Six weeks after Imam Khomeini’s fatwa ignited the Rushdie affair, the Muslim Institute held a conference on The Implications of the Rushdie Affair for Muslims in Britain at the Logan Hall, University of London. Dr Kalim Siddiqui, who had become the main spokesman for Muslims during the previous few weeks, gave the keynote speech (below).
In 1991, he wrote the following short introduction for a reprint of the speech:
“When The Satanic Verses was published I was still in hospital recovering from yet another heart attack. I recovered sufficiently to go to Tehran for the tenth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. I was still there when Imam Khomeini sentenced Rushdie to death on February 14. That evening my wife telephoned me to say that the British were waiting for me. And so they were. Back in London I found the Muslim masses totally behind the Imam, while the Saudi-backed leadership as prevaricating. I decided to take charge. After a few bruising encounters on British radio and television channels, the Muslim Institute held a one-day seminar on April 1, 1989. This was my inaugural speech, which defined the historic background to the Rushdie affair and the duty of Muslims in this situation.”
The implications of the Rushdie Affair for Muslims in Britain
The Rushdie affair may well go down in history as the issue that finally brought the western civilization and the civilization of Islam into a head-on global confrontation. Few issues could have set the two civilizations apart as clearly as this affair has done. It is important, therefore, that we are clear in our own minds on some basic issues of this conflict. These are the global context, the state of the Muslim community in Britain and the goals to be pursued.
First of all, let us acknowledge that Salman Rushdie’s apostasy is not a phenomenon with which we are unfamiliar. The cultural infiltration of Muslin societies that the western colonial powers achieved during their political domination has created among us an educated class, many of whose links with Islam are at best tenuous. Broadly speaking, this ‘educated class’ is the ruling elite in all Muslim countries today. These rulers and their governments have paid lip-service to lslam, but none of these governments has on a single occasion defended Islam or the vital interests of Islam. After more than a generation of so-called ‘independence’, these governments remain, and prefer to remain, politically, economically and culturally subservient to the western powers. As rulers of post-colonial Muslim States, these ruling classes have been largely responsible for the rapid spread of the west’s cultural corruption of our societies. This has been done in the name of progress and development, though not a single Muslim country has managed to show much progress or development. Their only achievement has been their greatly enhanced dependence on the west. There are many Salman Rushdies among them except that they have written no books! We can say, therefore, that passive or hidden irtidad (apostasy) is common among westernized elites and ruling classes in modern Muslim societies. It is against this background that we have to view the recent spectacle of the foreign ministers of 46 Muslim States, calling themselves ‘Islamic States’, meeting in Riyadh and failing to take any effective action over the Rushdie affair. The fact is that Islam is a thorn in the side of our rulers and ruling classes just as much as it is an obstacle in the path of the western powers’ drive towards unchallenged global domination.
The global context of the Rushdie affair is also important before we turn to consider its implications for Muslims in Britain, which is our main concern today. Perhaps the most important factor we need to bear in mind is the deep-seated hostility towards all religions, especially Islam, that is the hallmark of the western civilization. Western civilization of course includes the Soviet Union, China, Japan, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and most of the countries of Asia, Africa and South America where rapid westernization is official policy. This secular civilization tolerates religions as sub-cultures that do not challenge the supremacy of secular man. Indeed, the existence of established churches gives western societies a cosmetic appearance of plurality, liberalism and religious ‘freedom’. All other religions in the world today, including Judaism and Christianity, have accepted the supremacy of secular man and his civilization. Indeed, throughout this colonial period Islamic movements emerged in all parts of the world of Islam. But the colonial powers managed to create their own Muslim agents who now rule over Muslim countries. This persuaded the west to jump to the conclusion that they had destroyed the political power of Islam for good; that Islam would never again raise its head as a political force; that in time Islam too, like Christianity, would become a harmless set of rituals concerned with the personal piety of a dying breed of believers. At the academic level, the west had produced non-Muslim scholars of Islam, the Orientalists, who had attacked, and in their opinion destroyed, the belief-system of Islam on ‘rational’ and scientific grounds.
All these assumptions of the west were overturned by the Revolution in Iran 10 years ago. The re-emergence of an Islamic State was unacceptable to the west, hence the vicious propaganda against Islam and the Islamic State of Iran. Hence also the military invasion of Iran by a combination of local and global enemies of Islam.
The publication of The Satanic Verses at more or less the same time as Iran accepted a cease-fire in the war that had been imposed on the Islamic State is not, in my opinion, a coincidence. The west clearly realized that Islam had not been damaged sufficiently by the work of their Orientalist scholars; that they now needed to attack Islam at its core through the popular media of the novel, the film industry, the video, and other deadly weapons of ‘pop culture’. The war, in the west’s estimation, had softened Iran up. They could now ‘normalize’ relations with Iran through a diplomatic offensive, divert Iran into the reconstruction of its economy, and destroy Islam through an invasion by ‘pop culture’ under cover of surrealism. The Satanic Verses is a bad book; many reviewers have even found it ‘unreadable’. How could such a book receive such literary acclaim, even a major literary prize? I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
This was the global scene in outline. Now I turn to the British scene. I came to the United Kingdom in 1954 when large-scale immigration from the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent was still some years away. I have seen the number of Muslims here increase from perhaps as few as 100,000, mostly students, professionals, and a few families made rich by their colonial masters, to 2 million or more, mostly made up of the working class. During the last 30 years this first generation of Muslim immigrants, who had little education and few skills, have become homeowners and their children have out performed their generation at schools and colleges. This second generation of British-born Muslims is now leaving behind the working-class background of their parents and entering the professions. There has emerged among us a strong entrepreneurial class of traders and businessmen. Most important of all, during the last 30 years, Muslims have established a network of as many as 1,000 mosques throughout this country. My estimate is that these 1,000 mosques represent an investment of perhaps as much as two hundred million pounds. On average, in today’s values, each mosque represents an investment of £200,000. These vast funds have come out of the meagre wages of first-generation Muslim immigrants in menial low-paid jobs. During this period the same working-class Muslims also paid their taxes, their rates, and their mortgages.
The first thing that needs to be said, therefore, is that we are now fully paid-up members of British society. We are British and our children are British by birth. We have paid for everything, we are paying for everything, with our sweat and blood. No favours have been done to us and we ask for no favours.
But let me also add that our being British nationals does not mean that we have abandoned any part of Islam, however small. We are as much part of the global Muslim community, the Ummah, today as we were at any time before. When we speak of Islam as a complete way of life, it includes our life in a non-Muslim State and environment. Our status as British citizens does not and cannot in any way compromise our global responsibilities as part of the Ummah of Islam. The British government must realize that the Muslim citizens of this country will defend Islam, and the honour of Islam, here and in all parts of the world, with everything we have. We will participate in promoting the global goals of the religion, culture and civilization of Islam just as we expect the British government and the British Christian and Jewish communities co participate in promoting the global goals of their religions, civilization and culture. Our British citizenship does not in any way compromise our duties as servants of Allah and followers of all the prophets of Islam, including Jesus and Moses, upon them all be peace.
Now I turn to the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic State of Iran. My views are well known, but a brief restatement is necessary to complete this picture for our purposes today. The Islamic Revolution has dramatically ended the west’s political and economic domination of Iran and established an Islamic State. This political and economic liberation has been followed by a cultural revolution that has transformed the Irani society from its western culture of corruption and nakedness to a visibly muttaqi culture of modesty and piety. This is in sharp contrast to the rapidly spreading culture of corruption and nakedness in all other parts of the world of Islam, especially in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. The Islamic Revolution represents a new goal every Muslim society has to pursue and achieve in order to secure true liberation, independence, cultural purity and collective taqwa (piety). And most importantly, the Islamic Revolution also represents a convergence of Muslim political thought. In matters of political philosophy of Islam, in matters concerning State and politics, in issues concerning leadership and obedience to authority, there is no difference between the various schools of thought in Islam. Above all, as the case of Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses has illustrated, the leadership in Iran recognises its global responsibilities in the service of Islam.
What is perhaps even more important is the reaction of the west to Imam Khomeini’s fatwa on Salman Rushdie. We in Britain had a ringside view of the west’s reaction. Geoffrey Howe, the British Foreign Secretary, immediately denounced Islam as ‘beyond the pale of civilization’ and took diplomatic action against Iran. But that was not enough; Britain then went on to create a global confrontation between the whole of the western world and Islam. From London, Geoffrey Howe went to Brussels and mobilized western European States behind him. Then Eduard Shevardnadze was asked to denounce the Imam’s fatwa, then George Bush, the US President, followed Britain’s lead, and finally Japan joined this global confrontation with Islam. While kufr was mobilizing its global forces against Islam, Muslim masses all over the world came out in support of Imam Khomeini’s death sentence on Salman Rushdie in ever-increasing numbers. Some of the largest demonstrations on this issue were seen in such countries as the Philippines, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. In addition, there were fresh demonstrations in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey. There have also been very large demonstrations in European cities and in North America. Everywhere the Muslim masses and ulama have endorsed the Imam’s fatwa on Rushdie. Though the rulers in Muslim countries have kept largely quiet, the Muslim masses everywhere recognize that Imani Khomeini has given them a lead on an issue of vital importance to the defence of Islam now and in the future.
The most stunning aspect of the Rushdie affair has been the global unity that the world of Islam has achieved on a single issue under a single leader. The unity of kufr against Islam has been equally dramatic. Seldom has the world of kufr (the unbelievers) demonstrated its hatred and hostility towards Islam so openly. This is because, among all the great religious traditions in the world, Islam alone still challenges the supremacy of secular man, his civilization and culture. In our view the secular culture and civilization of the west are little more than an updated version of the jahiliyyah (primitive savagery and moral corruption) that prevailed in Arabia before Islam. In essence the historical situation that we face today is not qualitatively different from the situation faced by the Prophet of Islam, upon whom be peace, and the early Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula 1400 years ago. Then, this conflict between Islam and the jahiliyyah was limited to the Hijaz; now it is global.
The Rushdie affair has highlighted certain weaknesses of the Muslim community in Britain. During the years when Muslim immigrants were arriving here in large numbers, they were buying their houses and establishing local mosques. The community is, therefore, scattered throughout the country with some areas of marked concentration. The first generation of immigrants naturally had close ties with their countries of origin and their diplomatic missions in London. Way back in the 1940’s, when the number of Muslim ambassadors in London was only eight, the British governments had given them a piece of property, called Regent’s Lodge on the edge of Regent’s Park in Park Road, to be used as a mosque and ‘cultural centre’. This is the site where the so-called Central London Mosque, also known as the ‘Islamic Cultural Centre’, built with Saudi largesse, now stands. The director of the centre is Dr Mughram al-Ghamidi, a Saudi diplomat, listed in the London diplomats’ directory as a ‘cultural attaché’. In the meantime the number of Muslim ambassadors has risen to over 40, all being ‘trustees’ of the Central London Mosque. While most Muslim ambassadors in London have spent their time socialising in London’s high society, or backing their favourite horses on the racecourses of England, the Saudis have poured money into setting up a network of Saudi-controlled ‘Islamic’ institutions in Britain.
The Saudi ‘royal’ family were brigands and highwaymen in the Najd before they were chosen by the British to wage war against the Uthmaniyyah khilafah in that area. In 1924 it was the British who helped Abdul Aziz bin Saud to acquire control over the Hijaz. Ibn Saud always realized that he and his family would have to present an Islamic face to the Ummah if their kingdom was to survive. This the Saudis have done with some skill while at the same time acting as agents of kufr, in particular Britain and the United States, in the region and in world politics. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Saudis, using their enormous oil wealth, acquired control over the two most powerful ‘Islamic parties’ of our time: Al-lkhwan al-Muslimoon and the Jama’at-e lslami. Virtually everyone ‘working for Islam’ anywhere in the world became, directly or indirectly, dependent on Saudi money.
Among the Muslim immigrants coming to Britain from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, the influence of the Jama’at was considerable. The chief instruments of the Jama’at-led Saudi influence in Britain have been the UK Islamic Mission and the Leicester-based Islamic Foundation. In some areas the Saudis secured control over mosques that were built with local resources simply by offering to pay the salary of the imam. Most ulama who came from the subcontinent to become imams in British mosques were on temporary work visas and were controlled by local ‘trustees’. Neither these ulama, fearing having to return to the subcontinent, nor the trustees, could provide effective leadership on major issues. They confined themselves to the management of mosques and weekend religious schools. Thus while the Muslim population in Britain grew to about 2 million, and the number of mosques increased to about 1,000, the Muslim community here remained without countrywide institutions; and some attempts to create ‘federations’ and ‘associations’, or councils of local bodies and mosques, have been infiltrated by the Saudi, Libyan, Iraqi or Pakistani nominees. Islamic Iran has not entered this field at all.
It is against this background that we must look at the Rushdie affair in Britain so far. Inevitably, the Saudi lobby, centred on the Islamic Cultural Centre, took the lead by setting up an ad hoc body called the ‘UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs’. It was chaired by the Saudi diplomat, Dr Mughram al-Ghamidi, also director of the Islamic Cultural Centre. Most members of this ‘Action Committee’ were from the hard-core Saudi lobby in Loudon or their friends and sympathisers. Relatively minor roles were played by the Muslim College, a Libyan-financed outfit run by Zaki Badawi, and the Union of Muslim Organizations (UMO) run by Dr Aziz Pasha. There are also two rival ‘lslamic Shariah Councils’ controlled by Libyan and Saudi lobbies, each claiming to be the final authority on Islamic Law. Another body under the grandiose title of ‘Islamic Defence Council’ is headed by Maulana Atiqur Rahman Sambhali, author of a book denouncing Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. His father is Maulana Manzoor Naomani of Lucknow, who has, under Saudi sponsorship, written perhaps the most vitriolic anti-Shi’i book by a Sunni author in recent times. Perhaps the most dramatic part was played by the Bradford Council of Mosques.
From October 1988 to January 1989, the ‘Action Committee’, led by a diplomat from the worst ‘moderate and pro-western regime in the world’, was a model of inaction and controlled a limited expression of Muslim outrage. In October the Muslim College, led by Zaki Badawi, who has said he would give sanctuary to Salman Rushdie in his house, circulated a letter through its own ‘Council of Mosques and Imam’. During this period, sales of The Satanic Verses climbed steadily in the bestseller charts, its commercial success stoked by the controversy and a major literary prize. This level of gentle protest was very much to the author’s and the publisher’s advantage.
Salman Rushdie was enjoying himself tremendously, rushing from one television studio to another, and from one party to the next, while his bank balance, and his publisher’s profits, reached for the sky, far beyond their wildest dreams. During this real life dream sequence of rising fame and fortune, Rushdie was shored up by the British Attorney General, who told protesters that ‘no criminal offence’ had been committed. The ambassadors of Pakistan, Qatar and Somalia also wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister, only to be told to shut up. Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, passed the buck for ‘law and order’ to the Home Office. In the meantime the first stirring of the Muslim masses on the issue was seen on December 11 in Bradford, where a demonstration was attended by 500 people. A month later, on January 14, demonstration of 2,000 burnt a copy of the book in front of the Bradford Town Hall. Suddenly everyone in Britain knew about The Satanic Verses and the Islamic Defence Council organised a march from Hyde Park to the publisher’s offices in Kensington on January 28. During January and early February the leader-writers of Fleet Street had great fun lecturing the Muslims of Britain on the virtues of tolerance in a secular society while Muslim anger in Britain reached a point where some booksellers began to keep The Satanic Verses under the counter rather than on open display.
Here we must pause to note that had Ghamidi, the Saudi diplomat, been leading an effective campaign of mobilizing Muslim opinion in Britain against Salman Rushdie, the British government would have declared him persona non grata (an unacceptable person) and expelled him. The fact Ghamidi is still here shows clearly that he and the ‘Action Committee on Islamic Affairs’, of which he is chairman, are Saudi fronts that are acceptable to the British government as leaders of Islam in Britain. This situation must change if the campaign against Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses is to succeed.
Overseas, the first major move was the banning of the book in India on October 5. This was followed by almost ritual banning orders in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Somalia and some other countries. Even South Africa, sensing trouble from its very small Muslim population, banned the book and stopped Salman Rushdie’s visit there in November. But the first truly major event outside Britain occurred in Pakistan on February 12 when police shot dead six demonstrators in Islamabad. The next day another Muslim was killed during demonstrations against the book in Srinagar in Indian-occupied Kashmir. On February 14 Imam Khomeini decided that enough was enough and issued his now famous fatwa. The Imam said:
I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of The Satanic Verses which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an, and those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I request brave Muslims to quickly kill them wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims. Anyone killed in trying to execute Rushdie would, God Willing, be a shaheed. In addition, anyone who has access to the author of the book but does not have the strength to execute him should introduce him to the people so that he receives punishment for his action.”
These words of the Imam shook the world as it had not been shaken by any other declaration made by any other leader at any other time in history. No declaration of war or peace among big or small nations has ever had quite the impact that this fatwa of the Imam had when it was issued, and continues to have in all parts of the world, and will no doubt continue to have for some considerable time to come. The impact of these words is not due to any inherent quality or the meaning of the words. Even if there was a possibility of Rushdie and a handful of his collaborators being killed, it is doubtful that the west would have kicked up such a fuss. The death sentence, had it been pronounced in exactly the same terms by a mufti or a faqih in, say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, or even by the king of Saudi Arabia, would hardly have merited a mention in the western news media. Most people would have laughed it off and few Muslims would have taken any notice of it. Let me give an example. On August 14, 1980, the Saudi Prince Fahd, then Crown Prince, referred to the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel as a ‘disaster’ and added:
So is not the call to Arabs and Muslims for a holy jihad, long and relentless, the only answer to the religious, racist zionist arrogance? Will the world blame us if after today, we take matters into our own hands and embark on the defence of Jerusalem and its holy sites against the religious, military, and zionist aggression?
These words of Fahd, threatening ‘holy jihad, long and relentless’, against the west’s creation, Israel, should have caused a much greater furore than Imam Khomeini’s death sentence on a handful of people. Does anyone remember these words of Fahd causing even a ripple anywhere? If Fahd had threatened to abandon his long and relentless nights of drinking and womanizing in Europe, he might have been taken more seriously. The west knew, the Muslims of the world knew, that no ‘holy jihad’ could be launched by Saudi rulers, who are the most corrupt rulers ever to rule over a Muslim country. The Saudis are also the most subservient servants that the west has ever created and installed in office anywhere in the world.
What is different about Imam Khomeini? He has not declared jihad against the west; he has only sentenced a murtad (an apostate) to death according to the Divine Law of Islam. Even this is not very original. The Saudis are beheading people and chopping hands in the name of the same Divine law all the time. There is never any protest form the west.
The answer is simple: Imam Khomeini is no ordinary mufti or faqih – he is head of an Islamic State that has been created after an Islamic Revolution that overturned the west’s favourite ruler. All the west’s direct and indirect attempts at destroying Islamic Iran, by military action, subversion, sabotage, diplomatic and economic boycott, have failed. Iran has remained undefeated in the eight-year war that Saddam Hussain, the west’s proxy, had imposed on it. Iran has transformed its society from the penetration of western style corruption and moral degradation to a muttaqi Islamic society. What is more, Iran offers Muslims of all parts of the world a model of liberation from oppression by western sponsored and manipulated rulers. Imam Khomeini is also regarded by millions of Muslims of all schools of thought throughout the world as their leader. The moral authority of the imam and that of the Islamic State transcends all national, ethnic and cultural boundaries. Imam Khomeini is the undisputed leader of a global revolutionary Islamic movement. Even more, Imam Khomeini today wields the political power of lslam in a global confrontation with the secular civilization that originated in Europe. The person of Imam Khomeini uniquely represents the challenge of Islam to the political, economic and cultural hegemony of the west. It is through men like Salman Rushdie, and through ‘literary’ and ‘artistic’ works like The Satanic Verses, that the west had hoped to destroy or damage lslam. The west has many more prospective Rushdies everywhere. The Imam’s fatwa did not just stop at the death sentence. It gave the Imam’s reason:
… so that no one ever again would dare to insult the Sanctities of Muslims.
It is the deterrent value of the fatwa that has sent the west into such a frenzy of anger and fury.
Many commentators have argued from a narrow legalistic standpoint that the Imam’s fatwa could only be carried out in an Islamic State: that so long as Rushdie stays out of Dar al-Islam he is safe. I am not qualified to comment on the legal jurisdiction part of the argument. During an interview broadcast on the BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on the morning of Saturday February 18, I said categorically that Muslims who were British citizens were duty-bound not to break British law. This remains my position. However, Imam Khomeini is also a mujtahid. It may well be that in his view the present global confrontation between Islam and kufr is of such vital importance that he does not regard national boundaries as relevant. Perhaps he regards every Muslim, wherever he might live, as part of Dar al-Islam. Perhaps Imam Khomeini takes the view that Islam is in such great danger that all parts of the Ummah must take an active part in the defence of Islam, irrespective of other constraints.
The immediate impact of the Imam’s fatwa on Muslims in Britain can be measured in relation to the British government and media’s reaction to it. The British reaction was not limited to protecting their nationals and commercial interest. Instead the British government, all shades of opinion in the British Parliament, the media and the literati unanimously rounded on Islam as a whole and all Muslims everywhere. The British declared war on what they call Islamic fundamentalism. It was not a one-to-one confrontation with Iran; the British government mobilized the whole of the western world, beginning with the EEC, against Islam. Muslims in Britain, the vast majority of whom are neither ‘fundamentalist’ nor politically aware or active, only had to watch their television screens to realise that a vicious hate-campaign had been launched against them and against Islam. Imam Khomeini became an instant hero. The imams of the 1,000 or so mosques, who had managed to keep their followers isolated from the revolutionary message from Iran for over 10 years, suddenly became activated. They set up ad hoc bodies to defend the honour of the Prophet, upon whom be peace. It is these ad hoc bodies that have, in the last six weeks, organized mass demonstrations and marches in all major cities and towns in Britain. The British-born generations of Muslims have, for the first time seen the true face of British racism. Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary, and Kenneth Baker, the Education Secretary, have used language reminiscent of the slave-masters of the eighteenth century. The so-called ‘Action Committee’ led by a Saudi diplomat, was invited to the Home Office where a junior minister told them to behave and shut up. They did.
Despite unprecedented demonstrations throughout Britain, the British government has let it be known that they propose to do nothing. They will protect Salman Rushdie and his right to abuse and insult Islam, The Satanic Verses will remain in print whatever the Muslims might say or do. The message from the British government, politicians, media, public and the literati to the Muslims in Britain is simple, clear and unanimous: You can march, you can shout, you can protest, but do not break the law. The law will protect Salman Rushdie and his publishers and no notice will be taken. Their assumption is that after a few weeks or months of marching and shouting, we will tire and shut up. This is not to say that marching and shouting are futile pursuits. The marching and shouting the Muslim community has done so far has already led to the emergence of an influential non-Muslim body of opinion that accepts that Salman Rushdie and his book have caused deep offence to Muslims. It is now widely recognised that such rights as ‘freedom of speech’ cannot be absolute. This freedom is curtailed in recent legislation on such issues as race relations and pornography. Common law offences of breach of peace also recognise the citizen’s duty to use language in moderation. The agitation over The Satanic Verses has also provoked fascist reaction from sections of the white majority against the Asian minority. Just as all Asians were affected by ‘Paki-bashing’ all Asians, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians among them, will be affected by the rising tide of Muslim-bashing. Thus, action against The Satanic Verses is possible within existing legislation. What is lacking is political will on the part of the government, opposition, media and the wider British establishment.
The choices facing the British Muslim community are essentially two: (a) accept the British government’s view that after marching and shouting within the law, we should accept not only Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses, but also all the other sequels in film, video and theatre that are bound to follow; or (b) decide not to accept Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses and any direct or indirect sequels to them now or at any time in the future.
The first choice is the one that the British government hopes will be made, consciously or by default. This is also the choice that the Saudi government, and the Saudi-sponsored leadership in Britain, will be working to impose on the Muslim community.
The second choice is in the short term the more difficult. It means taking on the British government, opposition, media, and even the police and the judiciary, in a prolonged campaign which may at times amount to confrontation and open conflict. The fact is that the presence of 2 million angry Muslims in a post-Christian secular society represents a major source of potential social conflict. If we refuse, as in my opinion we must, to allow the amoral (and largely immoral) secular society to destroy our moral values, then we are, ipso facto, in long-term conflict with our environment, including the British government. I happen to believe that, despite the apparent domination of secular man over British society, the British people as a whole belong to a silent moral majority that detests the values of such men as Salman Rushdie and does not want Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other religions abused in the manner of The Satanic Verses and The Last Temptation. This silent moral majority is ignored by the mass media, the political parties and the publishing and commercial empires that thrive on the allegedly ‘free’ culture of nakedness, immorality, promiscuity and the rising tide of such diseases as Aids.
Douglas Hurd and Kenneth Baker, and some sections of the media, have grudgingly recognized that the Muslim community in Britain is more law-abiding and committed to family values than the rest of mainstream British society. In the same breath the same men and the same media have also offered us the gratuitous advice that ‘Muslims here should accept more integration’. If we accept their advice, we should be breaking more laws and taking up more police cells and making more use of the judiciary. We should then be more equitably represented in the police cells and in the prisons, services for which, as taxpayers, we are also paying like everybody else. Let us take one example: alcoholism is almost non-existent among Muslims. If, as part of the integration package, we take up drinking and other vices associated with alcohol consumption, then crime statistics of all kinds, including road accidents and damage to property, will go up in proportion to our numbers in British society. The consequential costs to the health service, insurance companies, employers, police and others will be enormous. If Douglas Hurd, Kenneth Baker and Fleet Street leader-writers think about it, they would be grateful that at least 2 million people in this country do not quite ‘integrate’ with mainstream Britain as they undoubtedly could. British society as a whole has much to gain by the presence of Islam and Muslims among them. What they must also recognize is that the source of moral excellence and purity that makes us such good citizens is precisely the same as that which does not allow us now, and will now allow us in the future, to accept Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses at any cost.
Precisely what price the Muslims in Britain have to pay to secure recognition and defence of their values and sensibilities is a calculation that I do not propose to make today. What must be said is that the cost of not paying this price now will be greater in the future. Therefore, whatever the price, it has to be paid now.
My own view is that enough laws exist on the Statute Book to allow action against The Satanic Verses. What does not exist, as I have said before, is the political will. The Muslim campaign must now be directed at creating the political will either to use existing laws or to enact new laws. The Muslim community has to study the case of such groups as the Suffragettes in the early part of this century who broke the law in a campaign to change it and make it more civilized. Other pressure-groups have also used similar methods to force changes in the law. In recent times the law has also been broken by local municipal authorities and their members over new forms of local taxation. The Labour Party has also been urged to defy the law over new local taxes. A sustained, well thought out and controlled campaign, which might also include symbolic breaking of the law, may well be required if the Muslim community in Britain is to secure its proper place in British society.