Saturday, 8 December 2007

Dominic Lawson: Could a robust Christian response be the answer to Muslim extremism in Britain?

[...] Dr Nazir-Ali does not simply blame the Saudis, or other foreign governments who might have been funding militant Islam in the mosques of Great Britain, for the rise in Muslim chauvinism in this country. He blames the British people themselves, arguing that there has been a catastrophic collapse in Christian-based morality and spirituality in this country over the past 40 or so years and that this has created a "moral vacuum" in society as a whole, which has been increasingly filled – at least in the minds of impressionable youth – by fundamentalist Islam.

Here, as a leading figure in the Church of England, Dr Nazir-Ali is swimming in dangerous waters. Is it the British people who should be blamed for deserting, in their millions, the once-dominant Church of England? Or should not the Church of England look at its own performance and try to understand why it has lost such a vast proportion of its audience – at least as defined by regular churchgoing, rather than notional affiliation?

An astounding statistic in a recent Policy Exchange pamphlet, The Hijacking of British Islam, shows that while Muslims make up no more than 3 per cent of the British population, there are now more Muslims who attend a mosque regularly than there are regular attenders in the pews of the Established Church. Fundamentalist Islam can hardly take all the blame for that extraordinary reversal.

Dr Nazir-Ali is deeply critical of the way in which New Labour, supposedly packed with devout Christians, has indulged men such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi (a frequent guest of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone), who preaches that apostates from Islam should be executed.

My own suspicion is that the warm embrace of British politicians can only reduce the credibility of Qaradawi among radical Muslim youth; for similar reasons it is hard to imagine that if there is to be a revival of Christianity in this country, that it could ever come from a Church whose leaders sit in Parliament.

Afterwards, I wished I'd asked Hannah what she thought of it all; but she must have slip-ped away. Read more
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