An enemy within?
Powerful Islamic groups detest the countries they call home
By MICHAEL COREN
Last Updated: 14th March 2009, 3:49am
Luton is a medium-sized town less than an hour north of London.
It was always considered boringly, wonderfully normal and British. Just down the road is Bedford, home of the great 17th-century author John Bunyan whose Pilgrim's Progress was a fundamental of Christianity and of English rational thinking.
Bedford also became home to a large Italian immigrant population, which formed part of the greater nation and enriched the country as it proudly assimilated into the United Kingdom.
Indeed all immigration had made Britain a far better place. French Protestant, Irish Catholic, European Jewish, Indian Hindu and Sikh. Muslim too. The same, of course, goes for Canada, which is even more diverse. But last week Luton witnessed something which is, tragically, all too common in Europe and is feared in North America.
British soldiers came home from Afghanistan and Iraq and marched through their hometown. Local people clapped and cheered. This was a celebration of brave young people and had nothing to do with support for or opposition to foreign wars. Yet not everybody put their hands together to welcome the troops safely home.
“You are murderers, cowards, rapists and criminals,” chanted groups of Muslim demonstrators, most of them born and educated in the town. “You are Nazis and baby killers and deserve to be slaughtered,” they screamed. “Cowards all, you cannot fight and can only kill your own people” — a reference to the friendly fire death of a teenage British soldier.
“Allah has cursed you and you will suffer you scum,” chanted one heavily bearded young man.
Another group held signs mocking dead British soldiers, even though they knew that the families of the fallen were in the crowd. When one supporter of the soldiers lost his temper and shouted at the Muslim protestors, he was arrested by the police.
If this were an isolated incident it could be dismissed as absurd enthusiasm. Luton, however, is home to several Muslim men charged with terrorism-related crimes and the town itself is replicated all over the country. All over France, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and elsewhere as well. Powerful and influential groups within the Islamic community feel no connection with the country of their birth and instead detest all for which it stands.
It is entirely understandable when immigrant groups maintain their language, recall the achievements of their home nation or band together out of solidarity. This tends to dilute and largely disappear over time. Identification with places of parental origin also is completely natural. But second and third generation immigrants violently supporting regimes with which their adopted states are at war and calling for death and defeat for the country that gives them so much is a totally different issue and is unprecedented in modern history.
It is one thing to want to change aspects of the law, another to want to change the law itself. One thing to want to make one's voice heard, another to want to silence other people's voices. One thing to reform a culture, another to work for the destruction of that very culture. Equally it is one thing to criticize elements within the Islamic diaspora, another to attack all Muslims.
Sensitivity, however, must not drown out sensibility. Too many pundits argue that the debate about Islam is over. In fact it is only just beginning. Poor old Luton reminded us of that.