Britain needs another Winston Churchill to save them from destruction.
Where are the Muslim enclaves in our towns and cities? Are they really no-go areas and are they forcing others out? John Cornwell, one of Britain’s leading historians and commentators on religion, navigates the multicultural minefields that are polarising the nation.
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest). Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah (I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah).
The call to prayer resounds across the rooftops before dawn, bringing echoes of the Levant to provincial Luton and its 30,000 Muslims. But for infidel locals, the holy wake-up is a curse. “I’d like to pull the plug on that caterwauling,” a second-generation Luton Irish woman tells me. “I go to work, and I’ve got two small kids. It’s just not fair on non-Muslim families around here.”
While nearly three out of four people in Britain claim some form of Christian affiliation, Christianity makes ever less demands on the public space. Even nativity plays are surrendering to the sensitivities of secularists and other faiths. But the impact of Britain’s estimated 1.6m Muslims is increasingly assertive.
Asian Muslims account for about 1 in 50 of British citizens, yet they dominate entire districts in the vicinities of their more than 1,350 mosques: 10 of them in Luton alone. Are Muslim enclaves making a contribution to a flourishing multicultural mosaic? Or are they undermining the cohesion of Britain’s civil society?
Lunchtime prayers at Luton’s Central Mosque. There are some 70 male worshippers dressed in traditional baggy linen trousers, ample shirts and skullcaps. As they slip off their shoes and douse their arms and faces in the washroom, they greet this infidel with a solemn “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you). As they pray, their foreheads meet the carpet and their posteriors rise towards the ceiling. “Islam” means total surrender to God.
A mild-eyed young man called Osman comes to squat next to me where I sit with my back to the wall. “What does total submission entail?” I ask. “We don’t leave our religion in the mosque,” he says reverentially. “We take it out into the streets, the workplace, into our homes.” Osman is joined by three other curious worshippers. One of them embraces me and starts to talk about the Prophet: “Peace be upon him.” I ask him why, if their religion is truly peace-loving, it perpetrates crimes like honour killings and supports terrorism. “Islam is a religion of peace,” he says. “There is no such thing as Muslim terrorism, just as there is no such thing as Muslim alcoholism, no such thing as Muslim pig-eating.”