In his new book Among the Mosques, Ed Husain—himself a British Muslim born into a devout family—argues that “all is not well” among the Muslims of the United Kingdom, even if they are by no means the monolithically intolerant and dangerous group right-wing bigots would make them out to be. Freddie Hayward reports on a recent conversation with Husain:
In town after town, [Husain] found mosques that discriminated against women and taught a highly literal interpretation of Islam. Husain also came across books by authors banned in parts of the Middle East for being extremist, and mosques that conducted Islamic marriages without legal registration and the protections that come with it.
Husain believes it is vital that the UK discusses the issues around Muslims’ place in wider society. . . . Why, then, does he think these conversations aren’t happening? “I think people don’t want to be seen to be picking on minorities,” he replies. “That’s a good thing, but that impulse shouldn’t then end in a place where we can’t have free conversations in a respectful manner.”
“Neglect and fear by the center-left and right of British politics makes this challenge grow and grow, not go away,” he warns. Husain . . . believes Keir Starmer, [the current head of the Labor party], is “terrified” of confronting the problem, and that Conservatives are also paralyzed by “fears of being accused of Islamophobia.”
Husain calls for an “inclusive patriotism” flowing from a reaffirmation of Britain’s liberal tradition and concepts such as equality [of the sexes], individual liberty, the rule of law, and racial parity. These values constitute modern Britain, he argues, and promoting them will undercut extremist views.