Baroness Warsi has always struck me as a thoroughly modern Muslim. She wears her faith lightly and has no truck with militant Islam.
She has been commendably forthright in her stand against religious extremism and her willingness to face down the Toytown jihadists earned her a fusillade of rotten eggs in the martyrs’ paradise of Luton.
As Tory Party co-chairman, she is a potent symbol of Call Me Dave’s new model Conservatism, living proof that the party can embrace ambitious members of the ethnic minorities as well as Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.
So why has she chosen now to claim that prejudice and bigotry against Muslims is widespread in Britain?
In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. With the inquiry into the London Transport terrorist attack reminding us daily of the atrocities committed in the name of Allah, not to mention the recent revelations about gangs of Muslim men targeting and raping filthy infidel whores on the streets of British cities, Sayeeda Warsi has hardly picked the most opportune moment to accuse the rest of us of raging ‘Islamophobia’.
She alleges that anti-Muslim bigotry has crossed the dinner party threshold and is socially acceptable.
I don’t know what kind of dinner parties Sayeeda goes to. The last time we had a few friends round for a meal was over Christmas.
And although my recollection of the conversation dims after the sixth bottle, I’m certain we talked about the new Springsteen box set; why Spurs needed David Beckham like a hole in the head; the extortionate price of petrol; and what precisely have Cameron’s Conservatives actually done for the millions who voted for them?
I can’t remember any breath being wasted on attitudes to Muslims in British society.
But Sayeeda sees ‘Islamophobia’ round every dinner table, on every street corner and in every school playground and workplace.
‘In the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: “Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim.”’
‘In the school, the kids say: “The family next door are Muslims, but they’re not too bad.”
‘And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: “That woman is either oppressed or is making a political statement.”’
Are you sure?
Most of us just think anyone who wears a burka in Britain is barking mad and wonder why someone who so utterly rejects our society and our liberal values would want to live here. Surely they would be much happier in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.
It’s instructive that in all the TV footage of the unrest in devoutly Muslim Tunisia, there hasn’t been a burka in sight.
Sayeeda even has a pop at the media, accusing us of dividing Muslims into ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’. In a sense, she’s right. It is impossible to write about Islamic terrorism without including prominently a caveat about ‘the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims’.
Newspapers bend over backwards to distance the headbangers from mainstream British Muslims. It’s good manners, as well as good business.
So sensitive are the authorities to accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ that even when Muslim gangsters of Pakistani origin are found guilty of raping white teenage girls, the police go out of their way to insist ludicrously that there was ‘no cultural, racial or religious’ motive — despite all the evidence to the contrary.
That’s because we realise that our Muslim neighbours are as appalled as everyone else at the antics of the sociopaths who dedicate themselves to hatred and murder in the name of religion.
Most of the Muslims I know are from Pakistani or Turkish backgrounds. What they have in common is that they all identify as Londoners. Then again, I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where people of all races and religious persuasions rub along well.
The same can’t be said of some neighbourhoods in towns and cities, especially in the North of England, where the indigenous population has been supplanted by a hostile Muslim monoculture.
It is an incontrovertible fact that a sizeable number of Muslims pursue a separatist agenda and simply refuse to integrate into British society. Or that many mosques and madrassas in this country play host to extremist preachers of hate who aim to brainwash impressionable youngsters into joining the global jihad.
Self-appointed ‘community leaders’ continue to shield the crazies, rather than shop their ‘Muslim brothers’ to the police.
The problem is exacerbated by the huge increase in immigration under Labour. There are now almost three million Muslims living in Britain, an increase of 50 per cent since 2001. Who voted for that? It can’t all be explained by a high birthrate.
We are having to learn to live with this new reality, but is it any wonder there is suspicion when people see deranged Islamic extremists parading the streets waving placards calling for infidels to be beheaded and celebrating the deaths of British soldiers?
I can only begin to imagine what it was like to be an innocent young Muslim man going about his lawful business on the Underground in the wake of the July 7 bombings in 2005.
But it is to our collective credit that reprisals against Muslims have been few and far between. The British don’t hold all Muslims responsible for Al Qaeda-inspired violence, any more than we blamed our Irish friends and neighbours for the worst excesses of the IRA. We spurn the poisonous incitements of Far Right politicians.
After 9/11 and 7/7, we were urged to ‘reach out’ to Muslims. Some people thought maybe the ‘reaching out’ should come from the other direction. After all, these attacks were committed in the name of Islam, whoever was responsible.
We’re also told that thousands of young Muslim men became radicalised after 9/11. You might have thought that any sane individual would have been horrified by one of the worst acts of mass murder ever witnessed in peacetime — not seen it as a call to arms.
Before 9/11, few took much notice of the growing Muslim communities in Britain or the sprouting of alien-looking mosques across our cityscapes.
But many people are now genuinely concerned about the past decade of Islamic expansionism. Rightly or wrongly, they fear the transformation of British society in some areas, from the intrusive call to prayer in the inner cities to the ubiquity of halal meat in supermarkets.
That doesn’t make them racists or guilty of the lazy, catch-all smear ‘Islamophobia’. I’m sure that Baroness Warsi is genuinely concerned with improving race relations in Britain. Traducing her fellow citizens isn’t the best way to go about it.