‘Radical Islam plagues UK’

Radical Islam plagues UK

By James Forsyth

New York Daily News, 16 August 2006

Straight after 9/11, American Muslims proudly flew the Stars and Stripes. New York cabbies plastered their cars with patriotic decals. In Britain, days after the security services busted a plot that could have been as deadly as 9/11, so-called Muslim leaders delivered an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding that Britain change its “foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion.” Or to put it more bluntly, pull out of Iraq, denounce President Bush and abandon support for Israel.

Here’s the hard truth: Britain now has the biggest “community relations” problem of any Western country – a problem compounded by the fact that the vast majority of my fellow Britons are in denial about it.

During the 1990s, we prided ourselves on not having produced either Jean-Marie Le Pen, the right-wing French extremist, or Al Sharpton. We believed our non-demanding, multicultural approach was superior to both the French and American models.

Even after four British suicide bombers struck London transport on July 7, 2005, we refused to face up to the problem. Our liberal media expended more energy thinking about – one might even say exulting in – the failures of American society in the wake of Hurricane Katrina last year than they did looking at the man-made disaster brewing in their own backyard.

Britain must wake up to the challenge it faces.

It is comforting to believe that stepped-up intelligence work will keep Britain safe. It won’t. Polling reveals the sea of hatred and extremism in which terrorist recruiters flourish. More than half of British Muslims ages 18 to 24 believe that 9/11 was an American/Israeli conspiracy. Only 29% believe the Holocaust happened as history teaches it. And 31% of young Muslims agree with the idea that British foreign policy justified last year’s transport terrorism.

These numbers appear shocking at first. But when you consider that virtually every condemnation of terrorism from British Muslim leaders comes with a “but” attached, and that the Muslim Council of Britain calls even the war to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan “misconceived” and boycotts Holocaust Memorial Day, they make more sense. Tolerating this kind of prejudice (the then-head of the Muslim Council was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honors last year) creates the conditions in which the terrorist recruiters thrive.

Blair should throw this poisonous open letter in the trash and wake Britain up to the challenge it faces. The U.K.’s tragic situation is a result of a generation of misguided policies. Continuing denial will end only in disaster.

Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy magazine