| ||Taj Hargey (pictured) proves, yet again, that should the media want a Muslim voice to tell Muslims to put up and shut up, he’s the man to call. |
In a guest column in The Times today Hargey explains why he is supporting the rejection of a mosque planning application near the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Surrey.
The application has already attracted the ire of local Conservative MP Michael Gove who proposed that the Bengali Welfare Association, the organization that submitted the planning proposal, “…withdraw the application [and] consider how to improve the facilities for worship for the Muslim community in a calmer environment."
‘Calmer’ environment alluding to an English Defence League supported Facebook campaign against the mosque which has reportedly attracted over 6,000 signatures.
Hargey, backing suggestions to disband the plans, tells us:
‘This mosque will have five domes and two 100ft minarets that will loom over the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Little wonder many people regard it as a provocation — and that’s why I will be at the council meeting opposing its construction.’
‘However, elements within the Bengali Welfare Association, which runs the mosque, have aligned themselves to Tablighi Jamaat — a dogmatic, ultra-conservative group whose controversial mega-mosque project close to the 2012 Olympics site in London was recently rebuffed. This new mosque will not be in the interests of all British Muslims as it will allocate less than a fifth of the space to female worshippers. But there is nothing in Islamic theology that legitimises a misogynistic apartheid in the house of God. Nor does the history of Islamic architecture show that mosques must have towering minarets.
‘Places of worship vary greatly throughout the world of Islam, reflecting local building traditions. From Timbuktu to East Timor, mosque buildings blend into their particular surroundings. There is no Islamic injunction that minarets are intrinsic to mosques. In fact, the first minarets were only constructed decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Their main purpose then was to make possible the broadcast of the prayer call from an elevated spire. Today, modern sound technology has rendered this function superfluous. That’s why building two twin minaret towers, so close to a renowned military college, is a provocation.
‘We British Muslims, who enjoy full freedom of faith, should remember that Islam obliges us to be good neighbours and respect others. Rather than dismissing objections as either racist or intolerant, we should listen to local opinion. And if the Muslims of Camberley are still determined to build their “traditional” mosque, they should seek an alternative site. More importantly, they should jettison reactionary ideology and adopt a progressive Islam that is part of the British mainstream.’
It’s not the first time Hargey’s blamed ‘reactionary ideology’ for Muslim sentiments he disagrees with. On the Swiss ban on minarets, Hargey squarely blamed European Muslims for:
' unthinkingly endors[ing] this warped theology (Wahhabism); by desiring medieval Sharia, defending honour killings, stoning to death, forced marriages, Muslim exceptionalism and a separatist society, they only invoke fear and exacerbate anti-Muslim sentiment. When Europe’s Muslims extol such un-Koranic doctrines as the niqab (face veil), they exclude themselves from the mainstream.'
Hargey seems to revel in portraying Muslims as perfidious fools, always looking to stamp their presence on the local landscape by building mosques with minarets, or as ‘latterday misogynists [who] impose a draconian dress code that is not specifically sanctioned by the holy book’.
If these notions chime with ideas popularized by the EDL and the BNP, that ‘Islamification’ is creeping up on us and that British Muslims given an inch have amassed egregious concessions, it’s because Hargey’s ‘see no Muslims, hear no Muslims’ is just the sort of Muslim presence in Britain both would prefer. Hence, his description of the two 100ft minarets as a ‘provocation’.
In exhorting Muslims to ‘jettison reactionary ideology and adopt a progressive Islam that is part of the British mainstream’, Hargey reiterates the charge that British Muslims themselves, under the malignant influence of ‘foreign clergy’, are to blame for the anti-Muslim sentiments expressed by those averse to the “traditional” mosque plans.
Were this merely bunkum restricted to column inches in a national newspaper it would be bad enough but at a time of targeted demonstrations against mosques in the UK, campaign videos by the EDL portraying mosques in Britain as a ‘desecration of English national heritage’ and arson attacks on British mosques, labeling Muslims as purveyors of a ‘reactionary ideology’ is to add insult to injury.
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