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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Groups attempt to create Sharia-controlled zones in UK cities

Over the last few weeks, several stories have emerged of Islamicist groups making public plans to create Sharia-ruled areas within the UK.  One national paper recently reported that the banned group ‘Islam 4 UK’ has started a campaign for ‘Sharia-controlled zones’.  They do this by pasting signs on lampposts and the like which mimic official posters with ‘You are entering... zone’ with icon images in a crossed circle indicating which activities are ‘banned’.  They have posted them in areas with significant Muslim populations, like Newham, Walthamstow and Tower Hamlets.  Police and councils are said to be working to remove the posters and track those who posted them. 

A quick search of the internet revealed several stories that attributed the same strategy to the group ‘Muslims against Crusades’, the newest group to rise, phoenix like from the ashes of ‘Islam4UK’.  This group’s website openly takes responsibility, saying it is part of its ‘Islamic Emirates Project’ that seeks to ‘fragment large sections of Britain into Muslim enclaves operating under Shariah law’.

Their website says that today (30th July) they plan a march in support of their goals from Leyton underground station to Walthamstow Central.  They also claim to have support from a number of Muslim organisations, including the Society of Muslim lawyers.

 Their posters proclaim ‘Beware: You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone - Islamic rules enforced’ and ban concerts, music, gambling, porn, drugs, prostitution, alcohol and, according to some reports ‘gender-mixing’.  They claim to have large numbers of ‘Sharia police’ to seek to enforce these laws, and state that ‘there will be a very intensive campaign to distribute the posters to Muslim and non-Muslim communities about what the Sharia means economically, socially, and politically’  They plan ‘a march will target Waltham Forest, including Walthamstow and Leyton. We will administer the zone as one under Sharia and plant in the long term the seeds of an Islamic emirate. We wish to create a zone where Muslims can live together, deal among themselves, and interact with each other instead of interacting with society at large.’   They plan to do the same in all 25 areas that the government has designated ‘extremist hotspots’. 

It is doubtless true that this is to some extent a publicity stunt.  The small group has often made waves by announcing provocative acts (poppy burning , for example), not all of which have actually taken place.  There is some debate about how well-supported their views are.  However, the tactics they are advocating are certainly not theirs alone.  They have been the standard since the start of Islam when Muslims are in a growing minority in non-Muslim lands, and exactly match the tactics of other Islamicist groups in the West.  For Pakistani Christians, who witness the extreme suppression and violence against their brothers in the Sharia-dominated homeland, we have extra reason to be concerned.  For some, at least part of the reason for coming to the UK was to escape such oppression.  The same could be said for a significant proportion of Muslim (and other) Pakistani’s who have come to the UK.  That is why we cannot ignore such groups, however small they seem.  They seek to grow and Islamicist / Sharia powerbase within the Muslim community.  And the more power they gain, the more pressure there will be on moderate and conservative Sharia observant (but not militant) Muslims to join or acquiesce, and the more their base will grow.  This is part of the point of their tactics.  They openly state they want to create and grow independent Islamic states within the UK, and implementing Sharia law is one of the main means.  In this regard, it is relevant to note that a recent Ministry of Justice probe into the Sharia courts that are at the centre of this push to impose Sharia law on the country has been shelved because the Sharia courts refused to co-operate.

Nor is such raising of grave concerns scare-mongering or inciting hatred, as some would have it.  This is not a theoretical danger, by any stretch of the imagination.  To remind those who don’t know, recently the Tower Hamlets borough of London was taken over by an administration with strong links to an extremist Islamicist organisation (with significant reports of voter fraud and corruption).  Result?  Oodles of hate-filled Islamic material from banned Muslim preachers in the public libraries, moderate and non-practicing Muslim women verbally attacked in their places of employment over their dress, including having death threats made against them, a rise in violence against gays (set against a background of declarations of a ‘gay-free zone’), the routine leaking of confidential enquiries by (opposition) council members, and the condemning of opposition council members as ‘Islamophobic’ if they make any enquiry about a subject with an Islamic angle.  One female council member (a moderate Muslim) reports that as a result she found herself subconsciously dressing more conservatively, in compliance with the extremists demands.  That dynamic sums up the clear and present danger in a nutshell.  And for those of us who follow the plight of Christians in Pakistan, the patterns shown in Tower Hamlets are familiar. 

We need to stand up against this trend and expose it for what it is.  Pakistani Christians of all people should work to block this.  We need to make it an issue of concern in our communities, and the wider church and society, and not bury our heads in the sand.  We need to pray, and publicly stand against this, raising it with political leaders on both a local and national level.  We should do so in a calm, measured way, not giving way to fear, but with (to borrow from the history of this, our adopted homeland) a Churchillian demeanor and attitude, and above all with the love, faith and hope that are ours in Christ Jesus, from our heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. 

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