Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Only with the help of Muslims can Britain defeat fundamentalist Islam

OpinionJournal - Featured Article :: East Enders BY FARRUKH DHONDY : "30 years later, they and others of that migration still live in what has become a Bangladeshi enclosure in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Partly through our efforts, which extended to organizing them to get fair housing and social benefits, some of Mr. Miah's ilk entered local politics. Today, the Bangladeshis have a majority on the local council and, though they belong to different parties, vote as a bloc on "Islamic" issues. At the last election, Tower Hamlets voted out their sitting Labour MP, a woman of half-Jewish, half-Caribbean descent, and overwhelmingly voted in George Galloway, a Labour rebel who is virulently, and, according to some, treasonously, opposed to the Iraq war.

Tower Hamlets had, at the last count, 37 mosques within its six square miles--more per square yard than Mecca. Though parts of the area have prospered because of its adjacency to the City of London, the community remains dedicatedly enclosed. The older citizens, even after 40 years in the U.K., don't speak English.

The community's one possible contact with the outside world was Britain's compulsory schooling, but this was subverted by a policy that favored neighborhood schools and resisted dispersal. This resulted in majority, sometimes 100%, Muslim school populations. Democracy and the power of bloc voting forced the adoption of "Islamic" demands: halal school meals, headcovers for girls, gender seclusion, the introduction of Urdu, Arabic and a "multicultural" curriculum. But tragedy struck these towns in the '80s when the textile industry went bankrupt and the Thatcher government refused to bolster it with subsidies or tariffs against competitive imports. Overnight, thousands were jobless.

It is significant that 22 universities have been named as epicenters of jihadist recruitment. The leader of the latest terror attempt is alleged to be a biochemistry student. These educated young men have ventured the farthest from the enclosures of their communities: The well-fed bite the hand that feeds.

Frustration and aimlessness are the seeds of alienation. British identity gives them no goals. They turn, instead, to the disciplines that were instilled in them from birth. Al Qaeda's aim to dominate the world with a universal Shariah kingdom makes them part of an elite.

Islam is here to stay, and nothing but an assertion by the various other traditions of Islam which have come to Britain from the Indian subcontinent--the tolerant Sufi and Barelvi strands, as opposed to Wahhabism and the Shiite-Iranian animus--will work. The Mirpuris and Bangladeshis form voting blocs because of the origins of their settlement. They have so far manipulated the MPs dependent on their vote, who, for instance, dare not express pro-Indian views on Kashmir. They have become representatives of Mirpur at Westminster. Muslims of other, non-peasant, non-fundamentalist backgrounds live scattered over Britain and don't form voting blocs. "

Mr. Dhondy is the author, most recently, of "C.L.R. James: A Life" (Pantheon, 2002).

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