The evolution of British Muslim society will shape the UK’s future

As I travelled the UK’s mosques for my book, I found much that was heartening but too much that was deeply worrying


Here's a confession: I am a Muslim and I feel much safer in Delhi or Dubai than I do in Derby or Doncaster. No, I do not fear the old far-right racists. I worry about the new racist bigots who wish for Islamic supremacy.

Who are these people?  What do they want?

We recently caught a snapshot of their mind and behaviour: from Bradford they came to Finchley in a convoy of cars and shouted “F*** the Jews. Rape their women”. Not 1930s Leopoldstadt, but London in 2021. We ignore this rise of hatred and communalism at our peril. For unless confronted and uprooted, this will get worse.

To research my new book, I journeyed across Britain’s towns and cities, holding conversations with Muslims and others, watching people and places. With almost five million Muslims and 2,000 mosques, and Office for National Statistics estimates of 13 million Muslims by 2050, what happens inside this demographic will shape the future of this great country. There is good news and bad.

In Manchester’s Central Mosque, not far from the city’s synagogues, Muslims gathered for weekly prayers at noon on Friday. The beauty of the calligraphy, the large chandelier, and the eastern architecture of the mosque all came alive as the Imam called to God. The total focus on the one God that unites the children of Abrahamin the Torah and the Quran was not a slogan but a reality. The smoke of Arabian incense filled the air as we prayed facing Mecca, a town where Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael lived and built a house of worship, the Ka’bah.

In a world where we are distracted by media headlines, mortgages and making money, this constant connection to God gives life a higher meaning and purpose. In Muslim homes in Manchester, Rochdale and Bradford, the family unit was strong with a great culture of hospitality for guests. Again and again, I was invited into the homes of strangers with love and warmth. Values of faith and family remain robust among Britain’s Muslims.

But some Muslims are struggling with the flag. When I visit synagogues,I hear prayers for the Queen. British Jews have always been loyal to Britain and its institutions. No prayer is said for the Royal Family in Britain’s mosques.

In America, I see the stars and stripes in mosques: I’ve never seen a mosque fly the Union Jack in Britain. Why does this matter? Loyalty to the British nation state and its secular laws, love for the land and its liberties that join us together as citizens will not come about by accident.

The hatred of British history, the obsession with Balfour, the failure to remember that millions of Muslims fought and died for Britain in two world wars, is creating a generation of angry young activist Muslims. They call for Muslim armies to take Jerusalem. They shout “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” alongside the Socialist Workers’ Party and they seek to remove the Jewish State.

Just as their understanding of history and geography is selective, so is their reading of the Quran. The Prophet Mohamed recited this verse of the Quran repeatedly, remembering God’s command to Moses: “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers.”(Quran5:20-21)

Again and again, the Quran teaches Muslims to honour the Hebrew prophets. Entire chapters of the Quran are named after the prophets and mentions of Bani-Israel fill the Quran. Who will explain to the Muslim firebrands that today’s Israel is a fulfilment of the Quranic command? That today’s Jews are the children of Jacob, Joseph and Moses? In the archetypal conflict between Moses and Pharaoh, Muslims are with the Jewish people.

I am not saying Israel is perfect. Nor is Britain. All nations are works in progress. But British Muslims and British Jews have the bond of Britishness and sharing this land, protection under its laws, loyalty to it that binds and protects us. Break that bond and we will become warring tribes of communal groups. Not only Jew against Muslim, but black against white and gay against straight: national loyalty and identity holds us together.

At Westminster Abbey, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier reminds us that our forebears gave us this inheritance by sacrificing “Life itself for God, for King and Country” and for “the freedom of the world”. British Jews and Muslims should help remind our Christian compatriots of this legacy and protect it.

The calls by the Hamas supporters to attack Jews in Britain are an attack on all of our inherited freedoms and us as a people. Israel has gone to war with Hamas before, but the support for Hamas did not become vocal and violent on our own streets in Britain.

A dangerous coalition of activists from the Corbynite left and Hamas right, the Red-Green alliance is being resuscitated again. “We’ll find Jews. We want their blood,” shouted a Hamas supporter in London as the police stood by, fearful of accusations of Islamophobia and racism.

The Red-Green alliance has the mob, but it is weak: the truth is missing. From Iran to Gaza, their history is failure. A Red-Green alliance toppled the Shah in 1979, backed by Foucault and French liberals, only for the Islamists to kill and exile the Iranian left. In Gaza, Hamas killed Palestinian leftist dissenters after the 2006 victory.

I can only imagine the fear in Jewish families from the rise of this militant Muslim supremacy. It pains me to hear the chilling refrain of bags being ready for an escape. You are not alone: they target a whole lot of us and by knowing the facts, building a wider coalition for defending civilisation, we can defeat them. Make no mistake about it: they hide behind the garb of religion, but their minds and methods were taken directly from the totalitarian movements of the 1930s in Europe.

French historian Gilles Kepel documents the influences of the Nazis on the Muslim Brotherhood. Moderate Muslims and Jews feel unsafe in parts of Britain today because we have a common enemy in those who seek to destroy our inheritance of nation states in Britain and Israel, but also remove Arab governments and create disorder in the Middle East. This crisis is much bigger than Israel. There is no appeasing it. The Red-Green alliance seeks to advance Iran’s radical allies of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Brotherhood and others.

Moderate Muslims stand in the way. Against this rising Islamist fascism, Egypt’s late great president Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem and made peace with Israel. Today, Israel and the Jewish people have friends and allies in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Jordan and unofficially with Saudi Arabia. This is peace between nation states that terror organisations want to undo. We have a common enemy that seeks to end this peace in the Middle East and here in Britain.

As they seek darkness and destruction from Tehran to Tottenham, our Arab allies are lighting candles. TheA brahamic Family House is being built in the heart of the Middle East. There in Abu Dhabi is a vision forthe world to live in peace: a synagogue, a church and a mosque are being constructed beside each other. Jewish communities are now flowering inthe Arabian Gulf wit hkosher restaurants and flights to Israel.

The British nation is being ripped apart with communal identity politics. Britain made the modern world with its language, laws and liberties. As always, the Jewish people are the canaries in the coalmine. The footsoldiers who seek to attack Jews also see others as inferior: women, Hindus, Sikhs, gay people and moderate, peace-loving Muslims.

In our foreign policy, our government must openly support countries that seek peace with Israel. Promoting democracy is a red herring because the result will be Gaza and Iran unless civil society is first made to be free from antisemites. At home, we need to change the education system in mosques and religious schools so they can reflect the inclusive spirit of the Abrahamic Family House. If after education and opportunities to integrate, radical Muslims don’t like our free nation and its citizens they should leave Britain. Shamima Begum did.

Until we say “you are not welcome here, leave,” we will be seen as weak. Once we muster the courage to defend civilisation, we will begin to win. This is not about Jews: it’s about the future of Britain.

“Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain” is published by Bloomsbury

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