Letters from today’s press

In the Independent, responding to Peter Oborne’s excellent article, Kate Francis condemns violence against Muslims but goes on to oppose the “blanket application of the pejorative term ‘Islamophobic’ to anyone who has voiced concerns about the long-term capacity of Islam to coexist successfully in a secular state where the rights of women are protected by law. As a feminist, I have deep concerns about this, as I do about any group (religious or otherwise) that appears to enshrine misogyny in its cultural values…. it’s no wonder that writers are prefacing their comments with ‘I am an Islamophobe’ and ‘Count me in’.”

Another correspondent, one Dominic Kirkham, writes: “The remark of Shahid Malik that British Muslims now felt like ‘aliens in their own country’ (4 July) is problematic…. In seemingly every area of cultural contact, however open and welcoming, Muslims choose to distance themselves from the generality on the basis of ‘their religion’. Unless they themselves are prepared to question the arcane prejudices that lie at the root of ‘their religion’ they will continue to feel like aliens in normal society by their own choice.”

And here’s Shaaz Mahboob, of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, in the Daily Telegraph:

“The assumption by Lord Phillips (report, July 3) that interpretations of Sharia could become an alternative form of conflict resolution for British Muslim communities will merely result in further alienation and segregation. Only hardline groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Sharia Council, have been demanding the introduction of Sharia as a parallel justice system. In a democratic society, paying heed to, and endorsing the views of, minority but vocal pro-segregation Muslim groups is nonsensical, and could be disastrous for a cohesive society.”