Valuing the Debate or Debating the Values?


By Hamid Chaudry- The subject just won’t go away, will it? Or it isn’t allowed to go away. But is that such a bad thing really? Let us look a little closer. A few weeks ago, David Cameron stated ,

We have to drain the water from the swamp in which the violent extremism grows…’

Following on, Baroness Warsi, in not so eloquent language in her interfaith lecture at Leicester University, stated,

At all times, we should be working to drain the pool of people where extremists fish.’

Okay, I can forgive the English, Birkdale High in Eton isn’t really comparable to Eton, but either they have the same ghost-writer, or they exchanged notes beforehand.

Not content with two statements in two weeks, David Cameron has raised the debate once more, suggesting multiculturalism has failed, and posing a whole set of criteria to pass the now infamous cricket test.

‘Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?’

Mr. Cameron went on to define the values expected from individuals in the society.

A genuinely liberal country “believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things.”

Further, “the key to achieving true cohesion” is being able to say “I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner… too”.

We can proceed with answering your questions later on in the article. However before we step onto the village square in our pristine whites, I would like to pose a few questions to the honourable gentleman myself, if I may.

Mr. Cameron. If you genuinely believe in a liberal country, then you would want for all other individuals what you want for yourself. If that’s the case, why is it we see that your government has actively supported oppressive regimes in other countries, denying the citizens of those countries the very rights you wish to impose on everyone else? Your support for now discredited dictators in Egypt, Saudi, Jordan and Algeria is now beginning to unfold. The citizens in Egypt – Muslim and Copts, men and women – are rejecting the western values of Britain and US that Mubarak has tried to impose upon them for the last thirty years.

Mr. Cameron, if you honestly believe in the right of people to elect their own government, why then do you wish to deny the citizens of Egypt the right to implement Islam in their own country? Only a few days ago, your own Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the Egyptian people should decide their own future, as long as it was not an Islamic system.

Mr. Cameron, if you encourage integration and not separatism, why has your government, to this day, employed divide and rule as part of its foreign policy? Most famously in India, but also in Cyprus, Nigeria, the Middle East (via the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916), and continuing even today in Sudan. This same policy is being used in the UK to create a divided Britain, singling out as ‘extremists’ those Muslims who wish to live by the value system of their chosen faith, rather than those imposed upon them by a broken society.

Mr. Cameron, you appear to have particular concern with upholding the human rights of individuals, and in particular the rights of women. Can you therefore answer why, according to latest estimates, over 100,000 women in the UK have rejected the values you are calling for, and have adopted the values of Islam? Are they not rejecting the human rights your value system offers them, deeming it unfulfilling and hedonistic, feeling like ‘slaves to your broken society’. Rather these female converts commonly make reference to the liberation of Islam from the ‘freedoms’ of the society they have been brought up in.

Mr. Cameron, the unpalatable truth is that the value system you offer is devoid of any real substance. You do not believe it yourself. Why? Because you have never really questioned it yourself. Rather you have adopted it blindly from your surrounds. This is why you are able to compromise on these values when it suits, most notably in your foreign policy, historically and even today.

It is these values that have created the society we live in today. The Big Society will not resolve it. The poverty, crime, homelessness, insecurity, lack of respect, lack of morality, sexual permissiveness, unrestrained consumerism, breakdown in family life and social structures etc. etc. are the real problems of this society. These are some of the fruits of the freedoms you ascribe to.

These are no way linked to Islam or Islamic extremism; however you may wish to define it. These are home-grown problems, not problems imported by the multitude of cultures from abroad. And to point the figure of blame at Muslim ‘extremists’ is not only pathetic, but deflects debate away from the real problem, and plays into the hands of the real extremists like EDL and their ilk.

In spite of the above, there is however one point on which I am in agreement with you.

A debate is required.

But it needs to be a real and honest debate. As a Muslim, I do not shy away from honest debate and dialogue. As a Muslim community, we are encouraged to discuss our faith openly, in particular to foster good relations with communities of different faiths. In Britain, this kind of dialogue is encouraged, and is very much a civic duty. I fear this is what you perceive to be extremism.

Mr. Cameron, I am a Muslim, and I am a Lancastrian. It really isn’t difficult for me to say…

So Mr. Cameron, how would you respond? You either agree that the purported values you require ‘they’ ascribe too, you do not hold yourself. If you disagree, then I can only conclude that you are suffering from an extreme case of confusion.

Hamid Chaudry

Bayyina Foundation


  1. The Infamous says:

    This is fine article. Well written and well thought out- especially for a Lancastrian……

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