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The Times cover story on Salafis

The Times cover story on Salafis

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday June 25 2014

The Times front page story yesterday claimed British Muslims are flocking to a ‘jihadists’ hardline sect’ and that ‘half of [British] mosques will be run by Islamists hostile to western values’.

The cover story repeats claims made in a recently published book by Innes Bowen about the conservative tendencies of Salafis, such as their ‘hostile’ attitudes to ‘music, television and even birthdays’, a tendency to ‘impose severe restrictions on the lives of women’, and the growth in their numbers with the assertion that many British Somalis as ‘turning to Salafism’.

In Bowen’s book, the reference to the ‘severe restrictions on the lives of women’ is preceded by the context, so she writes: ‘In Saudi Arabia the birthplace of Wahhabi Salafism’, there are severe restrictions on the lives of women’.

Salafis are portrayed as people who ‘tend to avoid music, television and photographs of living things’ and whose ‘strict discipline’ means that ‘many adherents live a life where contact with mainstream society is kept to a minimum’.

Various references follow to individuals who have flirted with Salafism including Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada and Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Whatever one may make of the conservative leanings of Salafis, the claim in The Times that it is a ‘jihadists’ hardline sect’ which represents ‘Islamists hostile to western values’ is not only wide of the mark but nothing in the ‘evidence’ presented in the quotes taken from Bowen’s book substantiate it. Bowen herself writes in her concluding chapter on Salafis: ‘Whatever the growth rate of Salafism in Britain turns out to be, it looks set to remain a dynamic and diverse movement, and one which is ultimately far more complex than its caricature as the source of modern jihadism’.


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