indeed violent and would be as bad as slavish Islamism if people en mass were to take the texts literally. I’m a non-religious person looking at religion from a distance. From this distance I can see that the teachings of Christ (the New Testament) were fundamentally about forgiveness and non-violence. The Koran, in stark contrast, glorifies violence through its warlord prophet.

  28. MahmudH

    You’re quoting some messed up, rubbish translations. Lots of words there not in the original Arabic. Try the translation.

    2:191 And kill them wherever you encounter them, and expel them from where they expelled you, and know that persecution is worse than being killed. And do not fight them at the Restricted Temple unless they fight you in it; if they fight you then kill them, thus is the recompense of the rejecters. 2:192 And if they cease, then God is Forgiving, Merciful. 2:193 And fight them so there is no more persecution, and so that the system is for God. If they cease, then there will be no aggression except against the wicked.

    So yes, there is discussion of violence in the Quran, but it is in the context of fighting against persecution. I don’t know whether Jesus was actually a pacifist, I seriously doubt he was. But I generally view pacifism as an abdication of moral responsibility so I don’t view pacifist religions are morally mature.

  29. pyewacket

    Mahmud, all Muslims tell me this. Whatever translation I dig out, they will say its badly translated from Arabic – this includes those Muslims who can’t speak Arabic and have to refer to English translations of the Koran themselves!

    I’d suggest that you try telling IS that they’ve got it all wrong. They insist on calling themselves Islamic and carry out the barbaric acts (and some) of Mohammed, as described in the Koran, Suras, Hadiths.

    Whether or not Christ or Mo actually existed, the fact is the two religions of Christianity and Islam are founded on opposing principles: Christianity in essence is about peace and forgiveness. On the contrary, Islam is a warrior religion, inspired by the life and deeds of its warrior prophet.

    Just because you think that Jesus wasn’t peaceful, changes absolutely nothing. What is important is that Christians believe that he was peaceful. Whereas Muslims believe that Mohammed was righteous in his violent acts. Clearly, this shapes the actions of followers.

  30. MahmudH

    Well, if all Muslims tell you that, maybe those violent quotes reflect your world view and not theirs.

    I don’t have to tell ISIS anything. I’m not the one supplying them with money, weapons and training. That would be Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the USA and UK governments.

    And who is fighting ISIS on the ground? Muslim Iraqis, Muslim Syrians, Muslim Kurds, Muslim Lebanese.

    So who should explain their violent ideology and belief system? The countries allied to Saudi Arabia and therefore ISIS.

  31. pyewacket

    It’s the fault of the killers themselves – and of course the fault of those who are radicalising young people at an alarming rate. Obviously the West is at fault too. I for one opposed the Iraq war and have never been a supporter of Tony Blair.

    That said, I’m merely pointing out that no one should pretend that the current extremist call to jihad has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, as some continue to claim. Without doubt, the radicalised are practising an extreme form of Islam, but it’s still a form of Islam according to those who are practising it.

    If the prophet had not condoned the killing of non-believers in order to spread the faith, the present day killers would have to find another excuse for it.

    I agree with Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation – that the religion of Islam must be separated from politics and the Sharia, und thus practised within the umbrella of secularism. However, I think he’s facing an almost impossible task, since a lot of Muslims are hostile to Nawaz whom they regard as an apostate. I, too, have some reservations about certain of his tactics, which I won’t go into here. But overall, I think he’s on the side of goodness.

  32. pyewacket

    “…maybe the violent quotes {found in the Koran} reflect your own view and not theirs…”

    I just want to add one final comment about this, as our discussion is getting protracted.

    Both yourself and another poster earlier on have succumbed to a curious phenomenon of mind when confronted by an unpleasant truth. It’s not hatred coming from within my own being to point out just a few of the many violent koranic passages, which form the roots of extremist Islamist ideology, the ideology adopted by the likes of Islamic State and Islamist sympathisers.

    To accuse me of violence/hatred for pointing out the hatred found in the Koran is a classic example of psychological projection and displacement. You know in your heart that the violence advocated in the Koran (and other Islamic texts) against non-believers, ‘people of the book’ (Jews and Christians), apostates, and blasphemers is inhumane. So the indoctrinated mind represses this information (unconsciously) and projects a different meaning (often the opposite meaning) into another person’s rational words.

    In truth, I don’t hate individual Muslims, on the contrary. I can see that most have been indoctrinated from an early age to believe in the absolute righteousness of Allah and his messenger, long before their minds had developed the capacity to think independently and to rationalise.

    I also recognise that Muslims themselves are the main victims of Islamist ideology and sectarian violence, especially in places like Syria and Iraq. This also brings us back to the subject of Fiyaz Mughal’s article – namely, sectarian hatred between Sunni and Shiites being played out in the UK.

  33. MahmudH

    You complain about projection, but you continue with shameless generalisations which constitute quite naked prejudice. Our debate started with your refusal to distinguish between different groups of Muslims, based upon your desire to tar all Muslims by association with ISIS and alqaeda.

    In contrast, you don’t want the brutality of western governments in their wars to in any way be viewed as reflecting on western culture and society.

    You hold up Christianity as a paragon of virtue in a frankly baffling way that makes me wonder if you have ever actually opened the pages of a history book.

    You want to demonise the Koran as a means of attacking Islam, without having any expertise in the subject, but simply picking the worst translation you can find and then projecting all your Orientalist fears of the alien “other” upon muslims, despite the fact that they tell you clearly that they do not agree with your interpretation.

    It’s great that you agree with Maajid Nawaz. He is a Muslim, who gets attacked by islamophobes as much as by islamists.

  34. pyewacket

    Sadly, you are unable or unwilling to understand any of my points.
    Religion has always been a major excuse for warfare, which is why I’m not religious. I’ve acknowledged this, but you seem unable to think in a nuanced way.

    I’m concerned that religion continues to be a cause for violence, particularly Islam in the current era (indeed, Islam in essence is a warrior religion which kills in order to spread itself, not just in self-defence). Islamic terrorism is just that, Islamic. They call themselves Islamic, so I have to believe this, considering that they pick the most violent parts of the Koran in order to carry out their attacks.

    If you are saying that Islamism has nothing to do Islam, sadly you are kidding yourself. Instead, you’d prefer to believe that it’s always someone else’s fault.

    I’ve already acknowledged that the situation is complex. I was one of the millions throughout the Western world who marched against the Iraq war. Those marches involved people from right across the political spectrum, not just left wing protestors but people of all persuasions and none.

    The bottom line is this: no amount of political grievance justifies the behaviour of terrorists who proclaim to be acting for Allah. Why are they saying this? It’s because they are emulating the behaviour of Mohammad whom they believe had direct access to Allah’s commands and that the Koran is the literal word of Allah. There is no doubt that Islam is a violent religion, but thankfully not all Muslims are fundamentalists.

    Just out of interest, which variety of Islam do you follow?

  35. MahmudH

    I don’t follow any of the sects. I have a family background in both Shia and Sunni islam, I don’t follow any schools of thought, I just pray when I feel like it, and I believe in whatever makes sense to me, God, His prophets and messengers, life after death and divine justice.

    I am interested, with regards to your perception of Jesus as a peace loving hippy, what do you think of Matthew 8:28-34, the passage where Jesus casts a swarm of demons into a herd of pigs and sends them charging off a cliff into a lake to drown?

  36. pyewacket

    I’m not a Christian, so I’ve no idea about the pigs and demons, except that it appears to be an account of exorcism. But you also have accounts of evil spirits in Islam, in the form of jins. All of this is superstitious nonsense to my mind, of course. More important are the actions of present day followers of the various religions. There are no stories of Jesus beheading people, chopping off hands and all manner of other inhumane acts, and thus his present day followers don’t do it either.

    On the contrary, as stated before, unfortunately there are followers of Islam who are emulating the behaviour of their prophet – such as having a penchant for beheading, also threatening and cursing (and even murdering) blasphemers. This is infinitely more worrying than a herd of demonic pigs!

  37. MahmudH

    If Jesus is so amazing, then how come you don’t believe in him? Strange that. Maybe Islam is simply a more convincing religion. Maybe the fact that Muhammad fought successfully, and triumphed in the name of God, and of justice, is why he inspires faith.

    Likewise, if people in western countries don’t believe in any nonsense stories about violence, why is that in England, the NSPCC estimates that 1/3rd of teenage girls suffer sexual abuse from their boyfriends, and 1/4 violent abuse?

    It’s not enough for you to say you are anti-war, just like it is not enough for me to say I am anti-beheading. If western morality is so superior, why is there such a long list of countries where USA, Britain or France has invaded, bombed, or plotted a coup, overwhelmingly for financial gain? If you’re a white anglo, it’s your culture whether or not you approve of it personally.

    Maybe your prejudice against Islam is a projection of your insecurities about your own cultural propensity to mercenary violence that you’d rather forget.

  38. pyewacket

    I’m not even sure that Jesus existed at all, likewise Mohammed. However, millions of others believe in these figures and shape their lives around the teachings of such (mythical?) figures and associated religious books.

    Unlike followers of any named religion, I don’t see things as either black or white, but many shades. There is much to be criticised within every culture, political ideology and religion. Nothing is perfect in this world. Human beings are imperfect and capable of unspeakable acts of violence and other forms of cruelty. Mohammad, if he existed, was clearly a flawed human being – peaceful at the start of his preaching, but becoming increasingly violent in later years.

    In my opinion (which obviously you disagree with), Islamism (i.e. an ideology which is trying to impose itself upon non-Muslims either through violence or by stealth jihad) is a real threat to democracy and freedom of thought – and freedom generally. Only Islamic terrorists are blowing themselves up in the cause of jihad, in the belief that they will be rewarded by Allah for their martyrdom. Indeed, they believe that the Koran is the direct word of Allah. Sadly, Allah appears to be a demanding and vengeful god.

    Clearly, we will never agree about religion. I feel the moment has come to end this discussion as you are getting upset. I wish you well.

  39. jj

    What? What grumble?

  40. jj

    It doesn’t at all. Look at the Armenian genocide by Turkey, look into the history of those who invaded places like Constantinople and attempted to turn Europe Islamic. All religions have a bad history really, and the current Islamic extremism is just a part of the long history of continued violence in humanity.

  41. MahmudH

    All the people in Britain accused of terrorism, attempted terrorism etc in the last two decades have been al-qaeda aligned hardline sunnis. Grumbling ‘Islamofascism is a major threat to us in this country irrespective of the particular sect’ shows a desire to implicate all muslims regardless of the facts.

  42. MahmudH

    It’s sad that you don’t believe Jesus and Muhammad existed, because it means you’re highly paranoid about the evidence you see with your own eyes.

    Indeed, Muhammad, and all human beings are flawed. But having a 1-dimensional view of the role of force in human society, thinking that violence in self-defence is worthy of condemnation as violence for aggression, means that you can’t understand anything about the role of law and government in human society, and so you will never understand the significance of the revelation and achievements of the Prophet Muhammad, and why many people revere him.

    I wish you well also.

  43. jj

    I agree, its the islamofasciam in Sunni islam at the moment which is really quite dangerous. Aren’t 90% of Muslims Sunni?

  44. MahmudH

    It’s not sunnis generally. It’s the salafi/wahabi style hardliners that al-qaeda and islamic state spring from. Sunni is such a broad category it is practically meaningless. Using the term fascism simply to mean baddie isn’t particularly meaningful either.

  45. jj

    Interesting, I have heard of wahabism before, and its ‘issues’, you cannot deny that it is basically fa$ism what IS is doing today, and boko haram (forcing people to become Muslim or die, kidnapping schoolgirls, murdering Shia Muslims and Christians in their droves, is basically islamofascism!)

  46. MahmudH

    In many ways ISIS are more shocking than the Nazis. The Nazis tried to cover up their genocide, hiding it away in concentration camps, whilst ISIS film their atrocities and post them online. And although some leading Nazis liked to abuse little boys, their party was not ideologically committed to paedophilic rape the way that ISIS/alQaeda/bokoharam are. Still, I don’t find the term ‘islamofacism’ meaningful because it invokes misleading comparisons with the Second World War that undermine our understanding of what’s actually going on in the world.

    In particular, “islamofacism” makes you think –

    1/ that this is a muslim conspiracy against non-muslims, when actually it is mostly about fanatics killing non-fundamentalist muslims.

    2/ that Israel/Jewish people are at the centre of the ideology, when actually Israel is peripheral to what’s going on, and Israel has been helping the Syrian Islamist rebels (reported including al-Nusra) against the secular Syrian baathist government.

    3/ it frames the conflicts in a way that suggests that non-intervention or appeasement has led to the rise of ISIS, when in reality it’s our interventions against secular governments in the middle east that have been making the Islamists stronger.

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