British Muslims feel ‘counted out’ of mainstream society, says Baroness Warsi

01 September 2017

A question of trust: Baroness Warsi at the Greenbelt festival, where she was promoting her new book, The Enemy Within: A tale of Muslim Britain

A question of trust: Baroness Warsi at the Greenbelt festival, where she was promoting her new book, The Enemy Within: A tale of Muslim B...

BRITISH Muslims feel as if they must take a daily “loyalty test”, Bar­oness Warsi, the former Conservat­ive Cabinet minister, has said.

A lawyer, Baroness Warsi, who was previously a minister in the Foreign Office, and Minister for Faith and Communities in the Coalition Gov­ernment, said that, despite some signs of progress, “I still feel like every day I’m having to face a loyalty test.”

She was speaking at the Greenbelt festival, where she was promoting her new book, The Enemy Within: A tale of Muslim Britain.

Despite the presence of young, well-integrated Muslims in popular culture, such as the pop star Zayn Malik, or the winner of The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain, Muslims were still “sick to death of being counted out” of mainstream society.

Baroness Warsi was the first female Muslim Cabinet minister in British history. The Government’s approach amounted to “the para­noid state”, she said, noting how anti-terrorism policy focused solely on proscribing ideology, and ig­­nored the other factors that, research showed, pushed people into extrem­ism.

Fewer than a tenth of one per cent of the three million Muslims living in the UK had anything to do with jihadism, she said, and yet the Government’s engagement with this diverse community was seen solely through the prism of counter-terrorism.

“There are far more Muslim doc­tors in the NHS than there are Muslim terrorists,” she said. “We are more likely to be life-savers rather than life-takers. This policy of disengagement is fundamentally wrong.”

In 2014, Baroness Warsi resigned from the Government, saying that she could no longer support official policy on the escalating violence between Israel and Gaza (News, 8 August 2014).

The title of her book came to her after a journalist at The Spectator had ques­tioned her place on the national security council discussing counter-terrorism proposals after the attack on Lee Rigby, describing her as “the enemy at the table”.

“That insult was the worst. It said: ‘We don’t trust you,’” she re­­called. “‘You don’t belong.’ But the best way to deal with an insult that really hurts you is to own it: this book is my way of fielding that insult.”

Forthcoming Events

9 October
The Parish: Has it Had its Day?

Join us for a Moral Maze-style debate at St Mellitus College, London. Tickets £10 (£5 for students/ordinands). Read more and book tickets

The Church Times Podcast

The Church Times Podcast, hosted by Tim Wyatt and Ed Thornton, features a mixture of interviews and news analysis. Listen online

Subscribe now to get full access

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read seven articles each month for free.