Hitchens on Londonistan
Christopher Hitchens has written a superb essay on the growth of radical Islamism in the UK for the June 2007 issue of Vanity Fair. For several decades, Britain has allowed Islamist refugees from the Middle East to come and spread their totalitarian ideology while exploiting the very freedoms they seek to destroy. The situation had become so bad by the 1990s that French intelligence started referring to London as "Londonistan". Hitchens describes the thoroughly chilling results of this process.
In particular, he notes that it is moderate and reformist Muslims who have been the most outspoken in condemning the spread of Islamist radicalism. They have done so in the face of both Islamist threats and intimidation and left-wing British elites content to wallow in multicultural platitudes:
It's interesting that it should be authors from Muslim backgrounds—Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, the broadcaster and co-author of the Policy Exchange report Munira Mirza—who are issuing the warnings. For the British mainstream, multiculturalism has been the official civic religion for so long that any criticism of any minority group has become the equivalent of profanity. And Islamic extremists have long understood that they need only suggest a racial bias—or a hint of the newly invented and meaningless term "Islamophobia"—in order to make the British cough and shuffle with embarrassment. Prince Charles himself, the heir to the throne and thus the heir to the headship of the Church of England, has announced his sympathy for Islam and his wish to be the head of all faiths and not just one. This may sound good, if absurd (a chinless prince who becomes head of a church because his mother dies?), but only if you forget that it was Prince Charles who encouraged the late King Fahd, of Saudi Arabia, to contribute more than a million pounds to build … the Finsbury Park Mosque! If you want my opinion, our old district was a lot better off when the crowned heads of the world were busy neglecting it.
Anyway, you can't be multicultural and preach murderous loathing of Jews, Britain's oldest and most successful (and most consistently anti-racist) minority. And you can't be multicultural and preach equally homicidal hatred of India, Britain's most important ally and friend after the United States. 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.
In addition, Hitchens ably disposes of the canard that this is all because of Iraq:
What this shows is the utter futility of the soft-centered explanations of the 7/7 bombings and other outrages. It was argued for a while that the 7/7 perpetrators were victims of unemployment and poverty, until their remains were identified and it became clear that most of them came from educated and reasonably well-off backgrounds. The excuses then abruptly switched, and we were asked to believe that it was Tony Blair's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan that motivated the killers. Suppose the latter to be true. It would still be the case that they belong to a movement that hates Jews and Indians and all kuffar, or "unbelievers": a fanatical sect that believes itself entitled to use deadly violence at any time. The roots of violence, that is to say, are in the preaching of it, and the sanctification of it.
During the 1989 controversy over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, British Muslims publicly burned copies of the book and demanded Rushdie's death. Since then, according to Hitchens, the virus of Islamist intolerance has become even worse:
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.
Does anyone still want to argue that the spread of such an ideology is not a serious threat to intellectual freedom?