Thursday, July 14, 2005

Killing In The Name Of

The details of the suicide murderers that have emerged over the last few days are testament to the banality of evil. Perhaps most shockingly, one of the men who blew himself and others apart last week worked as a teaching assistant. What is it that makes a man who looks after and develops young life one week bring so much horror and destruction into the world the next?

The other bombers, too, seem to have lived fairly ordinary lives. One may have been a teenage tearaway, but there are thousands of them up and down the country; only one has thus far blown himself up on a double decker bus. Another worked part-time in a fish-and-chip shop, and apparently spent most of the rest of his time playing cricket for his local side or in the park. Again, how can a young man with such eminent sense be turned into a suicide bomber?

The common thread here, obviously, is Islam. We're not scared of the average man in cricket whites, because he's not engaged in a holy war against the golfing infidel. We're not scared of the average fish-and-chip shop worker, because he's not determined to crush Gordon Ramsay's into the ground. We are scared, however irrationally, of a Muslim, because people who profess to the same faith as him or her are out on a holy war designed to subjugate the rest of the world should they succeed.

Now, I'm not claiming here that all Muslims are about to step on to their nearest form of public transport and blow themselves and all bystanders to pieces. Far from it. Indeed, I broadly accept the arguments that Islam is a peaceful religion and that al-Qaeda and the murderers don't speak for the vast majority of them (although when Muslim academics argue that, for example, the Muslim empire of the 800s was an empire of faith and not of conquest, they're clearly not telling the truth).

Nor am I arguing that there aren't problems facing the Muslim communities in many areas that would cause anger and resentment in people of whatever creed. Social deprivation, poor schooling, seemingly limited opportunities for advancement - all of these are social problems which need to be sorted. But there are some points that need to be made here. Firstly, there are people up and down the country, Muslim or not, who suffer from these problems, and they don't go around blowing themselves up in the name of Allah, or Yahweh, or God. Secondly, in the act of blowing themselves up, they are working for the destruction of society, and not working for its betterment, its improvement.

Chicken Yoghurt wrote yesterday that: "I don't remember similar clarion calls about the "perverted and poisonous misinterpretation" of the the Hippocratic Oath when Shipman was caught or demands to hear the "moderate and true voice" of straight white men during Copeland's rampage. And yet Muslism leaders are to be summoned to Number 10, to discuss their "response" to the bombings."

There is a simple reason why. Harold Shipman wasn't acting as part of a vile organisation proclaiming the supremacy of Doctors, and wanting the rest of the world to submit to the Hippocratic Oath. Copeland was a nutter, not part of an organised anti-gay conspiracy (and let's have it put down here that homosexuality is one of the 'crimes' that the Islamofascists base their hatred of the West upon). Hasib Hussain, Mohammed Sadique Khan and chums were killing as part of an organised terror network, and they were killing in the name of Allah. Whenever we talk about the London bombings and their effect on Islam, we must keep these facts in mind.

These men were harboured in communities. There's obviously going to be disagreement as to how far these men could live with their families, their friends, their mosques, and give off absolutely no indication of the terror that they were planning to cause. I personally find it slightly difficult to believe that there weren't the inklings of doubt amongst neighbours that they were living among extremists, even if the violence of the denouement came as an understandable shock.

Yet even if we accept that the communities were in a state of total ignorance as to what their neighbours were up to, I still think there are questions the Muslim communities need to answer. From what I understand from people in Leeds who I've spoken to, tearaways in certain districts of West Yorkshire try and keep white people out. I don't doubt that the racists of the BNP try and do the same the other way round. When the Times quotes a BNP candidate (who, shockingly, won 17% of the vote) as saying "We have got some very evil people within this community and they need to be got rid of", I think that he is one of them. I'm not slow to condemn the BNP; we shouldn't be slow to condemn those on the other side either.

There are institutions which further serve to cause problems. Here I'm thinking particularly of faith schools. In precisely the same way that teaching Protestant and Catholic children separately in Northern Ireland helps people identify themselves according to their religion, putting barriers to understanding between children rather than breaking them down, faith schools help children to identify themselves as Muslim. And whether or not the suicide bombers attended faith schools themselves, their mere presence is bad enough.

As much as I loathe the term, "political correctness" also helps cause far too many problems. I went through RE teaching at my school, and spent the best part of a year learning about Islam. Never once was the concept of jihad raised. Whether you take the "kill all infidels" line, or the idea that there needs to be a missionary zeal and sincere conversion attempts made, I understand jihad to be an important concept within Islam. And, to be honest, even if it isn't a mainstream concept, it's the sort of thing which should be getting taught. Where there is debate over interpretation in a religion, then teaching a politically correct line is a barrier to understanding.

The security threat that is posed to us in the West today is one that is posed to us by Muslims. Not all Muslims, but the murderers have their own organisation, and they profess the same faith, citing the same sources of religious influence. Why do these men never seem to be met with open debate?

When terror arrests were made in a ring of suburbia last August, I remember an article in the Times complaining about the targeting of Muslims by the police; how there was obvious prejudice in the arrests and how disgraceful it was. Just a couple of months later, there were charges brought - although I am unaware as to how the case progressed thereafter. The problem is that the victims of the London bombings are the victims of radical Islam. If the moderate Muslims wish to show their support for us, then the important thing is that they do all they can to root out the evil from their communities, just as we must deal with the hatemongers in ours. Because unless we can work together to bring about a common understanding, more London-style bombings are inevitable. And part of that working together involves a more strident line from the Muslim leaders in Britain. Whilst Muslims are always the put-upon victims, resentment will grow. The problem of suicide bombing is rooted within the Muslim community, and it's going to be up to them, above all, to help stamp it out.