Youths Pick Sharia: The Honor-Shame Foundations of Islamism

According to a recent study, 37% of British Muslim youth want to live under Islamic Sharia law rather than British. Do they know what they’re talking about? Almost certainly not. (Hat-tip JW)

Study: Britain failing in battle against Islamic extremism
Independent study finds 37 percent of 16-24-year-old British Muslims would prefer to live under Islamic sharia law than under British law
Published: 01.29.07, 08:40

A study released Monday by an independent think-tank in Britain found 37 percent of 16-24-year-old British Muslims would prefer to live under Islamic sharia law than under British law, compared to just 17 percent of those aged over 55.

JUST 17%?

Research by Policy Exchange found that young British Muslims were much more likely to be influenced by a political form of Islam than their parents because of changes to society and loss of shared national identity.

The report concluded that attempts by the British government to combat the growth of Islamic extremism among a minority of young Muslims are only making the situation worse.

There was also far greater support for exhibiting their religious identity in public with 74 percent of young Muslims preferring women to wear a veil or hijab compared to 28 percent of the older generation.

Thirteen percent of those aged 16-24 also agreed with the statement that they “admire organisations like al Qaeda that are prepared to fight the West” as opposed to just 3 percent in the 55 and over age bracket.

The government’s attempts to engage with the country’s 1.8 million Muslims were failing because it treated Muslims as a homogenous group, leaving some feeling excluded and ignored.

I’m willing to believe that the government’s efforts are backfiring, but highly suspicious of the reason here given. Sounds like the kind of explanation either a demopath or his dupe would come up with.

Gov’t should stop emphasizing difference

“Government policies to improve engagement with Muslims make things worse,” the report’s lead author Munira Mirza said.

“The government should stop emphasizing difference and engage with Muslims as citizens, not through their religious identity.”

Munira Mirza is a very active young scholar and a member of and organization called Manifesto Club, which, as far as I can make out, is dedicated to Englightenment ideals like individualism and limited government intervention in the lives of its citizens who should be free to make their own mistakes. How this translates into understanding the problem of radical Islam in England seems (to me) to boil down to a mild form of cognitive egocentrism — it’s as much our fault for not treating them as individuals as it is the fault of the radical preachers. Here’s an exerpt of an interview with her on multiculturalism.

    MARK COLVIN: But is society pushing them away, or aren’t they creating their own divisions, they’re identifying within their own communities, joining groups, doing various things that actually set them aside?

    MUNIRA MIRZA: I think it’s mutually reinforcing. I think there is certainly a desire to find groups which are outside the mainstream, and to join extremist groups.

    But at the same time I think our society also tells them that your identity is the most important thing about you, and therefore this is the way in which you can engage with the world. It’s only on the basis of being a Muslim.

    So it’s not surprising, when you send that message out, that young people who want to change the world, who want to do something in the world, then think well the only way that I can do it is by being a good Muslim, by joining an Islamic group.

    You’re right that there is a desire for separation, but that that is something encouraged in wider society, and that’s how I would explain it, it’s the tendency of society to fragment and to split into different groups, is what encourages people then to go off into their different directions.

My suspicion is that she took her agenda to the study and came up with conlcusions that confirmed her ideological approach rather than had the study explore empirically where the failure of the British to reach these kids comes from. As a result we get another version of PCP — “if only we’re nice to them in the right way… then it will work.”

The issue of Muslim integration was rammed home in July 2005 when four British Islamists carried out suicide bombings in London’s transport network killing 52 people.

The extent of the growth in extremism was made clear last year by Britain’s domestic spy chief who said security services were monitoring 1,600 mostly British-born suspects.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his ministers say promoting better community relations is vital to tackling the rise of Islamic extremism, and have launched a number of initiatives to achieve this.

However their approach has been criticised, most notably in a row over Muslim women’s use of the full veil which Blair described as a “mark of separation”.

“The government approach is too much teacher/pupil and ‘we know better’ about how to dress and how to speak,” Azad Ali, chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum which advises the police, told Reuters last week.

Here’s the demopath speaking just the kind of language that Mirza likes to hear: get the government out of our hair.

Monday’s think-tank report said there was growing religiosity among young Muslims because of a “search for meaning and community”, a sense of disengagement that was shared by young people generally.

I have looked at the study. There is support for some of this response — a small majority of British Muslims do not feel that any current Muslim organization represents them, for example. But the emphasis on “individual” issues strikes me as agenda rather than data driven.

My reaction to this data, in addition to still greater alarm than is my wont, is to wonder what these youth have in mind? There’s no way they’ll be happy in a Sharia state, and if they want to try one out, they can always move to Saudi Arabia or maybe parts of Sudan or Nigeria to get a sense of it. But I strongly suspect they don’t want that. For them Sharia is women wearing veils (74% of the youth want that), women not marrying non-Muslims (56%), and being able to threaten dissidents (37% agree that apostates from Islam deserve death). For them, I suspect, the appeal is the nihilism of destroying a society that makes them (as individuals and as a group) feel inferior, the instinct for destruction that fills with hope the breast of he who has been denied honor.

Islamism seems to represent — at least for many of these youth who say they want Sharia — a platform to engage in hatred of the West and to entertain revolutionary violence. I didn’t see any correlation in the study between those who want Sharia and those who are now observant. How much are these youths like the ones in the French ZUS who don’t follow Sharia, but will happily listen to an inflammatory sermon and go out and burn vehicles?

One of the respondants, a young woman made a remark that embodies the contradictions involved and underlines the appeal of Islamic terrorism to a Muslim sense of honor:

    “I have a better understanding of Islam now, just growing up. The 7/7 and 9/11 events did make me think more about my identity, and although it didn’t change the strength of my faith, I’ve always been a strong believer, it made me want to assert my alliance… Now I wear the headscarf to say, ‘yes I am a Muslim and it is an important part of my identity and it shouldn’t be threatening to you…’” Female, Muslim, 21, Birmingham

Okay, now maybe I’m a hopeless liberal, but if people from my religion did something like 7/7 and 9/11, I’d want to either crawl under the rug and hide, or denounce the deed to the heavens. This young woman (15 when 9/11 happened) responds radically differently: these monstrosities inspire her not to greater piety, but to want to state her religious affiliation all the more. What is the meaning of being proud to be Muslim after suicide bombings carried out by fanatics shouting Allahu Akhbar shatter the lives of thousands of innocent people? And where on earth does one get the nerve to say, “it shouldn’t be threatening to you.” And who in England is stupid enough to take such a “reassurance” seriously?

The study, far from bringing this remark forward as an illustration of the tremendously aggressive, anti-Western significance of wearing a scarf, uses it to illustrate a different conclusion:

    One of the reasons some Muslim women choose to wear the hijabis that it connects them to the ummah [Muslim community of faith]. It is not simply about modesty, nor a sign of vulnerability and oppression, but about projecting one’s image quite confidently in public.

I don’t think this kind of projection is quite the way to read this remark, and I suspect that much of the rest of this study is permeated with the kind of eager sympathy that marks much of the multi-cultural attitude of the West, and produces solutions that are going to backfire every bit as much as the ones they criticize. And get this, the Daily Telegraph considers the place that did the study a “right-wing think-tank.”

The problem with this thinking is not only that it’s superficial and misleading, but that time is running out. As Bernard Lewis said recently:

    The Muslims “seem to be about to take over Europe,” Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent’s Jews, he responded, “The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim.” Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future would be, “Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?”

    “Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence,” he said. “They have no respect for their own culture.” Europeans had “surrendered” on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of “self-abasement,” “political correctness” and “multi-culturalism,”

3 Responses to Youths Pick Sharia: The Honor-Shame Foundations of Islamism

  1. This is a brilliant vignette of the pernicious effect of multiculturalism. The ultimate danger, of course, is that now Britain has a formidable fifth column, thriving and virulent. For a little historical perspective, here is a description of the German American Bund of the 1930’s by Jim Bredemus (

    The organization was soon filled with those calling themselves “Germans in America” and dreamed of the day when Nazism would rule the United States…, It is estimated that around 25% of Bund members were German nationals—the rest being mostly first or second generation Germans. Research indicates that most Bund members were of lower-middle class origin.

    Hmm…, second generation immigrants, advocating that a totalitarian ideology come to rule the United States… If this sounds familiar, just try to imagine what would have happened had the same kind of multiculturalism had held sway in the U.S. Would we have approved the Bund because to all our citizens of German extraction, in Mizra’s words, their identity is the most important thing? Would they have been encouraged to express that identity through solidarity with the Nazis?
    We demanded more of our German citizens than that. We went after those who crossed the line into intolerance and subversion of our basic tenants (remember Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?). I am not sure of my facts but I seem to recall that Britain had a flirtation with sympathy for Nazism early on too. The limit of tolerance has to be that you cannot allow yourself the sloth and cowardice to tolerate the intolerable. Britain and the U.S. did not tolerate the intolerable in the 30’s thereby temporarily saving Europe from the fate that Lewis predicts for them now.

  2. […] errorism (and the incapacity of the politically correct to detect the connections, see the remark of a British woman who, after 9-11 an […]

  3. […] world, especially since the recent turn of the millennium, more Muslim women wear the veil as a sign of their “loyalty” to their community and their rejection of modern laxity. How blessed is Saudi Arabia, the humane […]

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