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Muslim Groups Accuse Boris Johnson of Promoting Hatred

Muslim Groups Accuse Boris Johnson of Promoting Hatred
Boris Johnson speaks at the Conservative party conference in 2007. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Boris Johnson has been accused of “promoting hatred” for an essay in which he claims that Islam caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the West in an article unearthed by The Guardian.

The essay portrayed Muslims as “a wave or horde of rampaging Muslims, who had little time for the intricacies and legacies of civilizations like that of Rome,” Tell Mama, a multi-faith monitoring group, said.

Johnson wrote about the rise of Islam in an appendix added to The Dream of Rome, his 2006 book about the Roman Empire, entitled And Then Came the Muslims.

He wrote: “There must be something about Islam that indeed helps to explain why there was no rise of the bourgeoisie, no liberal capitalism and therefore no spread of democracy in the Muslim world.

“It is extraordinary to think that under the Roman/Byzantine Empire, the city of Constantinople kept the candle of learning alight for a thousand years and that under Ottoman rule, the first printing press was not seen in Istanbul until the middle of the nineteenth century. Something caused them to be literally centuries behind.”

Condemning his claim that Muslims were somehow “mentally constrained by Islam”, the group said, “That shows a lack of understanding of Islam, and there are many Muslims whom Islam has inspired to produce some of the most beautiful art forms in their love for life and beauty.”

The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group representing British Muslims, said: “Many of us would be interested to find out whether Johnson still believes that Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom.”

“We, of course, are of the view that Islam has a role to play in progress and prosperity, be that in the Muslim world or here at our home in the west,” MCB added.

The essay comes amid growing scrutiny of Islamophobia in the Conservative party and whether its roots lie in rightwing media coverage.

A YouGov poll of Tory members by the campaign group Hope Not Hate found that 60% believe “Islam is generally a threat to western civilization” and more than half believe “Islam is generally a threat to the British way of life”.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK with 2017 having a record number of Islamophobic attacks.

Tell Mama recorded over 1,200 reports of Islamophobic incidents, a 26-percent surge from the previous year.

The UK reported last October a 17% increase in hate crimes over the past year, with 94,098 incidents recorded by police, up from about 40,000 reported in 2012.


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