It was with astonishment that I read William Underhill’s report in the July 20 issue of Newsweek, “Why Fears of a Muslim Takeover Are All Wrong,” decrying the scaremongers of the world who think radical Islam is a threat to our way of life. Underhill names and shames Mark Steyn but one assumes he would also condemn Melanie Phillips, Phyllis Chesler, Nidra Poller, Bat Ye’or, Daniel Pipes, and little old me writing from London. Melanie, Nidra, Bat, and I have a premium on firsthand experience of radical Islam because we happen to live in Europe.
It is difficult to establish from Underhill’s screed where he lives and from what shore he writes, but his cynical piece appears to trash the views of many of the world’s most eminent scholars of modern radicalism. He asserts that the predictions by experts that Europe will soon have a significant Muslim population should be put into perspective, but then says, “Fertility rates remain higher among Muslim immigrants than among other Europeans, and Muslims may continue to arrive in Europe in large numbers.“ Being the descendant of immigrants I do not condemn this, but it is the emerging radicalism that is so perilous.
Underhill quotes a professor from Exeter University, the home of Ilan Pappe, the Israeli revisionist historian. According to Grace Davie, who is described as an expert on Europe and Islam, “The worst of the scaremongering is based on the assumption that current behavior will continue.”
Then he comes out with a doozy.
“The truth is that there are no powerful Muslim political movements in Europe, either continentwide or at the national level.” Is he nuts?
Here in Britain not a week goes by without a media story on an issue brought into the national discourse by the powerful Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Association of Britain, or Muslim Parliament. In July a meeting at Conway Hall hosted by the Centre for Social Cohesion had to be abandoned because al-Muhajiroun was successful in refusing to allow men and women to sit together. The meeting spilled out into the street and a major confrontation was narrowly avoided, but not before a huge, adoring crowd had assembled to hear the ubiquitous and influential British Muslim leader Anjem Choudary proclaim, “We will dominate this country, my brothers, and implement the beauty and perfection of Islam,” to shouts of “Sharia for the UK!”
William Underhill might wish to know that my esteemed colleague Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph happened to say on BBC Question Time that the Muslim Council of Britain had refused to condemn the kidnapping and killing of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The BBC panel had, incidentally, been discussing the shameful demonstrations by British Muslims at a military parade in Luton in March in which the protesters had held placards referring to soldiers as “butchers.”) Underhill needs to know that the powerful MCB, demanding financial compensation from Moore, has managed to elicit an apology from the BBC on its website but is now demanding an on-air apology.
Underhill says, “A British Muslim from Pakistan would struggle to communicate with a French Muslim from Algeria.” Has he ever attended a rally in Trafalgar Square in which thousands of radical Muslims of every nationality and sect mingle and distribute literature about “Zionist apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing in Palestine,” in between endless speeches by activists of every background condemning evil America and its war criminals?
Underhill proves my point by citing a recent Gallup poll: “more than 30 percent of French Muslims were ready to accept homosexuality, compared with zero in Britain.” This is one indication of the reactionary nature of much of British Islam. He goes on to point out that “40 percent of Iranians living in Germany identified themselves as having no religion. … In the Netherlands, the proportion of Muslims who regularly attend the mosque — 27 percent — is lower than the proportion of Protestants who go to church.” This may be true but what the “scaremongers” are trying to point out is that there is also a percentage of Muslim populations, led by imams from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, who have become radicalized in such a way as to be unprecedented amongst any other minority immigrant group in Europe.
If Underhill thinks there isn’t a problem, evidently he has not heard about the massive fertilizer bomb plot that would have killed thousands in British shopping malls, the liquid bomb plot that would have brought down airliners by the handful, and the nearly successful 2007 bombs that narrowly missed slaughtering hundreds in London’s Texas Embassy restaurant, in a Haymarket nightclub, and at Glasgow Airport. Has he not heard about the July 7 bombs or Richard Reid? Britain continues to be a breeding ground for radical groups allowed to function without impunity across the country. What other nationality or faith behaves like this? Was it normal for the men of the London Regent’s Park Central Mosque, way back in 1998, to warn my Libyan cameraman not to bring me, producer of a film celebrating the three Abrahamic faiths, onto their premises or I “would be killed”? This is the peaceful, loyal population that Newsweek sees blending in so well to European ways of life? Yes, the IRA terrorized Britain for decades, but Britain now has a new problem with young men born here who seek to bring a repressive system to a progressive democracy that has flourished for a thousand years.
It is interesting too that the British Muslim Parliament, unlike the Jewish Beth Din, wanted a “confrontational approach in its championing of Islamic causes” when it was founded in 1992. On its own website it acknowledges, “The idea was instead to empower Muslims with their separate and distinctly Islamic institutions to meet their needs independently of the British government. … It also sought to discourage Muslims from entering mainstream politics or even from voting in elections; rather, the focus of debate was the need to create a ‘non-territorial Islamic state’ in Britain.” It has since backed down from these notions, but reading the website of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, one appreciates the anger simmering in the community. Those who worry about this are not “scaremongers.”
Underhill finishes off his essay with: “It seems that if Europe is in the throes of revolution, many of the supposed combatants appear strangely content with the established order.”
That could have been said before 9/11 when a significant Islamic uprising was being perpetrated against Israel but when the rest of the world was “quiet.” Notwithstanding this, watching the rage of the Palestinian intifada, I warned fellow synagogue-goers at the Selichot service on September 8, 2001, that “something terrible is brewing.” They scoffed. Then stuff happened.
Now in 2009 the world is not quiet and, sadly, radical Islam dominates the news 365 days a year. That these movements are not proliferating inside Europe is nonsense. No population surveys can truly convey the dangers of British and European extremism. Like Winston Churchill in the wilderness years, I am happy to be a scaremonger.