Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Challenges Faced by Politically Active Moderate Muslims

Rushanara Ali targetted by Muslim extremists

Rushanara Ali recently captured some headlines when she became the first Bangladeshi-British MP. She won the riding of Benthal Green and Bow, which had previously been held by George Galloway.

Now Ali is learning the hard way the price of being a moderate Muslim who is politically active: It attracts the attention of Islamic extremists.

On the website for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Muslim extremists posted comments describing her as a "sinner" who is "without morals or manners".

Among their grievances against Ali is her decision to decline to wear a Hijab, a headscarf.

To date, the attacks on Ali have been restricted to online comments. But Bentham Green and Bow has but one riding between it and the riding of East Ham, where a woman dressed in a Hijab stabbed MP Stephen Timms.

Details about the motives of Timm's assailant has yet to be released publicly, so it would be premature to say that Islamic extremism motivated her attack. But the combination of culturally conservative Muslims hectoring a secularist Muslim MP for not being religious enough for them and a woman who clearly shares their convictions nearly murdering another MP is unsettling, if not outright suggestive.

One can hope that Ali herself will not be subjected to any violence.

But these kinds of attacks are commonplace on politically active Muslim moderates -- particularly women. Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto was often accused of being an infidel -- and Bhutto publicly wore a Hijab.

In the case of Bhutto, Islamic extremists translated their criticisms of her perceived impiety into numerous bomb attacks -- the last of which was, sadly, fatal.

The loss of Benazir Bhutto was a loss to the entire world. Her vision of Islam was one wherein democracy and human rights were mandated by the Koran. Her death deprived the world of a much-needed prophetic Muslim moderate.

There is nothing prophetic about the distinctly secularist Rushanara Ali, so to hold her up to be a successor to Bhutto would be giving her some intensely large shoes to fill.

But Ali is learning the hard way -- if she didn't know already -- what kind of price is demanded by Islamic extremists from politically-active moderate Muslims.

One can only hope -- for the sake of moderate Muslims like her -- that she's willing to pay the price. Likewise, one hopes that she'll never be at risk of paying the ultimate price.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, I don't see a happy ending here with the Islamic cranks running amok.


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