14 June 2004
Last week (Jewish Chronicle, June 11th 2004), Melanie Phillips shared with your readers her outrage that an example of her writing had been included in the new Islamophobia report � yet oddly, she did not seem as keen to share with your readers the actual text of the extract that had been published. Well, here it is, from the Sunday Times, 4th November 2001:
�We have a fifth column in our midst�thousands of alienated young Muslims, most of them born and bred here but who regard themselves as an army within, are waiting for an opportunity to help to destroy the society that sustains them. We now stare into the abyss, aghast.�
Of course, I am not for a moment suggesting that, heaven forbid, Ms Phillips was being deliberately inflammatory so as to try and incite public opinion against British Muslims. In December 2003, though, she did claim in the Daily Mail that:
�Clerics have hijacked mosques up and down the country to incite young Muslims to hate the west and even recruit them to terrorism�
Aside from the atypical example of Abu Hamza � who had been evicted from his Finsbury Park base eleven months earlier in January 2003 � I cannot think of a single mosque in the UK that would fit Ms Phillips� description. Certainly, she herself did not seem to feel the need to substantiate her - shall we say - mischievous allegation with anything so trivial as actual evidence.
At a time of visibly increased anti-Muslim sentiment, when many mosques have had their windows smashed in, walls covered in graffiti and prayer halls desecrated, Ms Phillips� provocative words could be interpreted by those with a less magnanimous disposition as being designed to vilify and stir ill-feeling towards British Muslims and their institutions.
Still, I am sure that is not the case and that Melanie Phillips is actually a well-wisher of British Muslims and desirous of good community relations in the UK.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain