Whose Side Are They On?

By

 An MSNBC news report describes the reaction of the Pakistani community in Walthamstow, England, where nearly half of the terrorists arrested last week in the foiled plot to blow up several airliners lived.  The report is not encouraging to those who wish to believe that the vast majority of Muslims living in the West reject terrorism.

The theme of the article is that the Muslims living in Walthamstow, especially the youth, are "ambivalent" about the arrests and "feel targeted by the wider community."  The article quotes several Muslims who indignantly declare that the arrested terrorists are innocent, that the arrests were prompted by racism against Muslims, that there is "a big conspiracy against Muslims," and that "they're trying to take people's attention away from Israel."

Nowhere in the article is any Muslim quoted as rejecting terrorism and the militant anti—western ideology that fuels it.  (Presumably the MSNBC reporter would have happily included such quotes if she had them.)  On the contrary, one Muslim youth essentially admits that such hatred and vitriol is commonplace in their community, but he tries, lamely, to discount it as "people say[ing] stupid things."

Perhaps most disconcerting are the words of Afzal Akram, "councilor and Cabinet member for community safety," who sees the current incident as a crisis for the Pakistani community in Walthamstow to "get through" just like "it got through 9/11 and 7/7."  No words of solidarity with the British nation (or the United States, where the targeted airliners would have been heading) in the fight against violent extremism.  No promises to help root out terrorists making their home in Walthamstow.  No talk of encouraging the Pakistani youth (who the article describes as rejecting assimilation) to develop closer social and cultural ties with the Anglo community.

We continue to wait for the voices of patriotism and non—violence to spring up in the Muslim community.

Steven M. Warshawsky    8 12 06

 An MSNBC news report describes the reaction of the Pakistani community in Walthamstow, England, where nearly half of the terrorists arrested last week in the foiled plot to blow up several airliners lived.  The report is not encouraging to those who wish to believe that the vast majority of Muslims living in the West reject terrorism.

The theme of the article is that the Muslims living in Walthamstow, especially the youth, are "ambivalent" about the arrests and "feel targeted by the wider community."  The article quotes several Muslims who indignantly declare that the arrested terrorists are innocent, that the arrests were prompted by racism against Muslims, that there is "a big conspiracy against Muslims," and that "they're trying to take people's attention away from Israel."

Nowhere in the article is any Muslim quoted as rejecting terrorism and the militant anti—western ideology that fuels it.  (Presumably the MSNBC reporter would have happily included such quotes if she had them.)  On the contrary, one Muslim youth essentially admits that such hatred and vitriol is commonplace in their community, but he tries, lamely, to discount it as "people say[ing] stupid things."

Perhaps most disconcerting are the words of Afzal Akram, "councilor and Cabinet member for community safety," who sees the current incident as a crisis for the Pakistani community in Walthamstow to "get through" just like "it got through 9/11 and 7/7."  No words of solidarity with the British nation (or the United States, where the targeted airliners would have been heading) in the fight against violent extremism.  No promises to help root out terrorists making their home in Walthamstow.  No talk of encouraging the Pakistani youth (who the article describes as rejecting assimilation) to develop closer social and cultural ties with the Anglo community.

We continue to wait for the voices of patriotism and non—violence to spring up in the Muslim community.

Steven M. Warshawsky    8 12 06