It is Eid, the second annual Muslim festival. This is when we mark the end of Hajj and remember Abraham, who agreed to kill Isaac, his son, to make the ultimate sacrifice, when God asked him to. It was a test of faith; God stopped the slaughter. The story appears in the Book of Genesis. God did not stop the slaughter of Alan Jennings, the taxi driver from Salford who went out to help desperate Syrians, or British aid worker David Haines or the two American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff. All were beheaded by Isis, the decapitations broadcast around the world. Such followers swilling with hate and bloodlust, must make God and the angels weep and flee far, far away. Some of us are not celebrating. No presents, no fine food or happy visits to friends and family. It is a small, quiet way of mourning for these men who were doing good and risking all for Muslims in devastated lands. In Manchester, people of all races and religions are filled with rage and sorrow. Kasim Jameel, knew Henning well and persuaded the taxi driver to join the aid convoy organised by Muslims to take supplies to Syria: ‘ I am totally heartbroken. When you lose someone so important to you, you can’t put it into words. Everyone who knew him from the convoys just can’t stop crying- grown men with beards’. Imams have denounced the killers with real feeling, so has the umbrella body, the Muslim Council of Britain, which, before this, tended to equivocate and was a bit unreliable. Young Muslims have started a #notinmyname campaign; Inspire, an impressively effective counter-extremism organisation has launched #makingastand, to get Muslims to ‘pledge allegiance to their country and to respect human rights’. These responses are encouraging. But it isn’t enough. It absolutely isn’t enough. Jennings’s untimely death must be a watershed, a defining moment for western Muslims. We must change. Or rather, those devout Muslims who have been taking up Wahabi practices and others who feel only angry with the west must change. That is now our solemn duty. We can’t stop what is happening out there, but we can begin to honestly reassess how we behave, think, what we say, and do in this, our adopted homeland. To live in ITAL PREVIOUS WDa nation, continent and sphere without being of ITAL PREV WD it is no longer an option. Too many Muslims believe that their civilizations have been hated in Europe since the Crusades, that westerners only ever want to humiliate, control and exploit them and their nations. And that the UK, US and EU encourage the oppression of Palestinians by Israel. Human brains are big and capable of understanding complexity. These ardently held beliefs are true, but they are not the whole truth. I walked along Edgware Road in London the day I heard of the latest beheading. Stopped and asked people this question: ‘If you got £10,000, a free ticket and the chance to live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?’ Every single person, young and old, replied either ‘London’ or ‘England’. That told me two things: that there is no Muslim nation on earth today which is safe enough for the most homesick migrants and that here they have found some happiness and security. In a magazine article, Ahmed Babikir, 20, a maths and statistics student, whose parents migrated from Sudan, said most Britons still welcomed outsiders and that even when he felt picked on at school, he thought of those boys as his friends. Now, maybe some extremists will get to him and turn him, but so far he seems to have emerged out of these years of Islamicist turmoil with his head and heart intact. I am not advocating assimilation, not do I believe that our lives are easy. They are not. Muslims in high and low places are habitually attacked and demeaned by racists and nationalists. Extremist activities make this worse. Geopolitically, our government plays dirty and too often makes things worse for reasons of self interest. We fight back as best we can. The problem is – and I have been guilty of this too- that we have been consumed by these debilitating experiences and unjust policies. There are so many good people here who care and do more than they need to for Muslims. Henning and Haines were among them. Millions of indigenous Europeans support the Palestinian cause; they marched against the war on Iraq; they defend Muslim rights. White Britons who marry Muslims become our greatest allies. Muslims, on their part, give less back. Most still oppose mixed marriages, cultural give and take. I am horrified when I hear the poisonous rants of some students in Islamic societies at universities and see what is out there on the web. It is time for parents, ‘community leaders’, Muslim politicians and commentators to say, over and over again, that we are part of this nation, not apart from it and that makes us the luckiest Muslims in the world. And that when Islamicists kill white westerners, they kill us too and all our futures.
The Independent, October 2014