I was waiting for the bus last night when I noticed a sticker that someone had stuck onto the bus-stop. It looked like normal graffiti, until I read the message: “BRING SHARI’AH TO BRITAIN.” Helpfully, around the edges it said “An end to pornography. An end to violence. An end to alcohol-related problems. An end to the exploitation of women.” Etc. It was this last that put my ears back—I don’t think the system currently in place is perfect by a long shot, but the only it’s not is because women let themselves be exploited. I pulled the sticker off the window because, honestly, it made me a little angry, and I found it a little chilling. I feel as though the British government has tried very hard to extend a friendly hand to the Muslim community: they recently celebrated the end of Ramadan in Trafalgar Square, and MPs are angering constituents everywhere by renaming Christmas festivities “Winter Celebrations” but messages like that continue to appear.
I do not understand this radical religion.
I have had it explained to me several times, by people smarter than me: “Some Muslims believe that they must—MUST—force their religion on people.” It is a simple enough concept, but my brain just refuses to contemplate it. It’s as if there is a very stupid person living inside me going “Hang on. So, my options are be forced into a burka or be killed for my own honour? Wait. Why can’t we live and let live?” And then I have to have it explained again: because they want to spread their religion by any means necessary. And I don’t understand. I’m not going to clarify the situation by saying “this is a very small, vocal part of the Muslim community, most Muslims are content to worship in peace” because I know everyone knows that. I’m just very confused by the one percent or so of Muslims who aren’t content to worship in peace and who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their ends. It’s all very bewildering. Especially when, in the course of one bus ride, I can see C of E church ladies with their plaid shopping baskets, Jewish men dressed sombrely in black hats and full beards, Indian teenagers in saris and Turkish men unloading Polish food into a grocery store advertising itself as “Continental.” I just don’t understand.