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It isn’t a crime to change your mind. A greater folly is to surround your political conviction with an invulnerable coat of armour, letting it stand unaffected by changing evidence or opposing argument.
Tommy Robinson has clearly changed his mind. He hasn’t recanted his past beliefs, but he has substantially moderated them to almost that effect. He no longer believes (so he says) in making Muslims ‘uncomfortable’, or in tarring fundamentalist believers with the same brush as ‘moderates’. Talking to the Guardian, he even went so far as to apologise to the Muslim community for any offence he has given these past few years as EDL leader.
Although this might be disappointing for some, we should try to respect it. I don’t believe, like Nick Griffin, that Robinson was ever a puppet, or that the EDL was a deliberate misdirection of patriotism, a ‘shady Zionist plot’, or a government funded psy-op. It always seemed to me a perfectly sincere enterprise with a clear manifesto and a brilliant organisational structure. It was also something which – in its heyday- did great things for our cause and our defence.
It won’t surprise you then to hear that I disagree wholly with Robinsons new outlook.
His entire conversion, for me, rests upon a flawed idea; namely, the idea that Islam can be moderated by the sentiment of nationality.
What Tommy is now asking of Muslims in effect, is that they become British first and Muslim second, or in other words, that they take the here-and-now as seriously as the hereafter.
But, as anyone who has read Qur’an knows, the Muslim faith hinges on a belief that this earthly life, with all its loyalties, bounties and appearances is merely a test and a prelude to a greater reality. The ‘Muslim’ (literally ‘one who submits’) treats this life as a preparation, a period of moral labour necessary to unlock the doors of death and dwell forever in paradise.
To be ‘British’ by contrast, is of no value whatsoever, or at least not relative to the promise of eternity.
With this in mind, the creation of a distinct ‘British Muslim’ identity seems unrealistic to me. The two loyalties would be locked in constant battle, and the fallout would be toxic.
It would be nice if Tommy’s optimism was proven correct. I’m not convinced it will be.