Social media, not unsurprisingly, has been distressed by the Manchester bombing outrage. However, there seems to be a strange, but a not unfamiliar division of attitudes. There are comments that blame the police and intelligence for not acting sooner and there are those that blame society for not integrating minority groups more successfully.
Now it may be that the comments I pick up are biased but I find the lack of criticism of the perpetrators and the origin of their creed frightening. Is it because of our media and, more importantly, repressive laws that prevent us discussing, describing, disagreeing publically about real divisions in British society? Have we forgotten so quickly the struggle that has generated our tolerance and openness to ideas that are unpalatable? Did we have to wait for the occupation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of Poland to start publically criticising Hitler and the Nazis that he generated?
Last Thursday on BBC 2’s Question Time during a tense debate about how extreme acts could be thwarted a young Muslim woman said this-
“First of all, I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I’m a British Muslim and I’m very proud of my heritage. And there is an elephant in the room here. And unfortunately, it is very unfortunate, there is an issue with regards to radicalisation and extremism that does exist. That is something that we have to accept. I would like to go back to what the gentleman over there was saying when he referenced a mosque.(Editor:The Didsbury Mosque, in Manchester) Yes, we do have an issue within our mosques. We have children being taught the Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. We have Saudi-trained clerics coming in and speaking I would say, for now, temporarily, close down all Saudi-finance mosques. And I myself speak as a Muslim. I am a Muslim. Not only do we have our own home-grown terrorists, but terrorism is also being imported right under our noses.”
The man referred to had picked up at a Didsbury Mosque literature that he read out declared that Western and UK society was offensive.
A Muslim woman from the Didsbury Mosque replied: “There are no Saudi-funded mosques in the UK. There used to be money that was brought in from abroad but that has all stopped a long time ago.”
Later members of the Didsbury Mosque stated that this literature was not produced by them but by others who attended the mosque and left the literature.
With this confusion is it any wonder that non-Muslim citizens are sceptical about the realities of living as a British Muslim?