The story of Charles’ infatuation with Islam was not followed closely by the press, but here are the basics:
The grand mufti of Cyprus has said: “Did you know that Prince Charles has converted to Islam. Yes, yes. He is a Muslim. I can’t say more. But it happened in Turkey. Oh, yes, he converted all right. When you get home check on how often he travels to Turkey. You’ll find that your future king is a Muslim.”
However, Charles’ efforts to promote Islam did not do his mother any good in Al-Qaeda’s eyes. The organization’s number two, Ayman al- Zawahiri, called Queen Elizabeth II “one of the severest enemies of Islam” and blamed her for what he called Britain’s “crusader laws.”
In addition, he criticized British Muslims who “work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England” and ridiculed them for saying (his words, not theirs): “We are British citizens, subject to Britain’s crusader laws, and we are proud of our submission . . . to Elizabeth, head of the Church of England.” Such was the attitude towards a woman Ruler who failed to “submit” to Islam, in contrast to her son who knew how to plead Islam’s case.
Moreover, there was an earlier plot to assassinate his mother, the Queen. In 2007, Al-Qaeda plotted to kill the Queen during her state visit to Uganda. Security services foiled the plot, which involved hiding inside two vans belonging to the Ugandan Broadcasting Corporation and setting off bombs, as the Queen came to Kampala on an official visit in November.
Lately, the world has been stunned by the violence and murder and torture of religious minorities by the brutal Islamists of ISIS – beheadings, rapes, mass killings. And it has finally dawned upon people that Christians, as well as Yzedis, Kurds and Jews, are being targeted by Islamists.
And so, Prince Charles woke up: After the release of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat, Prince Charles was forced to speak out.
Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.
He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent.” But again Charles espoused a supposed role of Defender of (all) Faith(s), rather than the monarchy’s historic role as Defender of the (Christian) Faith.
While emphasizing the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam. Britain’s “future as a free society” depends on recognizing the “crucial role” played by people of faith, he said. “First and foremost, rather than remaining silent, faith leaders have, it seems to me, a responsibility to ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions.
Prince Charles is to be praised for noting that: “Sadly, in many other countries, an absence of freedom to determine one’s own faith is woven into the laws and customs of the nation.”
But even this modest criticism of Islam, in the context of a speech emphasizing that he sees himself as a Defender of all religions, including Islam, was too much for some British Muslim leaders: Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “Prince Charles is somebody who is deeply respected in the Muslim community and he is absolutely right about Christians being oppressed – but the point is when innocent Iraqis were being killed by British bombs Prince Charles was quiet silent.
“I would like him to have spoken about Muslims being oppressed in a stronger way.”
And so in the context of the increasing number and influence of Muslims in Britain, we must scrutinize the words of the man next in line for the throne. And we note, that after showing such extreme tolerance, and much advocacy for Islam, Prince Charles is still criticized for making comments about ISIS and the murder of Christians.
For those of us in Britain (or myself in Canada, a member of the British commonwealth), it is apparent that the Queen remains a target for Islamist terrorists even as her son, the heir apparent, leans over backwards to compliment the religion of Islam and seeks to “Defend” it as well as the Monarchy’s (Church of England) Christianity. Whether his actions are naïve and foolish “tolerism” or an example of moderation and peaceful dialogue, only time will tell.
*Howard Rotberg is a Canadian writer with a special interest in ideologies, values, and cultures. His latest book is Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (Second Revised Edition, 2013). He is founding president of publishing company Mantua Books.