Less than two weeks ago, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, whose statements on faith over the last 20 years or so caused the word ‘anodyne’ to look too exciting - The Telegraph styled him ‘benignly soporific’ - suddenly let rip about Islam in a speech in Rome. Startled British newspaper readers put their knives and forks down on their breakfast plates and reread the excerpts carefully, in disbelief.
Lord Carey, formerly a preacher of multiculti boilerplate and now morphed into a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy, had said in a speech in Rome that Islam is “authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving”. Taking no prisoners, he drew attention to the “glaring absence" of democracy in most Muslim countries and suggested that they had “contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries.”
Further down the page, while readers were still trying to catch their breath, the former Archbishop denounced moderate Muslims for failing to unequivocally condemn the evil of suicide bombers. “Sadly, apart from a few courageous examples, very few Muslim leaders condemn clearly and unconditionally the evil of suicide bombers who kill innocent people.”
Surely Lord Carey was too old to be having a mid-life crisis?
“Throughout the Middle East and North Africa we find authoritarian regimes with deeply entrenched leadership, some of which rose to power at the point of a gun and are retained in power by massive investment in security forces. Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege.”
He also called on Europeans and Americans to resist claims that Islamic states were morally, spiritually and culturally superior. Good lord! Just what the rest of us have been saying for 10 years and been roundly condemned by the tranzis for even thinking!
Anything else? Well, yes. He added that, while Christianity and Judaism had a long history of often-painful critical scholarship, Islamic theology was only now being challenged to become more open to examination.
And then he lobbed his own little incendiary device into the debate. “"In the case of Islam, Mohammed, acknowledged by all in spite of his religious greatness to be an illiterate man, is said to have received God's word direct, word by word from angels, and scribes recorded them later. Thus believers are told, because they have come direct from Allah, they are not to be questioned or revised.”
Needless to say, for perhaps the first time in his public life, the former Archbishop’s words did not fall on deaf ears. Not only was his speech in Rome, which most of the British public and worldwide Anglican communion would normally have dozed through gently, covered with fierce interest by the British media, but its flammable content sent British Muslim spokesmen, real and self-appointed, into a frenzy of bruised multiculti sensitivity.
Dr. Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of something called the Muslim Council of Britain, prefaced his comments with, “Frankly, one is dismayed by Lord Carey's comments.” He then hurried on to issue a dark warning to Lord Carey for mentioning the Prophet, Allah and the Koran in the same breath. He didn’t quite say what the consequences of this offense would be, but it didn’t sound good for Lord Carey.
One Mazoor Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in the city of Leicester, said Dr Carey's statement was "disastrous" for relations between Christians and Muslims. "He has fallen prey to the campaign tactics of racists in this country," he said. That’s the spirit, Mazoor! If a internationally renowned cleric calmly makes some intelligent and well-observed statements about your religion, based on his own studies, try to shut down the debate by saying he’s naively fallen victim to ignorant racist tactics. Mr Pot, say hi to Mr Kettle.
In jumped a woeful Dr Zaki Badawi, a self-styled moderate, who was reported in The Telegraph as saying he was "quite upset" by the comments. "I think Dr Carey made a rather unfortunate statement at a time when there is about to be dialogue between Muslims and Christians in America," said Dr Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in Ealing, west London. He added that none of what Lord Carey had said was correct, and even if it was, it was all the fault of the West.
A multiculti by the name of Chris Doyle, affiliated with the Arab-British Understanding Council weighed in with a high-pitched scolding in a letter to The Telegraph, saying, “Denigrating a religion for the extremist actions of a minority is appalling. It is the equivalent of holding Christianity responsible for the nuclear bomb.”
He went on, “Perhaps Lord Carey should pay attention to the 70 million Christian fundamentalists in the United States who are looking forward to Armageddon - and bringing it closer through their support of Israel.” Oh, but of course!
“Instead of widening the gap between Christians and Muslims, Lord Carey might think about how he can narrow it.” Well, there’s an original thought! Except, the thrust of this organization is that the onus of Arab-British Understanding is on the British, who have an incontrovertible duty to “understand” the immigrant Arabs, and presumably make allowances for little cultural foibles like blowing people up.
The question exercising most British minds at the moment is, where on earth did all these Muslim outfits spring from?
Yet the former Archbishop’s words are having the effect he intended. Less than a week after Carey gave his speech, the formerly “dismayed” Iqbal Sacranie said, “It is important that we exercise vigilance. If there is anything we become aware of, it is our duty to ensure that this is reported immediately to the police. We will not tolerate terrorism.” At last, an unequivocal statement condemning terrorism from a British Muslim spokesperson! – albeit that he equivocated slightly by saying that violence wasn’t a part of Islam. Nevertheless, it took some courage to make the statement, and he has been condemned by some radical Muslims for making it.
Oh, but wait a minute! The Muslim News said that many mainstream Muslims in Britain felt "under siege", adding, “It is important that those … involved in terrorism should be apprehended. But what is also important is that this does not mean that people's civil liberties are affected.” Heaven – if those well known champions of civil liberties, the Muslims, will excuse the loose usage – forfend that anyone’s civil liberties be affected – like being blown to bits by a bomb on the train home from work.
Meanwhile, at dawn on March 31, in a quiet London suburb, British police arrested eight Islamic men (a ninth was arrested the following day) in one of Britain’s largest ever domestic anti-terrorist operations. The combined resources of five police forces and involving 700 officers, had uncovered more than half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a basic ingredient of homemade explosives, hidden in a self-storage facility. According to The Telegraph, they were all born in Britain of Pakistani heritage. Ammonium nitrate has been used by Islamic terrorist groups linked to al-Qa'eda, and similar fertilizer was a key ingredient in the Islamic bombs that exploded in Bali in 2002. And was used in the attacks on British targets in Istanbul last year.
According to The Telegraph, the father of one of those arrested, and the uncle of two others, ages ranging from 17 to 22, expressed his outrage. “The police behaved like terrorists”, he said with that good taste and quiet understatement the British have learned to expect from these people. Apparently Mr Kahn had taken umbrage because, during the terrorist raid, the police hadn’t allowed him to answer his phone.
It has now come out that one of the “innocents”, Ahmad Ali Khan, wrote of a burning ambition in his school yearbook in the summer of 2001, a few weeks before 9/11. “In ten years’ time I will be the next Osama bin Laden.” Well, it’s important for a boy to have a role model, but given that he wrote of his school boyish ambition before 9/11, one of his classmates asked, “Who’s Osama bin Laden?” According to Britain’s The Sun newspaper, Ahmad became agitated and replied, “Don’t worry about it!” How did a kid in the equivalent of high school hear about bin Laden in advance of his world debut, and how did he come to hold him in such high regard, if not through the hate preachers and those supine Muslim community leaders who refuse to condemn terrorism?
On the day after the apprehension of the London pod, and just a few days after Dr Sacranie had been spurred by Lord Carey’s remarks to say that British-born Muslim youths must accept the responsibilities of citizenship and report suspected terrorist activity or preaching to the police, a well-known Loony Tune by the name of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muahmmad stated that Muslims cannot co-operate with local authorities against other members of the faith. He said in an interview on Britain’s major morning radio news show, The Today Programme, “Muslims have a unique way of life. Co-operating with the authorities against any other Muslims, that is an act of apostasy in Islam.” To Sheikh Omar, one of Britain’s most infamous hate-preachers, I think we can reasonably pose the question: So?