How the fear of being criminalised has forced Muslims into silence

‘As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I tire of the negative stereotypes and constant suspicion and hostility that members of British Muslim communities have had to endure.’

On 17 September 2001, George Bush paid a visit to the Islamic Centre of Washington. “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” declared the US president. “Islam is peace.” Muslims might have been its biggest victims, but the war on terror wasn’t conceived as a war on Islam. In recent years, however, a growing number of rightwing ideologues have exploited the terror threat to push the argument that Islam is as at war with the west. Backed by well-funded thinktanks, these individuals are no longer “fringe” voices. Take Patrick Sookhdeo, a Christian pastor who reinvented himself as a terrorism expert after 9/11. He is quoted approvingly four times in the 1,500-page “manifesto” of the Norwegian killer Anders Breivik. Why? Sookhdeo has dismissed the “myth of moderate Islam”, says Islam is a “religion and political ideology that puts our British way of life in grave danger” and believes “everything about the west is inimical to Islam”.

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