Thursday, February 13, 2003
Despite the Guardian's best efforts to whitewash the emergence of a radicalized Muslim political movement in England, it still has a most ominous undertone.
If the row over Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses 15 years ago was a wake-up call, these protests are a coming of age for a more assertive generation.

Burning copies of Rushdie's book left Muslims looking extreme and isolated, but new tactics and new allies show how much the community has changed.
Burning books was "extreme"; threatening Jews is just being "assertive."
But Muslim groups and the secular left can be awkward bedfellows. Though in the past Muslims have come together with the left to fight racism, the anti-war alliance remains a marriage of convenience.

On social issues like abortion, some Muslim protesters might find more in common with George Bush than they do with their present allies.
Interesting choice of contrast there. Why abortion, of all topics? Is that even an issue in the society these protesters are trying to put together? Wouldn't the woman be stoned to death first?
Andrew Murray, national chairman of the STWC, describes the Iraq protests as "the biggest Muslim political mobilisation this country has ever seen".
So the last time there was a large "Muslim political mobilisation," they burned books and issued death threats. This mobilization is even bigger. I'm sure it will be charming to watch.
He believes the war on Afghanistan and the threat of war against Iraq has been "an enormously radicalising experience" for young Muslims.
Not to be flippant, but really, is there some kind of "experience" out there that is not "enormously radicalising" for young Muslims? Haven't we always been told that it's living in poverty and watching their relatives die from American Muslim-child-seeking missiles that radicalizes the mujahedeen? And yet here we have young British-born men, well-fed and living in safety, and they are radicalized by conflicts on other continents? One might almost think that there is some form of primitive tribalism at work here, promoted and influenced by religious leadership. Nah, can't be, that's just hate and bigotry talking.
Like the secular protesters, Muslims are not convinced by the reasons given for going to war, arguing, as Mr Moneer does, that "war is a last resort"
Of course it is. There are other methods to try first, such as throwing grenades into schoolyards, for instance, or gunning down sleeping toddlers.
but the emotional force of their protest comes from sympathy with fellow believers.

This week Muslims celebrated Eid, the festival which marks the end of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Sometimes described as the Muslim Christmas, Eid is a joyous, communal occasion of prayer, feasting and giving to charity. In Muslim countries there is Eid programming on television, and communal feelings are reinforced by the thought that Muslims from Baghdad to Bradford are marking the festival.
Yep: tribalism. What I get from this is that the protesters wouldn't support an attack by us infidels against any Muslim country, under any circumstances. This isn't about war being "the last resort" -- I sure as hell don't see them protesting Palestinian "warfare" against the Israelis, or al-Qaeda's "military tactics" vs. the U.S. This is, quite simply, about Muslims being attacked and defeated by non-Muslims. To wit:
"The perception in the minds of Muslims is that after September 11, America wants to avenge its loss against Muslims, no matter who they happen to be," Dr Tamimi said.

"That's a very frightening thing. No matter how many times George Bush says this is not a war against Islam, people don't believe him."

The belief that this is a crusade against their religion - shared by seven in 10 British Muslims, one poll shows - is strengthened by fears about the influence of the Christian right in America and talk of Tony Blair and George Bush praying together.
I truly have to wonder about the universe these people live in. They are living free, and arranging large-scale demonstrations in countries where they are a distinct minority. Their viewpoints, no matter how absurd, insulting, openly seditious, and revolting, are nonetheless allowed to be aired. Their compatriots killed thousands of people from all over the world, in the name of their jihad, yet the rest of us, who could turn them into red mist in a day if we wanted to, continue to abide by our principles and let them live amongst us and spew their garbage. And they worry that it's us -- i.e., the British and Americans -- carrying out a new "crusade" -- and why? Because Bush and Blair had the temerity to pray together! (The fiends!)

Just to recap: A large-scale "Muslim mobilisation" to protect Islamist nutballs and ruthless mass murderers: good, signifies a "new assertiveness." (Bonus points for not burning books this time -- we hope.) Two elected world leaders attending church: bad, signifies religious intolerance and an upcoming crusade.

Ultimately, the west cannot win its war on terror without the support of the Muslim world. If even the most westernised Muslims - boys who are British to the tips of their Nikes - say this is a crusade against them, there is little hope of convincing them otherwise.
I guess we'll just have to find more effective methods of "convincing the Muslim world" than citizenship and Nikes. Maybe it's not poverty and hopelessness that leaves them so radicalized. I wonder what that leaves us...


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