Huffpost UK Politics uk

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Faisal J. Abbas Headshot

How Muslims Against Crusades Can Benefit From Theresa May's Ban

Posted: Updated:

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May's decision to impose a ban on protest group 'Muslims Against Crusades' as of midnight tonight is highly likely to cause a storm of controversy.

However, this controversy is not necessarily a negative thing, especially not for the Home Secretary herself who is probably in desperate need to appear tough following this week's debacle of the alleged relaxing of UK borders.

The ban is also not necessarily a negative thing because perhaps because it will give the opportunity for the people behind 'Muslims Against Crusades' to reflect and perform some much needed self-criticism.

(A screen grab of Muslims Against Crusades website which today carried a statement on the ban)

Allow me to make a few arguments here: Firstly, naming a protest group 'Muslims Against Crusades' is counterproductive in itself if your intention is to oppose a war. If anything, with such a name, you are only fuelling more hatred on both sides. Let us also not forget that these 'crusades' were helping Muslims during the Balkans war and more recently, responded to pleas from Muslims in Libya to help overthrow the outrageous Qaddafi regime.

Secondly, one only has to remember that it wasn't only Muslims who opposed the war in Iraq! In fact, there were between 750,000 and 2 million protesters against the war marching in London on 15 February 2003 - those came from all walks of life, political parties, religions and origins.

Then, you have this whole rhetoric about establishing an "Islamic State" and imposing Sharia Law on Britons. On their website, Muslims Against Crusades even have images calling for the shutdown of betting shops, night clubs and banks as well over as banning abortion and overthrowing the Queen.

Again, it always amazes me that some of my fellow Muslim 'brothers' tend to be somehow disconnected from the society they live in.

Let us take these points one by one: On banks (i.e. capitalism, banking system and interest), one only has to look at recent Occupy LSX protest happening outside St Paul's Cathedral to see how many non-Muslims share their views.

Ask most gamblers or betting-addict whose lost significant amounts of money if they think betting shops or casinos should be closed and their answer is likely to be "yes."

The same argument applies to abortion; the Church of England's official position is to oppose it.

As for drinking, the never-ending NHS adverts, leaflets and television commercials urging people to consume less alcohol speak for themselves, again GPs and health officials in this country call for this and they certainly are not all Muslim.

Similarly, women's rights groups and various political parties call for closure of strip clubs, are other forms of what they describe as exploitation of women.

As for calls for over-throwing The Queen, I am sorry to be the one breaking the news, but many people did it first (just read The Economist... boy, did they do a good job arguing British Republicanism!)

Lastly, on the call for the creation of an Islamic State in Britain - one only has to examine why this concept came to existence nearly 1400 years and why "Jihad" was called for. At the time, the world was divided into empires ruled by religion, so you couldn't have possibly built a mosque for Muslims to pray in the Roman Empire nor the Persian Empire.

Thankfully, we don't live in that era anymore. In fact, Muslims (of ALL sects and minorities) in this country enjoy much more freedom of expression and practice than in many Islamic countries. On top of this, you are free to observe a big chunk of Sharia law and several other elements are happily tolerated.

The question is if you are happily given all these rights, had the support of up to 2 million people when the British government waged an unjust war against Iraq and have the liberty to choose if you wish to drink, eat pork, gamble or not... why can't we just live and let live?

All I am saying is we need to look deeper, we will find that Muslims and non-Muslims have much in common. we also must urgently look at how other protest or pressure groups achieve their goals.

Perhaps it's through effective lobbying, maybe it's through actually engaging in the society and its institutions... or it may simply be the approach.

After all, "Al-deen Al-mouamalah" (translation: "Religion is Conduct") is what we say in Arabic.

Around the Web

Muslims Against Crusades to be banned from midnight

How do we tackle the prejudice of the far right?

Poppy-burning Muslims plan new 'hell for heroes' demonstration on November 11