Bad news. Ed Husain, formerly of the Quilliam Foundation, has returned to the UK. Predictably, one of his first public acts has been to whip up fear and prejudice against fellow Muslims who oppose Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza or even just peacefully follow their faith by wearing the hijab or niqab. In a comment piece for the Evening Standard, Husain writes:
I have just returned home to London after three years of living in New York. There, I met American Muslim leaders fully at home in the US and among the most patriotic Americans I know. They support their soldiers at home and abroad….
But what I see and hear among activist Muslims in London worries me. At mass demonstrations for “Free Palestine” at the weekend, some chanted, “Obama, what do you have to say? How many kids have you killed today?” on a day when the US government was trying to rescue Yazidis in Iraq. If Palestine is to be freed, it should be freed from Hamas.
Socially, there is the rise of children at primary schools across the capital wearing hijab, or headscarves. This is a sign of separatism, a desire to assert difference from other children decided by parents. I see niqabs or face-covers for women, and British Asian Muslim men wearing Arab clothes that our visitors from the Gulf readily discard. How did we become silent at this physical changing of our city’s face?
Politically, being visibly Muslim is fast becoming a statement of rebellion.
Husain notes that “London is home to nearly a million Muslims”. Indeed it is, and their active participation in democracy, including involvement in the recent mass Gaza protests, has made a major contribution to the political life of the capital. The freedom with which Muslim women wear religious clothing, in contrast to the repression they suffer in some other European countries, has greatly strengthened London’s reputation as a successful multicultural world city.
It’s just a shame that one of those million Muslims has to be Ed Husain.
Update: See “Ed Husain on Muslim Londoners and the ‘Marxist-Islamist axis’”, MEND, 12 August 2014