08 July 2005

Thoughts on British Muslims

A couple of points:

Firstly that the very definite statements made by Muslim leaders in Britain are significant:

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he utterly condemned the attacks. He was joined in his condemnation by church leaders who have been preparing a joint position between both faiths in the event of such an attack.

"We are simply appalled and want to express our deepest condolences to the families," said Sir Iqbal. "These terrorists, these evil people, want to demoralise us as a nation and divide us. All of us must unite in helping the police to hunt these murderers down."


The gap between "We condemn these murders" and "We must help the police" might seem small logically, but it is enormous emotionally. It is a step, for instance, which some church leaders in Northern Ireland were unwilling to make until the 1990s. As I argue in my piece on the structure of terrorist movements it is the crucial step which makes a long-term domestic terrorist campaign unfeasible. If the large majority of British Muslims are prepared to help the police, then any terrorist infrastructure will have to be based overseas.

My second point, which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere, is the odd location of one of the bombs. Edgware Road is very much an Arab area of London. Note the Arab population in Britain is very small, British Muslims being overwhelmingly from the Indian sub-continent, but what there is of it is very concentrated in a small part of London. When I lived on the edge of Kilburn, I tended to feel quite safe from the IRA, and the fact of a presumably Islamist bomb going off at Edgware Road Station is remarkable.

Of course, it may just have been chosen as a point on a main commuter route - from the West London junctions of Paddington and Baker street stations to King's Cross and Central London, just as Aldgate is on the route in from the East London junction at Liverpool Street, or it may have gone off in the wrong place, but I do find it curious.

3 comments:

Jon Barnard said...

Yeah, given the size of the bomb and where it went off I don't think there was much chance of it affecting anyone on Edgware Road itself. But the symbolism of an attack on a centre of Arab life is telling. Clearly the bombers did not discrimate among their potential victims.

barbara said...

this is why now the head of the Muslim Council of Britain says "ok, guys, no kidding anymore. It could be better tarting to help the police or other bombs will kill us too"
.....it could be possible?;-)

barbara said...

I'm sorry, "tarting" was "starting". The s escaped.
=)