Bernard sent me this link from the New York Times with the suggestion that it might be of interest to AFOE readers. I am dutifully complying by posting. Unfortunately I fear the situation described may come much more as news in the US than it does to those of us here in Europe.
Luton: “In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families’ new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.
They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the ‘Magnificent 19’ and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe“.
That this situation exists is clear: what could be done about it much less so. Here in Spain I normally find myself in a minority of one when I try to argue that the Spanish troops should stay. People are pretty familiar with the UK situation, and also with the French one: it is precisely because they wish to avoid this type of extreme polarisation here that they want ‘the boys back’. Two names are normally evoked in any justification for the withdrawal: Fallujah and Najaf. The Spanish population got a fright on 11 March. My feeling was that even over and above the 200 dead, what really shocked the Spanish population was the existence of such an extended network in Spain, a nework which seemed to count on the support of small but significant layers of the Morroccan population here.
Every time the image of an innocent victim of the fighting appears on the little screen people fear these networks will grow. We are losing a very important propaganda war right now: not because we show the images, but because the reality behind the images exists to be shown. You will not convince a majority of the population either in Europe, or in the United States, that you have a winning strategy if the quantity of terrorism resulting is increasing rather than declining.
And meantime we have the likes of Abu Hamza.
“On Friday, Abu Hamza, the cleric accused of tutoring Richard Reid before he tried to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner with explosives hidden in his shoe, urged a crowd of 200 outside his former Finsbury Park mosque to embrace death and the “culture of martyrdom.”
Though the British home secretary, David Blunkett, has sought to strip Abu Hamza of his British citizenship and deport him, the legal battle has dragged on for years while Abu Hamza keeps calling down the wrath of God.”
The situation with Abu Hamza reached what would have been the height of surreality if it had not been for the tragic dimension during the aftermath of the Madrid bombings. Spanish journalists were seen on the TV news listening to him harangue his ‘congregation’ duly seated in a Finsbury Park Street waiting for clues as to who may have been behind the Madrid bombings.
A mixture of innocence, credulity, and madness.
When I look at all this, I can only bless my luck that I am but a ‘mere economist’. Sufficient reason is often diificult enough to find in the economic sphere, but in the face of the problems surfacing in the aftermath of the Iraq war, where is the path of reason? I wish I knew.