Next time, Mr Blair, you won't carry British Muslims with you

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 7 Apr 2002 06:13:18 +0100

'It is not only Muslims - I have not met one Briton of colour who
supports military action in Iraq' 

What do British or European or American Muslims think about the Bush 'n'
Blair Axis of Deceit? Do they support the planned invasion of Iraq by
the US and its very good friend the UK? Does anyone know? Do these
powerful men and their apostles care? Of course not. We are hardly the
people who matter when these big and important decisions are being made.
Whatever objections and fears we have, our role as defined by this state
is only to provide the nods, to be the chorus of approval or else be
banished to the hinterland with the label "supporter of terrorist"
branded on our receding backs. 

Blair is rumoured to be rethinking his planned re-education campaign (he
was going to give us a "damning dossier", apparently, not on proven
links between the Iraqi regime and al-Qa'ida but on how evil Saddam is)
to deal with all those faint hearts who are openly expressing disquiet
about Cowboy Bush Jr and his arbitrary notions of a just war. Perhaps he
has been unnerved by that passionate kiss between Saudi Arabia and Iraq
at the meeting of Arab states last week. Or it may be the steady and
incontrovertible arguments against the Bush line which are finding their
way into public debates. 

The Moral Maze, in an illuminating programme last week, had several
unexpected people – the libertarian Claire Fox, the academic Dr Eric
Herring for example – calmly providing factual evidence to show how
there is no moral justification for US attacks on Iraq. Meanwhile, among
western Muslims, emotions are rising in ways I have not seen before.
They live as free citizens in a powerful democracy, but feel powerless
to stop the destruction of Palestine by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon or to demand answers on what exactly is going on in Afghanistan
(surely one of least reported of all wars) or at Camp X-Ray, and now to
arrest an unjustifiable war against the crushed people of Iraq. They
know, too, how smoothly this fury will be managed once the decision has
been made to go for Iraq and that makes them even more incandescent. 

After the action has started, some of the rapidly proliferating,
self-made "community" will be summoned and placed before cameras to
smile vacuously and shake the hands of our top chaps, sometimes their
nice wives, often in the beautiful rooms of 10 Downing Street or the
White House. 

Ah, to be so close to teacups used by those who own the world, to stand
under priceless paintings of the previously powerful white men, to
experience fleeting moments of inclusion, how can this fail to turn
their heads? These are, after all, petite bourgeoisie folk, still
crawling up, always open to new opportunities for self importance. 

That is the calculation. It has always worked. Only this time even this
job lot of unctuous pleasers are trembling about this new war and the
Government which has come to depend on their unthinking support. As one
of these traumatised chaps told me recently, sweating profusely as if he
were pleading for his life: "This is not the war against Taliban and
al-Qa'ida. We were right to support Mr Blair. To show him our loyalty,
and to help the poor people of Afghanistan. We had to show the world
that we do not support terrorists. But now, if they ask me to say yes to
the bombing of Iraq, I am so afraid that is not right. No proof,
nothing, just to go and bomb. No, I cannot agree. My community will not
trust me, you know, if I do that." 

I think that he was genuinely grappling with anxiety, but I also know
him well enough to fear that he could be easily bought. 

The time may well be up for such appeasers as diverse Muslims (Sunni,
Shia, secular, ardent, fanatic, mild, educated, illiterate, men, women
and children, from all parts of the world) converge in their
condemnation of this action against Iraq. 

Over February and March I attended some 13 conferences and seminars in
all. Whatever the planned topic, Muslims have brought up their feelings
about the war against Iraq. Actually I lie. Not only Muslims. I have not
met a single Briton of colour who supports this action either although I
confess I haven't checked the views of black and Asian new Labour MPs
and peers who probably have to agree that our worshipful leader is
always right. 

Younger objectors are appearing across the country and I don't mean the
usual suspects of under-educated street fighters in deprived areas. I am
talking of young Muslims in sharp suits who are working in the City, at
our major hospitals as doctors, about nouvelle restaurant owners and
dynamic entrepreneurs, and a large number of brilliant university
academics. Some have never before been engaged in the politics of

They use the internet well; they know that Iraq was already 90 per cent
compliant when the US deliberately provoked a new confrontation before
imposing sanctions. They have been raised in a country where they have
learnt important scepticism about politicians and the press. They trust
only a handful of journalists, and Robert Fisk is one of them. They
reject utterly the prevailing idea that one American death is a massive
tragedy which the whole world must regard with disproportionate concern.

Some other campaigners – not necessarily Muslims – also seem gripped by
a new, urgent terror. Milan Rai, the founder of Voices in the
Wilderness, which fights against the sanctions imposed on Iraq, made a
speech recently in which he said "I cannot stand by and let the children
in Iraq die. I know I will keep going and that I cannot promise my
six-year-old son, Arkady, that I will return from Iraq." 

And the mood is getting worse, especially as the situation between
Israel and Palestinians dissolves into a criminally unequal war. I have
had letters and emails in the last 24 hours which are getting
dangerously more agitated. People who in September felt a wave of
revulsion against that kind of terrorism, are today finding reasons why
those attacks had to happen and are likely to happen even more. Men and
women are getting in touch to say that they will take to the streets if
we go into Iraq. 

The majority world view sees the US as in the vanguard of sustaining an
unjust world order. And that is exactly what Noor, a young British
woman, said to me on the phone late last Friday night before adding:
"And you know I too can kill myself in Oxford Street, no problem, I am
very angry and very upset for Iraqis" 

Source:  Independent

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