I routinely insist here that the sincerity of Muslim denunciations of terrorism can be measured by the actual efforts of the denouncer to refute jihadism within his own community, and turn jihadists from the alleged error of their ways. But here is an imam in Britain who denies that mosques have a duty to turn jihadists away from violence. “One Young Man’s Concern on Extremism,” from Scheherezade Faramarzi in AP, with thanks to Matthew:
LEEDS, England (AP) – Nineteen-year-old Fazel, a British-born Muslim who is angry about his “immoral” surroundings, seems ripe for the picking by the recruiters of Islamic extremism. “I would go if they approached me,” he says.
“I want to get away from here. I don’t have a job. I want to learn everything about Islam,” said Fazel, who refused to divulge his last name during an interview Saturday at a mosque here. His remarks suggested he hoped to find his way to a Muslim country where he could further study the religion and develop his beliefs….
Fazel seems to equate learning more about Islam with going deeper into the world of jihadist violence. Now why is that?
Islamic radicals inside the British Muslim community who are searching for men to become suicide attackers or foot soldiers in the global jihad are thought to recruit disaffected young men like Fazel, sending them for religious or military training in Islamic countries….
Despite the young man’s growing contempt for Western mores, Fazel said he disagreed with the London subway and bus bombings because “Islamic scholars said it was wrong.” The attackers “should have talked to more educated people.”
But he also denounced Prime Minister Tony Blair’s characterization that the bombers were inspired by an “evil ideology.”
“The evil programs on TV, the music, the literature, the magazines … are all responsible for the terrorist attacks. People are becoming rebellious because they are against fornication, gambling, alcohol,” Fazel said.
“Until they get rid of Eminem and Marilyn Manson, they can’t get rid of our preachers,” he added.
Moral equivalence aside: those who equate Christian and Muslim “fundamentalists” should note that Christians who oppose Eminem, Marilyn Manson, fornication, gambling and alcohol are not resorting to suicide bombing.
Fazel called himself a former “kafar,” Arabic for an infidel who did not fear God, and said he once enjoyed drinking with his friends and the company of young women.
Then, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, he read about al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
Images of the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsing, he said, fueled his curiosity about the faith of his ancestors.
“Allah pointed me to him (bin Laden),” said Fazel, dressed in a white shalwar kameez, the traditional loose tunic-and-trouser common to men in South Asia.
Three years later, he said, an angel spoke to him.
“I needed change. Drugs and alcohol did me no good,” he said.
The young man denied that he was confused about his faith and asserted just as vehemently that he did not “give a damn about the world.”
Fazel said he has not told his parents about turning to his deepest Islamic roots. Like many of his peers who also were born of immigrant Muslim parents, Fazel has found difficulty integrating into British society and expresses a sense of displacement and alienation.
Zahir Birawi, an official at the mosque where Fazel was interviewed, later said he had seen the young man a few times at prayers and assured a reporter that Fazel’s views were not normal.
Birawi said it was not the duty of the mosque to change the views of those who came to worship.
“We have no classes for these things,” said Birawi, but “we will make it a priority to try to answer his questions” about Islam.
Gee, thanks. But what if he doesn’t ask?
Birawi said officials at the mosque would tell the police about Fazel if his views did not moderate.
While Fazel at one point declared he wanted nothing but to leave Britain, he subsequently indicated some confusion about the future.
If he did not manage to go to Afghanistan or was not recruited by extremists, Fazel said would be just happy settling down here to try to change society from the inside.
“The best thing is to marry a couple of wives and have many children because I think it’s wise to increase the population of my umma (people) and raise the number of Muslim members of parliament.
“We want to have more say in Parliament.”
Watch this man.