Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is There a Place Called Londonistan?

Salil Tripathi:

To understand why Britain-born Muslims, educated in local schools and bred on cricket and fish and chips, became suicide bombers, think of two reasons. One, Britain's Faustian bargain with extremist groups; two, Britain's flawed multicultural model.

The bargain first. For decades, Britain allowed its territory to be used as a refuge by dissidents (Karl Marx was here) and national liberation movements (like the anti-apartheid movement). Many movements found home here, carrying on campaigns, making sure they didn't break British laws.

It became different with some Muslims. Once radical preachers seized control of certain British mosques, they wanted to interfere in British policies. In 1989, they sought a ban on Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses. In the 1990s, some preachers encouraged British Muslims to go and fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan. And 12 years later, an organization called Al-Muhajiroun openly celebrated 9/11, calling it a victory for Islam. Its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed told the New Statesman last year: "If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack in Britain, it would be justified because Britain has carried out terrorism in Iraq."

Later, it was found that French-Moroccan Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of 9/11 attended London's Finsbury Park Mosque, where the hook-armed cleric, Abu Hamza Al-Masri, called for jihad. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber who tried to blow up a Paris-Miami flight in 2001 was a British Muslim, as was Saajid Badat who pleaded guilty for plotting to use a shoe bomb aboard a trans-Atlantic flight in late 2001. At least 600 British Muslims, mainly of Pakistani origin, joined the Taliban, some fighting British and American forces. British intelligence estimates some one percent of British Muslims may be extremists -- that's 16,000 people. Ahmed Omar Sheikh, who arranged the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002, was British. In April 2003, two Pakistani-Britons detonated a bomb at a jazz club near the American Embassy in Israel, killing four people. In 2004 British police arrested 12 suspects, many of them British, who were allegedly plotting attacks in Britain and the United States.

Foreign-born preachers and concepts like alienation explain part of the story, as would poor educational performance of Muslims and lack of job opportunities available to them. Unemployment among British Muslims is 10 percentage points above the national average of 5 percent. In the case of 16- to 24-year-old Muslim men, unemployment is 22 percent. But such problems afflict other groups too, and they haven't turned to terror.

Politicians don't miss an opportunity to pander to the radicals. Under the garb of preventing Islamophobia, Britain is enacting legislation to outlaw speech that "incites racial or religious hatred." Can one debate any faith in such circumstances, without the devout crying foul?

We all just sat back and let Londonistan rise against us


Post a Comment

<< Home

View My Stats