22 May 2007

“Who Says You Own Britain Anyway?”

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Christopher Hitchens has an article in Vanity Fair describing how Britain has “move(d) from cricket and fish-and-chips to burkas and shoe-bombers in a single generation.”

The British have always been proud of their tradition of hospitality and asylum, which has benefited Huguenots escaping persecution, European Jewry, and many political dissidents from Marx to Mazzini. But the appellation “Londonistan,” which apparently originated with a sarcastic remark by a French intelligence officer, has come to describe a city which became home to people wanted for terrorist crimes as far afield as Cairo and Karachi. The capital of the United Kingdom is, in the words of Steven Simon, a former White House counterterrorism official, “the Star Wars bar scene,” catering promiscuously to all manner of Islamist recruiters and fund-raisers for, and actual practitioners of, holy war. …

My colleague Henry Porter sat me down in his West London home and made me watch a documentary that he thought had received far too little attention when shown on Britain’s Channel 4. It is entitled Undercover Mosque, and it shows film shot in quite mainstream Islamic centers in Birmingham and London (you can now find it easily on the Internet). And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountaintops, for disobedient and “deficient” women to be beaten into submission, and for Jewish and Indian property and life to be destroyed. “You have to bomb the Indian businesses, and as for the Jews, you kill them physically,” as one sermonizer, calling himself Sheikh al-Faisal, so prettily puts it. This stuff is being inculcated in small children—who are also informed that the age of consent should be nine years old, in honor of the prophet Muhammad’s youngest spouse. Again, these were not tin-roof storefront mosques but well-appointed and well-attended places of worship, often the beneficiaries of Saudi Arabian largesse. It’s not just the mosques, either. In West London there is a school named for Prince Charles’s friend King Fahd, with 650 pupils, funded and run by the government of Saudi Arabia. According to Colin Cook, a British convert to Islam (initially inspired by the former crooner Cat Stevens) who taught there for 19 years, teaching materials said that Jews “engage in witchcraft and sorcery and obey Satan,” and incited pupils to list the defects of worthless heresies such as Judaism and Christianity. …

It’s impossible to exaggerate how far and how fast this situation has deteriorated. Even at the time of the Satanic Verses affair, as long ago as 1989, Muslim demonstrations may have demanded Rushdie’s death, but they did so, if you like, peacefully. And they confined their lurid rhetorical attacks to Muslims who had become apostate. But at least since the time of the Danish-cartoon furor, threats have been made against non-Muslims as well as ex-Muslims (see photograph), the killing of Shiite Muslim heretics has been applauded and justified, and the general resort to indiscriminate violence has been rationalized in the name of god. Traditional Islamic law says that Muslims who live in non-Muslim societies must obey the law of the majority. But this does not restrain those who now believe that they can proselytize Islam by force, and need not obey kuffar law in the meantime. I find myself haunted by a challenge that was offered on the BBC by a Muslim activist named Anjem Choudary: a man who has praised the 9/11 murders as “magnificent” and proclaimed that “Britain belongs to Allah.” When asked if he might prefer to move to a country which practices Shari’a, he replied: “Who says you own Britain anyway?” A question that will have to be answered one way or another.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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