Is Islam good for London: A Perspective

Is Islam Good for London? 

Having attended, what was purported to be, a debate about Islam in London, I must admit I feel sorry for Londoners. For two reasons:
– it appears that way too many people intensely dislike Muslims.
– Muslims are most likely partly to blame. 

I am happy to be a South African Muslim for two reasons:
– I don’t feel any hatred or animosity from people back home, for just being Muslim.
– South Africa has more opportunities and better prospects for ‘spearheading’ Islam in the non-Muslim world.  

Before coming to London, the exposure I had from the high profile speakers and quality publications that come out of here, I believed that this is the place wherefrom those in the forefront of taking Islam forward will be coming from. 

The bourgeoisie debate, attended by Jemima Khan amongst others was hosted by the Evening Standard (apparently a right-wing publication) and was by invite only (which upset me at first, but I was able to get in anyways and at some point make myself heard.)

The debate certainly did not conform to what I had understood as proper English manners and debate decorum. Rather, it was a shouting match and personal attacks between the line-up on the panel; who although may may not be pathetic individuals, but together, given the topic, the climate and the idiots in the audience; it turned out to be a depressing pathetic panel!  

Rod Liddle (my favourite for the night) just kept saying he didn’t mind Muslims but loathed Islam for various reasons. I think his understanding of Islam, as he explained, was just as marred as those who give Islam a bad name. I do however respect him for being consistent throughout the night, unlike the guy next to him, Ed Husain.  

Ed Husain (an ex-Hizbut Tahrir guy) who has become a famous author, famous in a somewhat similar way to Salman Rushdie has managed to identify what certain people want to hear, so he continues to say just that. Ed Hussain was extremely inconsistent in his thoughts and opinions, and as Rod Liddle put it, he may have left HT but is still the idiot that joined them and his intelligence seems to have not increased since he has acquired this newfound liberal popularity. 

Inayat Bunglawala (of the Muslim Council of Britain) was definitely unfairly targeted. But justified or not, he clearly has made a few mistakes and said a few things in the past. To give him some credit he tried hard to ward off attacks against his person and still level a fairly decent argument, and together with Rod, the only consistent person on the stage.  

Joan Smith (a feminist and atheist) was exceptionally irritating. I have met many feminist and atheist in my life, but none that annoy me as much as this woman who uses both as titles in a manner that I assume would disappoint many feminists and atheists.  I guess this doesn’t say much about the debate; probably coz the debate was more entertaining than informative. It was more of a show than a productive discussion.  

But one thing is clear, at least from the little discussion that did go on, and from the comments from the audience – Islam is here in the UK in full force and is here to stay, and both Muslims and their non-Muslim counterparts need to work together to make sure that things improve going forward. Muslims can’t continue to live in virtual enclaves, and the rest of society here can’t continue to ignore them and pretend that they are not here.



  1. Good commentary.

    The ‘reformed’ guys and gals have this tendency to become inconsistent.

    Hard core feminists and hard core Atheists both annoy me much. They have little manners and lots of arrogance.

    I would have liked to hear more about the discussion. Is there any place I can read what people said?

  2. @manas:
    The Evening Standard website has more detailed commentary of the discussions, together with video clips and comments from other audience members. Check it out, but don’t expect much!

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