Labour’s cricket test for British Muslims

Inayat B“So, almost 20 years after Norman Tebbit devised his famous cricket test for immigrants to the UK, we learn that the Labour government is seriously discussing how to set up its own modern version for British Muslims….

“Asim Siddiqui observed yesterday on Cif that the government’s ‘tests’ were nonsensical and if pursued would destroy the already precious little credibility that its Preventing Violent Extremism (soon to be simply Preventing Extremism) agenda has. I would go even further and say that if these foolish proposals are adopted by our politicians then it will result in the government being viewed by the majority of UK Muslims as trying to actively undermine Islam and will do fatal damage to the hard work that has gone on in the last few years to try and build trust between Muslim communities and the police….

“The proposals are essentially foolish because they utterly fail to distinguish between what a person may believe and how that same person actually acts. It is perfectly possible for people to believe in the desirability of a caliphate in Muslim countries, the superiority of sharia law and to regard the practice of homosexuality as a sin, but as long as they are prepared to abide by UK law while they reside here and do not discriminate against gays, why on earth should the government classify them as extremists?”

Inayat Bunglawala at Comment is Free, 18 February 2009

Update:  Seumas Milne agrees: “A leak to the Guardian of the government’s latest draft counter-terrorist strategy includes the extraordinary proposal to label ‘extremist’ any British Muslim who supports armed resistance anywhere, including the Palestinian territories; favours sharia law; fails to condemn attacks on British occupation troops in Iraq or Aghanistan; regards gay sex as sinful; or supports the restoration of a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Muslim world.

“The idea would then be to sever all official links with such people and their organisations, following home secretary Jacqui Smith’s announcement that counter-terrorism needs to move beyond tackling violent groups to challenging ‘non-violent extremists’.

“This is the most transparent folly. Since polling shows most Muslims hold one or more of these views (as do millions of non-Muslims, in the case of resistance), the effect would be to brand the whole community extremist and further alienate Muslim youth with – as Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain puts it – a New Labour version of the Tebbit cricket test.”

Guardian, 19 February 2009