How depressing when people over-identify with their ethnicity

I am a Jew. I live in a council estate in London where considerably more than half of my neighbours are Muslims. These people aren’t my friends, but we get along fine: I pick up their parcels; we coordinate complaints to the council about the strange, blue-tinged fluid that sometimes drips from everyone’s ceilings, as if someone in the penthouse had decided to fill their flat with jelly. Elsewhere, our distant cousins are doing terrible things to each other. It’s increasingly hard to imagine a world in which these distant cousins can live together, intermingled but mostly minding their own business – but that’s exactly what we do every day

A Hindu Cromwell courteously decapitates hundreds of maharajas

On 25 July 1947, in the searing heat, almost 100 princes bedecked in jewels gathered in a circular room in New Delhi. Some of them ruled over principalities of less than a square mile; others over an area larger than Korea. All of them had been Britain’s close allies for more than a century and, now that the British were leaving India, many looked forward to regaining their states’ independence. But on that fateful day, as Lord Mountbatten swaggered around in his ivory white uniform, anxious murmurs rippled through the throng. A cousin of George VI, and related to virtually every royal in Europe, the viceroy was no republican; yet

Austria’s ‘Islam map’ is dangerous

Austria’s government has unveiled a map detailing the locations of mosques and other Muslim associations all over the country. The publication has been swiftly condemned by Austrian Muslim groups, including the Muslim Youth Organisation which announced a lawsuit in response. But Austria’s government is so far refusing to back down.  The ‘Islam map’ is a project of the government-backed Political Islam Documentation Centre and the University of Vienna. The map has been designed ostensibly in response to growing Islamist radicalism in Austria, especially in the aftermath of November’s Vienna shooting. It marks a continuation of chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s self-proclaimed fight against ‘political Islam’. But whatever the intention, the map is unlikely to do much other than to ensure Austrian

Britain must investigate its Islamist ‘dawa’ networks

A few months ago, William Shawcross was asked by the government to lead an independent review into its anti-terrorism strategy, Prevent, and to ‘consider the UK’s strategy for protecting people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism’. Ever since his appointment was announced, Shawcross has been attacked by an array of activists who want to minimise any scrutiny of Islamist organisations. The campaign against him has been vicious but it has also been deeply instructive. The opposition has been so intense that it has led some to believe that the UK Muslim ‘community’ is outraged by the independent review. There is a significant difference, however, between Muslims and Islamists. Shawcross is

How Covid will change Ramadan

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, based on spiritual self-discipline. It is meant to strip away materialism and to connect Muslims to God through self-reflection, fasting and prayer, thereby enhancing the spiritual connection of Muslims to the Almighty. But just as it was for Christians celebrating Easter and Jews celebrating Passover, this year’s Ramadan will be quite different in a Covid world. For the virus continues to strip away so many of the familial and personal connections that we once took for granted. The virus continues to strip away so many of the familial and personal connections that we once took for granted In times of crisis

Why Muslims like me are worried about the Batley protests

To some, the persecution of a schoolteacher who showed his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed may seem like a local quarrel. Does it really matter, many Britons will ask, that a few dozen men gathered at the gates of a school in West Yorkshire? Surely it will blow over before long, goes the thinking. Alas, this view – all too common in officialdom throughout the western world – is deeply naïve. To those of us in the Muslim world who work to counter Islamist extremism, what is happening at Batley Grammar School is disturbingly familiar. What may look like a local incident is in fact one with national

Britain is still failing to confront Islamism

How time flies. In March 2014, quite out of the blue, I was commissioned by then prime minister David Cameron to lead an internal review designed to inform and improve the government’s understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s been six years since I delivered what has become known as the Muslim Brotherhood Review. And on 17 December, it will be exactly five years since Cameron reported on its main conclusions to the House of Commons. I made it clear before I started that if I accepted the commission, I would need the freedom to conduct my own research, travel widely and have proper support within Whitehall. I would look at