I will not be intimidated, says defiant columnist Farooq Siddique
A POST columnist who accused Bristol's mosque leaders of being 'petty and mundane' has had his car vandalised.
Farooq Siddique believes he has been targeted after he criticised local imams and fellow Muslims have warned him he has "stirred up a hornet's nest" with his comments.
The day after his Tuesday Thought column was published last week a concrete paving slab was hurled through the back window of his blue Chrysler Grand Voyager.
But Mr Siddique, whose car was parked on his private driveway behind a seven foot gate, says he will not be intimidated by the minority of Muslims he has upset and stands by every word he wrote.
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His column criticised local Imams for focusing on the "petty and mundane" and delivering "fiery sermons far removed from daily reality."
He said their pre-occupation with "mind-boggling banality" had contributed to the reason that 75 per cent of the UK consider Islam a threat and incompatible with the British way of life. And he implored them to focus on issues that matter rather than debating the virtues of different head coverings, dream interpretations or halal ringtones.
The 44-year-old management consultant told The Post: "My article has certainly caused a huge stir within the local Muslim communities.
"That so many people are talking about it is incredible. In many respects it's a job well done.
"The overwhelming majority of responses I have had have been nothing but positive.
"But, worryingly, much of the positive reaction has been tinged with expressions of concern for my personal safety.
"One told me 'Just be careful, you've stirred up a hornets nest.' Clearly I was wrong to dismiss it because a day after publication a rock was thrown through my car rear window.
"The vandalism on my car could be coincidental and I still like to think it is. But I'm deluding myself.
"It was on my driveway behind a seven foot fence so someone had to make some effort to do what they did.
"But I challenge anyone, any Muslim, to read the article and tell me one word that is not honest or just. I stand by every word. They have certainly tried to intimidate the wrong person.
"I've been trying to fathom the objection to the article," he said.
"The issue I think is just the fact some people believe that the topics I've listed as being 'petty and mundane' are actually, for them, the be all and end all.
"That's fine. That's your opinion. You can be assured that I won't come and smash your windows in for that opinion.
"The only other objection I can think of is people saying that we, as Muslims, shouldn't wash our dirty linen in public.
"I've heard that before and I understand that view completely. But one has to also surely realise that our dirty linen is now so much , and piled so high that everyone can see it anyway. Just pick up a newspaper or switch on the evening news. Putting your head in the sand won't help.
"It's about time somebody actually started cleaning it. My article is just the washing powder, its the start of the debate. "Sure we can throw in a couple of rocks if you want, but, we got to start the wash programme."
Despite his concerns Mr Siddique still says positive steps are being made in the Muslim community and refuses to let this incident detract from the good progress.
"We have many positive things happening in our community," Mr Siddique said.
"Some good imams are starting to have the courage to stand up and there's some good management practices being introduced in a some of the mosques.
"There's more than a glimmer of hope. They need to be supported and encouraged and I don't want this incident to take away from that work and that progress."
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset police said an investigation had been launched into the incident and appealed for witnesses to come forward.