That might be the most eye-catching quote (h/t NRC.Next) in an interview with Timothy Winter (AKA Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad), voted the most influential British Muslim by the Jordanian Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), but the rest of the interview is just as shocking. And that's besides the Independent's condescending, insulting and stereotyping introduction: "Tall, bookish, fair-skinned and flaxen-haired, a wiry beard is his only obvious stylistic concession to the Islamic faith.")
UK: "I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist"(photo)
Via the Independent:
After graduating, Winter studied at the University of al-Azhar in Egypt and worked in Jeddahat before returned to England in the late eighties to study Turkish and Persian. He says he has no difficulty reconciling the world he grew up in with the one he now inhabits. "Despite all the stereotypes of Islam being the paradigmatic opposite to life in the west, the feeling of conversion is not that one has migrated but that one has come home.
"I feel that I more authentically inhabit my old identity now that I operate within Islamic boundaries than I did when I was part of a teenage generation growing up in the 70s who were told there shouldn't be any boundaries."
The challenge, he feels, is much harder now for young Muslims trying to integrate with British life.
"Your average British Asian Muslim on the streets of Bradford or Small Heath in Birmingham is told he has to integrate more fully with the society around him. The society he tends to see around him is extreme spectacles of binge drinking on Saturday nights, scratchcards, and other forms of addiction apparently rampant, credit card debt crushing lives, collapsing relationships and mushrooming proportions of single lives, a drug epidemic. It doesn't look very nice.
"That is why one of the largest issues over the next 50 years is whether these new Muslim communities can be mobilised to deal with those issues. Islam is tailor-made precisely for all those social prolems. It is the ultimate cold turkey. You don't drink at all. You don't sleep around. You don't do scratchcards. Or whether a kind of increasing polarisation, whereby Muslims look at the degenerating society around them and decide ‘You can keep it'."
It is not this, though, that contributes to some young Muslim British men's radicalism, he says, since their numbers are often made up of "the more integrated sections".
"The principle reason, which Whitehall cannot admit, is that people are incensed by foreign policy. Iraq is a smoking ruin in the Iranian orbit. Those who are from a Muslim background are disgusted by the hypocrisy. It was never about WMD. It was about oil, about Israel and evangelical christianity in the White House. That makes people incandescent with anger. What is required first of all is an act of public contrition. Tony Blair must go down on his knees and admit he has been responsible for almost unimaginable human suffering and despair."