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The London Blasts

 

The London Blasts: Media Review

DAY FOUR: 11 July 2005 Part Two

 

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The Link With Iraq - Right Wing Isolationism

 

The link between the bombings and the invasion of Iraq is made by right-wingers as well as by people who regard themselves as liberals or leftists.

 

Former Conservative MP Matthew Parris, now a columnist for The Times, points out that in his social circles, 'Alongside rampantly right-wing views on race, culture and immigration, you encounter - and among deeply conservative folk - a knee-jerk sympathy for the views of George Galloway. You will be very far from being thrown out of a Derbyshire pub for suggesting that "Tony Blair asked for this." '

 

That is is not left-wing anti-imperialism, Parris tells us:'That is right-wing isolationism [which] takes the view that the world is full of murderous fanatics with darker skins that ours, and we should leave them where they are.'

 

Racist though this is, it is an interesting indication of the hidden potential that the anti-war movement can reach out to, even in unexpected quarters. Parris ends his article thus: 'One elderly man, in other ways about as ideologically distant from Mr Galloway as it is possible to get, put it like this: “We should never have got mixed up in this business. That George Galloway was right. Who is he, anyway? Do you know anything about him?” '

 

 

The Link With Iraq - Police And Security Service Analysis

 

Jimmy Burns reports in the Financial Times that 'The European police and security officials who met in London believe that a new generation of terrorists is being generated among young Muslims angered by the war in Iraq, dozens of whom may be embarking on operations against targets in Europe for the first time' (page 3).

 

 

Islam - Stevens Angers Police and Muslims

 

Former Chief of the Metropolitan Police Sir John Stevens has, not for the first time, caused controversy with his column in the News of the World. He has no hesitation in using the highly-damaging term 'Islamic terrorism':

 

'The terrorists at the centre of the London bombing this week will almost certainly be British born and bred, brought up here and totally aware of British life and values. I'm afraid there's a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don't have to be drafted in from abroad.'

 

'I warned in these pages some months ago that there were up to 200 home-grown terrorists willing and able to slaughter innocents for their perverted view of Islam...and I got some stick for being so outspoken. But today, after 7/7, I've absolutely no reason to change my mind.'

 

'I said in public what had previously only been discussed behind closed doors in Whitehall because I believe the public are entitled to the truth, that knowing it will help energise communities to fight back against this horror.'

 

'In my view, the London bombers will not fit the caricature al-Qaeda fanatic from some backward village in Algeria or Afghanistan. They will be apparently-ordinary British citizens, young men conservatively and cleanly dressed and probably with some higher education. Highly computer literate, they will have used the internet to research explosives, chemicals and electronics.'

 

'They are also willing to kill without mercy—and to take a long time in their planning. They are painstaking, cautious, clever and very sophisticated.'

 

Before this article, the general public had already been conditioned by the tabloid press to fear and hate traditionally-dressed, bearded Muslim men (exemplified by Abu Hamza). Now clean shaven Asian and Arab men in Western dress are also under deadly suspicion as merciless and sophisticated killers.

 

Young professionals of African descent are often regarded with suspicion by white people as likely to be wealthy drug dealers. Now young professionals of Asian or Arab descent will be under a far graver suspicion.

 

How can this help 'energise communities to fight back against this horror', as the former Commissioner suggests? By vigilante action.

 

The FT reports, 'Some government officials expressed concern about the possible impact on community relations' of the article, and adds that the Stevens article 'is condemned by other police officers as politically dangerous when uttered publicly and in these terms.'

 

The Times notes that the article 'angered race relations groups. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, said the claims were unfounded and threw suspicion on all Muslims in Britain.

He said: “He has, without doubt stirred up racial tensions at a time when we need unity.” '

 

The Telegraph, two days after running a scurrilous anti-Muslim opinion piece by former editor Charles Moore, congratulates itself for the tolerance of the British towards Muslims: 'Part of this restraint can be seen in the refusal of Londoners to connect the bombers with their own Muslim neighbours. In the immediate aftermath of the murders, foreign Muslims, in particular, voiced fears of a bloody reaction. How little they understand the British...'

 

'People understand that their Muslim countrymen are as much targets of the fanatics as anyone else. Backlashes happen in panicky and volatile nations. We are not such a nation.'

 

In contrast, Matthew Parris reports from deepest Derbyshire a sentiment 'you often hear expressed in the countryside. It was Asians who did this. Not everyone I speak to bothers to mark the distinction between a handful of crazed fanatics and a huge, peace-loving, British Muslim population. Many country dwellers do not care for the burgeoning non-white urban communities not far away — Derby, Barnsley, Bradford — and feel vaguely threatened by the growth of an alien culture just over the other side of Sheffield Moor.'

 

'On a cloudy night we can see the reflected glow of the street lights there, and people have the sense that “our” grip on the governance of such places has been lost, and “our” writ no longer runs there. Paradoxically, that it is fairly unusual to see Asian faces among the hordes of day and weekend trippers who visit the Peak District does not seem to lessen rural fears.'

 

'If any of the culprits in Thursday’s atrocities turn out to have been British Muslims, or to have been sheltered by British Muslims, one should not underestimate the likely reverberations among the rural English. “They’d better not turn out to be local,” one friend said to me.'

 

One hopes that the Telegraph is justified in its complacency. But the results of its own poll give great cause for concern. That poll of 1,800 British people the day after the London bombings found that nearly half the population of Britain believes that Islam itself - not al Qaeda, not the fundamentalist extremists, but Islam itself - poses a threat to Western liberal democracy.

 

The proportion believing that Islam itself poses a major threat to British democracy doubled to 20 per cent of the British population. In other words, one in five people in Britain believe that Islam itself is a major threat to British civilization.

 

We cannot afford either scaremongering or self-satisfaction. There is the threat of a very serious backlash against British Muslims, a threat that must be averted.

 

 

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This page last updated 11 July 2005

 

 

 

   

 


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