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.”