The Louis Smith case demonstrates that conservative Muslims are far more keen on policing the speech of British athletes than tackling extremism in their own communities.
Allah hu Akbar has become the rousing war cry of terrorists from London to Lahore. Yet, it is important to remember, Allah hu Akbar is also part of an exercise of spiritual deference for millions of believing Muslims worldwide, a call for believers to bask in the glory of God. Any criticism of that reflexive and meaningful enterprise is a blow that the 1.8 billion followers of Muhammed will not put up with – or at least their ‘community leaders’ won’t, that truly ghoulish collective of mavens who are humourless, unshaven, and of course, exclusively male.
Louis Smith fell victim to that particular cohort when he made the grievous error of shouting “Allah hu Akbar!” in jest whilst on a night-out. Poor Louis may have been under the impression jokes can and will be handled with at least some modicum of maturity and good humour. Nay, it seems underneath every cute joke, even immature and poor jokes like Louis’s, is the need for an ‘earnest’ conversation about the limits of satire or some allied spiel we seem to have got over with the Life of Brian half a century ago – people’s feelings, surprisingly enough, do not count as a valid reason to halt a well-earned mocking.
Is the generational gap in maturity and humour something Muslims simply must grow to accept? Do they just not get jokes? Are they even worse than the Germans? I’d go for a similar but Mosque-centred explanation. Muslim leaders and their friends on the left are experts at manufacturing outrage ex nihilo. The ‘community leaders’ can claim a double victory whenever a furore over an Islamic slur erupts: first, they can construct and reinforce a victim narrative which allows them to blow even the mildest criticism out of all proportion and create other moral panics and manufacture more outrage at will. Second, and more importantly, it allows them to ignore their own problems, and gives them carte blanche to say that extremism is all our racist fault for ‘disenfranchising’ Muslims with our nasty words – a line to which the political left submits. And that, my friends, is how we allow bad actors and useful idiots to engineer society with a de facto blasphemy law and simultaneously let extremists off the hook – the outrage machine keeps on spinning.
To what end though? What do Muslims want to cover up? Well, perhaps they want to shroud the fact that the Muslim community in the UK is the most bigoted section of the population on almost any given issue. Try being a gay Muslim and see how long it takes before your friends leave you, your community exiles you, and your family disowns you. 52% of British Muslims, according to an ICM Poll do not even think homosexuality should be legal, let alone morally acceptable! And you already know the punishment for being gay in Islamic countries…
Homosexuality is a corruption of God’s natural order in the eyes of conservative Islam, but not a repudiation of God entirely. Thus, homosexuals are sometimes salvageable. The most heinous sin from the perspective of Muslims is apostasy – leaving Islam. Deeyah Khan’s new documentary: Islam’s Non-Believers, which aired on ITV this week, follows the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and ex-muslims globally to uncover the brutality that Muslim communities, Muslim families, and Muslim friends inflict on former Muslims who make the intellectual choice to ditch what is, in their minds, a dogmatic religion.
The first story we hear was that of a young man named Razaa, narrated by a young woman called Sadia. Razaa was a keen scientist, and came out as an atheist at age 14; a brave decision for a teenager still dependent on his religious family. However, Sadia elaborates, the pressure from his community and the misery of his exile led a budding scientist attending university to take his own life – all over his decision to think freely.
We then met multiple Muslim women who were told to shut up by their families or face exile, or death. The first, Zainab, was driven to self-harm and question her own sanity when her family shamed her unbelief. Another of the women, Safiyya, was locked in her house and tortured by her parents, as if cruel and unusual punishment would reaffirm her faith.
The documentary also looked at the campaign of murder waged against the Bangladeshi bloggers. We meet the widower of Avijit Roy, another scientist snuffed out by the powers of demented Islamists, and cheered on by ‘mainstream’ Islamic groups in the UK like Jamaat Al-Ulama.
As I have mentioned, many of the calls to ostracism, and even calls to violence, come from so-called ‘community leaders’ and Mullahs; the same people so quick to call out the blasphemies of Louis Smith are the ones ordering parents to slay the unbelievers, whether or not they happen to be their own. Deeyah Khan’s documentary mentions only a few of these popular creeps: Dr. Zakir Naik, Haitham al Haddad, Mufti Shah Sadruddin among others. Many of these people, like Haddad, give lectures at British universities and are held in high regard, all the while promoting the murder of atheists. And we continue to ignore it.
We have evolved beyond the days where Khomeini’s fatwa against another ex-muslim, Salman Rushdie, was in the open air, and civil society could rightly castigate the evil Ayatollah. Now, Muslim communities around the world are rooting out free-thinkers quietly, and they are killing them.
In my opinion – an opinion shared by many more people than are willing to admit – Allah hu Akbar is just one component of the deeply flawed religion called Islam – itself an invention of charlatans, psychopaths and the whole milieu of 7th century Arabian criminality. I can say this with the confidence that I, like Louis Smith, will only be squawked at by a Janet Street-Porterish gutter journalist who never look beyond the surface of an issue.
Ex-Muslims and reformers, who Sam Harris rightly called ‘the most important people in the world’ are liable to be killed if they only go so far as to disbelieve, many times they will be murdered by their own families. Civil society needs to vehemently defend ex-Muslims instead of submitting to the propaganda of the Mullahs.
Mitchell is a blogger currently studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Bath