It has become customary, in the wake of horrors such as the bombing in Manchester two weeks ago and Saturday’s in London, to suspend political campaigning and for the nation to unite in grief. Making any political, ideological or religious comment on the tragedy is castigated as appalling opportunism. It’s as if the tragedy is akin to an unavoidable natural disaster, such as an earthquake or freak weather.

The bombings were fundamentally a political, ideological and religious act. Yet the authorities’ first priority in response appeared to be to clamp down on criticism of the religion which inspired it. Leaders quickly labelled such critics divisive. One commentator condemned them as being as bad as the terrorists themselves. Really!!? Pointing out that these terrorists are inspired by violent Islamic teachings is as bad as killing and maiming young girls and their families with a nail bomb?

This atmosphere is intended to silence any challenge two uncomfortable taboos for the left and for the authorities – firstly that violence and intolerance are enshrined in the teachings of Islam and exemplified by the life of Mohammed and secondly that our foreign policy might be an effective recruitment tool for extremist groups.

On the first point in particular, one may reasonably ask what it might take for there to be a wake-up call for your average leftist, everyday consumer of mainstream news, or for those in senior positions. Just how bad does it have to get to make you change your mind?

For me it was having a Muslim girlfriend a number of years ago – albeit not for long, for reasons which shall become obvious. This girl didn’t wear a hijab or stay indoors. She had career, dressed attractively, joined everyday social clubs and was willing to go out with a white Englishman – what most people would consider a moderate westernised Muslim.

The strict no-sex-before-marriage rule may have been frustrating, but it was made clear to me that I would have to convert to marry her. This couldn’t be a mere token gesture. It would involve becoming properly Muslim – giving up alcohol and pork and perhaps with some genital mutilation into the bargain. Her sister’s husband was white and had converted, but her father still wasn’t happy about it because he wasn’t a proper Asian Muslim. She wouldn’t dare tell her father she was seeing me. The views she had been brought up with towards gays, Hindus and even black people were more prejudiced and hateful that I have ever heard from any white person. What most alarmed though was the time I stopped to buy a kebab and I found her hiding beneath the dashboard in fear in case she was seen by the young Muslim men of Slough with a white man (and presumably what might follow.)

So, how’s about you’re a feminist and, if seeing Muslim women forced to go out covered in black from head-to-toe with nothing but an eye slot is enough to convince you Islam is a repressively sexist religion, you learn that huge numbers of young girls have been systematically raped and abused by gangs of Muslim men up and down the country, targeted due their youth, vulnerability and whiteness.

Or perhaps you learn that young women in Germany and other European countries have been sexually assaulted at street celebrations by gangs of Muslim asylum seekers and women no longer feel safe to go out. Perhaps you learn how misogynist sharia law is, or that Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe, with the vast majority of such offences committed by Muslim migrants. What’s your reaction? Why, of course, you put a clip of yourself on social media to show how much you oppose Islamophobia, insist the rapes and assaults have nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with men in general and continue to protest that we have a “rape culture” in the West.

How’s about if someone you respect and can hardly be called a racist tries to warn you? Last year Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, presented a TV programme ‘What Muslims Really Think’ in which he highlighted that, among other things, more than half thought homosexuality should be illegal, 31% accepted polygamy and 39% thought wives should always obey their husbands. The Independent newspaper branded him “dangerous and wrong”.

What if something actually happens to you? Several years ago, a left wing activist friend of mine was the victim of a motiveless attack one night in Bristol. He was left for dead with injuries which took him months to recover from (to the extent he will ever recover). Afterwards he expressed concern to me that he had heard that the reason why the police never fully investigated it or kept him informed as they were supposed to was that they had a softly-softly approach to certain ethnic communities. Later in the same conversation he was back to complaining about police racism.

How’s about, like some of the activist girls who went to volunteer in ‘refugee’ camps like the Jungle, you even get raped by the people you’re trying to help. You know what happened and you can’t hide from the truth. Do you go public and blow the whistle? Or do you bow to pressure from your fellow activists to keep quiet so as not to create negative publicity?

[To be continued tomorrow in Part II]

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