Posted on March 6, 2024

Stop Being Scared of Islamophobia

Allison Pearson, The Telegraph, March 5, 2024

Fad leads a double life. She had two weddings. The first, a traditional Muslim ceremony in the northern town where she grew up. The second, a much rowdier affair with dancing and cocktails, took place in the south-west where Fad now lives with her English husband and their two children. No guests at the former wedding attended the latter. Her parents don’t know their daughter looked stunning in a white lace dress with a gaggle of bridesmaids in coral.

Fad has two wedding albums, two sets of ornaments, twice the number of framed photos and clothes which she changes into when her parents or siblings visit. If she’s been home to see her family, as soon as she gets on the M62, she takes off her hijab.

But Fad thinks she is one of the lucky ones. When Fad was at school, there were girls in her class who went on “holiday” to Pakistan and were never seen again. Later, they would hear that their absent friends were married to uncles or cousins. Clever girls in Fad’s class used to deliberately fail their exams because they knew the fate that awaited them once they completed their education.

Fad’s mother is a bright woman but, like many other mums of her age in “the community”, she never learnt to speak English. She has lived in Lancashire since she came over as a 14-year-old bride for an arranged marriage almost 60 years ago, but she barely knows 10 words to exchange with the locals. “Hello”, “Thank you”, “A’right, love”. So she has no non-Pakistani friends and she has never worked. Fad’s father used to taunt her mother, telling her that she could never run away because no one would understand what she was saying.

When she was still a teenager, Fad told her mother that it wasn’t normal for men to beat their wives. It wasn’t normal to cower when you heard his key in the front door. Fad’s mother said her daughter was mistaken. It was perfectly normal.

Fad wasn’t allowed to go to university – very few fathers were happy letting their daughters travel alone without a chaperone – but she was really good at maths and managed to train as an accountant at a local firm. She got upset sometimes because she thought her English colleagues assumed she was thick or weird because she was Muslim and didn’t go to the pub with them. But, then, on a training course, Fad met Nick and did something she wasn’t supposed to do: she fell in love. Because Nick had a house and a nice car, her father agreed to the marriage. A miracle really.

If you ask them, Fad’s son and daughter will say they are Muslim, but they attend a Church of England school, sing hymns and Christmas carols and do all the normal stuff the other kids do; netball, violin, Fortnite. Fad loves her mum and her siblings, and she carries her religion like a rosebud curled tight within her, but she wants her children to be British not Pakistani. (She would never allow her daughter, now 12, to visit relatives in Pakistan in case they abducted her and married her off.) Fad knows that, one day, her lies will be exposed. On their last trip up north, her son asked: “Mum, why do you cover your hair when we go to Nana’s?” It’s exhausting keeping up the pretence. But Fad can’t face the almighty, violent row that will ensue if it’s revealed that her father’s dutiful daughter now acts and behaves like she’s any other British woman. So the double life, two of everything, goes on.

I thought of Fad when I watched George Galloway revel in his victory at the Rochdale by-election. There were no women on the ballot paper and, as far as I could see, there were no female faces among the Muslim “brothers” at Galloway rallies apart from George’s foxy fourth wife. Islamic patriarchy ruled. How many of the avalanche of postal votes that secured victory for a candidate who unashamedly turned it into a Gaza election were cast by women like Fad’s mother? Women who don’t understand English, women who do as their husbands tell them.

There were 13,460 postal votes cast in Rochdale last week – that’s 43.2 per cent of the total and more than 12,335 were received by Galloway’s far-Left, pro-Palestine Workers Party of Britain. The proportion of postal votes was up from 22.7 per cent in the 2019 general election to 43.2 per cent in the by-election.

Disgracefully, the Electoral Commission has chosen not to investigate this startling increase in voters who cannot be seen or checked. That’s a can of worms the authorities clearly don’t want to open. For the same reason, Labour MPs turn a blind eye when they attend meetings of “the community” where women are either segregated or absent entirely. (Even arch-feminists like Harriet Harman temporarily set aside their loathing of male privilege.) It’s the kind of blatant discrimination, exclusion, misogyny and sexism on which the Labour party constantly lectures the rest of us, but which apparently doesn’t count when the offenders are South Asian, not ghastly white males in their ghastly white vans. And when the Muslim vote is at stake, of course.

That sort of cowardly collusion by our political class has enabled both the continuing isolation of Muslim women like Fad’s mum and the mass grooming of white working-class girls, whom it was fine to go on raping as long as no one got accused of Islamophobia. The common thread is bone-headed tribal elders who have prevented their women integrating into their new homeland, the better to keep control over them, and who have slaked their lust on vulnerable girls.

That is one reason why the victory of such men in Rochdale, and their growing influence on policy and electoral fortunes, is so disturbing. Indeed, George Galloway’s triumph delivered such a shock to the complacent, “diversity is our strength” status quo that the Prime Minister shot into Downing Street to give a speech fretting about “national disunity”. He noted how protest on our streets has “descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence … Now our democracy itself is a target. Council meetings have been stormed. MPs do not feel safe in their homes. Long-standing Parliamentary conventions have been upended because of safety concerns. And it is beyond alarming that the Rochdale by-election returned a candidate … who dismisses the horror of what happened on Oct 7, who glorifies Hezbollah.”

I mean, who could possibly have warned the PM that allowing flagrant displays of anti-Semitism and pro-Hamas slogans to go unchecked on the streets of our capital would end badly? Why, there was Suella Braverman whom Rishi Sunak sacked as home secretary last November after she insisted that the police needed to take a harder line against the Islamists who hate our way of life. An argument that Sunak himself finally made to a meeting of Met officers, four months too late, when he claimed that “mob rule” was breaking out in Britain.

It wasn’t a bad speech, but it took refuge in comforting platitudes about “immigrants who have integrated and contributed”. And, to avoid causing offence when we have now got to the point where causing offence may be a matter of national security, Sunak absurdly equated the threat posed by “Islamist extremists and the far Right”.

Praying it will all blow over, the Government’s solution is to come up with a new definition of extremism by next week to encompass any group or individual that promotes an “ideology that undermines the rights or freedoms of others”. Anything, it would seem, to avoid admitting that multiculturalism has been a disaster for the UK.

This top-down theorising won’t work. We know it is mothers who drive integration, mothers who are desperate for their children to succeed in a new country. (Think of Rishi Sunak’s own mum who said she didn’t want her son to speak with an accent so he would fit in.) For the sake of Fad’s mother and thousands like her, our focus has to be on empowering women to break free of patriarchal communities. There is a strikingly low employment rate among Muslim women – almost 70 per cent don’t work compared to 20 per cent among Christian women. That means no opportunity to mix with their fellow citizens, no chance to improve their language skills, no opportunity to earn money that will buy a bit of independence from those husbands who still think it is their right to dominate their wives (which suits those men just fine), no chance to feel British and pass on that settled loyalty to their offspring.

So, here’s a plan for Rishi, the Man With a Plan. First, you cut immigration to the bare minimum to give us a fighting chance of assimilating those who are already here. Forget useless posturing about banning foreign hate preachers from coming to the UK; kick out the extremist imams who are already here, spreading anti-Western hatred in this country’s mosques. Make cousin marriage illegal. It keeps too many locked in a narrow, incestuous clan and reproduces the poor conditions of rural Pakistan instead of building bridges with other economically successful ethnic groups. Ban postal votes except for the infirm or the elderly. No access to benefits unless you either speak English or can prove you are learning English. Compulsory free English classes for anyone who can’t speak English (I volunteered as a teacher in Tower Hamlets years ago, and I’m sure many Brits would step forward to do the same). No access to benefits, full stop, unless you are applying for jobs, and a time-limit on how long you are entitled to state aid.

Stop being scared of Islamophobia. Start worrying about Anglophobia.

Fad feels obliged to live a double life because her values and lifestyle would appal her family who don’t live in the Britain the rest of us live in. That can’t be allowed to continue. Suspicion and hatred fester when communities remain strangers. The cycle of poverty won’t be broken if mothers can’t speak English or find work. If Fad acts and behaves like she’s any other British woman, that’s because that’s exactly what she is: a British woman.