OPINION: Where are the mainstream Muslim voices that are ‘overpowered’ by extremists?

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Where are the mainstream Muslim voices that are ‘overpowered’ by extremists?

Richard Ferrer has been editor of Jewish News since 2009. As one of Britain's leading Jewish voices he writes for The Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other titles. Richard previously worked at the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, edited the Boston Jewish Advocate and created the Channel 4 TV series Jewish Mum Of The Year.

Richard Ferrer
Richard Ferrer
Richard New
Richard Ferrer

By Richard Ferrer, editor Jewish News

So it’s congratulations to Bethnal Green schoolgirl Amira Abase and her “ginger jihadi” sweetheart Abdullah Elmir on their wedding.

After all the anguish over Amira and her pals fleeing Blighty to join ISIS during half-term, we finally have our happy ending. Romance isn’t dead, although the groom may soon be.

For fear of causing offence, MPs pretend they don’t know what motivates British citizens to swap the home counties for the caliphate to become psycho killers or their rape slaves.

Well, on Monday, the prime minister finally did what few other politicians have the guts to do. Instead of being politically correct he was just, simply, correct. Unveiling the Government’s new counter-extremism strategy, David Cameron declared war on Muslim “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people” and “overpower mainstream voices”.

Ajmal Masroor
Ajmal Masroor

The danger does not come from mad mullahs such as Anjem Choudary. Their upside-down logic falls way outside Muslim society and, indeed, sanity. Rather, consider someone like Ajmal Masroor, a popular publicity-grabbing imam who regularly crawls out of his moral cesspit to appear on cosy BBC sofas posing as the voice of progressive Islam.

Last August, at London’s Palmers Green mosque – a “moderate” institution whose congregants do interfaith work – Masroor spent 30 minutes educating his hushed audience about “abusers” in the UK “Jewish lobby”, the “Jewish supremacist ideology” that “holds our government hostage” and how Obama has been “bought” by “Zionists”. His filthy tirade, which can be heard HERE, ends with an impassioned plea to “keep struggling” or you “won’t enter paradise”.

Masroor’s hands are not bloodstained, but his mouth surely is. Now consider the public statements of mainstream community organisations that have ill-served British Muslims for decades.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s infamous official response to 7/7 still chills the bones 10 years on. “We do naturally feel deeply for the sufferings… yet we also remind ourselves of the verse of the Qur’an, “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity… We call on the international community to work towards just and lasting peace settlements… and help eliminate the grievances that seem to nurture a spiral of violence.” In other words, the 52 victims probably had it coming. The MCB has come a long way since such comments and its HMD boycott.

But today’s soundtrack from some quarters seems just as sinister. Responding to Cameron’s constructive call for a united front, Asghar Bukhari, the paranoid founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee who last month accused Zionists of “creeping into my home and stealing my shoe”, said: “The vast majority of Muslim communities see David Cameron, his government and his policies as being at the forefront of alienating them, demonising them and pushing them into a corner.” 

So where are all these mainstream voices of reason being “overpowered” by radicals? Where are all the progressives determined to put paradise-seeking genies, such as Masroor, firmly back in their bottle? Some exist – indeed, some have written in these pages. But it often seems you can count those who seem to put their heads above the parapet on one hand, with fingers to spare.

A Muslim leader is yet to emerge to take the mantle of the late, great Zaki Badawi. This brave enemy of extremism once told The Guardian: “I want the government to help me train better imams. It’s cheaper than having to combat the effect of bad imams.”

Badawi was shocked at the number of Muslim leaders who can’t speak English being imported from Saudi Arabia. He firmly believed British Islam must be rooted in British values.

Nine years on, his legacy lies in tatters. Today’s default position in some parts of the Muslim community on ISIS could hardly be more passive: ‘We’re not responsible for the extremism of others so why must we apologise­ for it?’ Chances to declare all-out war on the malignant cancer in their midst are greeted with embarrassment, obfuscation or silence.

For all Cameron’s big plans and wise words, only the revival of Badawi’s brand of progressive British Islam will prevent growing numbers of young Muslims from wilfully teetering on the edge of a moral precipice. Until then, the loonies will have the loudest voices, coercing ever more British teenagers to swap suburbia for Syria.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: