If these are ‘moderate’ Muslims, give me the lunatic fringe any day, says Liddle

If these are ‘moderate’ Muslims, give me the lunatic fringe any day

By Rod Liddle

Evening Standard, 23 August 2005

I hope you’ve already got your tickets for today’s gig at the London School of Economics by Imam Zaid Shakir. It’s going to be a sell-out and Zaid will be reprising his popular hit: “We Are All Collateral Damage in the War Against Terror”.

The good imam is one of those “respected” and “moderate” Muslims who has “condemned” the terrorist attacks upon London last month “unequivocally”.

You may judge for yourself whether that cumbersome superfluity of quotation marks is warranted by mulling over his assertion that both the 7 July terrorists and our own Prime Minister are “self-righteous murderers whose motives and proclamations mirror each other.”

For Mr Shakir, there is no distinction whatever to be made between a democratically elected politician and a fanatical medieval nutter with seven pounds of gelignite strapped to his waist. There’s condemned unequivocally and “condemned unequivocally”.

I don’t know if Ticketmaster has any seats left for Zaid’s performance, but you can always check the man out by tapping “Muslim Council of Britain” into Google and scrolling down its list of affiliates: Zaid’s gig is keenly awaited by a whole bunch of respected, moderate Muslims (you can supply your own quotation marks from here on in).

John Ware’s Panorama investigation into the somewhat schizophrenic behaviour of the MCB has aroused outrage among senior Muslims and white liberal apologists alike. “It tried to portray the scholars we admire as loonies,” remarked a thoroughly peeved Dr Inayat Bunglawala, the MCB’s press officer – a man who refused to attend the Holocaust memorial service and once described the creation of Israel as a terrible mistake.

He continues to hedge and fudge on the issue of suicide bombers in Israel, not understanding that it is a short hop, philosophically, from sanctioning murder in Tel Aviv to condoning such outrages in London.

The MCB also continues to support the aspirations for a vast Islamic caliphate, with shariah law, throughout the Middle East and half of Africa.

We have a communication problem, I suppose. Dr Bunglawala and I would not agree on the definition of such words as “moderate” and “respected”.

Moderate, to my mind, does not include people who believe that homosexuality should be a crime punishable by death, or indeed a crime at all.

Nor can I find it in my soul to give respect to those who think that blowing up civilians is not merely justifiable, but a beholden duty.

We might not agree on the definition of “loonies”, either. I think Imam Zaid Shakir just about qualifies, under my rather haphazard understanding of the term.

But the real problem of communication lies with our Government, which persists in using terms such as “moderate” without comprehending that they mean very different things to different people. The very people Mr Blair insists are moderate actually believe he is morally and practically no better than a suicide bomber: sooner or later, he will realise this. Inshallah, as they say.