They're in a battle to try and win our hearts and minds. The British government that is.
Salman Rushdie has been awarded a Knighthood, and as a British Muslim i find this news quite hard to stomach. Not only is this another demonstration of what a shambles the whole honours system is, but by honouring a man who so gravely insulted Muslims by his portrayal of revered Muslim figures, the government, yes its the government, not the Queen, who decides who is honoured, have caused God knows what damage to relations between the Muslims and government.
The question that British Muslims have to ask themselves is, how does it sit with you that on the one hand, the Government says time and again that they're with the moderate Muslims, and then gives this detestable man, not just a CBE or an MBE, but a Knighthood? For surely, there isn't a Muslim anywhere who could feel pleased that the slanderer of the Messenger of Allah is given a prestigious award?
Now of course some will argue, that we here in the West have certain liberties and freedoms, and one of those is freedom of speech. And if you don't like that, well that's tough, you're just going to have to live with it.
I just wonder where these people were when David Irving was recently imprisoned in Austria for denying the holocaust. Is freedom of speech only for people whose views we don't really mind?
Not only have the government shot themselves in the foot by honouring this idiot, but in the battle for the hearts and minds of young Muslims, they've armed the real extremists with another bullet. Another argument that will be used by those who seek to convince Muslims that integrating with British society is a bum deal, because no matter how integrated you do become, they will not cease to insult your religion.
From a Muslim's point of view, i also have to note how shameful it is that the first country to stand up to speak against Rushdie being honoured is Iran, followed four days later by Pakistan. Where are the rest of them?
Link: The battle for hearts and minds in Iraq
**Update** Joseph Corre turns down an MBE