‘Would you say the same thing about Jews? Gays? Or any other minority?’ This is one of the witless questions asked of anyone who writes about Islamic extremism. And it is a fascinating point in a way, taking in – as it does – everything other than the facts.
Yesterday another radical Muslim cell in the UK was found guilty of terrorism offences. Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali had hoped to carry out a wave of suicide bombings in Britain which would have exceeded 7/7 and rivalled 9/11 in terms of impact and casualties. They were radical Islamists, inspired by radical Islamist preachers and had travelled to Pakistan to receive training in bomb-making with the aim of blowing up British people. Troublingly, as the Mail reports:
‘Nobody in the bomb plotters' own community tipped the police off with their concerns, despite finding out they were sending young men to terror training camps in Pakistan.
At no point during the 18-month investigation by the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit did anyone in Birmingham's Muslim community inform on the behaviour of Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, raising questions over the health of relations between officers and community leaders.
This was despite the fact the families of four other young men recruited from Sparkhill all intervened to bring them back home the moment they found out the real reasons for them travelling to Pakistan.
Detective Inspector Adam Gough, senior investigating officer, said the extended families of the four men had 'become aware' of why they went to Pakistan but, in any case, 'did not tell us'.’
Now, of course the vast majority of Muslims are as disgusted by the actions of these extremists as everybody else is. But perhaps I can bat the ‘you wouldn’t say this’ question back to some people.
Let us say that a certain percentage of gays or a certain percentage of Jews or any other minority were indeed in this situation. Let us imagine that the cell convicted of attempting to carry out mass murder on the streets of Britain were radical Jews rather than radical Muslims, inspired by Jewish preachers and trained by Jewish terrorist groups in the belief – mistaken or otherwise – that they were acting in the name of their Jewish religion.
Let us furthermore imagine that the recent cell of Jewish terrorists had not only been great admirers of Jewish terrorists who had carried out the largest terrorist attack in history on the United States, and Jewish terrorists who had blown up the London transport system a few years back, but had radical ideological Jewish allies who had done the same thing in Spain, America, India and many other countries around the world over recent years. Imagine, furthermore, that other extremist Jews had assassinated and attempted to assassinate film-makers, artists, writers, politicians and others across Europe over recent years for being critical of Judaism or doing things that they thought offensive to the Jewish faith. Imagine if someone who - because of all of this - had become a critic of some tenets of Judaism had just earlier this month narrowly survived an assassination attempt on him in his home.
And imagine that yesterday’s cell was made up of Jews, carrying out their acts in the name of radical Judaism, and that nobody in the Jewish community from which they came had reported any suspicions over the men’s activities.
I wonder what the coverage would be like today? Would people be saying that there isn’t a problem? Would they tell people not to discuss the problem? Would they say that any attempt to do so was ‘Judaeophobic’? Or would I be right in imagining that after many years of such attacks and thwarted attacks around the world, people would have some very clear things to say about this. I think they would and I would be one of them.