Why do British Muslims get angry about faraway countries?

Imagine four US based Bolivians blowing themselves up on the New York subway, killing and wounding 700 other people, in protest against the American invasion of Panama.  Then, two weeks later, a mixed group of Peruvians and Columbians attempts a similar attack on the London underground.  The following year, police uncover a plot by another group of South Americans, to blow up planes in mid air between the US and the UK.

In the wake of the police investigations, a group of prominent Latin Americans write open letters to the governments of Britain and America, claiming that the British occupation of the Falkland Islands, the presence of British troops in Belize and the US interventions in Latin America are creating anger and resentment within their communities. Unless the governments of both countries  change their foreign policies, they warn, radical Latin American Catholic priests will find eager recruits for further terrorist acts.

Preposterous, isn’t it? Why would people from Bolivia or Columbia care what happened in Argentina or Belize? Sure, they might object to colonialism in principle but solidarity with other Latin Americans would not extend to blowing themselves up in the name of freeing Las Malvinas.  Any that advocated doing so would be considered insane.

And yet, that is what the Muslim leaders who sent that letter to the government and those who, a week later, trooped into Ruth Kelly’s office to present their demands, are asking us to believe.  That the UK’s Muslims, predominantly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, are so enraged by the British army’s activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and by the government’s support for Israel, that some in their community are turning to terrorism.  Only a change in foreign policy, so we are told, will be sufficient to dampen this anger.    

Isn’t that even more ridiculous than my fictitious Latin American scenario?  At least the Latin Americans share the same language and similar ethnic origins, as well as the same religion. A few Pakistanis in Britain have some cultural ties with Afghanistan but most do not. As for Iraq and Palestine, they are far away places of which most British born Muslims have no more understanding than anyone else. If they went to live there, most of them would be like fish out of water.

In his video, terrorist bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan excused his actions, saying:

“Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight.” 

His people? Khan was born in Leeds and his parents were from Pakistan. What made him decide that Iraqis, Afghans and Palestinians were his people?

Muslims in Britain have not always been so outspoken in their support for other Islamic countries.  Britain’s invasion of Egypt in 1956 and its backing of Israel in 1967 and 1973 did not give rise to violence and blood-curdling threats from British Muslims. Even the term ‘Muslim Community’ is relatively new. Twenty years ago, Muslim ethnic minorities in Britain were identified by their countries of origin rather than their religion. The first hint of this new Muslim identity was during the first Gulf War, when some British Pakistanis opposed the UN sanctioned response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, choosing instead to support an Arab tyrant because he was a fellow Muslim.

So why, over the last fifteen years, has the emphasis on the Muslim identity become so much more important? What is it that has made a new generation of British Pakistanis see themselves first and foremost as Muslims?  Why do some feel this so strongly that they can murder their fellow citizens in the name of people that they have only seen on the TV?  

  1. Majorie Poops said:

    This from Wikipedia.

    “Umma (Arabic: أمة‎) is an Arabic word meaning community or nation. It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of Islamic states or (in the context of pan-arabism) the whole Arab nation. In the context of Islam, the word umma (often spelled ummah) is used to mean the community of the believers (ummat al-mu’minin), and thus the whole Islamic world.”

    Didn’t you know that already? Maybe now is a good time to educate yourself. If it is too difficult a concept for you to understand then that’s your problem. I understand it and respect it.

  2. Steve said:

    Yes, I did know that. It still doesn’t explain why, even though Britain has been supporting Israel for years, Muslims in the UK didn’t start blowing themsleves up until relatively recently.

    What is it you respect about the Umma?

    And go easy on the snide remarks please.

  3. Would you prefer it if people didn’t care about the suffering of others in nations that they aren’t closely linked to culturally and historically?

  4. Abdul-Rahim said:

    I think in terms of the British Muslim community, it’s only now that the first and possibly second generations have come into their own. For whatever reason, they’ve chosen to respond to a sense of alienation not by racial identification but with religious solidarity. We are always encouraged to see our fellow Muslims as family.

    Now we have the proliferation of 24 hour news and a sense of victimisation that we didn’t feel in the past. And for many, this sense of victimisation is seductive. British Muslims whether responding to a racism and alienation that is real or imagined. They’re parents were so busy working hard and trying to make a good home for them and embrace they’re new country, that they had too much to do to be taken in by fundamentalist clerics, they’re parents had seen to much to be taken in. But the kids, they just feel like victims, they feel like they’re rage is justified, and sometimes it is. And if every day they see images of suicide bombers being celebrated and more muslims being killed, it’s not a huge leap to think “hey, me too”…

  5. Steve said:

    Planeshift – no but that’s not the point. Many people worry about what goes on in other countries without saying ‘these are my people and I’m going to blow you up’.

    Abdul Rahim – you seem to be implying that this is a rage against Britain rather than a rage against the oppression of Muslims. That might explain why the oppression and murder of Muslims by other Muslims in Darfur does not provoke the same level of anger from most British Muslims.

  6. Jim B said:

    To be honest Steve, I’m not 100 percent sure I get your point. The south american example you give is as absurd as you claim, but only because south america is a continent and people in Brazil (for instance) don’t see an attack on Argentina as having anything to do with them. Just as British people (by and large) didn’t feel personally involved in the Balkans conflict.

    In order for your analogy to be relevant, Chinese or Thai people would have to be radicalised by attacks on Iraq.

    However, British muslims (leastways the ones we’re talking about here) do not see the attack on Iraq as being an attack on Asia. They see it as part of an ongoing conflict being waged against Islam. Which affects them directly (being muslims… in the words of Khan, “my people”).

  7. Steve said:

    The analogy is with people who share a religion and, to some extent, a similar culture. In many respects, Latin American Catholics have more in common than, say, Pakistanis and Lebanese Arabs, yet they don’t resort to terrorism in the name of their co-religionists.

    My point is that I don’t see why British Muslims should see attacks on other Muslim countries as an attack against them.

  8. Rob said:

    I think something probably needs to be said about Pakistan and Bangladesh specifically here, as they are where I understand the families of most British Muslims originally came from. I’m not sure what it is, but partition and the creation of an explicitly religiously-based state, including massive population transfers to and from what became India, would seem like a good place to start.

  9. Rob said:

    Not that that would be the end of it, or anything like, but it might be worth thinking about.

  10. Steve said:

    Rob, that’s my accountant’s take on it too.

    But he is Indian, so he might be just a bit biased.

  11. Steve said:

    Actually Rob, this is an interesting point. We have a lot of Afghans in West London and most of them don’t seem to be as angry about the invasion of Afghanistan as some of the Pakistanis are – at least not to the point of advocating violence.

  12. MatGB said:

    Steve, I suspect the whole “clash of civilisations” argument has something to do with it. Huntigdon said that conflicts are down to culture, and all his hot spots were Islam vs.

    Bush has bought into his thesis hook line and sinker. I’ve met people (muslims) and read studies of more, who use the lines “eminent US professor thinks it’s war between us (muslims) and everyone else, so we need to defend ourselves, etc”.

    Pre-emptive strikes? Huntingdon’s thesis is deeply flawed (I’ve read the damn thing, it’s awful), but far too many people, on both sides, buy it. If certain elements of Bush’s cabal decide it’s a war against Islam, and let’s face it, they’re out there on the blogosphere, then the opposing sides loons will take it at face value as well.

    Most don’t, but we’re talking loons and extremists here. On both “sides”.

  13. Bob B said:

    In trying to figure out what makes al-Qaeda and other, similar Jihadist organisations tick, it could be more illuminating to regard them all as (malignant) cults rather than as transnational political organisations or religious sects.

    This is not a mere relabelling exercise and it in no way whitewashes the Jihardists. What it can do is to provide better insights into what seems to be a basically irrational ideology with homicidal intentions and also into the apparent speed with which some apparently “normal” young men have been converted to murderous fanatics when most muslims don’t exhibit such behaviour or anything close to it.

    Just how potent and malign religious cults can be is evinced by two graphic and compelling examples which have absolutely nothing to do with Islam:

    – The “Aum Shinrikyo was a Japanese Buddhist religious group. The group gained international notoriety in 1995, when several of its followers carried out a poison gas attack on the Tokyo subways. It has changed its name to Aleph, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in 1999.

    “The name ‘Aum Shinrikyo’ (Japanese: Oumu Shinrikyō) derives from the Hindu syllable Aum (which represents the universe), followed by the three kanji characters shin (‘truth,’ ‘reality,’ ‘Buddhist sect’), ri (‘reason,’ ‘justice,’ ‘truth’), and kyō (‘teaching,’ ‘faith,’ ‘doctrine’). In 2000, the organization changed its name to ‘Aleph’ (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), changing its logo as well.

    “In 1995 the group was reported as having 9,000 members in Japan, and as many as 40,000 worldwide. As of 2004, Aum Shinrikyo/Aleph membership is estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 persons.”

    – The People’s Temple Sect which migrated from America to establish a settlement at Jonestown, Guyana. Relatives of cult members became concerned and made representations to the US government which led to a US Congressman going there with aides on an investigative mission in November 1978. The scale of the resulting calamity is perhaps left to reports on websites:

    In case it’s of relevance here, I don’t also regard the cult model as appropriate to the IRA. In that case, we get better insights from regarding the IRA as an organisation that transformed by stages from its original purpose of agitating to alleviate repression of catholics in NI into a criminal organisation focused on generating enhanced incomes for its members through attracting donations (mainly from America) and straight forward crime. Occasional, demonstrative acts of spectacular arson and bombing are intended to revive flagging donations from sympathisers. The interesting question is whether the organisation of spectacular acts of terrorism by al-Qaeda also helps to generate or accelerate financial contributions from muslims sympathetic to what they perceive as its fundamentalist and encapsulating aims.

  14. G. Tingey said:

    Most particularly WHY ONLY THE MUSLIMS?

    Umma or no umma, or dar-al-islam or dar-al-harb, either.

    Now I may be (indeed am) a filthy kuffar, but I notice that it is only the muslims wh are blaming “British society and government” – indeed anything and everything except their own distoted medieval worldview.

    I note that the hindus, sikhs, parsees, jains and bhuddists from all parts of “India” and SE Asia integrate into our society with no trouble.

    So what is it with the followers of the murdering paedophile from Mecca?

  15. Bob B said:

    “there’s a big difference between understanding why someone might do something and approving of it.”

    Absolutely – from David Hume, the 18th century philosopher, we learned that we can’t logically derive “ought [or ethical] propositions” from “is propositions”.

    The challenging problem we have with al-Qaeda and the Jihadists is that it isn’t much use consulting lawyers, philosophers or logicians in order to better understanding the motivation driving cults.

    We need to ask psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists and athropologists about their professional insights. I think most ordinary folks would find it verging on impossible to understand the driving motivation of the People’s Temple Sect in Jonestown, Guyana, or the Aum Shinrikyo Cult in Japan. I certainly don’t understand it, let alone approve it.

    Perhaps the professional literature on “brain washing” would provide some illumination on the speed of conversion of seemingly normal young men to becoming murderous fanatics.

    Btw compare the Jihadists with these summary accounts of MI5 files relating to jewish terrorist organisations targeting Ernest Bevin, foreign secretary in the Attlee government (1945-51) and one of the original founders of the NATO alliance, or the plot to bomb the Houses of Parliament:

  16. Steve said:

    Bob – I see your point but this isn’t just about al-Quaeda. There are a few terrorists but, so we are told, many more wannabes or armchair supporters in Britain’s Muslim community. This seems like more than just a cult.

  17. Bob B said:

    Steve – True enough. For insights and comparisons try Matthew Parris on: Two reasons why I cannot bring myself to write about the Israel problem, in The Times of 20 July 2006:

    “You will wish to remind me that to be Jewish is not to be a supporter of everything (or anything) the state of Israel does, and of course that’s true. You will point out that among the harshest critics of Israeli policy are Israeli and Jewish voices, and of course that’s true too. But it’s a personal observation which one cannot just brush aside that, on this, those who are Jewish tend to have much stronger feelings than others, and that they are overwhelmingly if not universally sympathetic to the Israeli cause, more inclined than most to justify the actions of Israel, and prone to feeling personally wounded if one disagrees. . . The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast.”

    The parallels and similarities appear strong to me.

  18. Bob B said:

    Btw some facts about the melting pot of London that are perhaps not widely appreciated:

    “In 2001 minority ethnic groups were more likely to live in England than in the other countries of the UK. In England, they made up 9 per cent of the total population compared with only 2 per cent in both Scotland and Wales and less than 1 per cent in Northern Ireland. The minority ethnic populations were concentrated in the large urban centres. Nearly half (45 per cent) of the total minority ethnic population lived in the London region, where they comprised 29 per cent of all residents.”

    According to the 2001 Census, 24.81% of London residents were born abroad.

    “London is a major net contributor to the Exchequer: Our estimates suggest that London continues to be a substantial net contributor to UK public finances, by between £6 and £18 billion in 2003-04, despite the deterioration in public finances at a national level, with the mid-point of the range of estimates implying a net contribution of £12.1 billion.”
    Oxford Economic Forecasting: London’s Place in the UK Economy 2005-6

    “London has the highest rates of children, working adults and pensioners living in income poverty.”

    “In 2002, GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU25’s 254 NUTS-2 Regions ranged from 32% of the EU25 average in the region of Lubelskie in Poland, to 315% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom.”
    Eurostat 25 January 2005

    In 1847, Disraeli wrote of London as the “modern Babylon”. And Disraeli, one of our more illustrious prime ministers, was the grandson of immigrants to Britain.

  19. As expected a few comments above follow the “Muslims are inherently evil” theory to support their own prejudices. As if only Muslims have been capable of terrorism historically. Even in the example you’ve given – Latin America – you forget that that continent has had just a large history of terrorist/paramilitary groups – probably more so. On the left we have Sendero Luminoso, the Tupermaros and FARC to name three (whose “people” we might term the working class), and on the right we have numerous military dictatorships, paramilitary death squads etc – some of them even existing with only minuscule CIA support. So it is simply untrue to pretend that Latin Americans are incapable of terrorism.

    There are however a few crucial differences between what might be termed Catholic Latin America and The “Muslim” world.

    Firstly Catholic Latin America does not face any of its land being occupied by a foreign power that is largely from a different religion and culture, and an occupation that routinely humiliates and disrespects the local culture and religion. The only occupation is the UK’s occupation of the Falklands, which is different from the occupation of Iraq or Palestine in so many ways – there is consent for the occupation, the occupiers aren’t torturing the occupied or bombing them etc. Remember that Pape’s thesis on suicide bombing not only requires the bomber’s to be representing an actual or perceived occupation, but that the occupiers are the “other”. In Latin America this simply doesn’t exist.

    Secondly these days Latin America is largely democratic – thus there is an outlet for grievances. These days governments in Latin America can be removed, and the likes of Morales, Lula and Chavez have been elected without military coups following – despite the efforts of the US. In the Muslim world there are not only no functioning democracies, but several dictatorships supported by the west who maintain western support by manufacturing evidence that they are the last line against fundamentalism – eg: Uzbekistan. In other words there is no outlet for grievances to be pursued peacefully.

    So how does this relate to Britain? Well we have ceased to be a country with democratic accountability.

    You have to remember that many of the suspects in British Islamic terrorism are young males, often teenagers – so firstly you aren’t going to expect them to have a sophisticated political analysis, merely raw anger.

    Secondly many of them will have been in their mid teens during the invasion of Iraq, and perhaps at the time many will have had faith in the democratic process. Since then they may have perceived that all peaceful means have been exhausted. It isn’t just the invasion that causes anger, but the conduct of that invasion as well. We’ve had Abu graib torture, the flattening of falluja and the mass privatisation of Iraq into the hands of Halliburton et al.

    And there has been no accountability for any of it.

    So when one adds the conduct of the west elsewhere (and an honest analysis shows that we are part of the problem of oppression in the Muslim world), combines it with the hysterical media about the “enemy within” and daily racism many Muslims face you have a recipe for a great deal of anger at the British government. To convert this teenage anger into suicide bombing is very easy, you simply have to make the angry young Muslim believe that the white British public doesn’t care, and is thus “the other”.

    The final straw is probably the re-election of Blair. The democratic process thus, in the minds of the terrorists, offers no chance of accountability of justice for your brothers. Furthermore British society doesn’t seem to care (remember the video messages saying that we are responsible because our governments are democratically elected) and instead your white peers spend all weekend drinking. Youth culture in the UK basically revolves around alcohol, so its likely that as teenagers they grew apart from any white friends they may have had once they left school.

    And if one of them ever has second thoughts about whether the British public deserve it or not they only have to look at the comments from G Tingey above to realise that for many of us British they will never be welcome in their own country.

  20. Bob B said:

    But there is absoluely nothing new about terrorism or a “war against terrorism” – both long preceded Blair and the ascendancy of al-Qaeda in the 1990s. Apart from the IRA, consider:

    “Guy Fawkes could have changed the face of London if his 1605 plot had not been foiled, explosion experts have said. His 2,500 kg of gunpowder could have caused chaos and devastation over a 490-metre radius, they have calculated. Fawkes’ planned blast was powerful enough to destroy Westminster Hall and the Abbey, with streets as far as Whitehall suffering damage, they say.”

    “The Luddites were a social movement of English workers in the early 1800s who protested — often by destroying textile machines — against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution that they felt threatened their jobs. The movement, which began in 1811, was named after a probably mythical leader, Ned Ludd. For a short time the movement was so strong that it clashed in battles with the British Army. Measures taken by the government included a mass trial at York in 1813 that resulted in many death penalties and transportations.”

    The Sheffield Outrages in 1866:

    And try Gerald Kaufman’s speech in the House of Commons on 16 April 2002:

  21. I think Planeshift hit the nail on the head – we have allowed our elected ‘representatives’ to plan and wage aggressive war against a succession of Muslim countries and failed to hold them accountable. I am including Lebanon in this as our government stood practically alone in supporting Israel’s war crimes and allowed our country to be used as a staging post for the bombs that destroyed Lebanon.

    Blair recently gave a speech in which he openly stated his desire to change the values of what he judged ‘reactionary Islam’ by force! By what right and who the hell is he to judge what is ‘reactionary’? We have been interfering in Muslim countries for years and years and I would argue that, for those radicalised Muslim youths, it has reached a tipping point.

    Coupled with the alienation and paranoia that the mass media has been busy instilling in the general populace (on top of good old’ little English bigotry) I can understand why an impressionable young man could be driven to committing these criminal acts.

    Of course there has been no actual prima facie evidence presented that actively supports your assertion that Islamic terrorists committed the attacks on 7 July or were plotting to blow up planes leaving Heathrow. None that would stand up in a court of law at any rate. I acknowledge the two videos from the alleged 7 July bombers, but am so cynical with regards to anything the police and this criminal government say that I don’t take them as proof beyond reasonable doubt. For all I know the two men in those videos could be alive and well and living with new identities in Telford.

    Personally, I think Muslims have been demonised in exactly the same way that Jews were in World War II.

    We are the aggressive party.

  22. Bob B said:

    On we are the aggressive party, in 1940 and 1941, WW2 was going badly for Britain – from the fall of France in June 1940 until the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Britain stood alone in Europe against the ascendancy of Nazi Germany:

    “The British authorities regarded Lehi as a terrorist gang and called the organisation the Stern Gang (named after its first commander, Avraham Stern), a denunciatory label that persists in many historical accounts. The name Stern Group was also used at the time. . .

    “Specifically, Stern believed that the Jewish population should focus its efforts on fighting the British rather than supporting them in World War II; and that forceful methods were an effective means to achieve those goals. He differentiated between ‘enemies of the Jewish people’ (e.g. the British) and ‘Jew haters’, (e.g. the Nazis), believing that the former needed to be defeated, and the latter neutralized. To this end, he initiated contact with Nazi authorities offering an alliance with Germany in return for transferring Europe’s Jews to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state therein. . .

    “In 1940 and 1941, Lehi proposed intervening in the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany to attain their help in expelling Britain from Mandate Palestine and to offer their assistance in ‘evacuating’ the Jews of Europe arguing that ‘common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO (Lehi).'”

    Check out the recently released MI5 files on Jewish terrorist organisations about the plots to assassinate Ernest Bevin and bomb the Houses of Parliament:

  23. I am interested to learn why Colman (comment 16) describes the reference to Mohammed’s alleged paedophilia as “…the equivalent of the Jewish blood libel…”

    Please, I am serious. This is referenced widely and if it is a lie, I would like to be educated about it.

  24. Geo J. said:

    25 years ago I went on a 3 week residential management training course funded by my multinational employer.
    The objective was – by a process of intense psycological pressure – to break down the ‘gamey’ opinionated individual I arrived as and transform me into a ‘clear minded’ team player capable of solving company problems with the ‘other stuff’ getting in the way.
    The result?
    1] It was an extremely valuable and(in my case) confusing and emotional experience which I still remember vividly.
    2] It worked! – although one guy was shipped out half way with a nervous breakdown.

    Most significantly for me – 2 weeks into the 3 – I positively started to feel a stronger bond of loyalty to my group than I had with my family. I remember thinking that if we 4 had been asked to carry out a ‘mission’ even a dangerous mission we would have overcome all obstacles and we would have been capable of suspending moral judgement until the objective had been met.
    Twenty five years of reflection on the experience and I have concluded – it’s not difficult to convert motivated people into a team of killers if you a)Select the right players b) Have cleverly constructed material and c) deliver the message through charismatic teachers.
    Novel uses for Brooke Bond tea bags or how to bomb Birmingham – Japan or Jakharta – the frightening thing is you don’t need a religion just a model of indoctrination – then go fishing for vulnerable individuals to do your work.

  25. Bob B said:

    Steve: “What I haven’t seen is any good coverage anywhere that really attempts to explain the growth of this cult.”

    There are books on the history of al-Qaeda, although I’ve not read any.

    Cults by their very nature tend to be insular and secretive so it is difficult for outsiders to discover much about their development and inner motivation. The Aum Shinrikyo Cult was already known to the Police in Japan but the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 came as a complete surprise and a shock. Why on earth would any group want go to such lengths to inflict lethal harm on their fellow citizens whom they had never met? What could be achieved by such an attack?

    It’s verging on impossible for ordinary rational mortals like me to understand the motivation – just as it is difficult to comprehend the motivation for the 7/7 bombing in London last year. Various press reports mention that MI5 commissioned a select group of psychologists to look into the evidence gathered to assess motivation. Even so, I doubt that the rest of us would understand the bombers’ thinking any more than we lay folks readily understand the mental processes of psychopaths and schizophrenics. Who could have predicted the mass suicides of the People’s Temple Sect at Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978?

    Someone interviewed on the BBC One o’clock news mentioned the continuing “under-achievement of Muslims in Britain”. Possibly so but that can’t be ascribed to racial discrimination in any straight-forward way – in the GCSE exams for 16 years-olds, ethnic Chinese and Indian children achieve better grades on average than white children:

    There are complex social issues engaged in this. Historians and sociologists will know of Max Weber’s thesis linking specifically “Protestantism” to the rise of Capitalism in Europe. For centuries, Catholics suffered discrimination in Britain – the Gordon Riots in London in 1780 were effectively an anti-Catholic pogrom. It took the combined political muscle of the Duke of Wellington as Prime Minister in the Lords and Robert Peel in the Commons to drive through the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 against strong opposition – and remember that Wellington famously opposed the franchise Reform Act of 1832.

    One issue that needs looking into is the differential experiences of Bradford and Leicester, two cities, like London, with relatively large ethnic minority populations but with very different histories of race relations over the last 30 years. Why is that so?

    From personal experience, a recurring problem is to overcome persisting attempts to rewrite and suppress history.

  26. Dunc said:

    So why, over the last fifteen years, has the emphasis on the Muslim identity become so much more important?

    Ask the CIA – they pretty much engineered the phenomenon when they were constructing their “Afgan trap” for the Soviets back in the ’70s.

    Also consider that the “West” has been invading Muslim countries and slaughtering vast numbers of people more-or-less continuously for the last thousand years or so. That’s the sort of thing that works its way into the roots of a culture. If the US were to continue it’s interference in South America for the next 900 years, you might well see the emergence of an equivalent transnational movement.

  27. Steve said:

    Planeshift – that’s an interesting comment but it doesn’t really answer the question. Pakistan, the country of origin for most British Muslims or their parents, is not being occupied by anyone. Why should British Pakistanis get worked up about Iraq?

    And I don’t buy this idea of the Ummah. The ‘Muslim Community’ is a recent invention – even some Muslims don’t recognise the term. The thinly-disguised contempt in which Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers are held in some Arab countries shows just how far Muslim solidarity goes. When Pakistan was getting trounced by India in 1971, most Arabs showed very little interest. So much for the brotherhood of Muslims.

    Dunc – go back 1000 years and it was the Muslims doing most of the invading and slaughtering. The Crusades were a response to the Muslim conquest of the Levant. The South-Eastern quarter of Europe was occupied by Muslims for nearly 500 years. The Ottonan Empire is still (just) within living memory.

    Western occupation of Muslim countries really began with North Africa in the mid-19th century. The Middle-East was occupied for the thirty or so years after WW1. It hardly counts as a ‘more-or-less continuous’ invasion.

  28. Because they don’t see themselves as Pakistani, but Muslim, and thus part of a global community that is being oppressed. All the “But not all muslims recognise this” comment indicates is that Islam as a religion is open to many different interpretations shaped by culture, history etc.Unfortunatly the idea that Islam is open to many different interpretations and traditions is anathema to many people unable to see beyond simplistic scaremongering.

    In fact part of Milan Rai’s thesis of the london bombers is that their adoption of the ideology of the Ummah is a rebellion against their parents who come from an entirely different interpretation of Islam. A fact which would certainly fit in with my own speculations.

    Anyway why shouldn’t British Pakistani’s get worked up about Iraq? Plenty of white british people are also worked up about Iraq. That people develop solidarity with people in other countries is surely a good thing..the bad thing is the response anger over Iraq has generated

  29. am3332 said:


  30. harry said:

    U seem to be missing the point here author. The majority of practicing and even some non practicing muslims will give islam as their first identity. There is no point questioning what criteria an individual uses to identify him or herself. The cultural identity is almost insignificant in comparison to the religious one.

  31. Steve said:

    Harry – is that really the case? Or does that vary from country to country too? For example, most Iranians that I know (we have a few of them in West London too) make more of a celebration of Persian New Year than Islamic New Year. Are they unrepresentative?

  32. Steve said:

    Planeshift – as I’ve said already, I’m not saying people shouldn’t get upset about government foreign policies they don’t agree with. That’s inevitable in a democracy where people are relatively well informed but only a few are advocating violence in response to those policies.

    If, as you say, the adoption of the Ummah is a form of rebellion, then changing Britain’s foreign policy won’t make a scrap of difference. They will just find something else as a focus for their rebellion.

  33. Doormat said:

    Bob B is almost having a conversation with himself here, but I think he’s absolutely spot on. The motivations of the rather small number of terrorists is probably down to cult-like behaviour.

    However, Steve asks why Muslims at large *seem* to care so much about “faraway countries”. I wonder if this isn’t down to asking a begging question. People believe some pretty weird shit: how many people in this country believe that MI5 killed Princess Di (the sales of certain Sunday papers would suggest rather a lot). How many Americans think they’ve been abducted by aliens? If it wasn’t for the small number of cultist terrorists, we wouldn’t even be asking such questions of the Muslim community. Indeed, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about the “Mulsim” community, instead talking about “Pakistanis” or “Indians” etc. (as I remember from my school-days).

  34. John Arthur said:

    Marjorie, Abdul-Rahim and others….

    Or it could be that hate and violence is just part of Islam? And maybe it is the fact that these people are just doing what Mohammed did – killing and oppressing non-Muslims.

    Read the Quran – it is filled with anger and violence. Read the Islamic traditions about the life of the man that Muslims so adore. The hadiths tell us that Mohammed murdered, tortured, enslaved, raided caravans and villages without warning, raped and even beat his little 9 year old wife (unless “he hit me and caused me pain” means something else). Must make Muslims so proud!

    Lets stop making excuses and be honest about this ideology. It is not based upon Western cultural values and it does not respect human rights and the concept of equality. That is the core of the problem. When Muslims bring their religious identity and cultural values into Western societieso there will be trouble – and there is nothing we can do to resolve this except let them kill us and rape our women. These are not nice words but it is the truth. Radical Muslims kill, moderates make excuses and lie.

    It will get worse. We must stop this foolish political correctness and tell Muslims the truth about their religion and they man they follow.

    So we have two theories here:
    1. Muslim hate and violence is because of a deep sense of justice in the Ummah, or –
    2. Hate, violence zand oppression is a basic component of Islam.
    Which makes more sense? Which best fits the facts?

    Think about this. Be honest

    John Kactuz

    PS.. and some reading for those who want to know more.

    Quote: He struck me on the chest which caused me pain……. ,” Muslim 4:2127.

    Quote: Then the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and whey were left in the Harra (ie. rocky land). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died…” (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/052.sbt.html)

    Quote: Ibn ‘Aun reported: …The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 130).

    Quote: Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by TERROR (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me…(Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1062, 1063, 1066, 1067)

    Finally, please consider this incident: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/abudawud/038.sat.html#038.4348.
    Note that it is from a Muslim site at the University of California. Would any Muslim care to comment?

  35. mockney said:

    ” “West” has been invading Muslim countries and slaughtering vast numbers of people more-or-less continuously for the last thousand years or so.”
    By which I guess you are referring to the crusades. Aside from the fact that there was nothing that can reasonably be named a country to invade there, the crusaders very much felt that they were liberating christian lands. And there is alot of justification of that. The expansion of the caliphates was never intended as an expansion of Islam or the Umma, as muslims did not pay taxes they were not overly encouraged to take up the new religion.
    At the time of the first crusade the Levant was very much christian land, and as many armenian christians and jews were slaughtered in Jerusalem as Muslims.
    Indeed as late as the 17th century coptic christians were still the majority in Egypt. Suppression of christianity (most particularly noticeable in our ally Turkey, axis of evil country Syria is highly tolerant of christians) is a 20-21st century phenomenon.
    So our thousand year invasion of muslim countries can only really apply to WW I onwards following the breaking up and subsequent invasion of Ottoman territory.

  36. G. Tingey said:

    “Planeshift” suggested that I said that muslims are not welcome here.


    I asked why is it them, and not the other immigants, including those from other parts of “India” or surrounding areas.

    I have a new neighbour, born here, whose grandparents fled Kashmir in the 1950’s. He and his wif and relations are fully integrated into our society.
    Yet in the next street is one of the houses raided by the ploice on the 10th of August…
    So, again why ONLY the muslims?

    I mean christianity is a religion of peace, and look at the murders it hgas committed.
    Read the “recital” and it looks like the bloodier sections of the OT – all the way through.
    In fact it reminds me of a continuous Ian Paisley rant.

    Oh, and my name should be a give-away = I’m a Huguenot, and a godless unbeliever, to boot, since all religions kill, enslave and toture, and are based on moral and physical blackmail.

    But, again – why only the muslims?
    (And only some of them – there is another near-neighbour who is sufi, who gets as annoyed as any gentle man like him can, about the MCB and the terrorists etc ….)

  37. Bob B said:

    “Read the Quran – it is filled with anger and violence.”

    Have you tried the Old Testament in The Bible? Believe me, there are some – mentioning no names – who profoundly believe that the Old Testament provides divine guidance as to what they should believe and do today.

  38. Dunc said:

    “the crusaders very much felt that they were liberating christian lands”

    I’m sure they did, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was true. The Christian crusaders managed to kill a fairly significant number of the Christians they were supposedly liberating – far more (I believe) than died at the hands of Muslims. They went to save Byzantium, and ended up sacking it – but the Papacy did pretty well out of the whole mess.

    “as many armenian christians and jews were slaughtered in Jerusalem as Muslims”

    Indeed. And the fact that they were there to be slaughtered (by the Crusaders) maybe says something about how badly they needed to be “liberated”.

    It also occurs to me that this phenomenon is not without parallel in our own history. Why did so many ordinary working-class Europeans join the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War?

  39. Steve, as the rebellion is based on british foreign policy then changing it might not end such rebellion, but I think it would certainly change the forms of rebellion that are occuring. Thus instead of embracing forms of Islam that encourage militancy, it might be the case that the rebellion would take the form of people rejecting their religion and going drinking every night. It is the political context that can make some interpretations of the world seem more convincing than others. Its also worth bearing in mind that such rebellion doesn’t necessarily take on the form of the london bombers – the young men involved in the MPAC are angry at the Iraq war, but are addressing that anger by trying to break the labour party’s grip on what they see as the “Muslim block vote” that “community leaders” deliver for labour.

    G Tingey, if a young muslim comes on here and see’s his fellow british citizens refer to his religion as a “distoted medieval worldview” and that he is a follower of a “murdering paedophile from Mecca” do you think he is going to feel welcome?

    In fact do you think he is going to read Jon Arthur’s quotes of the quran and think “yes, now come to think of it my religion is telling me to be a peadophile and kill the unbelievers, I’d never thought of it that way until this genius pointed it out – better abandon my religion”

    But to answer your question “why only (some of) the muslims?

    Can you name any Hindu, buddhist or sikh countries under occupation by a western power, or run by dictatorships supported by western powers.

  40. Geo J. said:

    I’ve read some histories of the Crusades and conclude that far from some holy war to liberate Christians it was more a grand adventure. For the aristocracy it gave frisky 2nd & 3rd tier barons a mission keeping them away from making trouble for the 1st division rulers at home. If a few got killed fine but mostly they got captured and ransomed. For the grunts it was a great opportunity to travel a bit with your mates, – away from the drudgery on the farm – get into a punch up with perhaps a bit of raping thrown in. Football supporting especially in european or world cup tournaments is a sanitised version of the same thing. You don’t need religion you just need a ’cause’ and a hunger for adventure.

  41. Bob B said:

    I really do wonder how much all this is motivated by what happened during the Crusades in medieval times rather than what happened in the Middle East during the last seventy to a hundred years.

  42. Dunc said:

    I really do wonder how much all this is motivated by what happened during the Crusades in medieval times rather than what happened in the Middle East during the last seventy to a hundred years.

    It’s both. The later reinforces the former.

    I see a similar dynamic in Scottish Nationalism (I’m a Scot, but not a Nat). A whole string of historical events spanning 800 years are formed into a continuous narrative of “them” oppressing “us”, regardless of the details or context of the actual events in question. As long as current events are seen to reinforce that underlying narrative, the sense of persecution endures.

  43. Bob B said:

    Persecution? The Roman Emperor Hadrian, when he visted Britain in AD 122, ordered the construction of a wall running for c. 73 miles right across Britain to stop the inhabitants of Caledonia (Scotland) from mounting marauding raids into what was later called England.

    “AN ENGLAND football fan living in Scotland blamed the country’s First Minister yesterday for stoking anti-English racism after his windows were smashed because he was displaying the St George’s flag.”

    On conflicting ethnic and religious motivations in Palestine during the last hundred years or so, Avi Shlaim’s book: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001) is strongly recommended. Otherwise, try his piece:

    Friday’s Telegraph reports the results of a YouGov poll in Britain. “When YouGov asked in 2001 whether people felt threatened by Islam, as distinct from fundamentalists Islamists, only 32 per cent said they did. That figure has risen to 53 per cent.”

  44. G. Tingey said:

    To “Planeshift”

    I’m a godless unbeliever.

    I was harassed by christian llonies on my way home today.
    i don’t have any repect, or time for them either.

    It is just that we went through all this several hunderd years ago – it was called the reformation, and the wars of religion.
    And we don’t want to have to do it all again, because the muslims can’t or won’t learn from our awful historical experience.

    Try reading some European religious history – it’s grim.

  45. Try reading some history of Stalinism or Maoism. Its grim.

    (wonders if he has to explain the point…)

  46. Reasonable said:

    Re: comment number 26. I note the following point that you made: ‘…Also consider that the “West” has been invading Muslim countries and slaughtering vast numbers of people more-or-less continuously for the last thousand years or so’

    Perhaps he was not aware that the sub-continent was Hindu until the Muslims invaded and slaughtered and converted millions to Islam by force. What is today Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh were all Hindu and Buddhist populations. Until the arrival of the Muslim armies.

    The worst genocide of the 20th century? The Nazis took 6 years to kill 6 million Jews. The Muslim army of Pakistan in 1967 slaughtered 3million Bangladeshis in 6months. The slaughter was stopped when the Hindu army of India intervened.

    Today you would think that Bangladesh would be grateful, no, today the Bangladeshis side with their ‘muslim’ brothers in Pakistan who not so long ago decided to massacre their grandparents and parents in an orgy of killing.

  47. G. Tingey said:

    Stalinism and Maoism are sects of the religion called Marxism or communism – what did you expect?

    Peace and love?

    From a RELIGION?

  48. Steve said:

    Planeshift – if, as Abdul Rahim, Dunc and you (and a few others) have implied, Iraq is a focus for a deeper sense of alienation, I still don’t see how changing it would make a difference. There would probably be the “yes but” response.

    We are pulling out of Iraq.
    “Yes but what about Afghanistan?”
    OK, we’ll pull out of there too.
    “Yes but what about Israel?
    OK, we’ll ship the Jews out of Palestine and set them up in Madagascar
    “Yes but what about Chechnya?”
    OK, we’ll stop being friends with Putin and re-start the Cold War.

    OK, so I’m being facetious but Shehzad Tanweer’s video listed all of the above as grievances. These won’t be resolved any time soon, so Muslim militants know they will always have a focus for their protest.

    As Abdul Rahim said – a sense of victimisation is seductive. It gives you a way of blaming someone or something else for your problems. But it needs a focus and Islamic solidarity (but only against western governments) provides this focus.

  49. CHACHA said:

    For those who are really confused about this, u can only be described as stupidly ignorant, use this for a comparison.
    When the tragedy of sept 11 happened in the U.S, people all over the world were undoubtably upset seeing what had happened, but western countries (mainly britain) were horrified because of something which happened thousands of miles away, if the same attack had happened say in brazil or africa, british people wouldn’t be shedding any tears, it would be like, ” that was bad what happened wasn’t it ” and then go on with your day….no 1 minute silences or anything like that. SOME white BRITONS even attacked british asian men & women for something which happened in a ‘faraway’ country, now why was that, why do white britons ally themselves to white americans. When america was attacked, why did white britons feel the pain as if they also had been attacked? We all know that the U.S is no angel, there was no suprise to what happened in america yet britain has stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S through the afghanistan and iraq invasion, is it because both countries are majority white that u share each others pain and ignore the pain u cause to others?
    Imajine if acts like sept 11 happened on a regular basis, wouldn’t white or christian people become closer and feel the pain of whites or christians thousands of miles away as they did on sept 11, how many muslims or people resembling muslims(sikhs) would be attacked and killed on a regular basis, under such conditions u always get extremists, in whichever country and from whatever religion.
    So it’s not right to accuse muslims of something that all of us do and try and make out it’s only that group who acts in this way.

    If only we lived in a righteous world……but then this worlds inhabited by people…………….

  50. hWeb said:

    A more sensible analogy. Thanks, that saves me having to type something similar.

  51. Don said:

    Kactuz is as ever repeating ahistorical rubbish like Gtingey. You morons obviously slept in history class. Grow up. ChaCha’s analysis is spot on.

  52. Muslims are idiots said:

    Yes, Muslims are idiots. The “bad” muslims are always angry OR getting angrier. The “good” muslims should voice/act out their concern against their “bad” counterparts.

  53. APOSTLE said:


  54. billy boland said:

    what is wrong with me not wanting to pray to allah? if i dont want to pray to someone that is up to me.muslims say that if they die as a suicide bomber they will be rewarded with lots of virgins .so they go through a lifetime of praying just to have it of with a load of virgins. does this mean that there religion is based on sex

  55. billy boland said:

    dear mr muslim i have got nothing against your religion .but will you please keep it to yourself .stop raming your beleiefs down my throat. as you say we are infidels this is my choice if i want to be a non beliver thats up to me .i live in a free country

  56. billy boland said:

    when i die i belive that i am going to have sex with 72 muslim virgins infront of all the dirty evil muslim suicide bombers .god will tie them up and make them watch after i have finished they will be booking in to the hell hotel for all the inocent babys they have killed

  57. Chacha said:

    ‘billy boy’, u from redneck country so when u die u probably still be having sex with 72 replica’s of ure sister…..so nothing changes for u then does it biwlly bwoy….