It is proper to challenge Islam, but not to demonise Muslims

Jemima Khan“I recently attended a debate entitled ‘Is Islam good for London? … It wasn’t just me who found the title, tone and content of the debate disturbing. The liberal rabbi, Pete Tobias, described it as a ‘damaging and hurtful exercise’, sinisterly reminiscent of the campaign a century ago to alert the population to ‘the Problem of the Alien’ – namely the Eastern Jews fleeing persecution who had found refuge in the capital.

“My view is that it was symptomatic of a much wider and deeper hostility to Islam and, contrary to the claims of the panellists, to Muslims too…. On the subject of Muslims, liberal intellectuals like Amis find themselves uncomfortably in bed with the neocons. They even sound alike. British Muslims that I know feel overwhelmed in the face of such hostility.

“… although Muslims increasingly feel like a demonised minority, even by liberals, it is also true that Islam is an ideology. As such it must expect to be challenged in an open society, no matter how uncomfortable or personal that debate becomes…. But it would help greatly if critics of Islam would give as much attention to the moderate Muslims engaged in that vital internal debate as they do to the hook-handed, effigy-burning few.”

Jemima Khan in the Sunday Telegraph, 25 November 2007