No, there was nothing wrong with my hearing.
On Monday, Lord Nazir Ahmed, the first British Muslim to be ennobled in the United Kingdom, actually told NPR’s Robert Siegel that the London subway terrorists were suffering an “identity crisis.”
Ahmed’s a comical old chap, but this time he wasn’t joking. “An identity crisis.”
That’s the developmental stage in life when young folks walk around in a brown study pondering such metaphysical quandaries as “Who am I?” “What’s it all about?” and “Where am I going?”
Not: “How many pounds of explosives do I need to smuggle aboard a bus to kill and maim the maximum number of women and children?”
That’s not an identity crisis, Lord Ahmed, that’s religious psychopathy. That’s a bloodthirstiness that makes Dracula look like a teetotaler.
This was the voice of moderate Islam speaking. This was a member of the British House of Lords and the leading spokesman for British Muslims. Pressed further, Lord Ahmed made the unsubstantiated claim that “99.9 percent of British Muslims have thoroughly condemned this act of terrorism.” Presented with a recent London Daily Telegraph poll reporting that six percent of British Muslims thought the subway bombers were fully justified in their actions, and 24 percent sympathized with the terrorists’ motives, the MP lapsed into the first stage of Moderate Islamophoma: Denial.
The Muslim community was totally unaware of the potential terrorists lurking in its midst, said the Labor MP, then contradicted himself by criticizing the Muslim hatemongers and preachers that populate British mosques and universities. “Unfortunately our imams and mosques have not been able to communicate the true message of Islam in a language these people can understand.”
How about English? How about telling your young people not to kill their neighbors? That would be a good place to start. Apparently someone has been extraordinarily successful in communicating the message of the mass slaughter of innocent civilians.
In the same Daily Telegraph poll, 32 percent of British Muslims, nearly one-in-three, agreed with the statement that Western society was decadent and immoral and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end. Lord Ahmed blamed this on a “misunderstanding.” The leading Muslim spokesman then went on to say that Muslims need not assimilate, but that they do need to integrate. Fine, in America we have religious sects that have neither assimilated nor integrated. They are called the Amish. The difference is the Amish seldom fly 747s into office buildings or blow up commuter trains.
In fact, the only time the leading British Muslim spokesman did not contradict himself came when he called the war in Iraq “illegal.” (Lord Ahmed came out against the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan years ago.)
LORD AHMED FIRST MADE British headlines shortly before 9-11 when he disputed a report that British Muslims were being recruited to fight in Chechnya, Palestine, and Kashmir. Syrian exile Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, head of the London-based Al-Muhajiroun, (himself a charming fellow who after 9-11 praised the hijackers and dreams of turning the U.K. into the first Islamic state in a new Islamic world order), told the BBC that up to 2,000 British Muslims were then fighting in “holy wars” overseas. “There are nowhere near 2,000,” said Ahmed.
He did, however, freely admit that “there are many disenfranchised young people born and brought up in this country who do take part in criminal activities, but this doesn’t mean the whole community should be blamed and given this label that they are all involved in Jihad and holy wars.” First, disenfranchised they are not. British Muslims enjoy all the rights of citizenship as everyone else, including the right to vote. Lord Ahmed acknowledges that Britain is the world’s most compassionate and welcoming society.
Perhaps Lord Ahmed meant “discontented.” God only knows. In which case the malcontented Muslim youth would have to get in line with every other young person in the world who is similarly restless and disgruntled, yet doesn’t actively display a sense of wanton bloodlust. But let’s assume Ahmed knows what he is talking about — that young Muslims are “disenfranchised” because they have not integrated. Of course, Amish kids, by that definition, are disenfranchised too. Yet the only time they pick up a rifle is to hunt possums. Could it be that the Amish religion preaches peace, whereas Islam preaches death?
Days after making headlines, Lord Ahmed was back in the news again, this time accused of trying to incite unrest among British Asians. Like most Britons of Pakistani ancestry, Lord Ahmed is a supporter of the Kashmiri separatists. More than 30,000 people have died in the 16 years since separatist groups began a campaign to oust India from the disputed region. In 2001, Lord Ahmed guided a propaganda bus through England distributing what some called “anti-Indian literature,” despite pleas from the British Asian community to desist.
The moderate voice of British Muslims was heard again shortly after the second subway bombings. Pressed to condemn suicide bombings in Iraq and Israel, nearly all so-called moderate British Muslim leaders refused. Nor would Lord Ahmed condemn Palestinian and Iraqi suicide bombers, whom he claimed were a “special case” and were acting in self-defense.
Asked specifically whether those who blow up buses in Jerusalem are terrorists, Lord Ahmed waffled. “It all depends on the circumstances. But those who kill innocent people in buses are also terrorists.”
This then is the difficulty. When leading British Muslims suggest that acts of terror “depend on the circumstances,” when they blame mass murder on politics or an identity crisis, you have all of the classic signs of denial and self-delusion. There are an estimated 400,000 Christian Palestinians today, any of which has as much right to a homeland in Palestine as do Arab Palestinians. When they begin blowing up buses of civilians in Jerusalem, I will agree with Lord Ahmed that the problem is a political one and not a religious one.