Monday, July 25, 2005

Do American Muslims have something to teach us?

There were two contrasting articles this week, one in the Spectator (registration required), and the other in the Saturday issue of the Daily Telegraph which compares the attitude of American Muslims to their host country with that of Britain's Muslims.

The article in the Specator asked why Britain was the first developed country in the world to produce home grown suicide bombers, and argued that in their hatred of Britain, the terrorists were in one sense very British: self loathing is the national disease. As the Spectator warns:

Britain’s self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it’s all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over ‘the other’, but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London’s internationalism — in other words, that there is little British left about it.

In their reaction to the London bombings American Muslims could not be more different, The Telegraph reports...

"I cannot believe what imams in London have been preaching," said Eide Alawan, the chief adviser to Hassan Qazwini, the imam at America's largest mosque, which is part of the Islamic Centre of America in Dearborn.

Mr Alawan said: "If anybody preached in favour of bombing in this mosque, the community would be on top of them...They'd report it to the board [of the mosque] and he'd be fired...There's no room for a 'but' about condemning violence. If you kill me, you kill the whole of humanity...If you've got a problem about Israel, sure, bring it up. But bring it up another time. Don't relate the two...If I heard about any kids talking about America as the Great Evil, or planning something dangerous, I'd turn them in...I've seen angry kids here. They may hate what's going on in America but so do a lot of non-Muslims...I've never heard a kid say, 'I want to strap a bomb on me and blow up a lot of people'. ''

Most importantly Mr Alawan added: ''Our kids are American. They realise what this country has done for our people."

And that's what makes the US different from Britain. We may cringe at their flag raising ceremonies, but it's precisely those things that have reduced the risk of home grown terrorism. America believes in itself and its values, and expects those who emigrate there to believe in them too. It also means they can confidently ban the likes of Yusuf Qaradawi without worrying about alienating moderate Muslims.

Today Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in America, and a large proportion of Muslims are African American converts. Although comprising only 1-2% of the population (no one knows the exact figure as the US census doesn't include religion), they have become a significant political force, concentrated in key swing states and metropolitan areas, such as New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and California. But unlike Europe, Americans don't feel threatened by them.

As one American Muslim put it...

"I pledged allegiance to the flag in fifth grade. It's an honour," said Wissam Bazzi, 29, who works for a brand design company and came over from Lebanon in 1985.

He added: "This is my country. I follow its laws 110 per cent. I owe all my blessings to this country.

Isn't it about time we promoted a similar attitude in the UK? Sometimes, it takes an immigrants experience to open your eyes. My Father's family were able to come here in 1938 and escaped the Nazis by literally a few months, his cousins were not so lucky. I literally owe my existence to this country, it's something I feel proud of, yet now I find my existence threatened by a liberal establishment that has colluded unwittingly, but colluded nonetheless with Islamic extremists to undermine everything this country, and the west stands for.