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ARE BRITISH MUSLIMS REALLY ANGRY?
by Amir Taheri
Asharq Alawsat
September 8, 2006

There is a new game in British politics.

Called "Muslims Are Angry", this new game is designed to force Prime Minister Tony Blair out of office.

The game starts with the assertion that "the British Muslim community" is "seething with anger" against Blair, because of his foreign policy. It then proceeds to assert that it was Muslim anger that caused the terrorist attacks in London last year and the dozen or so plots nipped in the bud since. The game concludes with the claim that unless Britain reshapes its foreign policy, no one in the United Kingdom would be safe from terrorism by "Angry Muslims."

Many Britons who otherwise look sane and sober play the sinister game without questioning its premise.

Is there any evidence that all, or even a substantial number, of the estimated 1.8 million Muslims in Britain are "angry" with Blair because of his foreign policy?

Can all Muslims in Britain be bracketed into a single "community" ?

Supposing there is a single" Muslim community", should we assume that a handful of terrorists speak on its behalf? Isn't that an insult to British Muslims?

Supposing that a handful of terrorists do speak for all Muslims in Britain, how would one explain terrorist attacks in Spain, where the Socialist Prime Minister wears the Palestinian scarf, in Germany that has stayed out of the Iraq war, and in Turkey that is, after all, a Muslim state governed by an Islamist party?

Today no fewer than 46 of the 57 Muslim majority countries face the same kind of terrorism that Britain is facing. Is that also the fault of Tony Blair?

Since we are in a game of suppositions, let us suppose that Blair is gone and a new government is formed to carry out the kind of foreign policy that would make " angry Muslims" chirp with joy.

What are the changes that Britain would have to make to be safe from Islamist terrorism?

The question is never posed either by the self-styled "Muslim leaders" in Britain, who do not, in fact, represent anyone except their small coteries, or by Blair's non-Muslim enemies who dislike him for reasons that have nothing to do with Islam.

Should Britain abandon its support for the Kyoto accords and the International Criminal Court? Should it cancel its aid and debt cancellation packages for the poorest nations, especially many Muslim ones in Africa? Or, should it abandon its leadership position in global negotiations over fair trade? Is Britain wrong to underwrite the end of the 20-year long war in Uganda?

Even Blair's the most ardent enemies might find it hard to say yes to those questions.

Now, let us come to issues that might be of more immediate interest to Muslims, including those in Britain.

Was Blair wrong to allow the number of Muslims coming to UK for higher education to almost double since 1997?

Was Britain wrong in using force to reinstate the elected Muslim President of Sierra Leone, after he was toppled by his mainly Christian enemies?

Perhaps Britain was wrong in sending troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina to protect its Muslim population from being massacred by Serbs and Croats?

Should Ratko Mladich and Radovan Karadzic return form their hideouts and start massacring Muslims again?

What about Kosovo?

Was Britain wrong to send troops to prevent genocide against Albanian Muslims? Should we bring Slobodan Milosevic back from the dead and let him continue his massacre of Muslims?

May be Blair is wrong to press for 20,000 UN troops to be sent to Darfur to stop the genocide there.

Was Blair wrong to help several Muslim states become members of the World Trade Organisation, often in the face of reticence from the United Sates and the European Union?

Should we blame Blair for having encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to admit eight Muslim states in a special partnership?

Should we blame Blair and kill people in the London underground because British troops continue to prevent a Muslim-Christian civil war in Cyprus?

Was Blair wrong in joining the campaign that ended the murderous rule of the Taleban in Afghanistan and allowed the Afghan people a chance to build a government of their choice? Should we reinstate Mullah Omar in Kabul to make Blair's Muslim and non-Muslim critics happy?

Aha, may be Britain deserves blame and Britons deserve being murdered because Blair succeeded in persuading the Bush administration in Washington to commit itself to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel- something that no previous US administration had done.

Finally, we have the supposed anger over Iraq.

Was Britain wrong to help save the people of Iraq from the most murderous regime in recent Arab history? Should we reinstate Saddam Hussein and his cousin "Chemical Ali", and let them resume gassing the Kurds and massacring any Iraqi Arab who disagreed with them?

Because they dare not face such questions, Blair's critics, most of whom don't care two hoots about Islam, often come up with a broader claim: Blair has been too close to George W Bush.

But has he?

On the two dozen key issues of importance in the international arena, Britain is, in fact, at odds with the Bush administration over more than half.

The only times that Blair has sided with Bush have been when there was a choice between the United States, as a democratic ally, and a criminal regime that acted as the enemy not only of its own people but of humanity as a whole.

Between Milosevic and he US, Blair chose the US. Between Mullah Omar and the US, Blair chose the US. Between Osama bin Laden and the US, Blair chose the US. Between Saddam Hussein and the US, Blair chose the US. Between Abu-Mussab al-Zarqawi and the US, Blair chose the US.

Now those who hate Blair for reasons known to themselves should have the guts to say clearly that those choices were wrong, and that they would have sided with those whom Blair regarded as enemies. After all what is politics about if not a choice between friend and enemy?

Is there any evidence that British Muslims regard Mullah Omar, bin Laden, and Zarqawi, not to mention Milsoevic and Mladich, as their heroes?

The truth is that in the past decade or so Britain has emerged as the one non-Muslim nation with the closest ties to the Muslim world.

It is the number-one trading partner of most Muslim nations.

It is the number one destination for Muslims seeking further education outside their homelands, and attracts the largest number of Muslim visitors to the West.

Britain also attracts more than half of all investments that Muslims make outside t Islamic countries. Proportionate to its Muslim population, Britain has twice as many mosques as the Islamic Republic of Iran. Britain is one of a handful of countries where all Muslim sects( mazahib) are fully free to practice their faith, run their schools, develop their culture, operate their media, and propagate their ideas.

Far from being angry with Blair and his foreign policy, Muslims, especially those in Britain, have reason to be grateful to a government that has had the courage of its convictions.

None of the terrorists involved in last year's atrocity or this year's plots had the remotest link with Afghanistan or Iraq, not to mention Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Cyprus, that is to say Muslim countries where Britain has intervened militarily. They had no right to speak for those nations.

Similarly, Blair's critics, most of who are atheists, have no mandate to speak on behalf of Muslims in Britain. They have, of course, every right to oppose Blair's foreign policy. But they should say why they do so and what they would do instead. The threat of terrorism is no argument for change; it is a call to surrender.

 

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