Londistan no more

TO SAY THAT I am elated at the prospect of seeing deep-seated radicals like Omar Bakri — founder of the London-based extremist Al Muhajiroun movement, who has said he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause — getting their comeuppance would be an understatement.

  • E-Mail
By  Massoud A. Derhally Published  August 14, 2005

Londistan no more|~||~||~|TO SAY THAT I am elated at the prospect of seeing deep-seated radicals like Omar Bakri — founder of the London-based extremist Al Muhajiroun movement, who has said he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause — getting their comeuppance would be an understatement. As an Arab, a Muslim and a masters student in the 1990s at a well-known university in London, I never quite understood why Britain welcomed and granted a haven to individuals that spewed out a militant, rigid, chauvinistic and warped interpretation of the Islamic faith. The first and last time I ever saw Omar Bakri was with a fellow Saudi dissident of his at my university. Both individuals came to give a speech full of fabrications at the invitation of a local chapter of Hizb Al Tahrir (Party of Liberation). Its young followers — mostly students of the university at the time, very much personified the zeal and bigotry that characterises all those who continue to malign the image of Arabs, Muslims and the Islamic faith. Bakri and his partner in crime were not preaching Islam — they certainly didn’t represent the overarching beliefs of 1.2 billion Muslims — and unfortunately most of those attending this sermon of manufactured bile didn’t know any better, or worse, didn’t want to. I had not heard of the term Londistan then and would not have understood its significance until that spring day in 1997 when I heard Bakri and his fellow heretic Saudi dissident friend speak. Their presence in London and that of many other extremists was the inspiration for that term. What was copiously shocking then, as it is now, were the incendiary remarks of these people and the plethora of hate they stood for. The purpose of these preachers was to prey on the youth, on the vulnerable, manipulate whoever they could and in the process, not only increase the number of their followers and cadre, but also manifest intolerant views that loath modernity, freedom of speech and open-mindedness. And they did all of this under the guise of fighting autocratic and corrupt leaders in the Arab world. They portrayed themselves, and continue to portray themselves, as Che Guevaras and, alas, it would seem they have realised some success. Etched in my mind forever are the conversations I had with one infamous Saudi dissident in London I interviewed several times for a news agency I once worked for. A week prior to a suicide attack on a residential compound in Saudi Arabia that housed expatriate workers, when asked if he had heard of militants blowing themselves up on the outskirts of Mecca after being cornered by police — the dissident said militants (whom he called jihadists) would only blow themselves up if they were attacking a convoy carrying members of the royal Al Saud family or compounds that housed westerners. A week later (November 9, 2003) a compound west of Riyadh was callously attacked, killing 17, including five children, and wounding 200. Many of the victims were Muslims and this was the second such attack in the kingdom. When asked why the militants attacked the compound, the dissident living in London brushed off the attack, chillingly telling me those who died were “collateral causalities”. Though he did not condone the attacks, the dissident certainly didn’t condemn them, leaving no suspicion in my mind that he relished seeing the mayhem. That dissident still resides in London and is well known to the British authorities, as he is to the Saudis and the Americans. What was palpably clear then, as well as now, is that such individuals should never have been allowed a free hand to spread their venom in Britain or beyond. They should never have been granted citizenship by a country they loathe and whose way of life they despise. Britain is a beacon of tolerance, multiculturalism and, above all, democracy. It is precisely these attributes that attracted these individuals to it in the first place, and it is particularly what these extremists have exploited since coming to the country. Should they be tried for treason? By all means yes. It is long overdue and the edifice of their network of supporters must be dismantled — for their hapless acts have done irreparable damage to our reputation, faith, culture and ultimately to credible causes in the Arab and Muslim world. Enough is enough. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code