“With us the Terrorist is the Victim”
For three years British journalist Melanie Phillips has been searching for a publisher for her book dealing with the multi-cultural threat in the UK. Finally, three weeks ago, “Londonistan” came out in print and is already a bestseller in England. WELT online spoke with the author.
In the opinion of Melanie Phillips Great Britain has not yet grasped the threat of Jihad. The British establishment is still looking for excuses for Islamic extremists and underestimates the danger of Islam. The author has written a conservative plea that warns of multiculturalism, the undermining of traditional values and anti-Semitism.
This was no subject for the publishers; they rejected the manuscript. Readers evidently think differently. After Ms. Phillips finally did find a small publisher, the book is now number one amongst the political titles on amzon.com.uk and the publisher figures on selling 30,000 copies by September. WELT online spoke with the former writer for the left-liberal “Guardian”, who now writes for the conservative “Daily Mail”.
WELT online: Ms. Phillips, why is the West unable to win the conflict with Terror?
Phillips: What the British establishment doesn't seem to get is that the conflict has religious roots. It prefers to look for excuses for the terrorists, which leads to where, eventually, the establishment itself takes the blame. I. e., Muslims are the victims of prejudice, xenophobia, poverty and foreign policy. Our society is paralyzed by the doctrine of multiculturalism. If you criticize a minority, you obviously must be prejudiced. Moreover, many Englishmen do not understand religious fanaticism.
WELT online: This is probably true for most Europeans.
Phillips: But especially in England. It has been a strength of Brits over the centuries, and an important protection against tyranny, that they never had much sympathies for the world of ideas. They tended to believe only what they could see. The flipside of this anti-intellectualism is that Britons can not relate to the idea of religious fanaticism. Suicide for them is a completely incomprehensible act and the reason for it can only be that the perpetrator must have suffered incredibly heinous things to be driven to suicide. Thus the terrorist becomes the victim. Britons are in a state of denial. They will not acknowledge the origin and the extend of the threat.
WELT online: Don't you overestimate Islamism? There have always been phases of violence. The Red Army Fraction and the Red Brigade promoted radicalization of society in the seventies and found support with professors and young people. Yet they did not achieve the overturn of western society.
Phillips: I see this completely different. The West underestimates Islamism. It is completely absurd not to take seriously what the Islamic brotherhood says and writes. What they preach is what the Terrorists execute.
WELT online: But you don't mean that Muslims as the danger, per se, do you?
Phillips: By no means. In my book I make it clear that many Muslims do not support violence. And, basically, they are the main victims of this struggle between the West and Islam.
WELT online: And why do you reject multiculturalism?
Phillips: The numbers for the radicalization of Muslims are frightening. Approximately 70% of Muslims in the UK support acts of violence. Only 17% of Muslims believe that the Arabs had anything to do with 9/11. This means that the majority believes in one or the other conspiracy theory that say America and the Jews were behind the destruction of the WTC. About a third of Muslims consider Jews a legitimate targets for aggression. Anyone not seeing danger here is naïve.
WELT online: Why do we not succeed in making western values like freedom of opinion, equality of women and tolerance attractive to Muslims.?
Phillips: I believe that the last few years have brought a creeping radicalization that most have been slow to become aware of. This radicalization has two roots: Firstly, after the Afghan-Soviet war a number of Muslims came to Britain that were too radical for the homeland. They established the UK as the main center for Al-Qaida in Europe. Secondly, in the seventies Islamic organizations were taken over by radical groups that were largely financed by Saudi-Arabia. All this radicalized an indeterminate number of young Muslims. They were indoctrinated into the jihadist ideology which holds western values corrupt and un-Islamic. They were prepared for the holy war.
WELT online: What can the West do against this?
Phillips: We have to tell the Muslims: You are welcome here in the UK and you may freely practice your religion. But our tolerance ends when you preach hate. When you do this we will close your institutions and arrest the hate preachers. At the same time we must go back to the awareness of our national Identity. For years we have attacked our fundamental national values, which created a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum. And this vacuum was filled by radical Islam.