Det er befriende å lese at en mann som Ian Buruma har en analyse av situasjonen post-7/7 som langt på vei samsvarer med vår egen.
Pussig nok åpner han også med en kritikk av Tariq Ali, som by the way er av ikke-religiøs pakistansk høykaste!
Some of the responses to the bomb attacks on London were predictable. Of course Tariq Ali, the journalist and former student agitator, would blame it all on Tony Blair. It’s Blair’s fault for backing the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s also Blair’s fault for supporting Israel. «The principal cause of this violence,» he wrote in The Guardian, «is the violence being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world.» And the «real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine».
Tariq Ali, himself a secular member of the Pakistani gentry, finds ready support among the believers. In the same paper, Faisal Bodi, news editor at the Islam Channel, opined that «the bloody trail of blame leads straight to 10 Downing Street», for when Blair «led us into the war on terror, he knew that a country with which Islamist networks had no immediate axe to grind would be drawn into their sphere of hate as a consequence».
It would be foolish to deny that western powers have done many bad things, but the arrogant assumption that almost all the world’s ills, from African hunger to mass murder on the London Underground, can be laid at the door of western politicians is not only stupid, but deeply harmful to those who live outside the western world. It lets their own rulers, however murderous, off the hook, and prevents people from taking responsibility for their own societies. After all, if everything is the fault of Blair or Bush, or «neo-colonialism», or «globalisation», why bother?
The war in Iraq may not have been a sensible move. It probably did galvanise religious extremism. For the record, I was against it. But to claim that we should not have gone to war with Saddam Hussein because it puts us in the firing line of holy warriors seems a bad, and certainly cowardly argument. Britain would have been in their firing line anyway. Contrary to what Faisal Bodi says, jihadis do have an axe to grind with the western world. Long before Iraq was a gleam in Blair’s eyes, the west was in the holy warrior’s «sphere of hate». Another false argument against action against Middle Eastern despots is that «we put them there». Even if it is true that, say, Hussein or Osama bin Laden once had the support of Britain or the US, this is hardly a reason not to oppose them now. Should we have turned a blind eye to their crimes just because Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney once did business with them? This smacks of the same perverted logic which holds that an imperial past should prevent Europeans from condemning the bloody dictatorships that followed the independence of former colonies.
Predictable or not, however, all these reactions miss the point. The Islamist revolutionaries who are assumed to be behind the murders are not like the Luftwaffe, or the IRA, or any other enemy that Britain, or indeed the world has faced before. The Germans were deadly, but at least one knew who they were; their bombers bore markings that were familiar to any schoolboy plane-spotter. Their pilots wore uniforms, their raids were ordered by a state, with which Britain was at war. The IRA was the armed wing of a political party, whose aims, as we now know, were at least negotiable. Suicide bombers and jihadis, however, represent no state; indeed they do not recognise one outside the wholly imaginary community of pure faith. There is nothing to negotiate with people who wish to kill as many infidels as they can to establish a divine realm of the faithful. Worse, those holy warriors who see mass murder as an existential act, who cannot conceive of themselves as anything else but divinely inspired assassins, are even beyond the pale of religious orthodoxy; they are pure killers.
Refusing to accept any link with religion or Islam is a form of denial.: The reason Britain is in the sphere of jihadist hate is not because of Blair’s policies, or Israel, or «US imperialism», but because ours is the world of jahilliya. The same goes for all other western countries, and indeed all countries not under pure Islamic rule, which is practically the entire world. Jahilliya, referring to the time before the Prophet, is literally the state of ignorance, but it also means barbarism. Those who lived before Mohammed’s rule could be excused for their ignorance of Islam, but we who live in the corrupt, licentious, perverted, idolatrous, money-grubbing, soulless, savage world, cannot. That is why we must be destroyed. Because the secular rulers of nominally Islamic societies have grown fat off western materialism, the holy revolution has two aims: to topple those debased rulers and strike at the source of their corruption, which is the west.
The enemy whitin
It is hard enough to deal with such enemies when they arrive from outside: Moroccan suicide bombers in Madrid, Egyptian and Saudi terrorists in New York and Washington. Far more dangerous are the revolutionary converts among our own citizens, for that exposes us to that most explosive and socially disruptive phenomenon: the enemy within.
The promise of escape, of a new collective identity, of heroic martyrdom, the ideal of dispensing with all rational thought in the name of a great cause, the thought of reaching for Heaven – these things will continue to attract second and third generation immigrants who feel rejected by a society that consequently fills them with such hatred that they dream of blowing it up.
In this respect, the home-grown jihadis are no different from feverish young men and women who joined revolutionary sects in the 1970s: the Red Army Faction in West Germany, the Japanese Red Army, the Red Brigade in Italy. They were fighting the phantoms of nazism and fascism which their parents failed to resist. But the real romance for these fanatics lay in the brutality of revolution. Like the modern jihadis, they were often misfits who wished to lose themselves in a purist cause and purge the world of corruption by engaging in acts of extreme violence. And although they saw themselves as Marxists (though not representative, naturally), they had links to some of the same organisations that still engage in terrorism today. Cash flowed from Iran, Libya and Syria, and training was provided by Hizbollah, among others.
There is an important difference, however, between these revolutionary desperados and our contemporary jihadis. They, too, were the enemies within, but they sprang from the 2_kommentarstream of settled societies. More than that, they were the sons and daughters of a prosperous bourgeoisie. Their aim was the destruction of the world of their parents, the world that produced and nurtured them. The Mohammed Bouyeris – and the suspected London bombers – are members of vulnerable minorities, outsiders who can be easily singled out as aliens in our midst. If the links between western or Japanese revolutionaries and the Middle East were largely opportunistic, the ties between Muslim immigrants in Europe and the Islamist jihad are existential; in the extremists’ fantasy world, the holy war, preached by religious zealots, funded by Saudi and other Middle Eastern sources and carried out by true believers, is the core of their identity. And even if only a tiny proportion will take to direct action, many thousands of confused young Muslims are fed daily, through internet chatrooms and other media, with anti-western, anti-Semitic propaganda.
The murders in London are unlikely to be the last of their kind. Even worse may still be to come. Containing this is going to be hard enough. It will have to be done with due consideration for the very freedoms that extremists can exploit. But it is a conflict that can only be won if law-abiding Muslim citizens in Britain and elsewhere are made to feel that these freedoms also benefit them, and for that reason are worth defending. Distrust of the outsider, especially if he or she dresses like a follower of Islam, is bound to grow with every step of the holy war. That is part of its purpose. If the violence of a tiny minority should provoke 2_kommentarstream violence against a much larger minority, the holy war will not be won, but our societies will be wrecked in the process.
Buruma lager altså en kobling til Midtøsten, men med et helt annet fortegn enn klagesangerne: ondets rot ligger i Midtøsten, og så lenge det ikke skjer noen demokratisk utvikling der, er det ikke stort vi kan gjøre, annet enn å støtte opp under demokratiske tendenser så godt det lar seg gjøre.
Det finnes selvfølgelig også en kobling tilbake til den muslimske minoritet i Europa, og hvordan de opplever seg selv. Nye angrep vil tære på storsamfunnets tillit til dem. Det verste som kan skje er hvis mistilliten vokser og blir uoverstigelig. Muslimer flest må føle at vestlige friheter og rettigheter også gjelder dem. Det er en vanskelig balansegang, men en helt nødvendig. Alternativet er for grufullt å kontemplere.
Buruma er orakel i Q-A session i Financial Times førstkommende fredag.
By Ian Buruma