Power to the Spokespeople

‘Our statesmen and officials not only listen but actually pay money to people who threaten them’

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What about the Hindus? This thought occurred to me the other night while watching an evening of documentaries about Islam on BBC4. By the end, the viewer was left with the distinct impression that we would all still be living in mud-huts if Muhammad’s mother had remained a virgin. We learned that Muslims had been behind the invention of pretty much everything from modern medicine, writing and literature to culture, bouncy castles and, I think, eating.

But what this farce of bad TV and worse history did remind me of was that if, say, the Hindu community had only been fortunate enough to produce four young men willing to blow the hell out of Londoners and provided a clerical and political class willing to make excuses for them, then the BBC might credit Hindus with inventing the modern world. The government would be pumping tens of millions of pounds into their community events. Young people would be taught Hindu scriptures with resources from the public purse. The Guardian would be bowing its collective editorial knee before their deities. At Christmas, the most rabidly genocidal Hindu leader available would doubtless broadcast to the nation on Channel 4. When you stand back and look at it, the problem for all the other religions is that they just can’t seem to provide the eager young foot-soldiers that Islam can.

But pumping out fawning pro-Hindu propaganda would not be the ultimate gift to that community if they could get their act together. Changing the past is easy. Any totalitarian can do that. Changing the future is the real prize. If only they could find four young suicide bombers, then self-appointed Hindu leaders could dictate British foreign policy first-hand to the government.

I only make this observation because in the weeks since Israel launched its campaign to destroy Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Muslim “spokespeople” in Britain have once again made it perfectly clear to the UK government that if their opinions on foreign policy are not listened to, they can’t promise the community won’t make them heard in a rather more explosive way. And the government is listening.

In 2005, the Muslim Council of Britain performed this trick. This year it has been played by the Quilliam Foundation, a new government-funded Muslim organisation which has already received £800,000 from the Home and Foreign Offices claims to be moderate but turns out to have the same old attitudes vis-à-vis our foreign policy as the last set of self-appointed Muslim leaders.

The Quilliam Foundation – and other Muslim groups – demanded to meet the Foreign Secretary. So, naturally, on 12 January David Milliband met them. A few days earlier, QF’s directors along with a number of other Muslim “spokespeople” wrote to the prime minister, threatening that unless Britain changed its foreign policy, distanced itself from the US and changed its relationship with Israel, then they couldn’t promise that young Muslims experiencing a “loss of faith in the political process” might not simply detonate out of exasperation.

If any other group in Britain tried to blackmail the government in this way, not only would they not be invited in “to express their concerns”, they would be thrown into the political wilderness. But another standard applies once your community has produced people actually willing to kill. Witness the nightly street thuggery outside the Israeli embassy in London. Or the fact that holding an Israeli flag in the open at a counter-demo before getting into a police-cordoned counter-rally area was deemed by police to be an act of incitement. Azzam Tamimi of Hamas was able to shriek “We are all Hamas” to a crowd of thousands in Hyde Park a few days later, amid cries of “Allahu akhbar” (“Allah is Great”), and nothing happened. Marching along the streets of London with a banner and declaring membership of a genocidal terrorist group does not constitute incitement, but holding the flag of a British ally in our capital city does.

You sometimes have to rub your eyes at what we in modern Britain are becoming. Our cowed police appear to have become little more than the militant wing of the Guardian. Our most senior statesmen and counter-terrorism officials not only listen but actually pay money to people who threaten them. And statements from government on foreign policy appear to be increasingly influenced by what illegal acts might be carried out at home by a minority of a minority.

Fortunately no other faith community in Britain has realised what is on offer here. But at some point they will: they will notice how cheaply we can be bought now, and how swiftly we will roll over.

“What would Britain do if 6,000 rockets had rained down on us?” Supporters of Israel have asked this question a lot in recent weeks.

I’m beginning to think I know the answer. We’d have surrendered to the Islamists about 5,996 rockets ago.