1/24/2005

The Myth of British Islamophobia

The British magazine Prospect has a piece called "Islamophobia Myth" which looks at the anti-Muslim "backlash" supposedly taking place in the U.K.

Last summer, the home office published figures that revealed a 300 per cent increase in the number of Asians being stopped and searched under Britain's anti-terror laws. Journalists, Muslim leaders and even the home office all shouted "Islamophobia." "The whole Muslim community is being targeted by the police," claimed Khalid Sofi of the Muslim Council of Britain.

The bald figure of a "300 per cent increase" suggested heavy-handed policing at the very least. But dig a little deeper and the figures show that just 3,000 Asians had been stopped and searched in the previous year under the Terrorism Act. Of these, probably half were Muslim. In other words, around 1,500 Muslims out of a population of at least 1.6m had been stopped under the terror laws—hardly a case of the police targeting every Muslim.

A total of 21,577 people from all backgrounds were stopped and searched under the terror laws. The majority—14,429—were white. Yet when I interviewed Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, he insisted that "95-98 per cent of those stopped and searched under the anti-terror laws are Muslim." The real figure is 14 per cent (for Asians). However many times I showed him the true statistics, he refused to budge. His figures appear to have been simply plucked out of the sky.
Some unscrupulous Muslim leaders believe that talking up Islamophobia shores up their own power base. I am told that in his book "On War", Carl von Clausewitz said that "noting causes a group to galvanize as much as an external enemy."

Using the myth of an "anti-Muslim backlash" as their bogeyman, these Muslim leaders do their people a terrible disservice. The lesson of American immigration teaches that immigrant populations prosper and thrive when they successfully assimilate into their host society. When Mr. Sacranie tells his people that rank-and-file British folk hate them, those Muslims tend to sequester themselves among their own population.

This "Balkanization" plays right into the hands of those who would like to see some sort of British state governed under the law of Sharia. Once there are a significant number of Muslims concentrated geographically, a de facto state will exist, lending support to the notion that a de jure state should follow. It's not hard to see this as the intended end of tactics like those of Mr. Sacranie.