TCS Daily

Britain's Culture War

By Scott Norvell - April 5, 2004 12:00 AM

Following the arrest of eight British Muslims who were stockpiling ammonium nitrate with the apparent intent to blow up something of note, England's left-wing press has found the enemy and it is ... Britain.

In a series of raids across Southern England last week, some 700 officers successfully stopped what might have been a disaster. In a self-storage warehouse in West London, police uncovered half a ton of the sort of fertilizer that, after being combined with fuel oil, has flattened targets ranging from the federal building in Oklahoma City to a nightclub in Bali. Eight men, all of them British citizens believed to be of Pakistani origin, were arrested the same day.

Two full pages of coverage of the arrests by The Guardian highlighted what its editors see as the obvious causes of this homegrown problem. One story, headlined 'Tensions That Start on the Playground,' blamed segregation in state schools. White flight is creating "potential breeding grounds for intolerance and racism," The Guardian wrote.

Another story was topped 'Muslims Face Dark Age of Injustice,' this one about the "hatred and venom" being directed against people who have designs on killing as many innocent shoppers or pub-goers as possible.

'Rejected and Dejected - the New Generation of Muslims,' said yet another, which featured a young man handing out leaflets outside a school with a skull and crossbones and an admonition for young Muslims to embrace jihad on them. Poor saps like this young man feel marginalized and unwanted, the paper said.

You get the picture. The racism and xenophobia endemic in English culture is driving young Muslims into the arms of fanatics. It's not their fault they want to kill us. It's ours.

That a society which has embraced immigrants like no other in Europe, that has offered more huddled masses more opportunities, that boasts one of the most multi-ethnic cities (London) outside the Eastern United States could be blamed for these nutters' intentions is beyond belief.

Paradoxically, it is Muslims in Britain who seemed to have grasped the real problem.

Relatives of those arrested blamed fire-breathing Islamic preachers for the boys' radicalism. The young men arrested, all of them between the ages of 17 and 32, were Manchester United-loving, cricket-playing British boys until they started hanging around a mosque near their homes.

The Muslim Council of Britain echoed the sentiments of the parents and asked leaders of the faith to help authorities in their fight against terror. Yassin Rehman, the head of the Council of Mosques in the suburb of Luton, blamed such groups as Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed's Al-Muhajiroun sect and Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Egyptian wanted in Yemen on terrorism charges who still preaches outside the Finsbury Park mosque on Fridays, for actively recruiting jihadis behind the shields of free speech and religion.

"This country has given us freedom and we should never abuse those freedoms," Rehman told the BBC.

Most of the men arrested have yet to be identified publicly, but those so far fingered do not seem like poverty-stricken boys who were bullied within inches of their lives on council flat playgrounds in their early years. Most of them lived in Crawley, an industrial town near London's Gatwick airport, and images from the scene were of relatively middle class existences.

Except for the fact that at least one of them spent time learning the finer art of mass murder at a camp in Pakistan, they were just your average Joes.

Contrary to what The Guardian and other guilt-ridden liberals profess, it is not evil headmasters or surly shopkeepers or institutional racism in the National Health Service that are turning these young men's minds to thoughts of terror. The fault lies squarely with the likes of al-Muhajiroun and the Abu Hamzas of the world.

Funny, though, whenever the government talks about giving people like Hamza the boot or shutting down sects whose sympathies lie with terrorists, it is the human rights activists and immigrant advocates of the Guardian-loving left that scream racism.

Scott Norvell is London Bureau Chief of Fox News. He last wrote for TCS about the Andalusian Dogs of War.


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