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Apr 2002 Journal

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The mukhtar of London (editorial)

With the fall of Kabul and then Kandahar, the current War on Terror entered a new phase. At that point, a debate started about how HM Government should treat those UK Muslims who, having gone to Afghanistan to fight in the ranks of al-Qa’eda, were now in prison camps or in Guantanamo Bay. None has yet been returned to Britain, thus postponing the day when the UK authorities will have to take the bull by the horns and institute proceedings for treason - or some other criminal offence - against them.

Given the fact that Muslims are a sizeable minority in Britain and that Islamist teaching apparently places allegiance to the faith ahead of allegiance to one’s country of residence, the legal authorities will have to tread warily in their deliberations, ever mindful of various conflicting pressures. (The notion that allegiance to Islam overrides all other considerations, including loyalty to a country which has granted a Muslim immigrant citizenship - or in which he was born - is relevant in this context. After September 11 radical UK-based imams told their congregations that it was their religious duty to support Osama bin Laden’s jihad against the West. Their inflammatory sermons were not echoed in all other British mosques - but they were not unequivocally condemned either.)

Jumping the gun, one influential UK politician has already offered his unsolicited advice on this matter to the judicial Establishment. It would be quite wrong, according to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, to stigmatise US Muslim volunteers captured in Afghanistan as traitors to this country. Instead, they should be seen as compassionate idealists who, provoked beyond endurance by nightly TV images of Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israelis, had rushed off to Afghanistan to fight.

In putting out this statement, the Mayor has both infringed the conventions governing the conduct of municipal affairs, and sententiously distorted the truth. It is not part of a municipal official’s function to pronounce on issues of war, allegiance and treasonable conduct. More crucially, he has reduced the multi-dimensional frustrations experienced by hate-fuelled adherents of an ossified religion in a fast-changing secularised world to the single cause of the disadvantaged Palestinians.

Mayor Livingstone thus joins the French ambassador to Britain in identifying Israel as the culprit in the ongoing dangerous destabilisation of the Middle East. And just as Monsieur Daniel Bernard was utterly wrong in his flesh-creeping hypothesis of Israel triggering a Third World War, so Ken Livingstone is woefully deluded in presenting brainwashed UK Islamists as ‘compassionate idealists’.

Could anyone conceivably apply that epithet to the ‘shoe bomber’ itching to blow a plane-load of travellers (as well as himself) sky-high for the greater glory of Allah? Or to Omar Sheikh, who has allegedly masterminded the kidnapping and the butchery - on camera - of the US journalist Daniel Pearl? This stomach-turning act of barbarism, when viewed in conjunction with the Taliban practice of public executions on the blood-soaked and bone-strewn Kabul football ground, puts the ‘torture’ accusations the British media levelled at US guards in Guantanamo Bay into some sort of perspective.

These are some of the UK-bred combatants the War on Terror is directed against. Daniel Pearl’s dying words ‘I am a Jew, my mother is a Jew’ may have sounded like a guilty plea to his tormentors, but they have a wider symbolism. They signify that, no matter what Ken Livingstone may assert, the enemy in the Islamic warriors’ gunsights are not simply Israelis, but Jews per se. It is a lesson those of our co-religionists who feel detached from Israel - which they dub an ‘apartheid state’ - ignore at their peril.

The Islamists’ poisonous Judeophobia goes hand in hand with virulent hatred of the Great Satan, America. To be born a US Jew - as Pearl was - makes one automatically deserving of death. One wonders if the nightmare scenario of being kidnapped - like him or Leon Klinghoffer - by fundamentalist Muslims ever crosses the minds of Naum Chomsky or Susan Sontag as they travel the world dispensing their liberal insights - such as that America was founded on genocide - to impressionable audiences.

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