So on the whole I think it's probably a good thing for everybody when the sane, moderate Muslims, the kind that in fact are the only kind* I've ever dealt with professionally, come out and say something like this:
"Muslims can be whingers and they tend to blame everyone but themselves for the way people view them."No, that's not a hypothetical wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-someone-stood-up-and-said-it, they're the words of man called Diaa Mohamed and you probably don't need too many guesses about what his religion is. Nor are they the words of some culturally Muslim secular type criticising a faith they don't really hold - apparently Diaa Mohamed professes to be a devout Muslim and is the co-founder of mypeace.com.au, a website he hopes will tell people of other faiths more about his.** He doesn't stop at saying that Muslims can be whingers either.
"A lot of Muslims point the finger at the media for giving them a bad reputation but it's nobody's fault but our own," ... Diaa Mohamed said. "Muslims haven't done the job when it comes to being out there and showing who they are and what their values are.Good on the guy for speaking up. It reminds me of the Muslims who pitched up to an Islam4UK do back in 2009, but to protest against them (as well as take the piss out of them) rather than with them. Here's a reminder:
"A lot of the things we see on television are acts by extremists and radical Muslims.
"That is not who we are."
So in fact there are reasonable and moderate Muslims who are prepared to stand up and speak - that's the good news. Now here's the not so good. When I blogged it at the time the title of the post was "More Please", and I wrote that more Western Muslims rejecting violence and publicly embracing liberty, free speech and live and let live would improve their image and reduce Islamophobia more effectively than, well, anything. And yet nearly 2 years on and I can't recall seeing any other articles about British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the group behind that protest, and this is the first I'm writing of any other Muslims doing anything similar.
So where are the rest?
I very much doubt a billion and a half Muslims all read this blog and there's no reason why they should take any notice of me anyway, but I'd have thought that the same thing would have occurred to more of them. Not so much Joe Average Muslim, like the guys (and girls) I used to deal with in West London ten years or so ago who hardly anyone gave a second thought about until September 2001 because they just rocked up and did a 9 to 5 like everyone else apart from working through every lunch hour when it was Ramadan. I was thinking more along the lines of Muslims who can command some media time and encourage others to be more vocal.
So we have a group in Sydney, the BMSD and, er... the only other group I've ever come across is Minaret of Freedom, which came up when out of curiosity I put 'Muslim libertarians' into Google to see what it would find.*** I'm not likely ever to come to believe what they believe (in fact over at the Orphanage I've been explaining that I have a profound lack of belief for anything much) but to me they seem to be reasonable and sane people who are no scarier to me than Christians.
That Diaa Mohamed is in the news for saying Muslims have got to accept that they've not been helping their cause suggests that it's probably not the media's fault for ignoring them, though of course outrage sells papers so Muslims saying or doing something outrageous is a better story than Muslims singing the Coca-Cola song. But even the media are going to get bored with running the same kind of story over and over again and will go with something different just for novelty value. Moderate Muslims, those that can get on TV, can make something of this if they want. Perhaps they feel they shouldn't have to or don't have the time, but if they ever want Muslim communities - and sticking to communities mightn't be the best idea either - to get back to fairly normal terms with their adopted countries I'd say they want to give it a try. The alternative is to let the ones preaching death, destruction and violent proselytisation to continue to have it nearly all their own way.
* Always in work environments, where for some reason I've never met the other kind - maybe they're too busy photocopying leaflets or making placards for marches or something.
** I only had a quick look at the home page and a couple of random links but my first impressions is that Islam4UK it ain't. There was a link about becoming a Muslim, and let's be honest I'd be surprised if there wasn't - it's not like Christians, especially the evangelicals, don't proselytise - but other than that it all seemed pretty non-threatening.
*** Haven't really looked at that either so although their banner professes free market ideals I don't know if they are libertarian as such.