In “Ethnic communities can be devout and good citizens” in the Financial Times (thanks to EPG), Krishna Guha falls into the extremely common error of thinking of the problem of Islamic terror as a racial one, and failing to recognize or understand the significant differences between the suspicions leveled at the Islamic community today and that directed toward other immigrant communities in the past: Muslim immigrants in the West are the first large-scale community of people whose religious tradition mandates warfare against unbelievers that the West has had to deal with.
Full citizenship carries responsibilities as well as rights. The right to freedom of speech and religion confers a duty to accept the free speech and religion of others.
Most liberal values are process values: people of faith can look to change society through politics. Yet some things are sacrosanct, including equal rights for women. Those who cannot accept this should exercise their right to exit western society.
Obviously the identity crisis is most extreme and dangerous among young Muslims — partly because Islam is a resurgent faith, partly because Sunni theological debate has been stifled, partly because of Muslims” suffering in the Middle East and the Balkans.
And partly because of the imperative to impose Sharia — but that goes unmentioned.
Yet lest anyone think that the fundamental question — can someone be a devout believer and a good British citizen? — is unique to Islam it is worth remembering that for centuries Protestant England agonised over whether it was possible to be Catholic and a loyal subject. As late as 1960 some Americans questioned whether Catholic John F. Kennedy could be president.
Yes, they did. But the fact that that happened and was groundless in that instance doesn’t mean that similar concerns about a very different group are groundless now.
The horror of the London attacks is one of super-empowerment of a tiny handful in whom the identity crisis was twisted into murder. There have been white bombers too — David Copeland, the Soho nailbomber in Britain, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber in the US.
I couldn’t care less if they were purple. Their color has absolutely nothing to do with it. John Walker Lindh was a “white” jihadist, and there are others. Also, is this really a question of “identity crisis”? The jihadists seem quite certain and firm about their identity.
There is much work to be done. Yet none of this proves Islam is incompatible with western society.
Sure, Krishna, because you haven’t discussed the real issues that raise questions about that compatibility.
Britain has 1.6m Muslims and four bombers.
Don’t count your chickens.
There was great anger within this community about the war in Iraq and what did they do? They marched from Speaker’s Corner to Trafalgar Square and elected a firebrand Scottish leftist MP for Bethnal Green in London’s East End. Nothing could be more British.
Well, all the readers of FT feel greatly reassured now, but in reality, Guha has offered them nothing in the way of genuine evidence that they need not be concerned.