'In Britain...a majority of Muslims have, one way or another, clearly accepted the basic rules of peaceful coexistence in a liberal pluralist society. They no longer say, as a British Muslim called Iqbal Sacranie did in 1989, while some of his co-religionists were burning copies of The Satanic Verses, that death might be "a bit too easy" for Rushdie'.We still don't know who'll win the global battle for free speech , Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, May 9 2014Certainly the basic rules of free speech have been mostly accepted. Yet it's not clear whether 'preaceful coexistence' is one accepted by militant Islamists without imposing certain terms and using the threat of terror as a means to try and change Britain and its foreign policy.
They may well not say such things as Sacranie did in the heat of the moment in 1989. Instead Islamists have learnt public relations and how to craftily deploy language to insinuate the idea of a 'community under siege'. That was quite evident during the Birmingham Islamist 'school takeover plot'.
They include former psychotherapists such as the sinister Salma Yaqoob. Media savvy and manipulate, she was able to spin the reaction to allegations of an Islamist takeover as part of a "narrative" to demonise Muslims who are 'in denial' and complicit if they "challenge" it.
Unless the Ofsted Report is part of a choreographed state plot, then it has to be accepted that Islamists did put into practice institutional discrimination against non-Muslim pupils. Even so, the point is that Yaqoob is trying to exploit these events for propaganda purposes.
The insinuation is always that Muslims are facing persecution, harrassment and discrimination in Britain so as to whip up sectarian militancy. As Yaqoob puts it 'Muslims feel under siege, while being accused of besieging an unwitting and overly tolerant majority who in turn will be fearful and mistrustful'.
Since 2001, free speech has been lauded by Islamists because it was no longer beneficial to call for a novelists or writer to be killed publicly. It was better to use the undoubted overreaction to the 9/11 attacks to put forth the idea of the myth of the umma as under armed threat across the globe.
In Britain throughout the 2000s a form of shadow boxing has since gone on between British governments wanting to ramp up the threat of terror as a pretext to intervene militarily in 'the Muslim world' and domestic Islamists who portray that as global war of terror against the umma.
That was seen in the Birmingham School 'plot' where Michael Gove deliberately blew out of all proportion the attempts to Islamise schools by sending in counter terrorism officials. Such shoddy attempts to exploit the fear of Islamism are designed to win votes and look 'tough'.
In Britain, free speech is not so much on the wane. The reason there are few people willing to satirise Islam or Mohammed is partly because it is simply so much easier to stick to the routine targets such as Christianity and due to the mendacious use of the word 'Islamophobia' to mean a form of 'racism'.
If anything free speech has become superfluous in an age of image and spin, one where Britons living in a bored and atomised consumer society have their politics and view fed to them by mass media machines, oily spin and ideologues trying to 'frame debates' through their use of politically correct language.