Monday, February 04, 2008

Mixed feelings about the call to prayer in Oxford

There is a part of me that feels sympathetic towards Muslims who want the call to prayer broadcast in Oxford.
When I'm in Jerusalem, I love being near the old city at sunset and hearing the simultaneous sound of the church bells ringing and the Muezzin's call to prayer. It underlies the centrality of Jerusalem to the world's great faiths.

But Oxford isn't Jerusalem, and because of recent events, the call to prayer feels a lot more sinister, an overt attempt to convert the rest of us to Islam. Nevertheless, Oxford's Muslims have every right to broadcast the call to prayer, providing it is within the cities' noise limits and providing it is not broadcast at an ungodly hour (excuse the pun).

Those who want to broadcast the call to prayer may have an ulterior motive, but on this issue, Oxford's residents are in a no-win situation. Islam is flourishing in the vacuum left by 40 years of multiculturalism and the absence of any organised religion. Whether the mosque broadcasts the call to prayer or not makes little difference, the battle has already been lost.

I thought we were fighting the good battle in Afghanistan

To many European politicians and commentators, the war in Afghanistan was the war they initially supported, especially in the short lived "standing shoulder to shoulder" period following 9/11. The war in Iraq by contrast was considered to be a huge mistake, one that had resulted in us neglecting our duty in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, it seems that Europeans have now changed their mind and have no stomach for Afghanistan either.

So it was heartening to read Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with her. Boris Johnson accurately described her as the "the high priestess of our paranoid, mollycoddled, risk-averse, airbagged, booster-seated culture of political correctness and 'elf 'n' safety fascism" but at least she understands the importance of staying the course in Afghanistan.

Gordon Brown is no Atlanticist

Why do so many in the media refer to Gordon Brown as an Atlanticist.
  1. Whilst America is staying the course in Iraq, under Gordon Brown, Britain has cut and run.
  2. Whilst America faces up to the war on terror, Gordon Brown denies its existence.
  3. Whilst (broadly speaking) Americans believe in small government and low taxation, Gordon Brown is an old fashioned socialist who believes that the nine most noble words in the English language are "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help".
Aside from having a few good friends in America, I'm scratching my head to work out exactly what is "Atlanticist" about Gordon Brown. Maybe someone can enlighten me.