The speed of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has been extraordinary. No serious analyst could have predicted it. Yet, with the same speed, here in the UK, we encounter quotes from British so-called Muslim voices of authority sympathetic – or even in support – of the Taliban. Are these voices representative of British Muslims? I don’t think so.
Take for example Khola Hasan, scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council. Interviewed on the BBC’s Radio 4 Sunday programme and later on LBC, she claimed every Muslim she knows on social media is celebrating the Taliban’s victory and urged people to give the Taliban a chance. Hasan further claimed that 20 years is a long time and she hoped the Taliban has matured its thinking.
While Hasan is of the view that the Taliban has seemingly changed over two decades and is grateful for the language its using regarding women’s rights, the Taliban has other ideas.
For example, it was reported by CNN only last week that Najia, an Afghan mother with four children, was killed by the Taliban. Not because she was a threat or had done anything to warrant being murdered. She was slaughtered because she was a woman and didn’t cook for them.
If this is the kind of mature thinking Hasan believes justifies celebrating the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, or a reason to give them a chance, she is clearly deluded. More worryingly, Najia’s killing happened before her interview with the BBC. That she or her social media friends were either not aware of it or knew, but still maintained their position of support for the Taliban, is seriously worrying.
Hasan is not alone. Saddique Hussain, manager of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Birmingham, shared a video on his Facebook page which appears to support the Taliban. The post is of armed Taliban militia in the presidential palace in Kabul. Hussain remarked ‘How beautiful and civilised and no “I”’. However, when members of the mosque had found out, they complained about the post and he had to subsequently take it down. Furthermore, Hussain was given a warning from the police regarding it.
While it’s welcome that Hussein removed the post, it is worrying that he only did so after complaints. That Hussein thought it was OK in the first place to seemingly praise the Taliban while it carries out a hostile takeover of a country – where hundreds of British soldiers died defending women and minorities – is a slap in the face for British values of free speech afforded to him here, but would never be allowed under the Taliban.
So what do British Muslims really think of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan? There is no polling in this regard. However, what we do know is that there are problems within our own communities here in the UK that need dealing with.
Only this week it was reported that a number of attacks against Jewish people in London have been taking place. Quite rightly, just looking at the footage, we can accurately describe who the victims are. All visible Jews in orthodox dress. Yet the perpetrator, who is quite clearly dressed as a visible Muslim, is not being described as such. That this individual is going around attacking members of a religious minority, and both Hasan and Hussein seem to be more concerned about the Taliban, appears to reveal their misplaced priorities.
This line of thinking isn’t new. In fact, this is why, alongside other like-minded Muslims, I founded the charity Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS). We do not shy away from talking about and addressing issues within our own communities such as antisemitism and extremism. We do not make apologies for working with and alongside our Jewish brethren. Indeed, we will not support the Taliban while other Muslims in privileged positions of power seemingly do the same.
Yes, the British Muslim community is not a homogenous bloc, but our approach to tackling antisemitism, extremism and deploring everything the Taliban stands for should at least be a united one.