I Watch The Growing Puritanical Attitudes Of Young Muslims With Apprehension

26/09/2016 12:47

I've lived all over the UK but South Wales is where my heart is.I was born in Caerphilly and grew up in Cardiff, I love going to the rugby, scoffing Welsh cakes and going out with mates.

Cardiff is a vibrant city, we Welsh are some of the funniest, kindest people I have met and I am proud to say I am Welsh and call Cardiff my home.

As a practising Muslim (though flawed) I've never felt the need to wear my religion as a badge of honour.

Religion is a private matter between you and whoever you choose your God to be, for me it happens to be Allah. With this in mind, it is with great apprehension I watch a young generation of Muslims with growing puritanical attitudes.

My friends from other faiths often ask me about the face veil, which you do not need to be an Islamic scholar to know is not mandatory attire.
Growing up in Wales I don't recall seeing women in the full-face veil, now it is a common sight.

As a woman, a feminist and somebody who believes in equality I view the niqab as a move away from progressive values many of us hold dear. It is a physical barrier to communication and integration. Women who wear the niqab have every right to dress how they want, because we live in a democracy, but I feel more comfortable communicating with someone whose face I can see. I know others who feel the same but feel they can't say it for fear of being labelled racist.

The horrific terrorist attacks we have seen in France and indeed across the World recently are designed to tear apart communities. We must work together to fight the "us and them" mentality these groups want to create. ISIS are in no way Islamic.

As Muslims we must unite, join the international fight against ISIS and challenge the way they are defiling our religion and dividing communities.

I attended a dinner in Cardiff City Hall, which focused on tackling Islamophobia in Wales.

It didn't seem representative to me; not one woman on the top table where the had seated the politicians and self appointed "community leaders" and championed by the Muslim Council of Wales and Mend.

These organisations don't represent my views or, I believe, many like me, who are happily integrated into our communities across Wales.

The speaker who made me walk out was Salafi preacher Abu Eesa Niamatullah whose 45-minute speech I listened to and who, in my view, should never have been given a public platform. (Salafi doctrine can be summed up as a fundamentalist and ultra conservative approach to Islam.)

This cleric has said many things I disagree with, including his idea of combating Islamophobia by being more orthodox.

I had previously read some of his views on the Prophetic Guidance website.
In that he said: "Women should not be in the workplace whatsoever. Full stop. I simply can't imagine how we will safeguard our Islamic identity in the future and build strong Muslim communities in the West with women wanting to go out and becoming employed in the hell that it is out there.
"I am an absolute extremist in this issue in that I don't have any time for the opposing arguments."
It astounds me he was given a public platform in Cardiff and that a Welsh Government Labour Minister shared a stage with him. I for one will not accept or tolerate such misogynistic and orthodox views in my hometown.

Some young Muslims are drawn in by the views of more radical Islamic clerics, watching hours of YouTube videos, going to some mosques where preachers misinterpret the verses of the Quran and isolating themselves from non-Muslims, immersing themselves in a politicised form of Islam looking to right the wrongs of Western foreign policy over many years, citing Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia as examples.

The citizens' commission on Islam, which came to Cardiff, hopes to engage more Muslims in public life. The commission engaged with the MCW and hand-picked individuals put forward by them and others.

The commission was told that radicalisation was not a problem in Wales and that the Muslim community worked well with the Government and police here. I disagree.

2014 saw Cardiff catapulted to the international stage for all the wrong reasons. Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana from Cardiff went to Syria to become terrorists.

2012 saw two Cardiff brothers jailed for plotting to bomb the Stock Exchange. That same year a man was jailed for eight months after threatening to shoot police and council officials at an anti-terror raid in Cardiff and, of course, who can forget the Cardiff man who pleaded guilty to posting a string of terrorist publications on Facebook. These people are under our noses.

Various factors have allowed extremism to brew under the radar in South Wales.

The few mosques across Wales that welcome fundamentalist speakers to preach, radicalisation in the home and online, the liberal left sense of political correctness thrust upon us by many Government officials with no real understanding of different communities and the denial of the wider Muslim community that this is even going on is a volatile combination.

Only by acknowledging problems within the already fractured Muslim community will we stand a chance of rooting them out and going back to living peacefully with each other as we once did.

Many migrants came to the UK in the 1960s. They maintained their faith and culture and gained the respect and trust of their communities by integrating.
Now is the time we have to look to our history to find solutions for the future.