The Texas synagogue siege last weekend was a watershed moment. British Pakistani Muslim Malik Faisal Akram took four people as hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel before being shot dead by the police and SWAT teams. The UK exported a radical Islamist antisemite to a fellow Western country and security ally – a quite remarkable development.
In truth, a fundamental systems failure of this magnitude was coming. For some time, I have raised concerns over the higher-than-mainstream levels of antisemitism within British Muslims. While anti-Jewish views and antisemitic conspiratorial beliefs are not necessarily shared by the majority of British Muslims, the levels are relatively high when compared to the general population. This is further heightened in more socially segregated elements of the British Muslim population.
This is especially important to note, considering Akram was from Blackburn. The Lancastrian mill town is one of the most segregated places in the whole of Britain – and there is no doubting that it is one of the country’s hotspots when it comes to Islamist activity. Indeed, back in May 2021, we witnessed another horrific incident, which appeared to show antisemitic abuse against British Jewish women by pro-Palestinian demonstrators driving through St. John’s Wood in North London. The four men charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words, or behaviour, with intent, likely to stir up racial hatred were from Blackburn.
It is not a case of anti-Muslim prejudice to acknowledge that antisemitism is relatively concentrated in British Muslim communities. The UK Government must support patriotic anti-Islamist British Muslims who are appalled by forms of anti-Jewish hate within their own religious communities. They can play an integral part in helping their country develop a more resilient anti-extremist core.
Let the Texas synagogue siege be a serious wake-up call – we must do more to strengthen interfaith relations in modern-day Britain.