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Nine Out of Ten British Muslims - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A number of Muslims in Britain were asked about the anniversary of the London bombings in July 2005 that killed fifty-two passengers on three underground trains and one bus at the hands of four British Muslims. The questionnaire attempted to reflect on the feelings and emotions of British Muslims concerning the event. The results showed that one out of ten Muslims had shown solidarity with the terrorists who had carried out the attacks this time last year. Naturally, many people were surprised at the results shown. How could anyone sympathize with the perpetrators of 7/7?

The way that the figures have been interpreted is incorrect. To be fair, these figures should be looked at in reverse to reach a better understanding of what they represent. Nine out of ten British Muslims stood against other Muslims and this reflects the rationalism of the majority. Unfortunately, the way that these figures have been interpreted is that one out of ten Muslims supports terrorism, an alarming outcome for everybody. I believe that the results are significant for a society that has been infiltrated by internal and external instigative media and by the encounters of those who have personally suffered from racism. Therefore, when nine out of ten Muslims reject the actions of the terrorists and state that they are against terrorism, then such a figure deserves appreciation. The number here represents a majority that chose not to defend terrorism not out of ignorance or fear, but rather out of conviction and courage.

We should remember that terrorism is a global rather than a local phenomenon. The London bombings were carried out by British Muslims, just as the terrorist attacks in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and other countries were carried out by members of their own societies. Society must not generalize and place the blame on all British Muslims, especially as nine out of ten British Muslims condemned such an act.

After the London bombings, one British Muslim told me that Britain suffered a bigger shock after 7/7 than the Americans did after the tragedy of 9/11 despite the huge difference in the number of victims simply because those who carried out the attacks were fellow British citizens. British people believed that the freedom that their country offers represents immunity against terrorism. They thought that verbal extremism is part of a free society that believes in the freedom of expression no matter what. They believed that despite the level of disagreement with government, as high as it is, an individual would never become the enemy of that government but would rather seek to reconcile with it as much as possible. A number of British Muslims have fled to Britain escaping civil wars in their native countries, or in search for a better life for themselves and their children, or looking for opportunities to achieve success and self-respect. Islamic centers in Britain have received financial and political support from the British government that would sponsor the centers to transfer students who want to recite Quran and learn Arabic in private schools. British society may not be ideal in the way it treats its ethnic minorities, but which society is? Is there one model in the world that compares to Britain?

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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