A quote from a Johann Hari post, via Digby:

But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties ? and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority ? in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque ? a few minutes? walk away from the bomb in Aldgate ? to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, ?Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning? Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.? Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.

From the media, it seems to representative of British muslim reactions in general. And quite understandably so.

There ar really several questions here: a) will there be harassment and violence now, in the wake of the attack, b) the long term negative impact n inter-ethic relations, b) will civil liberties be (further) curtailed.

As for b and c, based on the admirably non-hysterical response by the public so far, I’m cautiously optimistic. Cautiously. As for a, it only takes a few racist scumbags, doesn’t it? Regardless of how decent the general population may hypothetically be. But maybe it won’t get really horrifically bad, seeing as I haven’t seen any really serious incidents serious happened in the first night. Or did I miss them.

Guardian reports on the backlash:

At the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, worshippers said passersby had shouted abuse and rattled the entrance gates in the hours after yesterday’s bombings.

Within hours of the attacks police forces across the country were sent advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to counter any backlash.

Forces are supposed to make contact with “vulnerable communities”, in this case Muslims, and react quickly and robustly to incidents of hate crime.

There are two fundamental aims, to keep Muslims safe, then to ensure there is the maximum chance that those with information about the planning of the attacks have the confidence and trust in the police to come forward.

Input from people who know what they’re talking about would be good.

(I’d also like to hear what the long term and short term reaction was after 3/11. It’s not necessarily hugely relevant, but interesting in itself.)

It’s perhaps a phrase that’s lost all meaning, or never had one, but I’d say if bigotry prevails, the terrorism will in some real sense have won.

17 thoughts on “Fears

  1. You are asking at the wrong time. The real test will come when arrests are made and will very much depend on who is arrested.

  2. racist, scumbag cunts

    Why resort to the language of the gutter? I thought this weblog was better than that!

    One of the problems for a free, open, multicultural and largely tolerant society like Britain is that it also means tolerating points of view, and even fundamentalist religious views that are critical of our values.

    Nevertheless, I think the majority of people in Britain will remain firmly on the side of preserving the values of a free and open society and will be opposed to any “backlash” against the muslim community. I doubt that we will see the kind of nasty backlash that followed the van Gogh killing in the Netherlands, for example. It is also worth bearing in mind that Edgware Road where one bomb was exploded is in the heart of Arab London – aside from a few extremists the overwhelming majority of muslims in the UK will be firmly against those who carried out these terrorist attacks.

    These attacks will probably do more to unite British society than divide it.

  3. The British authorities seem to continue to take seriously yesterday’s radical web-site posting:

    “Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the coordinated blasts in trains and a bus bore “the hallmarks of an al Qaeda-related attack,” and the interior minister said investigators were examining a statement by a previously unknown group calling itself the “Secret Group of al Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe.”

    “The Web site claim is a serious one, so we will look at that very closely but we haven’t eliminated any alternative explanations. We’re looking at everything very widely,” Charles Clarke told Sky News television a day after the explosions.”

    On Spanish reaction to 03/11 the position is a complicated one. Spain was once itself occupied by Arabs and this has left a lasting impact which influences things in two ways. Firstly Spain may be culturally the closest of the EU countries to North Africa, and at the same time there are prejudices based on an old conflict.

    Moroccans have often found themselves unwelcome in Spain (the disturbances in El Ejido would be one example), OTOH there has not been widespread evidence of racism against Moroccans as there was say 20 years ago against Pakistani’s (or Bangladeshis) in the UK. Post 03/11 the situation has not noticeably deteriorated, and people are generally able to make a distinction between radical extremists and the majority of muslims who live and work peacefully in Spain. There is certainly no widespread feeling of fear. Racism may in fact be worse these days against Ecuadorians since there has been a wave of quite vicious juvenile violence associated with gangs known as ‘Latin Kings’.

  4. Here’s some commentary from a British acquaintance:

    I’m not worried about much of a backlash in London, but I do worry about what might happen in other parts of the country. ?I wouldn’t be surprised if a few mosques were burned out over the next few days, especially in some of the Pennines towns where racial segregation runs deep and relations between the White and South Asian Muslim communities were poor to begin with. ?Tomorrow night, when the pubs get out, there might be some very vicious racial attacks.

    How will this affect the political climate:

    BLAIR: Is now safe for a while. ?I don’t detect any warming to him, however, either within the Labour Party or the country at large. ?If there is a bounce, it will be temporary, and I’m not sure that it won’t go the other way. ?Iraq is not popular. ?Remember Spain. ?I’ve heard plenty of internet rants along the lines of “Nuke Iran and deport all the Muslims but they wouldn’t have done it if we weren’t trying to take over their countries for oil.” ?Not very logical, but people aren’t when they’re pumped up. ?The cards could fall either way over the coming months.

    COMPULSORY ID CARDS: These looked likely to go through anyway, but that looks even more likely now. ?A lot of people have noted that they didn’t do much to stop the bombings in Madrid, but even so it shifts the political winds a little more behind Blair’s back.

    DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL: Expect our delightfully authoritarian Home Secretary to seek an extension of his powers in this area.

    IMMIGRATION: Nasty. ?If you want to complain about Muslim immigration, you will find plenty of ammo to do it. ?The two main parties already indulged in a bit of a race for the bottom on this issue in the general election campaign. ?That will get worse now, especially as the endless supply of young Eastern Europeans wanting to live here (legally, without work permits, as EU citizens) meets a lot of the economic demand. ?Expect a clamp down on non-EU immigration.

  5. …”Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the coordinated blasts in trains and a bus bore “the hallmarks of an al Qaeda-related attack,”

    It’s pretty obvious that they were expecting something like this to happen at some point. I think they are quietly relieved that this was a ‘conventional weapons’ attack rather than a bio/chem or dirty bomb attack.

    I’d echo other postings that London is a very tolerant place and attacks on mosques are fairly unlikely at this point. I think most people, including myself, are sad about the loss of life regardless of race or creed.

    I’ve lived in London for a few years and what I loved most was that in your daily life you would interact with people from every conceivable end of the world and make nothing of it.

    I don’t think there’s so many places in the world that can claim that and I’m very much saddened that a part of that may now be lost.

  6. Janne – fairly sure it won’t be. As Ben suggests, real nastyness, bigotry and violence is far more likely among the BNP-voting hicks (and their armchair jihadi counterparts) in places like Oldham.

    I live 250 yards from the FP mosque. Last night at 6pm-ish, it was deserted, with two bored-looking coppers standing opposite. Same this morning. No mobs, no protests, no other forms of witless stupidity.

    I’m proud of my city and its inhabitants, of all hues.

  7. Heh, I thought I changed cunts to scumbags, and instead I got “racist scumbags cunts” (You could’ve guessed it was a typo.) I finished it 30 seconds before I had to go catch the train. So that wasn’t intended. On the other hand, I don’t exactly think it turned out overly harsh.

  8. Isn’t that how it did play out in America? after 9/11. IE attacks on muslims (and sikhs, etc) mostly far from NY? And generally more jingoism, less a feeling of community. That’s what I heard from liberal bl?ogs, anyway.

  9. As for a, it only takes a few racist scumbags cunts, doesn?t it?

    David, you do realize that Muslims aren’t a race, right? Hence, a poor use of words.

    Peter Bergen has an interesting article in the New York Times called ‘Our Ally, Our Problem’ which sums up nicely Enland’s problematic Muslims:

    “Eight out of 10 believe that the war on terrorism is a war on Islam, while a poll conducted last year, under the auspices of the Guardian newspaper, found a surprising 13 percent who said that further attacks by Al Qaeda or a similar organization on the United States would be justified
    Last year a British government report estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 British Muslims are supporters of Al Qaeda or related groups. The estimate was based on intelligence, opinion polls and a report that 10,000 Muslims attended a 2003 conference held by Hizb ut-Tahrir, described by the Home Office as a “structured extremist organization.” British authorities believe that between 300 and 600 British citizens were trained in Qaeda and Taliban camps in Afghanistan. For this reason, and because of Britain’s relatively permissive asylum laws, Arab militants living in London sometimes jokingly refer to their hometown as Londonistan.”( apologies for the long quote )

    I don’t think the problem is immigration per se. I think you’ll find that the people who perpetrated these bombings are going to be English born and bred, or at least a signifigant majority. And if that’s true, then it begs the question What is the problem? But no worries, once that absurd Hatred Law is passed, no real avenues will exist to explore the real problem.

  10. “Isn’t that how it did play out in America? after 9/11. IE attacks on muslims (and sikhs, etc) mostly far from NY? And generally more jingoism, less a feeling of community. That’s what I heard from liberal bl?ogs, anyway.”

    I could be wrong, but I thought at the time (and I think now) that this was overstated. I heard few if any credible reports of attacks on Muslims. Of course, any bigoted attack on anybody anywhere is an outrage, so if it happened once in the Midwest, it happened one too many times.

    As for the feeling of community… man oh man, how quickly we forget. The days after 9/11 were the days when it felt the greatest to be an American.

  11. will civil liberties be (further) curtailed.

    I have thought about that somewhat. Civil liberties are dangerously curtailed even now. Yet the side which has bloody bodies in its armory of arguments is likely to win in the long run. There is a small but real danger of imposing “marial law lite”.
    Therefore I would propose to take the government be taken by its word. If this is an emergency, it should be dealt with as such. It is better that an exceptional emergency were officially recognised and exceptional laws of temporally limited validity introduced rather than normal civil liberties watered down.
    ID cards are coming to stay already. It is better to have a short hard crackdown than a prolonged erosion.

  12. If we want to find and defeat these killers, the people we really need on our side are the Muslims of Britain. Sure, you?ll get second generation Pakistanis who speak with a Bradford accent saying they support Bin-Laden. That doesn?t mean they want to see their kids blowing up their neighbours, it?s more akin to supporting Pakistan in a Test Match.

    So the next time the BNP tries to threaten a Mosque, I?d like to see the police drop the even-handedness for once and give the racists a good kicking. Without getting enough of the Muslim community firmly on our side ? as Brits, Frenchmen, Spaniards ? we are not going to know who the weirdo loners are, who is speaking about recruitment for the cause, whose behaviour has suddenly changed.

    We need to address our Islamic immigrants with respect, as fellow citizens. We need to make them feel part of our culture and tell them to be vigilant, because it is their kids who are the target of the organizers of these attacks. We need our press-lords to be told that integration is not a matter of decency anymore, but of pressing national security. And we need to respond to the urgings of the French, Saudi and Egyptian government to stop acting as a haven for North African and other fanatics who approve of cutting little girls throats in the street because of what they are wearing. Our conception of the balance between the operational interests and abilities of the secret intelligence services and the police in this matter is flawed.

  13. I’m afraid of Islamic xenophobia, racism and bigotry. The 7/7 was an act of racist violence, in case you didn’t get it. So was 9/11.

    OK, vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving law-abiding nice folks, all right… But what about the minority?

  14. “Sure, you?ll get second generation Pakistanis who speak with a Bradford accent saying they support Bin-Laden.”

    And this doesn’t strike you as being a major problem? Do you have any good reason whatsoever to believe they aren’t being utterly sincere in stating their support for the man and his methods?

    “That doesn?t mean they want to see their kids blowing up their neighbours, it?s more akin to supporting Pakistan in a Test Match.”

    No, it doesn’t mean they want to see their own kids doing it, but it doesn’t mean they’d mind seeing other people’s kids doing it, preferably in neighborhoods other than theirs. In this respect they’re not an iota different from the leaders of organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who also have a marked propensity for viewing other people’s offspring as being better jihad fodder than their own.

    The concern for a “backlash” against Muslims is well-meaning but overwrought. What we really ought to be concerned with is the existence of vast* reservoirs of support for violence in the name of religion amongst local Muslim populations.

    Yes, “vast” is the right word to use when anything from 10-30% of resident Muslims see nothing wrong with terrorism in the name of religion, even if they claim they don’t want to see the same thing happen in their host countries (then again, they would say that, wouldn’t they?)


    Bush & Blair’s PE-2 ‘Team Iraq'(Al Qaeda) Attacks London

    A revisit of this exceptionally excellent BBC documentary on Bush’s Al Qaeda boogeyman, of which Bush and Blair’s PE-2 ‘Team Iraq’ is an extension —
    try and view at least Part 3, only one hour, revealing the current deceptions and illusions for 9/11 and the Iraq war.

    Bush’s Al Qaeda subterfuge — BBC: The Power of Nightmares

    Bush and Blair’s PE-2 ‘Team Iraq’ extension of Al Qaeda boogeyman

    British Seek Moroccan Man in London Attack Investigation

    Moroccan terrorism links yet Bush aids illegal Moroccans

    Share and forward and ask everyone to share and forward as well — bypass the conspiratorial traitors in the ‘prostituted’ LMSM.
    _ _ _

    Illegally Fired
    Officially Designated
    Federal Whistlebower

  16. Let?s not be pi about killing. We decided to go to war. We did so not because of any direct threat to our security, but to assist our American allies, who had decided on this campaign sometime before 9/11. As a result, many Iraqi kids are dead. Terrorism is repulsive because innocent civilians die.

    It?s our job to convince our immigrants that they?re choosing the wrong side, that being a British citizen is something they?ve chosen and want, and that it takes precedence over the Ummah. We need to help them feel that religion is a private matter and has a different role in life here. If they feel we want them out, if they feel confirmed as aliens, or worse, despised, they will turn inwards to an old identity. That?s just one reason why I disagree with Edward about multiculturalism. It doesn?t stress a common pride sufficiently.

    On the tube home tonight, I was aware of giving every Asian or Arab looking person a very thorough and hostile once-over, and I wondered what it must feel like to be seen as a potential enemy. The more confident will respond with dignity, politeness, an assertion of their version of Britishness. It?s the failures and misfits that are the problem, and the only way we can keep an eye on them is with the help of their own community.

    This is not an uprising ? it?s not even the Italian Red Brigades, let alone the IRA. It?s a few fanatics manipulating the social and personal, not religious, discontent of those whose sense of worth is otherwise low. In that sense, there is indeed a parallel with Hamas’ use of children.

    I am as intolerant as you are towards any British citizen who attempts to justify these murders in terms of what is happening in Iraq or Palestine, not because there is no moral case for such equivalence, but because part of being British is that you do not kill other Brits, or assist their murderers. This is the message we have to hammer home. I believe and hope we have the capacity to do so.

  17. ?fairly sure it won’t be. As Ben suggests, real nastyness, bigotry and violence is far more likely among the BNP-voting hicks (and their armchair jihadi counterparts) in places like Oldham.

    I’m proud of my city and its inhabitants, of all hues.

    Really? Well, I?m proud of my city too, against all the ignorance of the bigoted, bourgeois southerner in places like Finchley (whatever that is).

    And what true value can a man place upon the lives of his fellow Londoners – of whom he claims to be so proud – if he believes that their mass murder does not constitute “real nastyness, bigotry and violence”?

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