The totalitarian and iconoclastic lusts of ISIS are a recurring nightmare.  A blood soaked pursuit of the mythic caliphate offers up fresh horrors. Supporters fill social media channels with propaganda and the pornography of violence. It is easy for so many to react with an impotent rage as no solution draws near.

David Cameron believes ISIS threatens UK security and that requires military intervention abroad. In contrast, the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, believes the threat is exaggerated, and this ‘Muslim on Muslim’ violence does not warrant the ‘oxygen of publicity.’

But somewhere in the between, we stumble upon the more reactionary elements of our society, and Carole Malone’s recent article exemplifies this trend. It should also be noted that it is not the first time Malone has courted controversy as this piece in Pink News shows.

Malone’s first mistake is to claim, “Our weasely police chiefs allowed extremist sympathisers to get away with hoisting the IS flag on a London housing estate.”

A police investigation did take place and found no evidence of criminality. Nor was it a flag of ISIS. Sister Christina Frost had earlier convinced youths on the estate to take down the flag as, “They had no idea of the implications of the black flag being taken over by Isis fighting in Iraq.”

Tower Hamlets council welcomed the removal of the flag. But question marks over the unacceptable anti-Semitic abuse of a journalist remain.

The pro-ISIS, (in all but name), pamphlets handed out in Oxford Street are a cause for concern, but fresh publicity may lend credence to a group, linked to the notorious attention seeking Al Muhajiroun, who have scant public support. Nonetheless, if Malone had cared to write an informed piece and had contacted the MET, or Greater Manchester police or South Wales Police force for example, she would have heard how Muslim parents have been the ones to approach the police in order to stop their children going to Syria to fight.  In other words, Muslim engagement with the police has been one of the drivers behind how the police have been able to build a picture of those young people out in Syria or those wanting to go to Syria.

Radicalisation & Collective Guilt

Radicalisation remains a serious issue as 500 British Muslims reportedly fight under the ISIS banner, which represents less than one per cent of British Muslims, but remains an unacceptable amount.

Malone goes further and shifts emphasis towards the wider Muslim communities in Britain:

“Who cares if we upset the Muslim community, who have been shamefully silent about what’s happening in Iraq and here?

I keep hearing all decent Muslims hate the IS – so why aren’t they saying so?

Why aren’t they out on the streets condemning its murderous actions? Why haven’t they publicly called for an end to the genocide by Sunni Muslim militants in Iraq?”

What Malone fails to grasp is that even a cursory Google check on organisations that work with Muslims shows public statements against ISIS, (now called the Islamic State). Take for example, the Muslim Council of Britain, which is not the only voice for Muslims in the UK, though it carries with it a network of conservative mosques. This is their public statement on ISIS on the front page of their site.  Or take the Muslim Association of Britain, sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, and which put out a press release condemning ISIS or take the Shia focussed Al-Khoie Foundation which on its front page speaks of solidarity with the minorities and Christians of Iraq. It seems that Ms Malone clearly, is not speaking from an informed position and one which panders to the caustic stereotype that Muslims do not speak out. Well Ms Malone, here is also a statement from our parent organisation, Faith Matters.

What Malone’s piece does is therefore to suggest a form of collective guilt for all Muslims in the UK, as though they are responsible for the actions of groups like ISIS or Boko Haram for that matter. It is precisely this form of collective guilt which some have tried to hoist on British Jews after the Gaza crisis, as though they are responsible for the actions of Netanyahu and his right-wing government in Israel and which Jewish communities in the UK have rightly highlighted as being antisemitic in nature. In other words, holding all British Jews to account for the actions of Israel is antisemitic because it targets and labels the whole community by virtue of who they are and this is precisely what Malone does towards Muslim communities. Collective blame and guilt, so reminiscent of medieval thinking, is sadly alive and well in the Daily Mirror piece.

Impacts of ISIS

What is also missing from Malone’s thinking is that many British Muslims are having worried discussions about these groups round the dinner table, at events and within mosques.They are concerned, not only for their relatives in Iraq or in the region, they are also worried about relations with minority groups and the lives of their fellow Syrians and Iraqis from minority groups. Furthermore, one of the first actions that ISIS undertook in Iraq was to murder hundreds of Shia Muslim civilians and fighters and bury them en masse, with pictures of the murders tweeted by grinning ISIS fighters, some barely old enough to even hold more than a wispy beard! Also, more recently, many Muslims (and others) recently used Twitter to mock ISIS with the hashtag #ISISMovies.

Malone then laments how British Muslims are more likely to protest the conflict in Gaza rather than Syria and Iraq. Yet, she fails to grasp the protests that have been held by Kurdish Muslims against ISIS and equates a 60 year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza with the occupation of Syria and Iraq which spans a few years. Clearly, the long festering sore of an independent Palestinian state has affected generation after generation looking for some form of social justice.

Nonetheless, demonstrations should be welcome since they allow the public to voice their concerns publicly and openly and within the rule of law and Malone’s populist rhetoric about why Muslims only care about Gaza is just plain wrong.