Remembering 7/7

Allison Pearson writes in The Telegraph:

I can remember exactly where I was ten years ago today. Due to give a speech in the City of London, I was up early, but the radio had reports of a suspected power surge on the Underground so I emailed to the organiser saying I was worried I might run into travel problems. We agreed to keep an eye on the TV news.

As I watched the police cars and fire engines outside Aldgate Tube station, I had no idea that one of the people dearest to our family, our children’s beloved babysitter and spit-spot Mary Poppins, was in the Underground tunnel below, terrified and waiting in the choking dark for help.

I had no idea that Shehzad Tanweer, a young Muslim almost the same age as Emma was then, had detonated a bomb that had blown apart the carriage directly in front of the one in which Emma was travelling with her mother, on her way to start work experience.

Emma lived though.

It was mid-afternoon when I heard a message on the house answerphone: Emma reassuring us that she was OK. Well, about as OK as you can be when you’ve made your way along a Tube track, stepping on and over bits of your fellow human beings. (The image of one charred body with its clothes blown off stayed with Emma for a long time.) She was about as OK as you can be when you finally get to the office, look into the mirror in the lift and see that you and your mum are both totally black, save for the whites of your astounded eyes.

Something you won;t forget.

Equally dismaying is the fact that, ten years on, the threat, as the Prime Minister admitted yesterday, continues to be real and deadly. Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism squad says it has foiled up to 50 plots since 7/7. In the intervening decade, there have been more than 2,000 terrorism-related arrests. As we observed the silence for the dead of 7/7, arrests were at a record high, with almost one detention every single day.

Against that horrifying background, consider the complaint this week in the Guardian by the writer and editor, Mehdi Hasan. He says that since 7/7,British Muslims have met with discrimination – “subject to unprecedented scrutiny; tagged as a suspect community, the enemy within, a ‘fifth column’ (to quote Nigel Farage)”.

Well, yes. If substantial numbers of men from a certain group in society are presenting an unprecedented threat to a country, then scrutiny and suspicion do tend to be the result. As for discrimination, try lying on a beach in Tunisia and being shot dead for no reason other than not being Muslim.

The constant terrorist attacks by Islamists set up a ever descending cycle. It makes people more hostile to Muslims, which in turn can make integration even more difficult.

I’m not sure that Hasan and commentators like him fully grasp the widespread dismay at the failure of many Muslims to accept the values of our society, equality for women being foremost among them. Only last week, Manchester Crown Court heard how a schoolgirl was woken in her bed on her 14th birthday by her father and forced to marry a man in his thirties in the lounge of her family home. The child had no idea what was going on during the ceremony, which was performed by an imam in Bengali, but she was “pinched” by an aunt at certain points to indicate that she should speak.

This is not an isolated case in the UK. It is all too common.

The father was jailed, after admitting child cruelty, for just 14 weeks. His barrister claimed he had new “insight” after being placed on a series of “forced marriage” courses. No other family members or the imam were prosecuted. And they keep on coming, these awful stories. A huge rise in sharia marriages is reported, many of them polygamous, all taking place in a parallel world within our liberal western one. What hope is there of Muslim children integrating into the wider culture, and coming to regard it proudly as their own?

Immigration is good, so long as immigrants can integrate, or at least their children integrate. In NZ we have done that very well. In the UK and much of Europe there has not been integration.


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