What’s Theresa May’s view on Saadia Saeed, leader of Aung San Suu Kyi’s anti-gay campaign?

By Mohamed Al-Sheikh, CTC Sentinel

During her initial years in office, Britain’s hardline Home Secretary Theresa May cited her faith as an important influence, stating that she is “a Christian but my beliefs are British.” Mrs. May’s foundation from a religion which does not contain explicit elements of violence, of course, reflects the standard British values of diversity, freedom of worship and commitment to pluralism. This stance was reinforced by the recent YouTube sanction for an Anne Frank film clip, describing the woman who was liberated from Nazi death camps as a “complete idiot” and “poster girl for the Nazis.”

Interestingly, it was for this reason that the prime minister avoided criticising Mrs. Patel for her speech last Thursday at an event hosted by an obscure organization, which considers itself a Christian lobby group, The World Christian Council, in Denmark. If it is indeed a Christian lobby group, then Mrs. Patel’s statement on the Danish comments, targeting homosexuality and child abuse, should be abhorrent.

As a Christian with an orientation toward a faith that did not encourage violence, I find it difficult to accept that a representative of my faith would actively espouse such unsavoury views. With the events in the UK and USA continuing to unfold with President Trump being criticized for remarks he made on the issue of the KKK, and many members of the House of Commons expressing alarm over Mr. Patel’s statements, it is significant that Mrs. May seems to have remained silent on this matter.

Also worth noting is that not only does her endorsement of her daughter’s entry into politics suggest an unwillingness to let two individuals of different faiths to speak freely and openly about their belief systems, but also her implicit link to the World Christian Council, despite her statement that she is a Conservative, not Christian. It is only within the ruling party where Christians are granted a measure of freedom to express their views without fear of persecution, which in turn makes Mrs. May’s position of tacit acceptance of Patel’s statements peculiar.

In Mrs. May’s choice of a position such as home secretary, her deference to her own party on all these issues suggest that she does not recognize the changing times. On the other hand, it seems that Mrs. Patel’s adoption of an aggressive, confrontational approach to a field which she is intrinsically placed to govern well and in which she has significant knowledge, engenders sympathy from the audience at the event. The question is why?

What do they think of the previous perceived weakness of this group, which now proclaims itself as having representatives in 104 countries? Where is the differentiation between this group and organisations such as Al Azhar, World Council of Mosques, and other umbrella groups working towards interfaith dialogue? The answer, I believe, is that radicalisation of the minds of young people is one of the most pressing, and dangerous, issues facing the Middle East. How the UK government handles this issue requires a more radical stance to serve the interests of the young people. Without involvement, of all religions, from one perspective that affects the very essence of one’s faith, extremism can succeed and even grow.

Lastly, it is undeniable that as a cabinet minister, Mrs. May represents the people of this country and that is another part of her problem. She says one thing but does another. Her favoured phrase is “everyone is equal” but it is only in such a severe way that reinforces her belief in her own country and its role in the world. Meanwhile, Europe is simply free to decide its own policy on LGBT issues and it is Egypt that claims a policy of “being inclusive” on this sensitive issue. Pakistan still has the final word on whether a person is “ready” for a polygamous relationship and although it appears to go against fundamental human rights of women, it is not in the spirit of “is Islam compatible with the philosophy of liberalism and pluralism of the West”.

The point is that Mrs. May, the home secretary in the UK, has supported her daughter’s ambition to enter politics and today she stands tall and proud with her credentials in the UK and UK Cabinet. On the other hand, her opening of the UK’s doors to immigrants under Mrs. May’s premiership is just another failure to take measures to counter the foreign fighters. The future of the UK is only in its hands. If Mrs. May has decided that she is the best person to lead the policies on this issue, then all the other communities and faiths will follow suit.

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