Last week saw the burial of the four French Jewish victims of the Paris kosher store attack. Disdaining a burial somewhere in France their families chose instead to transport their bodies to Israel for interment there.
What this demonstrates is that despite ostensibly being French, their inner allegiance lay elsewhere. When their twin identities of French and Jewish conflicted it was the latter that ultimately won out. I don’t begrudge them this display of loyalty to their community but it does beg the question why European Jews are permitted to maintain their allegiance to another identity over and above their national one without reprimand or censure but European Muslims are not accorded similar deference for adopting precisely the same attitude. Why is one a cause for consternation and the other not?
In the UK we see a similar disparity exhibited by the authorities towards Islamic madressas along with state schools sporting Muslim majorities and Jewish yeshivas (often operating as illegal full-time schools). The former are viewed with deep suspicion and treated with an iron fist, the latter with kid’s gloves. Jewish enclaves in north London – where rabbinic law holds sway over the lives of thousands and where often women are denied the rights accorded to their ‘goy’ (non-Jewish) British compatriots – are never the subject of John Ware’s (BBC Panorama reporter) tax-payer funded intrusive investigations. In the parlance of the mainstream media and politicians such areas are never referred to as “ghettoes” despite thousands of their inhabitants making abundantly obvious their desire to seperate themselves from the influences of wider society – even to the extent of regulating which side of the street women are permitted to walk along. None of this evokes anything like the reaction witnessed when a handful of young Muslims plaster comical “Shariah zone” stickers around areas comprising high numbers of Muslim inhabitants.
What I desire is for the British state to recognise that I am a Muslim, one proud of his Islamic identity, which he will never forswear – neither via inducements nor by threats. In the realm of foreign policy I reserve my right, like any other citizen to speak frankly and if required, harshly, regarding perceived shortcomings and double standards – especially vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like my Orthodox Jewish counterparts I will not resile from my belief that I constitute a part of a much greater global community of believers nor will I ever abandon my belief that the laws of the Qur’an represent the pinnacle in guidance for humankind – far above the concotions of any parliament. I accept that while I maintain my British citizenship I am bound by the laws passed in Westminster – regardless of their moral probity – until the point they compel me to commit an act of sinfulness. Previously, maintaining such a balancing act between the dictates of parliament and those of the Qur’an (and Sunnah) was a relatively facile task but in recent years due to the rise in anti-Islamic sentiment across society and the political spectrum it is becoming appreciably more onerous. Before 2014 I had never considered the possibility that one day I may be forced to abandon the land I have always considered my home but now in 2015 such an eventuality is one that weighs heavily on my mind and undoubtedly on those of many others.