The death of a Detroit Muslim leader and other recent terror-related arrests are forcing US Muslims to talk about their faith in public in order to ensure the world understands that they condemn violence.
Because religion is so integrated in American society, the dialogue is more natural than it might be in European countries such as France, which has derided some public discussions of religion, says Malika Zeghal, associate professor of the anthropology and sociology of religion and Islamic studies at the University of Chicago.
A new group of secular-minded former Muslims in the UK has urged the government to cut funding to religious groups and to stop pandering to political Islam. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, launched yesterday in London, opposes the interference of religion in public life. Its spokeswoman, Maryam Namazie, said the group provided an alternative voice to the “regressive, parasitical and self-appointed leaders” from organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Islamic Human Rights Commission. “We want to challenge the Islamic movement,” she said. “It does not surprise me people are afraid to criticise Islam. There has been too much appeasement. There are policies and initiatives aimed at Muslims and this approach divides society.” The council calls for the freedom to criticise all religions and the separation of religion from the state and legal system. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We’re not taking them seriously. I don’t think Muslims will have time for this.”