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Can Muslims Ever Influence British Politics?

My interview by Professor Tariq Ramadan for his television series, Islam and Life

– excerpt compiled by Julie Poucher Harbin, Editor, ISLAMiCommentary

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Tariq and MohammedMohammed Ansar: “In a modern society, in potentially what somebody described to me as being a post-liberal society, it’s going to be absolutely vital that Muslims cling on to their identity and have an authentic Islamic reference in the work that they do. The democratization of authority requires the masses to consider how they are going to plug the moral vacuum – this requires the masses to have… a very clear identity. Often we talk of political decisions, we talk of politicians making decisions, but the electorate, many of them and especially the Muslims, we cling to our faith, we cling to our ideals, we could be the wind that blows, we could be game changers if we’re able to focus our energies — able to focus our talents in a positive direction. We don’t need to be swayed by the political machine. We can sway the political machine.”

Tariq Ramadan: “We come as Muslims with a very clear set of ethical values, principals and even objectives… to reform the society for the better. We reform ourselves and reform the society. Now we are, and the people here are, British citizens. What you are saying is be careful with politics. It’s a dirty game. Still we have to be involved. Now how? How can the Muslims and the British Muslims influence British politics?”

Mohammed Ansar: “I think the first thing is language. Too few Muslims involved in public life are speaking the language that the broader population understands. It’s absolutely fine if you’re talking to your own constituents, if you are talking to your own electorate or you’re talking to your own congregations. But actually if you want to be involved in public affairs, you need to be speaking a language that Muslims and non-Muslims understand. That doesn’t mean compromising your values and your ideals. It means really understanding what it means to engage and having a good narrative. So firstly, communications and language. Secondly, you need to be compelling. There’s absolutely no reason, no point in fueling self-interest, fueling tribalism, thinking that the answer to this is playing the dirty game. What we’ve seen across Europe, especially in Britain, is the increase in the far right, far right influence whether it’s UKIP (UK Independence Party), the tail that wags the Tory dog, there’s the English Defence League (EDL) or other organizations across Europe. And so there’s a vacuum that needs to be filled which is around socialism, social activism, and..to the left, and Muslims have very very strong affiliations with the left, with socialism, with social activism. We may be (to the) right when it comes to crime and punishment and other issues. But certainly when it comes to civic society, we have a narrative. We have a compelling story and I think people want to hear it.”

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW BELOW 

Tariq Ramadan is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, and the author, most recently, of “Islam and the Arab Awakening.” 

Mohammed Ansar is a theologian, public speaker and visiting lecturer on Islam in contemporary Britain, Theology and Islamophobia. He is a civil rights activist and legal advocate who has worked across a variety of sectors and with a number of organizations in the fields of equalities and diversity, education and interfaith. With extensive experience in countering extremism, Ansar has worked on leading and delivering both local and national initiatives.

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This entry was posted on 06/04/2015 by in Interviews, Religion, UK Politics, World Politics.

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