Islam And A Very British Love Affair

| Updated: 24 September, 2022 3:33 pm IST

The Leicester Riots coincided with Rishi Sunak losing the race for Prime Ministership. It is a stretch to assume that Rishi becoming the Prime Minister of the UK would have resulted in anything good for the thousands of Indians residing there, nonetheless, the Islamists chose to use this event as a symbol.

The attacks on the Hindus and their properties (which include Hindu temples) bear the mark of prior planning. The template has become quite the standard operating procedure anywhere where Islamists have the liberty to play the ‘victim’ – which is along most Western nations and India. The steps involve, a) orchestrating a tipping point (this was done at the end of an India-Pakistan cricket match); b) using social media to peddle victimhood around it by blatant lies and subtle stoking of religious/criminal extremism for a few days; c) get pre-identified outdoor hustlers to organize mobs; d) unleash street violence in the name of ‘hurt sentiment’, ‘islamophobia’, or ‘hate speech’ etc, and cause extensive damage to private middle-class properties; and e) deflect the responsibility back to the state/ the majority/ the ‘others’ – whichever applies.

Now there are two aspects that sustained the Leicester Riots. One is the Islamists and their organization bandwidth. The other one is a combination of the English authorities and their institutions. The police remained mute spectators in containing the rioters on a rampage, and later on, only resisted the Hindus from carrying out protest rallies. The press (BBC, Channel 4, Guardian) likewise, undertook an interesting journey from remaining absolutely silent about the Islamists rioting and destroying properties to miraculously rediscovering their pitch when it came to blaming the Hindus (and labelling the entire incident as Hindutva Terror / RSS-BJP riots, etc).


Is there a tacit understanding between the Islamists and the authorities there? After all, the Rotherham grooming gang – responsible for kidnapping and raping numerous white schoolgirls over years – are Pakistanis, and yet none of the media outlets call them so, choosing to stick with the label, ‘Asian men’. Is it not worth a deeper look?


It began with Protestant England getting drawn to the Ottomans. It was in 1570 when Elizabeth I, excommunicated by the Roman Church, sought alliance elsewhere. And found Sultan Murad III. That thread of initial desperation that was a result of ostracization quickly changed into self-righteousness as the Queen began viewing England’s Protestant identity as one that was on the same boat as Islam – in terms of novelty, and their opposition to the Roman Church.

With time, Islam began culturally influencing England – something that has been very carefully, very cautiously shielded, and still remains so. While the evident, and accepted measure of ‘Englishness’ has always been their whiteness, their version of Christianity, their accent, and other nuances, Simon Worrall notes in National Geographic: “Look at Tudor portraits. It’s all Orient pearls, silk from Iran, or cotton from the Ottoman territories. The English language changes, too. Words suddenly enter, like sugar, candy, crimson, turban, and tulip, which have Arabic or Persian roots.” Then, there are other aspects. Like, the fashion consultant to Elizabeth was someone called Aura Soltana – the first Muslim to enter England; Elizabeth’s love for Moroccan sugar turned her teeth black; she continually wrote letters to the Sultan explaining why Protestant England – disbeliever in idolatry, needed to club with the Ottomans to destroy the Spanish Catholics and liberate Europe from the grasp of Catholicism. Worrall also notes the first conversion (the phrase ‘turning Turkey’ originates from here), the resultant Stockholm Syndrome, and the larger effects of that. According to Worrall, the recent deluge of historical dramas to drive the ‘Englishness’ of England is an effort to hide the impression of Islam on them. (Read here for the whole article).


A couple of hundred years later, during the time of The Great Game – when Czarist Russia was spreading all over central Asia and parts of southeast Europe, and Calcutta, as well as London, were extremely worried about it – England tried to trap Russia into low-key protracted proxy conflicts wherever they could. The Caucasus was one of them. The British did everything to stir up the local Muslim tribes to prolong the war. The tribes, most notably the Circassians and the Dagestani rebels were provided with arms, money, food, and even propaganda support by someone who would find a later day parallel in American Senator Charlie Wilson: his name was David Urquhart. Urquhart, a diplomat and an influential government official from London, through two spies dressed up as journalists – Longworth and Bell, provided the Caucasian rebels with most of what they needed. Urquhart today is hailed to be the one whose initiatives alone prolonged the Caucasian conflict for the Russians.

But what is of more interest here is his personal views about Islam. He was an ardent admirer of the religion, to the extent that he even lobbied briefly for changing the official religion of England to Islam (his prime reason apparently was that only Islam could force the English people to bathe regularly). Like Urquhart, there were many diplomats, spies, writers, and cartographers who regularly imported ideas from the Ottoman or the Persian world. Some of them grew fairly influential too. This sustained, one-way permeation from the Islamic world resulted in a fundamental shift in the identities of English institutions and governing authorities.


There are many instances of the English love affair in the subcontinent as well. This became more and more visible as the educated Hindu began challenging the authority of the crown. After displacing Muslims from their five-century-old elitist existence, the colonialists quickly realized (to their discomfort) that the average upwardly mobile Hindu was a catalyst that influenced insight and awareness at least among his/her warm circle. And this only accelerated with time. But given their dependence on the human infrastructure that the Brits had created to run this colony, there was nothing much they could do.

The opportunity came in the shape of the INC under MK Gandhi. A series of blunders (suggested read: Narendra Singh Sarila’s epic, The Shadow of the Great Game), empowered the Brits to legitimize the Muslim League. We know the rest. Additionally, they illegally grabbed Gilgit Baltistan, administered that into Pakistan, and in Pakistan, they chose their future settlement; with the idea to continue administering India (post-WWII) through a subservient INC. [The access to central Asia was there too; that’s a topic for a separate article]. In the Middle East, this affinity saw them cozying up to Iran and Saudi Arabia while distancing themselves from the Holocaust survivors that were trying to settle themselves around Jerusalem.

The present-day proliferation of Pakistanis in the UK has the same roots. So England plays the perfect host to the average Pakistani immigrant, the elite opportunist (Malala Yousufzai), the terrorist trainer (Anjem Choudhury), or his young trainees, and remains unbelievably complex and unreasonable while granting a simple tourist visa to the average Indian.

When the Hindus of the UK lobby hard with New Delhi for the free trade treaty that their English masters want, when they appear alongside Muslim clerics and appeal to Hindus to remain calm (despite an overwhelmingly large number of Muslims being arrested for the present riots), when they remain silent if a Sadhvi Ritambhara needs the ‘approval’ of local imams before speaking in a Durga Mandir, or when they choose to look the other way when authors and speakers that represent resurgent India are banned and denied a platform to speak – I see the elaborate trap that they have built for themselves through their smug mindlessness, sheer ignorance, and rank opportunism. That reminds me of the Mark Twain quote: History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

[Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical enthusiast and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed. He tweets @heartland_ari]

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