Sunday, July 24, 2005

Integration, Nationalism, and British Muslims: Part One


In a recent article in the Spectator, Boris Johnson calls for the "re-britannification" of Britain. Amongst his many arguments is the following:

In the wake of [Enoch] Powell's racist foray, no one had the guts to talk about Britishness, or whether it was a good thing to insist - as the Americans do so successfully - on the basic loyalty of immigrants to the country of immigration.

There is, I think, something in this. Britain has certainly made a hash of its efforts to integrate its Muslim minorities. Anyone who thinks otherwise need only examine the alarming results of the latest Yougov poll. This poll also undercuts the claim of many of the Guardian-type "apologists," who believe the terrorist attacks were acts of retaliation for British foreign policy. Consider, for instance, Mundher al-Adham's confident assessment:
Attacks there, as those in London, are not about hating anybody's way of life, but straightforward revenge: revenge for Falluja and al-Qaim - and for Palestine and Afghanistan, which have been subsumed in them. The pictures of Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine, with their dust and grime, might be different to the pictures of the London bombs, but they represent a continuity. The war of revenge and collective punishment has arrived in London. And it has its own rationality. Don't give me the nonsense about why do they hate us. They don't.

Well, sorry Mundher old mate, you're flat wrong here, because many British Muslims do hate "us." Or at least many hate British society and western liberal democratic values.
Thus one per cent of British Muslims (that's about 10,000 adults) believe that "Western society is decadent and immoral, and Muslim people should seek to bring it to an end, if necessary by violence." I suppose there's something consoling in thinking that 99 per cent of British Muslims are not intent on armed overthrow of our way of life. But then thirty one per cent of British Muslims (that's approximately 310,000 adults) believe that "Western society is decadent and immoral, and Muslim people should seek to bring it to an end, but only by nonviolent means." These responses are truly alarming. No less alarming are the responses that suggest that 24 per cent of British Muslims sympathize with the "feelings and motives" of those who bombed London on 7/7. To say that Britain has a Muslim problem is an understatement. The task is to explain why integration has failed; and why British society is seeing more and more people like "Fazel," who--as an article in the Washington Post reports--finds British society to be sick. As "Fazel" puts it:

The evil programs on TV, the music, the literature, the magazines ... are all responsible for the terrorist attacks. People are becoming rebellious because they are against fornication, gambling, alcohol," Fazel said.

"Until they get rid of Eminem and Marilyn Manson, they can't get rid of our preachers," he added.

Fazel called himself a former "kafar," Arabic for an infidel who did not fear God, and said he once enjoyed drinking with his friends and the company of young women.

Then, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, he read about al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Images of the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsing, he said, fueled his curiosity about the faith of his ancestors.

"Allah pointed me to him (bin Laden)," said Fazel, dressed in a white shalwar kameez, the traditional loose tunic-and-trouser common to men in South Asia.

Three years later, he said, an angel spoke to him.

"I needed change. Drugs and alcohol did me no good," he said.

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