Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Daniel Johnson in Standpoint Magazine: "The Spectre of Mayor Khan's Islamist London"

While some are inclined to paint a rosy picture of what it means for London to have its first Muslim mayor, Daniel Johnson, for one, is far less sanguine. In fact, you could say he's a real Debbie (Delbert?) Downer on the subject:
Under Mayor Khan, London will undoubtedly deserve more than ever the ironical nickname it earned a decade ago among European intelligence services: “Londonistan”. It is hard to imagine Khan taking the tough measures to root out Isis cells hidden inside Muslim ghettos that have been forced on French and Belgian police forces since the attacks on Paris and Brussels. Even in the aftermath of a similar attack on London, it is inconceivable that Khan would risk the accusation that he had turned his back on his Muslim heritage. His opinions change according to need; his allegiance doesn’t.

In policing, Khan is far more likely to attach weight to the “sensitivities” of Muslim community leaders than to put pressure on those communities to eradicate radicalisation. According to ICM, only a third of Muslims say they would inform police if they thought someone was involved with terrorist groups in Syria. The Metropolitan Police have searched London mosques on very few occasions. They would be more proactive if they felt that the mayor would back them in upholding the law. Fear of causing offence explains the failure to protect minorities who are unpopular with the Sunni majority. After an Ahmadi newsagent was killed in Glasgow in March, it emerged that a Pakistani group urging Muslims to murder members of the Ahmadiyya sect has close links with a Deobandi mosque at Stockwell in South London where their leaflets were found, though a mosque trustee denied any knowledge of such links. The same concerns apply to London’s 40-odd universities. It is rare for police to intervene to preserve free speech on campus, or for a university to clamp down on intimidation by an Islamic society. Yet terrorists and IS recruits include a high proportion of students and graduates, including doctors and engineers. I cannot imagine Mayor Khan standing up to such powerful lobbies as London’s universities and mosques, even after a major attack.

And yet, regardless of the illiberal views he has held or condoned and the vicious company he has kept, London seems bent on electing Khan as its first Muslim Mayor. The symbolism of his election will be understood differently around the world; but for me, as a Londoner who is proud to live here, there is a sense of impending doom. London has a claim to be the greatest city on earth, because we have given the world the cosmopolitan Western values by which London has always lived. But as the ICM survey shows, a substantial proportion of the Muslim community rejects those values. 

Increasingly, British Islam will now redefine London, rather than London redefining British Islam. I shall be astonished if Mayor Khan is strong enough to resist Salafist pressure to transform London into a city as segregated as Paris, Brussels — or Birmingham. One reason why Paris and Brussels have already succumbed to such terrible attacks is that the sheer weight of numbers makes it impossible for the authorities to know what is going on inside Muslim communities. After decades of denial, French demographers now agree that about 25 per cent of school-age children are Muslim. So France faces a cultural and political revolution within a generation. Paris, including its suburbs, is a microcosm of this new France. London, which is home to more than a million Muslims, is heading in the same direction.

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