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Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Friday, July 08, 2005


As part of its drive to assimilate yesterday’s events into its readers’ worldview, the Guardian is already fretting about a backlash against the British Muslim community, and quoting various Muslim spokespersons who seem determined to get their victimhood in first. Of course nobody ought to face abuse, let alone violence, because of their religion following the attacks, and I can understand Muslims fearing that the next few days are not going to be easy for them. But let’s just put things into perspective.

Obviously there are no figures yet, but it is virtually inevitable that significant numbers of Muslims are among the dead and injured. I don’t see the slightest grounds for fearing that British Muslims will suffer anything in the coming days and weeks remotely comparable with what they suffered yesterday.

Let’s also remember the true story of the 9/11 backlash. Muslims killed in the WTC: hundreds. Murders in America suspected of being motivated by hostility towards Muslims: three (one of the victims was a Sikh). Murders in Britain: nil. Mosque burnings in New York: nil. Mosque burnings in America: nil (here are some American Muslims whining regardless instead of celebrating American tolerance). Mosque burnings anywhere: nil.

Then the Americans went into Afghanistan to remove the regime that had played open house to al-Qaeda. That’s when the real backlash began. In a series of attacks on churches in 2002 more than 40 mostly poor and marginalized Pakistanis paid the ultimate price for sharing George Bush’s religion. And then there was Bali…

I don’t believe more than a tiny minority of British Muslims are potential terrorists. But I do know that 15,801 East Enders made it possible for George Galloway to re-enter Parliament on a platform of open support for the people who are orchestrating bomb attacks in Iraq on a daily basis. I think they need to be asked whether yesterday made them more or less sure that they did the right thing. And let’s not have fainting fits over the news that people have been rattling the railings of Finsbury Park Mosque. True, the mosque has been under new management since February and should be given a chance to make a fresh start, but before then it was al-Qaeda’s London chaplaincy, where bombers made contacts and Abu Hamza al-Masri preached the sermons which led to his appearance in court on Tuesday facing 10 criminal charges. The Guardian may feel it is holy ground, but personally I think I can understand people feeling just a little peeved.

OK, I've said my piece. For more, read Norman Geras.

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