Children should pledge loyalty to the country in school assemblies, claimed a south west London Muslim group this week.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA UK), which has its headquarters in the Southfields Fazl Mosque in Wandsworth, said national loyalty is a part of Islam.The suggestion follows David Cameron’s counter-extremism speech in which he blamed a lack of integration for hundreds of Britons joining Islamic State militants.Merton-based AMYA UK spokesperson Jamal Akbar said: “I believe if you are a British Citizen there is no harm in installing a sense of loyalty within schools to unify the youth.”The government’s five-year plan to defeat home-grown extremism said the identity crisis of some British-born Muslims needed attention.
Mr Cameron said: “ We have to confront a tragic truth that there are people born and raised in this country who don’t really identify with Britain – and who feel little or no attachment to other people here.”However, while AMYA UK welcomed the government’s focus on extremism, its south west London representatives had mixed feelings about Mr Cameron’s speech.Mr Akbar said: “It was necessary to come up with a plan on dealing with extremist ideologies but I felt there was an undertone that the government believes that there is a secret support of ISIS amongst Muslims. This is incorrect.”
Mr Akbar’s main concern with the government’s latest message was what he called the ‘double standards’ of free speech.He said: “It seems okay to print derogatory cartoons about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in the name of free speech, but someone cannot speak their mind if they have an opinion on the causes of 9/11 other than what the government thinks.“Does this mean that a Muslim who holds this belief will be considered as having extremist views but a Christian or Atheist with these views will not be deemed a threat?”AMYA UK spokesperson Farooq Aftab, writing in the Huffington Postsaid: “The government also has a responsibility to ensure that in its drive to tackle extremism it provides space for discussion.”The association’s south west London members are based around Southfields’ Fazl Mosque, the first mosque built in London, and Morden’s Baitul Futuh, western Europe’s largest mosque.