elb's hovel of thoughts

Thursday, October 27, 2005


One of the hot issues around the UK right now has got to be regarding Islam. After 7/7 and the subsequent scare two weeks later, it is inevitable that interest (or rather, phobia) into Islam has increased.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park. Almost all the speakers there were preaching about Islam/ Christianity or having a debate about the Middle East. Most of the crowd were drawn towards the Middle Eastern debate, where a young African muslim was having a debate. Excerpts:

'Do you know the difference between the British and the Americans? The British knock on your door, show a badge and ask to look around, whereas the Americans bomb everything. The British know how to leave infrastructure intact for later purposes whereas the Americans don't show any respect at all.' I mean, hell, the Brits won't even throw out the radical clerics in their own soil.

He also raised the following question, which was: 'What is the difference between bombing a place, and shutting off all the exits of a building and setting fire to it (arson)? Aren't they both terrorist acts?'. To which I must comment that more fear is generated out of a bombing; i.e. the purpose of terrorism.

And so forth. To be honest, it is easy to be misled particularly if you know nothing about what goes on in the Middle East et cetera. Or in that young man's words: 'We are discussing politics here. You, sir, are talking about meat and potatoes. Everyone can talk about meat and potatoes. I refuse to answer your question.' To be honest, the Brit who was engaging him wasn't very knowledgable, so fair enough.

Just metres away an Islam cleric was starting his own speech, opening with the lines: 'I am not going to talk to you about terrorism and all that; Islam does not advocate it'. What an irony, which I could have captured had I brought my camera along. Bah.

And just today my university's in-house newspaper's front page read: Extremists at ? Apparently, a group campaigning under the front of 'Stop Islamophobia' was at the Fresher's Fair and all that, but also secretly trying to recruit for a radical organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, soon to be banned in the UK. A problem which was also manifested itself at other parts of the University of London.

But hey, at least there are people that I know of who are at the other side of the spectrum. Its good to know that not everyone is hell-bent on destruction and all that. I know of an Iranian friend of mine who happily offered me a pancake in the computer room the other day. The problem? It was the middle of Ramadan. He didn't care; he was grinning away and said that he hadn't been fasting since last year because he felt faint whenever he did. I suppose its his way of 'letting loose' after spending many years back at his home country.

I also know of friends who happily buy fresh meat from places like Sainsbury's and Waitrose etc, which to my knowledge is not halal. I know of Muslims who drink alcohol. I met recently an Uzbekistan who eats pork. And so on. Totally unlike certain people who get pissed off because of a small thing like 'DeepaRaya'. Ah well.


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