UK’s Problem with Vocal Muslims working in or with the Civil Service

As Muslims, we are obliged to ‘co-operate in righteousness and piety’ and not in ‘sinfulness and transgression’ [Quran 5:2]. As Muslims wherever we are in the world, we work for the betterment of our surrounding society, our neighbours and poor regardless of their religion, faith or the policies of the government over that society. We must speak out against injustice and highlight the problems we see as part of our work as ‘Witnesses to Mankind’ [Quran 2:143].

Many societies create Civil Services to provide basic services to the people, like health-care, education and fire fighting. Other Civil Service Institutions (called ‘watch dogs’) are set up to hold to account government institutions like police and justice system and ensure that the health services and fire services are being run properly, some examples of these in the UK are Office of Fair Trading, Citizens Advice Bureau, Her majesty’s Inspectorate of Crown Prosecution, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary etc etc. These public watchdogs investigate and produce reports for the public on the state of government agencies and departments, in order to raise public awareness in order to improve and account them.

As Muslims, who must call to the Good and forbid the evil, and help those in need, many Muslims work in the Civil Service (in areas that are permissible) to provide a benefit to their society, neighbours and those in need. This follows the example of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) who worked under a Pharaoh to help people prepare for a coming famine he had foreseen. Of course, Muslims cannot work in parts of government and act against their Islamic conscience, like joining the army to fight an unjust war (i.e. conscientious objection).

However, the intolerant ‘muscular’ Liberal witch hunt against Muslims holding opinions that the ruling ideology of government deem to be ‘extremist’ (secular Liberalism’s version of ‘Heresy’) has become to root out Muslims from the civil service who make any kind of public expressions of normative/mainstream Islamic concepts and ideas, or criticise the government’s foreign or domestic policies, on their social media or in their private lives (which are all activities outside working hours).

For many years the UK government was unable to make laws to ban vocal Muslims from becoming civil servants, but instead many government officials led the media [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] in rooting out and pressuring Civil service employers and the Muslim employees into the employee resigning from their post. The atmosphere in the Civil Service became one where holding and expressing views the government arbitrarily considers ‘extremist’ despite them being outside working hours, and in their own spare time. I can speak from personal experience, too – I myself once worked for a civil service watchdog which works for the public interest, but felt I had to resign because my former employers had noticed my (publicly expressed) views on TV, and took issue with my public criticism of government policies which lead to the arrest of Moazzam Begg (who leads a rights group that criticises UK government detainment of political dissent). Moazzam Begg was only released after 8 long months of detainment and the charges against him dropped.

Are Muslims not entitled to criticise the government without facing a loss in their earnings? Surely someone can hold political views without their professional service being suspected of a conflict of interest? Apparently not. Many socialists work in the civil service (they’re even predominate in the Civil Service workers union PCS), and are outspoken about government policies, yet it is Muslims who are suspected of ‘conflict of interests’. The Civil Service, as the name implies, SERVES the PEOPLE, not the government, there can be no conflict of interest between all those who desire good for the people and employment in the civil service. Muslims being treated as such, constitutes discrimination and persecution according to the dictionary definition:

‘PERSECUTION, Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs’ [Oxford English Dictionary]

Persecution and oppression, from society and media (|ed by politicians who claim to represent ‘all of the people’) is just as bad as legal prohibition, if not worse [6].

This issue becomes more problematic when we consider that the UK public sector in 2009, constituted 1/4 of the UK total workforce (5 million people). Is it right that Muslims exercising their right to express their opinions can be excluded from where almost 50% of the UK GDP is spent? (GDP partly produced by Muslim businesses and taxpayers), Are Muslims being discriminated or is the UK government going to claim that restrictions of speech apply to all 5 million employees? Would the British people be happy being told that 5 million citizens are unable to criticise the government without losing their jobs? No, nor do most people believe they’re restricted when they enter the civil service (beyond the normal non-disclosure agreements all employees agree to).

The government’s campaign to create ideological purity in British society [7] then continued when they began cutting funding to community projects involving Muslim community organisations [8], despite the fact that these organisations work with the grassroots of society, a society which includes Muslims who pay taxes that provide the government with funds to allocate in the first place.

Muslim elected officials to local council districts, like Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman, are demonised and their political careers ruined [9], and other groups who actively campaign for Muslims to get involved in politics, are attacked as “fifth column” infiltrators [10].

Recently, the government announced a blacklist [11] of groups and people the government would refuse to work with, engage with (discuss with or appear on a platform with), or contribute any taxpayers money towards. Of course, this isn’t the first time blacklisting has been used in the UK to prevent ‘political undesirables’ from getting a job [12].

Last year saw the government appoint a minister to witch hunt schools (the infamous ‘trojan horse’ debacle) that hold activities if practiced by another minority would merely be called ‘conservative’

Even Muslims who do not work in the public sector have been targeted, like Abdal Hakim Murad (Tim Winter), who faced a vicious media campaign to oust him from his job working at Cambridge University [13], ironically, he once presented a lecture entitled ‘Can Liberalism Tolerate Islam?’ [14], and just last year, a Law trainee working for a law firm [15] was given vastly disproportionate media attention and public pressure against his firm to remove him, for expressing religious comments on youtube.

In the UK, Muslims who are vocal about their Islamic beliefs, especially where these beliefs are connected to ideas that clash with Secular Liberal ideology, are not permitted freedom from negative consequences for their livelihood, security and reputation when they express themselves (again, outside of work).

In contrast, I recently appeared on a BBC Radio debate [16] about UK Police, who are Public Sector workers by definition, being allowed to publicly show support DURING WORKING HOURS on the job for ‘Help for Heroes’ charity which helps Army veterans who’ve returned from unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mentioned that if the government allows some public sector workers to show support for charities linked to causes that were controversial to many quarters of UK society, it should allow other public sector workers to express support of other causes and ideas, or be consistent and permit no one to.

To permit some people to express themselves without consequence, while denying others that same right, is the dictionary definition of discrimination. If Muslims are tax-paying members of the public with equal rights to others, they deserve the equal protections afforded to others for expressing their ideas, not least in their private time.

The intolerance of Secular ‘Muscular’ Liberalism towards Islam is evidenced by the fact that the Islamic views witch hunted by the government and media are not fringe, but mainstream, from the Islamic concept of Caliphate [17], to belief in the Sharia, including marriage, modesty and belief in a unified Ummah. The irony is, at the start of the 20th century (gregorian calendar), the British government had diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Caliphate! What people don’t seem to realise, is the alarming trend of a Secular government and attendant media dictating to Muslims what parts of Islamic theology are ‘extreme’ and what parts are ‘mainstream’ to believe in? And if ‘extreme’ is defined as ‘not followed by the majority’, then does believing in Muhammed (saaw), who most British people don’t believe in, make one an extremist? Despite the fact that these very same views come from Muhammad (saaw) himself – where do they think Muslims got these views from the first place? [18].

Sayeeda Warsi, a former cabinet minister to David Cameron (Prime Minister of the current Conservative government) who resigned over Britain’s handling of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza [19], declared that Muslims in the UK believed the UK is waging a ‘cold war’ against British Muslims [20].

Warsi, for her pains, has too been attacked as permitting ‘entryism’ (working with people whose views the government disapproves of) [21] [22].


[1] http://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/civil-service-fails-islamist-challenge

[2] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/home-office-staff-can-join-islamic-extremists-7257832.html

[3] Daily mail article, November 23, 2006 (copy accessible here: http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2558 )

[4] https://archive.is/8gKhl

[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247432/Ministers-slammed-speaking-meeting-Muslim-justified-killing-British-troops.html

[6] “It is that [social] stigma which is really effective…In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread…Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion”

“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues…any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

[7] ‘The Mayor believes that Prevent initiatives have too often been prepared to engage with ostensibly non-violent Islamists, regarding them as a useful bulwark against their more violent counterparts. This is a fundamentally flawed approach as it bolsters an Islamist narrative that is at odds with the professed values of the liberal British State. The most obvious way of addressing the problem is for the State to create a strong values-led initiative at the heart of Prevent based around inalienable and non-negotiable values’
Memorandum from the Mayor of London (PVE 62)
2009-2010
( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmcomloc/65/65.pdf )

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/mar/13/muslim-safety-forum-boris-johnson

[9] http://criticallegalthinking.com/2015/05/16/why-muslims-cant-trust-the-legal-system/

[10] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11488175/The-baroness-Islamic-extremists-and-a-question-of-free-speech.html

[11] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/23/home-office-to-blacklist-extremists-to-protect-public-sector

[12] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/18/police-activists-blacklisting-agency-alleged

[13] ‘Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Murad falls victim to the hypocrisy of Liberal ‘tolerance’’ http://wp.me/p3k8xr-1XR

[14] http://masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/AHM-Can-Liberalism-tolerate-islam.htm

[15] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/clifford-chance-video-trainee-at-top-uk-law-firm-uploads-21minute-online-rant-blaming-charlie-hebdo-shootings-on-nonmuslims-9989396.html

[16] BBC Radio Debate: Should British Police publicly display support for Military Charities? (and UK government double standards on other causes) http://wp.me/p3k8xr-31C

[17] David Cameron declares that Muslims who believe in the teaching of Muhammed (saaw), are ‘extremists’ whose freedom to believe is ‘not acceptable’ in the UK:

“We need to recognise that we’re not just fighting terrorism here, we’re also fighting extremism…there are many extremists who fall short of actually condoning terrorism, but they buy into a lot of the narrative of the terrorists [e.g.] they support [belief in a] Caliphate…we have to say in our country, those views while they fall short of condoning terrorism, they’re not acceptable either…We need to do more to help integrate people into our country…there are some organisations and some people…to those people we have got to say, that is not an acceptable view, and we’re not going to engage with people who believe that their ought to be a Caliphate” David Cameron, 29th June 2015, BBC Radio 4

[18] ‘Was the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) an Islamist?’ https://abdullahalandalusi.com/2011/07/16/was-the-prophet-muhammed-an-islamist/

[19] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/05/lady-warsi-resigns-government-gaza-stance

[20] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/baroness-warsi-warns-how-british-muslims-fear-a-government-cold-war-against-their-faith-10251249.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/baroness-warsi-warns-cold-war-against-british-muslims-could-backfire-1501397

[21] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11427370/Islamic-radicals-at-the-heart-of-Whitehall.html

[22] http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/06/sayeeda-warsi-is-part-of-the-jihadist-emigration-problem/



Categories: Islamophobia, North America & Muslim communities in the West, UK. Europe, UK. Europe, North America & Muslim communities in the West

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