What should be said about the Policy Exchange report out today, authored by Munira Mirza, Abi Senthilkumaran and Zein Ja’far? Some of the headline statements from a poll informing this research say that:
- 59% of Muslims would prefer to live under British law, compared to 28% who would prefer to live under sharia law. 37% of 16-24 year olds prefer sharia compared to 17% of 55+ year olds.
- 36% of 16-24 year olds believe if a Muslim converts to another religion they should be punished by death, compared to 19% of 55+ year olds.
- 7% â€œadmire organisations like Al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight the Westâ€™. 13% of 16-24 year olds agreed with this statement compared to 3% of 55+ year olds.
There is a saying attributed to Guru Nanak Dev (founder of Sikhism) something along the lines of – a world without problems and challenges is a dreamworld. A shorter and modern version would be: ‘no pain no gain’. I believe the findings present a challenge to British society that we need to sort out together and to this extent I’ve written an article for Comment is Free.
This is not something to be depressed about but rather an opportunity to make our democracy even more vibrant. It’s like the maxim goes: If people are not buying your product, it’s not because they don’t want to listen but because you haven’t sold it properly.
Meanwhile Madeleine Bunting is pounding ‘liberal progressives’ over the head with a pan because of the Catholic gay adoption controversy. Given that I fit into that category, and because I quite admire MB (no, really!), I’m going to take this up. She says:
Increasingly, the stridency with which the non-religious attack the religious belies their own profound insecurity – that the progress they like to attribute to western or enlightenment values is a much-compromised property. It is challenged by almost everything we see around us: climate change, rising levels of mental ill-health, growing economic inequality fuelled by debt and hyper-consumerism.
The atheist attack on the religious is a continual source of annoyance to me too, and I have argued against it, but we can easily turn MB’s argument around. What if the intolerance of religious groups is a result of their own insecurity: watching the world become more secular, chaotic and difficult to understand?
The last 100 years or so have seen conservatives lose almost all the social battles – liberal progressives have reigned supreme and continue to set the agenda on social (if not economic) policy. The battle over gay adoption is simply a continuation of those politics and in our multi-cultural world it is even more important to stress equality and civil rights for all. The only way the religious can get anywhere is if their liberal elements come out of hiding and take over the agenda – showing that religion can also be a force for good not just strife. Madeleine may see it as an ‘absurd reaction’, I think it is business as usual and an important step towards universal equality. Booyakasha!
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