Scary Muslims in the Times of London

Arthur Dudney responds to the recent anti-Deobandi witch-hunt in the Times:

“Who are these dreaded ‘Islamists’ destroying Britain from within? Well, they’re Deobandis, which probably means little to non-Muslim Britons. The Deobandi movement is an Islamic revivalist movement founded in the northern Indian town of Deoband in the mid-nineteenth century in reaction to the failure of Indian society to mount an effective opposition to British colonialism….

“As someone who studies South Asia and knows something about Islamic revival, I don’t think there is cause for concern over the fact that many Muslim scholars in Britain have Deobandi affiliations. Among the diverse group, there are liberals and conservatives, radicals and centrists. Instead of recognizing this, the Times latches on to Deobandi influence as a convenient explanation for radicalization of British Muslims.

“The worst offender is Andrew Norfolk, whose article ‘A movement fostered by the fear of “imperial” rule’ describes the rise of the Deobandi movement and shifts from a restrained, historical tone to unsubstantiated accusations against the British Muslim community. By playing up the opposition to colonialism, the lede implies that if the Deobandis were hostile to British colonial rule once, then they should also be hostile to modern ‘British values’. Does he really believe that opposing colonialism was about opposing ‘British values’?”

SAJA Forum, 17 September 2007

For an example of the hysteria generated by the Times articles, see the letter in today’s Telegraph by Winston S. Churchill, who writes:

“Not for 70 years has there been a more clear or present danger to our internal security, to our free society and to our democracy, than that posed by this vipers’ nest in our midst. The Deobandi, an ultra- conservative sect, outlaws music, art, television and football, and also demands the entire concealment of women…. When will the Government wake up to this mortal threat which – if not swiftly dealt with – threatens to bring strife and bloodshed to the streets of Britain on a scale far exceeding anything seen in the bombings of recent years?”