Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: White Britons need to wise up and stop justifying Muslims who turn to violence
It kills me to have to write this, but we need a more watchful state
We were watching Children in Need on BBC1 on Friday night. Nadia Hussain, the winner of The Great British Bakeoff, had just pushed a cake into the face of Harry Hill, the comedian. Laughter all round. Then the phone rang. It was a Muslim girlfriend, tearfully breaking the news about the murderous assaults in Paris. I had an asthma attack. Which was just as well. For what could I say? What can any of us blameless Muslims say?
We have used up, worn down all the words we have, to protest, plead, distance ourselves, condemn the killers, express solidarity with victims and compatriots. As more violence is perpetrated in the name of Allah, collective blame spreads. “Denounce, renounce your filthy faith if you want us to trust you” wrote one reader to me when Isis was decapitating hostages. After this Paris slaughter, more non-Muslims will have turned against the faith itself. How can we blame them?
Islamic states are dysfunctional, corrupt, oppressive, punitive and some are generous financiers of religious fanaticisms. Too many Muslim communities in Europe are backward, inward and easily led. Those of us who are still liberal, democratic and reformist feel helpless and speechless as the skies darken evermore. The Paris suicide bombers chose to destroy places of pleasure because their gruesome belief systems allow no joy, no camaraderie. This is why they find it easy to murder and then self-immolate.
With this latest atrocity these men have betrayed those poor, desperate refugees crossing the seas and will, no doubt, have ensured a new wave of racism against people of colour and Muslims across the EU.
Islamist insurgents have been causing mayhem and terror the world over since the early Eighties. It started with the bombing of the Vienna Synagogue in 1981, which killed two people and injured 30. The following year the great Synagogue of Rome was attacked. In 1983, the US army barracks in Beirut were blown up by the Islamic jihadi group resulting in nearly 300 deaths. And so it went on.
Last Thursday suicide bombers killed 44 people in Lebanon, with many more injured. People have been maimed and killed by so many species of psychopathic jihadis on every continent, in poor as well as rich countries, and in Muslim lands most of all. The 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center was not an exceptional event, it was simply another chapter in a horror story without end.
Hear me, please, especially my fellow believers and also travellers on the Left. I am not an ideological turncoat. I understand and fight everyday against the unjust domestic and reckless foreign policies of British, European and US governments. Their wars in Iraq, Libya, their hideous allies in the Middle East, the betrayal of Palestine, their complicity in extrajudicial killings and torture, unlawful internments and deep prejudices have, in part, made the world inflammable and unsafe. The drone attack last week which apparently “eviscerated” Jihadi John was a stupid, self-glorifying mission.
They have learnt nothing from their past mistakes, are economically exploitative and politically egoistic. But none of that explains or excuses the Islamist maniacs who want to turn human civilisation to dust. White Britons, with good hearts and intentions, far too often seek to justify and acquit Muslims who turn away from mainstream life or turn to violence. They need to wise up.
For us, all these proxy wars, revolutions, refugees and suicide bombers have all been mostly over there, far, far, away, in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and other distant hot spots. There have been occasional painful reminders that we are not immune. But now there is no distance between them and us, there and here. Isis cannot be contained or controlled effectively using old methods.
All of us who believe in a good, free, properly democratic society, should be brutally honest about those wild, vile and highly dangerous Muslims and their far too many backroom cheerleaders. (It was good to see that on Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn came out with a strong condemnation, without any soft caveats).
And citizens, who vote our governments in, should no longer accept the unholy deals that are made with those governmental sponsors of hardline Islam, the birth mother of jihadis.
Furthermore, I realise that state surveillance will have to go further than ever before. I have been steadfastly against such encroachments all my life. But now, I am prepared to accept that we will all have to be spied on more.
Yes, I realise the state may well misuse these powers and maybe I will be sorry for letting go of a precious liberty. But there is no other way of stopping our enemies and of keeping together the increasingly fragile bonds between the different peoples of this continent. London is already on extremely high alert.
The men and women from Western countries who have gone off to Syria pose another serious challenge to those of us who believe in the rule of law and human rights. More Muslims have travelled there from France than from any other nation. Some of them must, I reckon, one day be Trojan horses inside Europe. Again governments will have to think of how to monitor these returnees for all our sakes.
It kills me to have to write this, but I now want a more watchful state.
Independent News Service