View From London: Easy laws have come back to bite Europe

Islamophobia and Muslim bashing have returned to centre stage becoming hot button with the US Supreme Court validating the Trump presidential decree on keeping Muslims from five specific nations out of the US. Dissenting judges may have stated that the decision erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance, but it is a huge shot in the arm for Donald Trump and his policy of religious intolerance. Feeling vindicated, Trump said:  “The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the president to defend the national security of the United States. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.” The WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) rural American constituency which voted with their hands and feet for him obviously applauded the decision.

Ethno centrisim which judges another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture is a paranoia akin to a self fulfilling prophecy which is determining the mood of politicos and nations in what is clearly a clash of civilisations and cultures, a throwback to the time of the Crusade.  The term “ethnocentrism” was coined by Ludwig Gumplowicz and subsequently employed by Wuilliam G Sumner. Gumplowicz defined ethnocentrism as the reasons by virtue of which each group of people believed it had always occupied the highest point not only among contemporaneous peoples and nations but also in relation to all peoples of the historical past (Der Rassenkampf, 1883). Sumner relied on observing the tendency for people to differentiate between the in-group and others, disseminating it in his 1906 work Folkways. This new found bellicism is a harsh reality in the western world and while Right Wing political formations in many parts of Europe including France and Germany did not come to power, the wave of indignation over immigration continues.

In London last month, Daily Mail among other mainline British newspapers reported that a IS fanatic plotted to assassinate PM Theresa May in a suicide attack sparking anger and hate against immigrants all over again.  The Daily Mail reported:

An Islamic State fanatic plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May in a suicide attack on 10 Downing Street, a court has heard.  Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, allegedly thought he was just days away from inflicting “lethal violence with blade and explosion” before his arrest last November. But his plan was uncovered by an MI5 operative, who posed as a senior IS official in Syria, the Old Bailey heard.

On September 14 last year, Rahman was allegedly snared in Telegram chat with an MI5 role player, posing as an Amir in Syria.

The court heard Rahman ask him: “Can you put me in a sleeper cell ASAP?” He told the agent he was under investigation because of his uncle. When he is asked for more information, he allegedly said: “I want to do a suicide bomb on Parliament. I want to attempt to kill Theresa May.”

The next day, jurors heard he say: “My objective is to take out my target. Nothing less than the death of the leaders of Parliament.” The court heard as Rahman went on to praise the Manchester arena bomber, saying he “did well”. He allegedly said he thought about wearing “a vest”, driving past Parliament and “pushing the button” to “clear the entire block”. Jurors heard he say: “Everyone inside, including the Prime Minister would be dead.”

Rahman is charged with preparing terrorist acts by conducting reconnaissance, recording a pledge of allegiance, and delivering a rucksack and jacket to be fitted with explosives.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: “His settled conclusion was that lethal violence here, directed at the very heart of the United Kingdom government, was the only effective way to pursue his intentions.

“Before his arrest prevented it, he was, he believed, just days away from his objective, which was no less than a suicide attack, by blade and explosion, on Downing Street and, if he could, upon the Prime Minister Theresa May herself.”

The defendant, of Finchley, north London, is also charged with helping his friend Mohammad Aqib Imran, 22, to prepare terrorist acts. This was followed by the US SC verdict, seminal for it backed Trump, even as it was divided.

Supreme Court ruling upholding President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries has sparked a flurry of passionate responses from both sides of the debate. In a divided opinion, with conservative justices in a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court reversed a series of lower court decisions that had struck down the ban as illegal and unconstitutional. This marked a major victory for Trump, who began the battle to ban travelers a week after assuming office last year. Media reported: The high court’s decision reflects the divided opinion of Americans in the ongoing debate surrounding immigration and border security. The ruling has drawn sharp criticism from immigrant advocates and praise from Trump supporters. Families with ties to the five majority-Muslim countries —  Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — targeted by the travel ban say the decision would keep them from seeing parents, grandparents and other relatives.

After spending over a fortnight in the UK and walking down Oxford Street like a zillion other tourists, one felt how London had changed dramatically. Arabic music could be heard loud and boisterous, women even belly danced to these tunes, the cycle rickshaws echoed and blared the same and all around me I could see the changing profiles of the people in the crush. From the buses to the Tube in different parts of London, one could see how the religious profile of the megalopolis has changed radically. If IS planned to take Theresa May’s head off and car bomb Westminster, then it is imperative to read British Muslims in Numbers — a report compiled by the Muslim Council of Britain, essentially a Demographic, Socio-economic and Health profile of Muslims in Britain drawing on the 2011 Census. What I could cull out from this telling report is that Muslims form 4.8 per cent of the population in England and Wales. The population has increased from 1.55 million in 2001 to 2.71 million in 2011. There are 77,000 Muslims in Scotland and 3,800 in Northern Ireland. • The Muslim population is larger than all other non-Christian faith groups put together. Forty seven per cent of Muslims are UK-born. Observations • The increase in the Muslim population since the last census has prompted alarmist coverage in some sections of the media. In the interests of responsible journalism, the demographic reality should be firmly kept in mind: Muslims comprise less than 1 in 20 of the overall population. Demographic alarmism is scaremongering, it said.

It is the demographic details that made me see the real picture about London and Greater London area.  The majority of Muslims (76 per cent) live in the inner city conurbations of Greater London, West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside. Muslims form 12.4 per cent of London’s population. • There are 35 Local Authority Districts with a Muslim population of 10  per cent or more. There are about 70 wards with a Muslim population of 40 per cent  or more. • The Muslim population of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has increased from 71,000 in 2001 to 88,000 in 2011 (19 per cent ). The increase in London as a whole is 35 per cent. Thirty  three percent of the Muslim population was aged 15 years or under in 2011, compared to 19 per cent  of the population as a whole. Only 4 per cent  of the Muslim population is 65 years+, compared to 16 per cent  of the overall population. • In a decade from now there will be approximately 190,000 Muslims in the 65 to 84 year old age band.   There are 26 Parliamentary constituencies with a Muslim population of 20 per cent  or more.

Of course, they are very much part of the social fabric of the city and land now. But the same report quoted above provides insights which could be niggling worries for the English.  46 per cent (1.22 million) of the Muslim population resides in the 10 per cent most deprived, and 1.7 per cent  (46,000) in the 10 per cent least deprived, local authority districts in England, based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation measure. In 2001, 33 per cent  of the Muslim population resided in the 10 per cent  most deprived localities. There was a time when the sub continental faces dominated London — Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka but they have dissipated in the face of this onslaught.  The increase in the Muslim population is consistent with other faith groups and migration patterns. For example, the Hindu population has increased by 48 per cent  between 2001 and 2011. Immigrants have a younger age profile and hence are more likely to start families — for example Poland is the most common country of birth for non-UK born mothers in Britain (20,495 babies in 2011). The growth in the Muslim population between 2001 and 2011 is a consequence of various factors: 1. An age profile skewed to the younger age bands raising children, the proportion of females in the age band of higher fertility and more people being born than dying. 2. Immigration from Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan — mainly economic migrants or refugees. 3. Traditions of larger families in some ethnic groups. 4. Better response to the religion question and possibilities of undercounting in 2001. 5. Adoption of the Muslim faith. The increase in the Muslim population since the last census has prompted alarmist coverage in some sections of the media. For example an article published by The Telegraph included the comment, “it feels as if they [Muslims] are taking over”   The Muslim community is ethnically diverse with significant numbers of Muslims from every ethnicity category recorded in the census. The largest ethnic category is ‘Asian’. One in twelve Muslims are from white ethnic groups and 10 per cent are from black ethnic groups. The ethnic diversity is increasing as the proportion of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims is falling and the proportion of Muslims in the ‘Black African, Black other’ and ‘Asian other’ is rising.  Muslims make up 12.4 per cent  of London’s population, with an increase of 405,000 between 2001 and 2011. This has been a 35 per cent  increase in the decade. Bradford has the greatest concentration of Muslims – 24.7 per cent .

I would like to make it clear that this treatise is not about doom mongering or being alarmist or being a purveyor of gloom, it is just a reiteration of facts as they are playing out in the West. Ditto for other European capitals, easy immigration laws have come back to bite European heads of state. I would like to end by quoting from the Pew Research Centre  November 2017 report which articulates:  In recent years, Europe has experienced a record influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries. This wave of Muslim migrants has prompted debate about immigration and security policies in numerous countries and has raised questions about the current and future number of Muslims in Europe (see graphic). Strategic affairs and security analysts used to earlier talk of the Green Crescent as the biggest threat to mankind, starting from under the Caspian Sea it can be plotted on the world map, ending in the Valley of Kashmir as Jihadist Central, but as we have seen in recent years, the new threat percept comes from France, Belgium and UK which have become home not just to Islamic fighters, but are seeing legionnaires succumb to the alure of jihad. The attacks across Europe are symptomatic of this rising malaise and the  the rundown Brussels borough of Sint Jans Molenbeek in Brussels, which has dispatched dozens of foreign fighters to the Middle East, with an unemployment rate of 30 per cent, treble the national average, Jihad epicentre of Europe.

(sandeep.bamzai@mydigitalfc.com)

Columnist: 
Sandeep Bamzai