Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NCCRI must do some introspection

Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien breaks the silence

This happens to be my first post on this blog which I have especially created to give some therapy to my clogged up hurt and sadness to what I have read about the response of the NCCRI head Philip Watt.
I think that he may be the person (or his side-kick) to whom I have given my business card of the Federation Of Families For Reconciliation And Peace (FOFFRAP) in the Dublin City Hall on the occassion of the comemmoration of the Holocaust (Shoa'ah) some time ago.

Otherwise he has never met me I suppose and his organization in any case has not done anything to help me when my family and I were the victims of racism in this country.
They told me that they cannot do anything but listen to us and record the details. On both occasions that I have visited their offices I was treated like an intruder. Not as much as a little advice did they give. Their training sessions need much to be said about when they question the origins of people's names. What type of multi-cultural training is that anyway some people are asking??

What exactly gave this self-righteous politically correct person the right to comment on me personally and on the organization that I run without having met me or acquainted himself with our organization? We agree that we do not have the money and the infrastructure that his other wealthy Arab friends have but we also know that life is not judged by wealth , bricks and mortar as he seems to fail to realise. I refuse to be silenced by people like him and the Arab business men and women who have turned my genuine concern into a freak show, a media circus and a power struggle. I just hope that for the sake of the broader society these politically correct lefties do not, at a later stage, regret their irresponsible utterances and have mud thrown into their faces by virtue of their own naivity now.
I must also mention that they were very silent at the time of the cartoons saga. Why? The other question is: did he not see that I have led more than one thousand two hundred people through the streets of Dublin in a peaceful march opposing the day of anger and violence that the leader of his friends called for?
Although I do not agree with the 'victim' mentality that is continuously displayed by the Muslim community, I would like to mention that I am not only saddened that I have become:
a - a victim of spiel and spin of journalists,
b - a victim of a scathing attack by unscrupulous and dishonest Arab busines people masquerading as so-called Muslim leaders
who have turned a genuine and sincere concern into a freak show, media circus and a power struggle,
c - a victim of the cross-fire of warring newspapers who have axes to grind with one another,
d - a victim of an obfuscating and deceiving Arab leadership who poses more as business-men and women than leaders who have the interest and well-being of their communities and their fellow citizens at heart,
e - a victim of the power and influence of the wealthy who have marginalised the down-trodden in their own so-called Muslim community probably because they are not of their ethnic extraction or of their movement's philosophies,
f- a victim of the inadequacies of organizations like the NCCRI who blow hot steam to appease a certain section of the broader society while effectively betraying the rest while at the same time claiming to be anti-racist,
g - a victim of the so-called Islamophobia that he is talking about because many a times we are verbally abused and told to go back to Iraq by young Irish men.
h - a victim of people like Philip Watt who encourages the Muslims to keep their heads in the sand and hide behind the labels of racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrationism when there is constructive criticism levelled at them whilst clear and present danger to the larger society is lurking in the shadows.

I am a Muslim cleric and I have many contacts within the wider Muslim community in Ireland. It is an indisputable fact that there are some extremist views within the Muslim community and the only issue for debate should be the extent and level of this extremism. I believe that this fact must be faced, both by my own community and the wider non-Muslim community. I acknowledge that I do not speak for all the Muslims in Ireland, nobody does as it is a very diverse group with adherents from countries such as Afghanistan & Nigeria, Egypt & Indonesia, Iran & South Africa, Libya and Sudan, Malaysia and Pakistan, but I do speak for a sizable amount of Muslims.

Of course Islam is not the only faith group containing extremists, but as a Muslim I am at least trying to take responsibility for tackling the extremism that I know about. I hope that others in the world faiths can tackle extremism within their communities and people like the NCCRI leader also sees the extremism of his own injustice and unfairness when he condemns people that he does not know like his friends are doing. They claimed that they do not know me but they condemned me instead of condemning what I have said. Not in one instance were they able to disprove the claims that I have made. So in the absence of that ability they had to launch an attack on my person and get the help of their allies like Philip Watt to endorse it.

As a refugee in Ireland I am very grateful to the Irish people for embracing me in my hour of need. I know many, many Muslim refugees who feel the same. We believe that we have a tremendous amount to contribute to an Irish society which has helped us so much. Islam places great emphasis on family, community and personal morality – these qualities enhance any community whatever its creed or culture. And we hope that the promotion of these qualities can be part of our contribution to Ireland.

But above all we wish to prevent perverted and distorted notions of Islam from becoming a threat to the Muslim community in Ireland and the wider non-Muslim community.

I believe that facing up to a problem is the first step in dealing with that problem. There is a problem, and the problem is proliferating extremist beliefs, not only in Islam, but also in other faiths. I believe this problem must be tackled and it must be tackled now.

The vast majority of Muslims are decent, caring individuals, who simply want to practice their faith and live in peace with their neighbours. Although the extremist element can be a tiny fraction of that community, that fraction, if unchallenged, could pose a threat to societal cohesion.

The history of Ireland shows how even small numbers of extremists can hijack a community for their own ends.

Let me remind the head of the NCCRI that in no way did the Islamophobia increase after I have made the statements to a Muslim audience in my Friday sermon and to the newspaper because I, as a responsible Muslim leader has to address the current events in the community. If the other Muslim leaders prefer to stick their heads into the sand, then that would be their democratic right to do so, but I cannot do that at all. Islamophobia was prevalent before that and in most cases brought about sometimes by the behaviour of certain elements in the Muslim community and further exacerbated and perpetuated by irresponsible statements from people like the head of the NCCRI.
I personally am of the opinion that the NCCRI must re-think their position and role especially if they envisage themselves to be relied upon to influence government policy. They need to be truthful because I in my personal capacity will never trust their opinion especially in view of the experience I had with them. Trust is a very very important ingredient to the harmony and welfare of the society.
If the NCCRI cannot substantiate their claims of the massive increase in Islamophobia in Ireland after the statements that I have made then I think that they should come out clear and apologise not to me as such, but to the broader Irish community that they claim to protect and at the same time by innuendo imply that they are Islamophobic.
I can of course substantiate my claims that extremism and radicalism is spreading amongst the Muslim youth in Ireland and I would challenge the Muslim leaders and the NCCRI to debate this in a public forum and corroborate their claims instead of the cowardice that is being displayed by them.
If there is an elephant in the dining room then why is everybody refuting it? Should I not mention that the emperor has new clothes in future because I must be afraid that the NCCRI and their Arab friends will attack me?
I urge the NCCRI to re-think their public statements in future and do some introspection. Perhaps they will become more trusted if they do not echo the sentiments of some deceiving wealthy people in the Muslim community. Does the NCCRI mean that I must not speak up any longer? If they imply that then I will appreciate it if they could write to me and make their stand clear.
Do they want to shut me up because our organization represents the disenfranchised and marginalised Muslims of this country and not the wealthy with their fancy offices and ivory towers? If they think so then they must say so please.
Does it also mean that because our organization is maybe bigger but poorer than the rest that what I have said has increased Islamophobia? Or is it the historical relationship that they have with the Clonskeagh mosque again? I think that it is arrogant of the Clonskeagh mosque to claim that they represent the twenty six thousand Muslims in Ireland and like wise I think that it is arrogant of NCCRI leader to accept that lie and condemn the other Muslims.
Protecting buddies has never worked and normally blows up in your face at the end.
I would also like to remind the NCCRI that I know what oppression and racism is because I grew up with it in South Africa, but I am also capable of drawing a line between racism, oppression and extremism, radicalism and fundamentalism.
I have chosen not to protect only the Muslim community as they claim I should have. In taking this stance I am looking out for the Muslim community and the broader Irish community because everyone has the right to be protected from extremist fundamentalist terorists.
I appeal to the NCCRI and the Arab leaders who are in denial of the rapid spread of radicalism to identify the problem and make an effort to minimise or curtail it and not to exacerbate it by attacking those who wish to address it and find a solution for it.
The NCCRI can contact me on 0879932581 if they have anything further to say to me. I remain yours sincerely.


Blogger souldancer said...

I am glad you are speaking out. I do not understand that people don't see that islamophobia only increases when muslims do not speak openly about the problem of radicalism and extremism which is now current among many muslim communities in the western world. There are extremist muslims in mainland Europe and in Britain, so why should Ireland be exempt?

I find it sad that a person like you is accused of instigating more islamophobia, and of the many other hurtful things that have been said about you by people who should really know better, either because they are holding important positions in Irish society or because they have personally met you and spoken to you. Despite that they deny this.

I grew up in the west, i am caucasian and as far as I could go back so were my ancestors. None of them, as far as I could go back, was ever a muslim.

Do you know what an Irish woman recently said to me? She said: I feel very uncomfortable whenever I see a woman who is wearing a headscarf in the Muslim way. I am afraid she might be hiding a bomb.

This woman has this feeling ever since the bombs in London last year. Muslims can do so much, so much, to take away the association of Muslim dress with terrorism and extremism.

If Muslim leaders would make an effort, if more Muslims would reach out to those around them even if those around them are not of the same faith rather than not associating with them as so many Muslims especially from countries like Egypt, the Arabian peninsula and Marocco/Algeria seem to do (those are the ones I have the most experience with).

Muslims have now an excellent opportunity to show non-Muslims the true face of Islam, which is not extremism, is not violence. But it is rather the face of hospitality, of trustworthiness, of honesty and simplicity.

I think that if Philip Watt really said the things he said according to the article in the sunday business post, he made a grave error. He should first have verified who you are and what you stand for and what the organisations you are involved in are actually all about.

I think he owes you an official public apology.

And so does everybody who doubted your credentials, did not speak out publicly though they have nothing to fear because their positions in Irish society is secure, and all those people who spoke bad about you to journalists and denied that they knew who you are.

Everybody here: In my opinion Dr. Shaykh Shaheed Satardien is the most learned and most capable muslim cleric here in ireland. Go and talk to him about Islam, and you will quickly see what I mean.

The muslims in this country, especially the ones with a lot of money and influence, should welcome you with open arms, should encourage you to use your talents and capacity for the sake of Islam instead of condemnign you, doubting your right to bear the title Sheikh and villify your good name whenever they can.

We westerners yearn for signs that within muslim communities in the west there is real debate and critical thought about the tendencies within muslim communities all over the world. We do not see it. It can be that our press and media is prejudiced and does not tell us about muslims protesting because jewish children are killed by suicide bombers in Israel or by bombs from Hezbollah.
It could also be that the protest against these things and the wish for true peace is not supported by as many as it should.

Lets hope that more people who are muslims will speak out and express concern about what a small group of people are doing to the good name and reputation of islam. It only takes one extremist to make himself into a bomb and kill 100s of people.


12:44 AM

Blogger EyeonClonskeagh said...

When I read the comments by Philip Watt they showed a sweeping disregard for reality. Shaheed had been involved with the Muslim community in Dublin for years. Unlike most Irish people he is fluent in Arabic and so knows what they are saying in sermons and in private conversation. Also he consorts with Muslims like the Turkish group who have tried to bring a true knowledge of their culture. They have invited people to Turkey to experience the rich tapestry of life there. When Watt talks about Islam he is talking about Arab Islam.

I decided to phone Philip Watt to suggest before he make a pronouncement he should talk to Shaheed, but he arrogantly brushed that aside as if to suggest this cleric represesented no one and his experience of what was going on was of no consequence. When I mentioned that Clonskeagh was a the HQ of the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and is president of the European Council of Fatwa and Research and The International Association of Muslim Scholars, both permanently headquartered in Dublin. Despite the fact that he is banned from the US, Qaradawi regularly enters Ireland to chair meetings of both organisations. He has justified suicide bombings against civilians in both Israel and Iraq, has called for the stoning to death of homosexuals, and has been labelled by other Islamic scholars as a “Sheikh of death.” According to one moderate Muslim, “Qaradawi has made Dublin into the European headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Watt seemed to deny this even though in a BBC Spotlight programme last May Clonskeagh acknowledged Qaradawi's role, yet tried to distance themselves from the consequences. He seemed unwilling to discuss further and any information that conflicted with his assumptions he just discarded. In fact the more I attempted to give him evidence of my experience of trying to organise a conference and the negative role played by people like Ali Selim and Mazar Bari he threatened to put down the phone. This was not my gossiping about what I had heard, but giving my own experience. This was not allowed and he banged down the phone. This is the director of a body that is supposed to deal with multiculturism and ethnicity. He should attend a course in communications; he is not fit to respond to the public.
Just to show him how the views I was putting to him are commonplace- here is an article written by Mark Dooley who has writing about this for years.


A few years ago, I was accused on television of being a scaremonger regarding the threat from Islamic fundamentalists. “What do you think they’re going to do, invade us?” inquired a cynical fellow-panellist. “They don’t need to,” I responded, “they are already living here among us, waiting for the chance to strike. And strike they will.”

As chaos descended across Britain’s airports yesterday, we were once again reminded of that grim fact. Thankfully, the plot to simultaneously blow up planes bound for America using liquid bombs was foiled. But just take a moment to imagine the mass carnage that would have unfolded if the Jihadis had succeeded. Think of the planes exploding over US cities, huge flying fireballs hurtling towards residential sites, incinerating everything in their path. Think of the passengers, many of whom would have been Irish, sent to their doom in the most horrifying manner imaginable. Yes, you should think hard about all that, because unless we defeat the wicked ideology that drives people to such madness, such terrifying scenes will become commonplace.

And don’t suppose we in Ireland are somehow immune from that madness. After the 7/7 atrocities in London, Bertie Ahern made the stunningly naïve remark that Ireland had little to fear from Isalmic radicals, because we are not part of “certain military alliances.” He was, of course, talking about the alliance of Britain and America. But as one senior Islamic Sheikh told me recently, “Zealots don’t discriminate between Western nations. Ireland is just as much at risk as Britain, Israel, or the US. What the Western elite must recognise is that these people hate all Western infidels, and they will do anything to drive you into the sea.”

The mistake we make, in other words, is to believe that the threat from radical Islam is a consequence of US foreign policy, and if that policy shifted the threat would disappear. The Left will, no doubt, blame yesterday’s terror plot on George Bush’s support for Israel’s war against Hezbollah, or on the Iraq conflict, or on the plight of the Palestinians. Nonsense. The atrocities of 9/11 were hatched at a time when Bill Clinton was appeasing Yasser Arafat, giving Saddam an easy ride, and turning a blind eye to the fact that Al-Qaeda had taken over Afghanistan. Furthermore, the issue of Palestine was not even mentioned by Osama bin Laden in his original list of grievances.

Put simply, it is a fool’s game to think that if the West caved into the Islamists’ demands we would be safer. “These people don’t want anything from you,” warns another Muslim source, “they just want to kill you. They hate you, not because of your foreign policies, but because you have chosen democracy and decadence over Allah. And they will use any means either to convert or kill you.”

For years, I have been warning that Ireland, like Britain, has become a hub for Islamic extremists. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is president of the European Council of Fatwa and Research and The International Association of Muslim Scholars, both permanently headquartered in Dublin. Despite the fact that he is banned from the US, Qaradawi regularly enters Ireland to chair meetings of both organisations. He has justified suicide bombings against civilians in both Israel and Iraq, has called for the stoning to death of homosexuals, and has been labelled by other Islamic scholars as a “Sheikh of death.” According to one moderate Muslim, “Qaradawi has made Dublin into the European headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Moreover, we know from intelligence sources, that there are at least thirty Al-Qaeda operatives living in Ireland. We also know that the leader of The Islamic Army of Iraq, a group responsible for a string of high profile murders and kidnappings, is an Irish citizen who travels between Dublin, London, and Baghdad. And, as if that were not bad enough, Ireland has its very own chapter of The Islamic Revolutionary Council, run directly from Tehran and aimed at spreading the sinister ideals of the Iranian mullahs.

And how have the Irish authorities responded? So far, they have done virtually nothing. Qaradawi has not been banned, his organisations are still flourishing, and there have been no high-profile detentions, deportations, or arrests of suspected terrorists. Like Britain before 7/7, we have chosen to ignore this danger, fearing that it might offend our multicultural pieties. But, as all concerned moderate Muslims will tell you, multiculturalism has been a disaster. Instead of promoting moderation and integration, we have opted for separation and segregation. That, in turn, has left moderates to the mercy of the zealots within their own communities, thus rendering them afraid to speak out and cooperate with the mainstream community to defeat a common threat.

In such a context, how long will it be before some Irish Muslim decides to take his jihad to the streets of Dublin or elsewhere? How long will it be before a terror plot planned in Ireland, creates mayhem in London, New York, or Washington? How long will it be before Muslim fundamentalists insist that unless we refuse the US access to Shannon, we will suffer the consequences? My Muslim sources tell me that unless we take action now, “you will see a repeat of the Paris riots in this country within five years. All it will take is for the call to go out, and radicalised immigrants will bring devastation to Dublin.”

So what is to be done? My hunch is that yesterday’s prevention of yet more atrocities across the US, happened because the authorities were either tipped off by moderate Muslims, or because of effective undercover surveillance. We will never conquer Islamic extremism unless we earn the trust of the moderates, and build an effective intelligence network that can intercept terrorist cells before they do their worst. But we will only gain the trust of Muslim moderates if we treat their concerns seriously, and give them the resources they need to steer young immigrants away from the zealots.

Secondly, we can no longer tolerate groups like the Muslim Brotherhood using this country as a base. By refusing to ban fanatics like Qaradawi, and by failing to deport those directly linked to terror, we are storing up for ourselves the very same problems currently being experienced by the British.

Lastly, it is time to ditch multiculturalism in favour of integration. That means investing heavily in programs that educate Islamic immigrants in Western values, norms, and institutions. It means making citizenship dependent on engagement at every level within the host society. It also demands that everybody entering this state declare respect for the rule of law above all other tribal or religious attachments. In sum, it means learning from the mistakes of countries like Britain, France, and Holland, all of which are now suffering because they foolishly opted for multiculturalism over America’s melting-pot model.

Yesterday, we were lucky. Thanks to good intelligence, many of our citizens were saved from a vicious death. And today, the would-be martyrs are in custody.

But make no mistake, there are thousands more where they came from, many of them currently living in Ireland. And, unlike us, they only have to get lucky once. Let us not be stupid enough to give them that satisfaction.


Also I mentioned how the Sheik Maktoum, renowned in Ireland for his horse racing, and as the funder of the Clonskeagh mosque also doubles as UAE defence minister. Before 9/11, he provided UAE military C-130 cargo planes to supply al-Qaida hunting camps in Afghanistan with all the amenities they needed when he and other high-level UAE officials and princes took hunting trips there. On one trip
in 1999, roughly half the UAE royal family was the guest of Osama bin laden at his camp near Kandahar. They flew in on an official UAE aircraft, according to a recently declassified CIA memo dated Feb. 19, 1999, and titled, "Recent High Level UAE Visits to Afghanistan." The memo also determined that Dubai officials had lied to U.S. officials about visiting the camps. And they were believed to have even tipped off bin Laden about a coming strike on his camps. Mind you, this was just months after bin Laden blew up the two U.S. embassies in Africa (a plot which was financed in part through Dubai banks), so they knew they were in bad company. | March 1, 2006

10:31 AM

Blogger gina said...

There are plenty of people within Irish society who are marginalised and as a result are a threat to society. Muslims at the present time are not part of this group of drugdealers and gangmembers. Most Muslim youth do not live in ghettos they attend secondary school and integrate very well with their classmates. The truth is clear to see and this demonisation of muslims by muslims and non-muslims will not bear fruit as this is not the first time that Irish people have een branded as terrorists- Remember the IRA, get off your high horse and cop on.
Kind Regards

4:15 PM

Blogger A.I.M. said...

As salam wa alaikum,

Your concerns are valid and there is, as you mentioned, a radicalization of certain segments of the Muslim Ummah. However in highlighting this you cannot ignore the root cause of this phenomenon. The inequality, outright discrimination, the criminalisation and other such matters - these give birth to radicals. This is what you should focus on. It is a shame that certain Islamaphobics in Irish society now feel that they have a spokesperson for their discriminatory cause in the shape of Mr Shaheed.

12:21 PM

Blogger smallchanger said...

i glad he is speaking out also. islam needs people like shaheed. i am a new convert in ireland and would like to know where shaheed delviers his khutbah on jumah so as i can attend. i am increasingly becoming less inclined to visit the saudi-backed mosque in clonskeagh. if anyone could let me know where it is i would appreciate it. i know it is in blanchardstown somewhere but cannot find out exactly where, i tried to call his mobile that was given out on a blog but just reached a voicemail. so please help a brother out.

11:54 AM

Blogger C-CAT said...

I am a victim of terror who would like to write to
Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien at the suggestion of Sheikh Palazzi in Rome
-- is there an email address that you could provide?

6:31 PM

Blogger fraz1971 said...

The Irish government should listen to a real expert on migration and not Ronit Lentin. Certainly not Rosanna Flynn or Shaheed Satardien.

We thank Alessandra Buonfino for the attention she devotes to our work The Silent Invasion, even though she says that “this text would under normal circumstances not merit discussion”. In a way she is right, in the sense that a normal situation would have made the book redundant. Therefore, I assume she agrees that we do not live under “normal circumstances”.

For a review of Alberto Carosa and Guido Vignelli’s book L’invasione silenziosa / The Silent Invasion, see E. Christian Kopff, “When Immigration Becomes Migration”, in Chronicles (August 2002).
In her review Alessandra Buonfino levels so many unfounded accusations and incorrect statements, that it’s impossible to refute all of them in a brief reply: all the more so if we consider that we address the issue of immigration from different, perhaps even incompatible, angles.

But it is vital to clarify a preliminary point. We say very clearly at the start of our book that we oppose uncontrolled immigration, not immigration as such. Each state has the sovereign right to protect its borders and regulations, which must be respected, and allow entry only to foreign people of its own choice. There is no such thing as the unlimited right to immigration. Whenever immigrants illegally enter another country, they show a fundamentally disrespectful and anti-democratic attitude by imposing their un-requested presence, in much the same way as a stranger who breaks into a private house commits an offence. There are surely exceptions, for example refugees, but we must not forget that “the abuse does not remove the use”.

But only a tiny minority of those immigrants who flow into Italy each year would appear to be real refugees; the overwhelming majority are people who, on their own account, have simply decided to leave their countries and settle elsewhere for a better life. This is perfectly legitimate, but ought to be pursued by following the rules set by the host country, however complicated and time-consuming this may be. Dura lex, sed lex (the law is harsh, but it is the law), the Latin dictum goes. Moreover, “true charity starts at home” is a maxim that ought always to be borne in mind – especially since all countries’ (and Italy’s in particular) economic resources are limited.

We have been accused of having produced an “ideologically motivated” book. Nothing is farther from the truth. We may be accused of having stated the obvious, but there is nothing ideological in plain, good common sense. On the contrary, the opposite is true: those who are upholding the idea that uncontrolled immigration ends up benefiting the country which is enduring it, are themselves pursuing an ideological agenda which is based on a wishful thinking, a utopia. And we all too well know what human and material losses were produced, and are still produced, by certain utopias born of the 20th century!

However well-intentioned, the advocacy of uncontrolled immigration is also a contradiction in terms: how can an uncontrolled process produce a good outcome when this is normally and precisely the end result of something which is under control? Unless you are God (since only God can get good out of bad), the most likely result of any such uncontrolled process is chaos (at best), and all that goes with it.

So, for any debate on immigration to be fruitful, constructive and well-grounded, a prerequisite is agreement on a principle: that uncontrolled immigration is unacceptable. If you want to call this a ready-made answer, that is all right. But for the rest, we are surely open to discussion as to how truly legal and controlled immigration can best be put to good use.

We also stand accused of fearing the increasing influence of Islam through its immigrants. But why should we be blamed if we take seriously the words of Muslim leaders themselves? After all, this increasing influence has already started with petrodollars, which are not used to create jobs in the poor countries of North Africa and Middle East, but to build mosques and cultural centres in the (former) Christian (or non-Muslim) countries targeted by Islamic immigration – including Rome, the centre of Christianity.

If we say that the ambitious or aggrandising statements of Muslim spokespersons are disturbing, our concern is reprimanded as (at least) “exaggeration”, whereas these authors are highly unlikely to be ever criticised as arrogant or intolerant. (For an enlightening insight on the differences between western and ideological Islamic societies, see Caroline Cox and John Marks, The ‘West’, Islam and Islamism: Is ideological Islam compatible with liberal democracy? (Civitas, 2003).

Alessandra Buonfino aptly cites the case of Adel Smith, which sheds light on a mindset very far from a western one. To be more precise, Adel Smith was at the forefront of Muslims in Italy calling for the removal of a fresco from a Bologna cathedral which they deemed offensive to their prophet Mohammed. Evidently, they are disturbed by the very existence of any non-Muslim religious symbols. The underlying logic is the same as that of the Taliban in Afghanistan, who dynamited the gigantic Buddhas in Bamiyan.

The alarm in this regard was sounded by Corriere della Sera in a front-page editorial (11 September 2003) on “The Shadow of Al Qaeda among illegal immigrants”, which quoted intelligence reports cautioning about accords between “Islamic terrorism and trafficking of illegal immigrants”. The British prime minister Tony Blair (and I am by no means a Blairite, simply acknowledging the truth irrespective of its origin) echoed this concern in his speech on 5 March 2004 denouncing “fanatics who will stop at absolutely nothing to cause death and destruction on a mass scale”. What happened in Madrid is a sharp reminder of this danger, and a sufficient argument for tight control on immigration to be applied. Where is the “exaggeration”?

We have no objections to the remarkably balanced way the chairman of Migrationwatch UK, Andrew Green, addressed the dangers and risks posed by uncontrolled immigration (Telegraph online, 24 February 2004) – a view that makes good sense to us. Would you call him a racist – leaving aside the fact that immigrants cannot be categorised as a “race” – or a xenophobe? Certainly not, and neither am I (my wife is a Finn).

To sum up, curbing illegal immigration would both make life difficult for actual and potential terrorists and substantially curtail dangerous activities that illegal immigrants engage in. These include, as recently reported in the Corriere della Sera (29 February 2004) and Repubblica (17 March 2004), drug and human trafficking and so-called “petty” crimes such as credit card fraud. Again, there is nothing ideological in this – merely common sense. But if, after all this, you insist that borders be broken down and floodgates opened wide for everybody to come in – and ultimately for Koranic, sharia law to replace the Christian-based rule of law; well, that will be “not in our name”!

8:57 AM


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