Saturday, July 09, 2005

We Can Only Hope

The New York Times has this interesting report today:

LONDON - The new imam at the Finsbury Park mosque, once a hotbed of radical Islam, had a message for those who gathered for prayer on Friday, a day after four bombs killed at least 49 people: help identify the bombers, he told them. Show your anger at what happened here.

His call to cooperate was a stark and deliberate contrast to a former imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri, now detained and facing extradition to the United States to face terrorism-related charges. Under his leadership, the Finsbury Park mosque became a recruiting center for jihadists for holy wars from Bosnia to Afghanistan.

It is that image the residents of this North London immigrant neighborhood are working hard to shed, eager to demonstrate to an increasingly anxious country that they are not to blame for the attacks on Thursday and that Finsbury Park has rid itself of extremists.

Already, residents here were bracing themselves, fearing they would become targets. "It'll soon be 'kick-a-Muslim week' if we don't watch out," said one young man who declined to give his name. Already, there have been some retaliatory acts against Muslims in Britain.

The struggle in Finsbury Park reflects the broader divide between two Muslim worlds in Britain - the majority of moderates and the radical Islamists who live among them. For years, a relatively small band of radical Islamists hijacked Finsbury Park's image and threatened its economic rejuvenation.

But the moderates are reclaiming the mosque. They installed a new board of trustees who brought in the new, moderate imam. The mosque now offers a course on Islam for non-Muslims. The neighborhood's other, smaller mosque has thrown open its doors in an aggressive program to show London and the world that they do not harbor terrorists. It holds regular "open mosque weekends," in which all comers are invited to tour the mosque, watch videos about its charitable programs and eat from a buffet of halal food.

The police raided the Finsbury Park mosque in January 2003, and Britain's moderate Muslim community leaders orchestrated Mr. Mustafa's ouster.

"That place is now safe in the hands of mainstream Muslims," said Ahmed Sheik, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, which helped install the mosque's new board. "We have no fear of the radicals coming again."

The Finsbury Park mosque cannot prevent Muslims with extremist beliefs from coming to pray, but they can no longer use the premises for other activities, said Muhammad Kozbar, the new secretary of the mosque's board of trustees. As proof that the mosque has been reclaimed, he said the average congregation for Friday Prayer has tripled from what it was in its radical days.

Then, of course, you find this caveat:

For many Muslims here, condemning terrorism does not mean condoning American or British policies.

"We have far greater experience as victims of terror than as perpetrators of terror," said Mr. Waheed of Hizb ut-Tahrir, saying that the community's reaction to the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East has been "remarkably restrained."

"People need to understand the feeling on the Muslim street," he said. "People hate the foreign policy of Britain and the United States, and the West needs to consider whether constant interference in the Muslim world is productive."

Yeah, pal. Productive. The only measurable level of productivity of anything from the Muslim world - before the U.S. invasion in Iraq and Jan. 30 elections - was coming from crude oil fields and the madrassas where imams pumped out those charming Islamo-fascists. Mr. Waheed also needs to consider whether the Islamization of the West is productive, as well. And what's this about "the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East has been 'remarkably restrained'"??? The reporter, Craig Smith, doesn't say who's doing the killing, but we can safely assume we know who Mr. Waheed believes is responsible - the American soldiers. Why doesn't Mr. Waheed condemn Zarqawi when his ilk blow up Shia mosques and kill Shia and Sunni Kurd Muslims in cold blood in Iraq? Or the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq? Why the silence there, Mr. Waheed?


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