Tuesday, 14 April 2015

"Integration isn't even an issue for us"

Sheikh David Munir addresses fellow Muslims
in the Central Mosque of Lisbon
This is a short excerpt of my interview with Imam David Munir, of the Muslim Community of Lisbon. In this excerpt he speaks about the integration of Portuguese Muslims in society, and about his relationship with activist Maajid Nawaz. The full interview is in Portuguese and can be found here. The news report, which includes a video, can be found here.

I recently interviewed Maajid Nawaz, a former islamist associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir who, despite still identifying as a Muslim, campaigns against Islamism. He argues that it is a mistake, and counterproductive, to say that groups like the Islamic State, and others, have nothing to do with Islam.
I know Maajid Nawaz, and I have been with him on several occasions.

In one of those events, when I spoke about the Portuguese community, he said: “Here is a good example of integration, and we need you”. He invited me several times to speak at events, to enlighten people. But enlightening people is not the solution to this problem.

The problem with other Muslim communities in the West, specifically in Europe, is one of integration, coexistence and cultural adjustment, and these issues are not on the agenda of the Portuguese community.

We don’t ask our Muslims if they are integrated or not, it’s not even an issue. It’s not on our agenda. So why is it on the agenda of other communities? Because from the beginning, when these communities started to grow, they began forming ghettoes, there are several examples in different European countries. Here we don’t have them, fortunately, because if we did, we’d probably have more or less the same sort of problems.

Regarding Hizb ut-Tahrir, I remember several years ago two of their members came to Portugal. When they arrived they looked me up, this was way before Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, 9/11… They had come to see how many Muslims there were, what they thought.

The term “Caliphate” is very twisted nowadays. When we speak of the Caliphate we are talking about justice, equality, tolerance, getting along with other nations and not the sort of things we see everyday now.

They asked me what I thought and I said sure, if we had a just, honest, sincere and open caliph, why not? But who would be the ideal person? The Islamic countries are in the state they are in, so in theory it might be good, but in practice, I said at the time, it’s a long process. Who would it be? A politican? A cleric? Somebody from the East, from the West?

When they realized that they weren’t going to have much luck recruiting here they left… Of course, I then began to investigate what Hizb ut-Tahrir is about, because at the time I never imagined that the idea they have of a caliphate does not coincide entirely with what Islam is about.

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