For a review of this book by the Guardian, click here

Below are selected quotes from the book:

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of IS and Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct. And instead of letting them off the hook with bland clichés about Islam as a religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

At the same time, we need to stand up for our own principles as liberals. Specifically, we need to say to offended Western Muslims (and their liberal supporters) that it is not we who must accommodate their beliefs and sensitivities. Rather, it is they who must learn to live with our commitment to free speech.

The argument in this book is that religious doctrines matter and are in need of reform. Non-doctrinal factors—such as the Saudis’ use of oil revenues to fund Wahhabism and Western support for the Saudi regime—are important, but religious doctrine is more important. Hard as it may be for many Western academics to believe, when people commit violent acts in the name of religion, they are not trying somehow to dignify their underlying socioeconomic or political grievances.

But ultimately it needs leadership from the dissidents. And they in turn stand no chance without support from the West.

We delude ourselves that our deadliest foes are somehow not actuated by the ideology they openly affirm. And we pin our hopes on a majority that is conspicuously without any credible leadership, and indeed shows more sign of being susceptible to the arguments of the fanatics than to those of the dissidents.

The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here. If nothing else comes of it, I will consider this book a success if it helps to spark a serious discussion of these issues among Muslims themselves.

My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan, and to the idea of a Modified Islam. The absence of a Muslim Reformation is what ultimately drove me to become an infidel, a nomad, and now a heretic.

If the Medina Muslims win and the hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, the rest of the world will pay an enormous price. And, with all the freedoms we take for granted, Westerners may have the most to lose.

You who call yourselves liberals must understand that it is your way of life that is under threat. Withdraw my right to speak freely, and you jeopardize your own in the future. Ally yourselves with the Islamists at your peril. Tolerate their intolerance at your peril.

People like me—some of us apostates, most of us dissident Muslims—need your support, not your antagonism. We who have known what it is to live without freedom watch with incredulity as you who call yourselves liberals—who claim to believe so fervently in individual liberty and minority rights—make common cause with the forces in the world that manifestly pose the greatest threats to that very freedom and those very minorities.

We must reject the notions that only Muslims can speak about Islam, and that any critical examination of Islam is inherently “racist.” Instead of contorting Western intellectual traditions so as not to offend our Muslim fellow citizens, we need to defend the Muslim dissidents who are risking their lives to promote the human rights we take for granted: equality for women, tolerance of all religions and orientations, our hard-won freedoms of speech and thought.

In short, we who have the luxury of living in the West have an obligation to stand up for liberal principles. Multiculturalism should not mean that we tolerate another culture’s intolerance.

Indeed, one highly desirable outcome of a Muslim Reformation would be to redefine the meaning of the word “heretic” itself. Religious reformations always shift the meaning of this term: today’s heretic becomes tomorrow’s reformer, while today’s defender of religious orthodoxy becomes tomorrow’s Torquemada. A Muslim Reformation would have the happy effect of turning the tables on those I am threatened by—rendering them the heretics, not me.

I was raised a practicing Muslim and remained one for almost half my life. I attended madrassas and memorized large parts of the Qur’an. As a child, I lived in Mecca for a time and frequently visited the Grand Mosque. As a teenager, I joined the Muslim Brotherhood. In short, I am old enough to have seen Islam’s bifurcation in the latter half of the twentieth century between the everyday faith of my parents and the intolerant, militant jihadism preached by the people I call the Medina Muslims.

I am far from being the first person to call for a Reformation of the religion of my birth. Why have all previous attempts at a Muslim Reformation come to nothing? The answer lies in a fundamental conflict within Islam itself.

These changes, I believe, can be the basis of a true Islamic Reformation, one that progresses to the twenty-first century rather than regresses to the seventh.

1.Ensure that Muhammad and the Qur’an are open to interpretation and criticism. 2. Give priority to this life, not the afterlife. 3. Shackle sharia and end its supremacy over secular law. 4. End the practice of “commanding right, forbidding wrong.” 5. Abandon the call to jihad.

For me there can be no going back. It is too late to return to the faith of my parents and grandparents. But it is not too late for millions of others to reconcile their Islamic faith with the twenty-first century.

It is not fashionable today in academic circles to discuss the legacy of Arab clan structures in the development of Islam. It is considered ethnocentric, if not downright orientalist, even to bring it up. But today the Middle East and the wider world are increasingly at the mercy of a combination of the worst traits of a patriarchal tribal society and unreformed Islam. And because of the taboos over what can and cannot be said—taboos backed up by the threat of violent reprisals—we are unable to have an open discussion of these issues.

If Muhammad is unique among the prophets, the Qur’an is unprecedented among religious texts. Muslims today are taught that the Qur’an is a complete and final revelation that cannot be changed: it is literally God’s last word.

Until Islam can do what Judaism and Christianity have done—question, critique, interpret, and ultimately modernize its holy scripture—it cannot free Muslims from a host of anachronistic and at times deadly beliefs and practices.

Islamic orthodoxy—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islamic doctrine—thus insists that the Qur’an is God’s own word. Questioning any part of the Qur’an therefore becomes an act of heresy.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Qur’an’s unique status is the fact that the most violent Medina Muslims can find in holy writ justifications for everything they do.

As the violence committed in the name of Islam is so often justified by the Qur’an, Muslims must be challenged to engage in critical reflection about their most sacred text. This process necessarily begins by acknowledging both its human composition and its numerous internal inconsistencies.

It is, to say the least, difficult in the face of all this evidence to deny that there was a human influence involved in composing what is now known as the Qur’an. Yet Islamic thinkers such as the late Pakistani Abul A’la Mawdudi have declared without hesitation that the Qur’an “exists exactly as it had been revealed to the Prophet; not a word—nay, not a dot of it—has been changed.”

The next step in dismantling the ideological foundation of Islamist violence will be to persuade Muslims raised on an alluring vision of the afterlife to embrace life in this world, rather than actively seeking death as a path to the next.

Until Islam stops fixating on the afterlife, until it is liberated from the seductive story of life after death, until it actively chooses life on earth and stops valuing death, Muslims themselves cannot get on with the business of living in this world.

If imams started talking about making this world a paradise, rather than preaching that the only life that matters is the one that begins at death, we might begin to see economic dynamism in more Muslim-majority economies.

In Sudan a twenty-seven-year-old woman, Meriam Ibrahim, who was at the time eight months pregnant, was sentenced to suffer one hundred lashes and death by hanging for the crimes of adultery and apostasy. This sentence was not passed in 714 or 1414. It happened in 2014.

Meriam chose to follow the faith of her mother, an Ethiopian Christian, rather than her father, a Sudanese Muslim, and married a Christian man.

Under Sudan’s Islamic law code, and sharia in general, a father’s religion is automatically the religion of his children. And Muslim women are prohibited from marrying outside their faith, although that prohibition does not apply to Muslim men. Thus, to the Sudanese sharia court, it did not matter that Meriam Ibrahim was raised as an Orthodox Christian by her mother. It did not matter that her father was absent for most of her childhood. It did not matter that she was married to an American citizen.

In Pakistan, blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad is punishable by death. More than thirty countries around the world have similar antiblasphemy laws, including some Christian ones. But it is in Muslim countries that such laws are enforced. In 2014, a Pakistani court sentenced a twenty-six-year-old Christian man to death on the ground that he had spoken ill of the Prophet.

It is of course tempting for the Western reader to assume that these are antiquated practices that, like witch-burning in Massachusetts, will eventually die out. But the trend in the Muslim world is in the other direction. In supposedly advanced Brunei, the ruling sultan is currently phasing in an “updated” body of sharia criminal law, making adultery punishable by stoning, theft punishable by amputation, and homosexual intercourse punishable by death.

Today, sharia has spread to a point where it has found near-universal acceptance across the Muslim world.

Moreover, sharia is no longer restricted to Muslim-majority countries. It is increasingly being referenced in family law and inheritance cases involving Muslims in the West. Several sharia courts are now operational in Britain.

We must also address and reform Islam’s most powerful social tool: the informal grassroots enforcement of its strictest religious principles in the name of commanding right and forbidding wrong.

Today, as much as in medieval times, the concepts of commanding right and forbidding wrong entail telling individual Muslims how to live, down to the most intimate aspects of their lives.

The concept of commanding right and forbidding wrong provides the justification for fathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins who carry out honor killings of female relatives.

What does honor violence look like in practice? In Lahore, Pakistan, a twenty-five-year-old woman who married against her father’s wishes was stoned to death outside a courthouse.

A Pakistani father and mother doused their fifteen-year-old daughter with acid because she had looked twice at a boy who passed by on a motorcycle, and from that they “feared dishonor.”

A young mother of two in Punjab province was stoned to death by her uncle and cousins, using stones and bricks, on the order of a Pakistani tribal court simply because she had a cell phone.

In the theory of commanding right and forbidding wrong, every small act, every minor infraction has the potential to become a major religious crime. Who can think about rights or education or economics when a trivial sartorial lapse can have such monumental consequences?

Commanding right and forbidding wrong are fundamentally at odds with the core Western principle of individual freedom.

When trying to explain the violent path of some Islamists, Western commentators sometimes blame harsh economic conditions, dysfunctional family circumstances, confused identity, the generic alienation of young males, a failure to integrate into the larger society, mental illness, and so on. Some on the Left insist that the real fault lies with the mistakes of American foreign policy.

We must move beyond such facile explanations. The imperative for jihad is embedded in Islam itself. It is a religious obligation.

The scale of the jihadist problem is growing much faster than most people in the West want to face.

On an intellectual level, we may accept that we should be concerned about jihadists abroad, but on an emotional level, most people in the West are still disengaged.

It is no longer plausible to argue that organizations such as Boko Haram—or, for that matter, Islamic State—have nothing to do with Islam. It is no longer credible to define “extremism” as some disembodied threat, meting out death without any ideological foundation, a problem to be dealt with by purely military methods, preferably drone strikes. We need to tackle the root problem of the violence that is plaguing our world today, and that must be the doctrine of Islam itself.

Today there is a war within Islam—a war between those who wish to reform (the Modifying Muslims or the dissidents) and those who wish to turn back to the time of the Prophet (the Medina Muslims). The prize over which they fight is the hearts and minds of the largely passive Mecca Muslims.

It is no accident that some of the most vocal critics of Islam today are, like me, women. For there is no more obvious incompatibility between Islam and modernity than the subordinate role assigned to women in sharia law.

As I have argued, there are five core concepts in Islam that are fundamentally incompatible with modernity: 1. the status of the Qur’an as the last and immutable word of God and the infallibility of Muhammad as the last divinely inspired messenger; 2. Islam’s emphasis on the afterlife over the here-and-now; 3. the claims of sharia to be a comprehensive system of law governing both the spiritual and temporal realms; 4. the obligation on ordinary Muslims to command right and forbid wrong; 5. the concept of jihad, or holy war. My “five theses” are simply that these concepts must be amended in ways that make being a Muslim more readily compatible with the twenty-first-century world.

Muslim clerics need to acknowledge that the Qur’an is not the ultimate repository of revealed truth.They need to make explicit that what we do in this life is more important than anything that could conceivably happen to us after we die.They need to make clear that sharia law occupies a circumscribed role and is clearly subordinate to the laws of the nation-states where Muslims live. They need to put an end to the practice of delegated coercion that inflicts conformity at the expense of creativity. And they need to disavow completely the concept of jihad as a literal call to arms against non-Muslims and those Muslims they deem apostates or heretics.

The dawn of a Muslim Reformation is the right moment to remind ourselves that the right to think, to speak, and to write in freedom and without fear is ultimately a more sacred thing than any religion.

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Replies to This Discussion

I make no apologies for stopping after the first paragraph. This is an absolute classic case of pompous warmongering rubbish disguised as liberal commentary. Anyone still taken in by this sort of thing should read "The Quiet American" by Graham Green. I suspect this guy is in fact an atheist, he does not seem aware that all religions constantly reinterpret their sacred texts in absolutely fundamental ways. There are very clear and unambiguous calls to genocide in the Old Testament. It is puerile nonsense to put Sufis and Tafkiris in the same category just because they are both described as being Islamist.

By the way it's worth remembering that the Guardian supported the Vietnam war with a similar line in pious liberal pomposity until it became untenable, at which point they pretended they had always been opposed to it.

Talk about blaming the victims. No wonder some "Muslims" (ie people) get angry.

Thanks Ian

The guy you suspect is atheist etc. is however a woman, born in Somalia, raised in Mecca, who was genitally mutilated aged 5, fled to the West of escape an arranged marriage and is still the subject of an Islamic fatwa, or death edict.  For more about her click here:

I'm not a scientist but I know enough about complexity theory to know that we are at a time in history that is on the edge of (if not there already) of chaos. One of the characteristics of this is the fragmentation we are experiencing in almost all aspects of life. Ian is right when he talks about you can't conflate all Muslims with the rigid fundamentalism of say, Wahhabism. However Ayaan Hirsi Ali is eminently qualified to make the arguments she is putting forward too. It is simplistic to base everything on American foreign policy (though there is a lot to be answered for) as it is to blame Muslims for everything too. Looking at it simply, both sides of this need sorting; elements of Islam may need reforming and more powerful nations may need to find global solutions for sustainability for all. One place I'd start is the Global Ethics movement Towards a Global Ethic . 

One of the fundamentals of a free (or enlightened) society is the freedom to express ideas that may be flawed without fear of being dominated... and crumbs is this not a terrain fraught by voices who know best for us... see the recent schisms in the Anglian communion over gay rights that leaves those inside and outside a supposedly 'reformed' and liberal church holding their hands in their heads... or did I mean heads in their hands... anyway frozen by their thoughts and unable to act according to their own professed values....

And so what about the cowardice of liberals who allow this exclusion of free thought or behaviour, that does no harm in itself, under the guise of the word of scripture... daddy god says... don't do that... well maybe I am now being provocative myself.

Came accross this interesting article in Wikipedia this week (another valuable fruit of a 'free thinking' society that needs celebration and probably wouldn't exist in a pre-reformation society... if such a thing exists) ...

on 'liminality' ... and the danger of following the trickster in a time of uncertainty...... sections on violence and politics (eg communism and trickster leaders) jump out. Not sure I agree with it all, but interesting stuff... see in particular this section: "Imitation, leadership, and the role of the trickster"

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality

  So Ian Henshall stopped reading after the first paragraph - well that's a rather low tolerance threshold and I think he should have persevered a bit more.

  I have a problem with Hirsi Ali over her willingness to play clap-handies with the warmongering right-wing imperialists who fete her in the USA (not to mention her intimate association with the vile Niall Ferguson) but I cannot argue with her qualifications to speak and write on the role and place of Islam in the modern world. I also understand and sympathise with her contempt for the 'liberal' and complacent Europeans who were unwilling to offer her the protection and solidarity which she deserved. She says that we must "...hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts" and her critics say it is reprehensible to hold all Muslims responsible for the murderous acts of a minority. However, the statement I have just quoted does not say "Muslims", it says "Islam" and whilst some may interpret that word as embracing all the world's Muslims I do not think this can be automatically assumed.

  Islam is a belief system (or a range of associated belief systems) and many people, including a great many Muslims, do see it as a body of thought and belief that has some kind of collective identity and unifying ideological cohesion (this is the basic tenet of Geert Wilders approach in the Netherlands). I am not entirely convinced of this myself because this throws up a whole range of difficult issues (which there is not space to discuss here) but it is a view that merits discussion ande debate and not just the contemptuous abuse that Mr Henshall see fit to throw.

  Having read the selected quote in full (unlike Mr Henshall) I find it does raise some uncomfortable truths that many opportunistic and/or cowardly commentators (from the so-called 'revolutionaries' of the SWP to the wishy-washy 'liberals' who write for the Guardian to our Tory Prime Minister) are unwilling to face up to. That is the fact that this is an ideological struggle and not just a problem of a 'radicalised' minority. The problem is not just Jihadist murderers who want to kill as many of us (infidels) as they can but the Islamist ideology that underpins and justifies their rationale even if the individuals concerned claim to denounce such violence.

  Islamism (as I have pointed out elsewhere) is a Clerical Fascist ideology that needs to be confronted and challenged in our relationship with the Muslim communities we engage with (including those here in the UK, eg. by challenging, denouncing and proscribing the growth of 'Sharia Courts' amongst some ethnic minority communities). However, Islamism is not an isolated fringe but is absolutely mainstream amongst Muslims and its proponents will be found in Mosques and Madrassas across the country so I do not underestimate the difficulties involved. I might be uncomfortable with some of the language that Hirsi Ali uses but the broad thrust of her arguments do hold together and should be taken seriously so I think I might actually buy the book and read it. I think Mr Henshall might benefit from doing likewise so that he can make some claim to understand the arguments before he dismisses them.

 From the beginning Islam was spread by terror and the sword. It is not a religion of peace.Should you dare criticise Islam or the Koran, you are in danger of being placed under a Fatwa and your life is in danger. 

Our media is aware of this and treats all things Islam with kid gloves, as opposed to open season on things Christian.

The cartoons of Mohammed in Denmark, the Fatwa on Salman Rusdie, the Koran book burning in the USA are all instances of subjugation to Islamic terror.

 Islamic power is now being spread through the womb  and the demographics of low indigenuos European birthrate against the high birthrate of Middle Eastern and North African refugees will change the face of Europe in 20 years.

The terms of service for this network include: You agree that you will not post, email or make available any content or use this Network in a manner that is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable.

I think to label a whole general population, or religion, based on the actions of a small minority of that population or religion, and selectively point to actions taken by an even smaller handful is straying into that territory. Whilst those violent and discriminatory ideas might be views applicable to some who profess to follow Islam the overwhelming majority condemn it.

It is not at all in my view acceptable to use, on this forum, freedom of speech arguments to spread the idea "Islamic power is now being spread through the womb", as this, in my view, is tantamount to saying we should seek to deny the reproductive rights of women who we define as muslim.

Nor do I see any evidence that 'our' media "treats all things Islam with kid gloves, as opposed to open season on things Christian".

As Jesus said: "Those without sin cast the first stone".

 It was George Orwell who said, 'If liberty means anything ,it is the right to tell people things they do not want to hear'.

This is at the root of western Enlightenment and freedoms. To threaten to shut down conversation because of arbitary rules  constricting discussion is the very essence of Fascism.

Islam is not a tolerant ideology. No criticism is allowed of their prophet Mohammed or their book the Koran. The ideology is not compatible with Western values.  Islam was spread by the sword thru' out the Eastern and Asian world and was stopped in its subjugation of Europe by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours 732.

The battle continues, but the methods have changed . The Saudi Wahhabis now finance the spread of Islam and the building of mosques thru' out Europe to disseminate their extremist ideology. 

We see the results of this radicalisation in the attacks in London,Manchester, Berlin , Paris etc.

Liberals as ever are blinded to the realities that are coming down the pike.

 

Claiming your enemy is swamping your race through breeding is the very essence of fascism too. Its not what you say, its how you say it that matters. That means fundementalism, and fundemental language of all kinds. The left can also get it wrong, as Stalin showed us. One day it may be the Jews, the next muslims, and then they may come for us all? Liberty also implies tolerance and responsibility and the right to practice a religion in peace.

Its is useful to also consider the role of colonialism and oil in the middle east, with the United states playing a significant game in competing with the UK for dominance. Its arguable the roots of the current problems has more to do with our history than that of the 6th century?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_oil_industry_in_Saudi_...

 Yes of course the UK and the US have interfered/manipulated/controlled  Middle Eastern States to access the oil/gas supplies, going back to the early 1900's.

One of the reasons for WW1 was German construction of the Berlin to Baghdad railway which would have given access to Middle East oil and their African colonies, this threatened the then British Empires monopoly of Middle East Oil supply.

The old Empire tactic of divide and conquer was in play,using the tensions between Shia and Sunni.These tactics are in play again. Trumps recent visit to Saudi to align the Sunnis of the Gulf Council against  Shia Iran was obvious.

Yemen is in play at present, to control the choke point into the Gulf of Aden and seize the oil resources there, using the Saudis and Western advisers and weapons

These interminable wars in the M.East and N,Africa , fomented and financed by the West and its Gulf Monarchy allies and using proxy Foreign Legions such as Daesh, have caused refugee flows into Europe which are creating demographic problems whose end result will be chaos in Europe.

The present Jihadi atrocities are 'blowback' from these wars, by radicalised Muslim youth, many who are native born, but have never assimilated into European culture.

Singing the multicultural song of Kumbaya and diversity is no match for these extremists. The Western Corporations who benefit from the oil flows care little for the human cost or the chaos created in Western society and Western Govt are culpable by their support of  extremist  in the regime change wars.

We are fed a diet of deflection and distraction, the truth of Western criminal aggression is carefully subsumed under floral tributes and pop concerts.

I would agree with pretty much all of that last post. Within it there are many opportunities for how we could make change happen by influencing events with our localities, such as through helping assimilation and calling out the root causes of political tension to those we meet within our communities and globally.

I would slightly question if refugees will in themselves create chaos in Europe. Different countries take different approaches to responding to that. Much of the refugee crisis also as a result of forces such as population growth and of social, political and environmental inequality, to which western (christian??) science, free trade and capitalism are also motivating forces. Too many feedback loops and cross currents to lay blame and condemnation on the religion of others.

  I'm not sure if Mr Buckley's most recent reply was responding here to something I put up yesterday on the more recent discussion about May's intolerance but again I am largely in agreement with him - and I find Mr. Hall's denouncement of the "essence of fascism" quite illuminating because it is a good example of how some people twist words to see what they want to see (or what they want others to see). In the same way that Ian Henshall twisted the words of Hirsi Ali in this discussion (15 Jan 2016) to accuse her of warmongering and promoting hatred against all Muslims (by stating that criticism of Islam, a set of beliefs and ideas, was tantamount to attacking all Muslims), so Mr Hall twists Mr Buckley's words to accuse him of promoting racial conflict and fascism. Mr Buckley said nothing about race as he was talking about Islam. It was Mr Hall who responded by adopting the mendacious tactic of throwing the 'racism' accusation at someone who was making a point about a group (call it a community if you like, but it is not a race) who hold certain beliefs and ideas and attitudes. These ideas may be religious, cultural, social or political, or in fact all of these, but they are real and they affect the way people live and the way they interact with others. If anyone who says something critical about a set of beliefs and ideas and attitudes is going to be accused of racism then that is a sure fire way to make the term absolutely meaningless (as the term 'Islamophobia' has already become).

  During my adult lifetime the Muslim population of the UK has more than doubled. This would not be such a bad thing if the integration and mixing that my generation of progressives and anti-racists had expected had actually happened, but it hasn't and our public policy-makers have utterly failed to rise to the challenges this situation brings. Instead, some communities have become more rigid and insular in many ways and there are parts of some UK towns and cities where the local political and social networks have more in common with parts of South Asia than with the districts around them.

  If you ask whether this is such a bad thing then you are living in a fantasy world. There is no such thing as racial incompatibility and I agree with Martin Walker (former Guardian correspondent) who once wrote that he was all in favour of race mixing and looked forward to actively participating in the process. There is however, such a thing as cultural incompatibility, and where a minority culture is intolerantly homophobic, misogynist, rigidly authoritarian, and also intertwined with a religiously driven political identity that demands subservience and insists on religious and gender segregation and obscurantism in the education of its children then it should be obvious that we have a major problem. I am not at all worried by the country I live in becoming browner, or of curry replacing fish and chips or steak and kidney pudding or roast beef as our national dish (the last has already happened). But I am very worried about segregated districts of towns, segregated schools, the demands for Sharia 'courts' to have legal recognition (instead of being absolutely proscribed as they should be) and the inability of many (including some of my fellow socialists) to understand the difference between an ethnic group and a religious or political ideology.

  As I have mentioned elsewhere, I was a Senior Community Relations Officer in Yorkshire during the Salman Rushdie 'Satanic Verses' affair and I did my best (reasonably successfully) to defuse any friction over this in my own area. But some of my professional colleagues in neighbouring areas (whose wages were paid from public funds) did the precise opposite and actively sought to have Islamist religious censorship rules applied to school and public libraries across the county - and I have no doubt this happened in other parts of the UK as well. Unless we grasp the nettle and adopt proactive policies that address the acute problems of lack of integration and social, cultural and political alienation affecting some communities then we are storing up a violent and scary future for our children and grandchildren and playing into the hands of the Islamist Jihadis and right wing racists who are both actively working for racial and religious conflict.

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