Bending over backwards

I had been to London a couple of years ago on invitation from the British Foreign office to study the situation with regard to their minorities and how they deal with the growing problem of Islamic terrorism.

The British Home office had then just issued some `stop and search’ orders in view of the increasing number shoe, suicide and other kinds of bombers among fundamentalists who were mushrooming all over Britain at the time. British Muslims were outraged – for the police were now authorised not just to stop on suspicion but also strip and search suspects for hidden bombs. But then ministers and members of parliament began to hold dialogues with the British Muslim community, apologising in a half-hearted way for the orders and trying hard to explain that they did make a difference between Muslims in general and terrorists in particular.

But that was not all. I found British sensitivity to minority sentiments at the highest anywhere in the world and, frankly, I thought it had been quite unnecessary to apologise for the stop and search orders.

How else do you protect innocent citizens from bombers and terrorists? I noticed, though, that despite the outrage leaders of the British Muslim community had begun to advise their members about co-operating with the police searches. “If you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem submitting to a search,’’ was he refrain I oft heard during that brief visit.

Nevertheless, I did feel that the British authorities were still bending over backwards to guard the sentiments of their minorities and, coming from a nation that is accused of appeasing its own to an extreme, I said as much to the officers I had met during the study tour. They were embarrassed, simply shrugged and said nothing.

That sensitivity is probably responsible for the hacking to death of a soldier in London this week but I am stunned that the young men who perpetrated that brutality are British-born, university-educated and yet could be such jehadists that they hung around for the police to arrive and gun them down – hoping that would have directly send them to jannat. I’m glad all that they are now getting is some tough nurses tending to their wounds and the houris will be a long time coming.

I frankly do not know any longer whether it is better for governments to be as tough as the US, as lenient as the UK or somewhere in between like India where genuine terrorists escape the net most of the time while innocent young boys of a certain community are rounded up routinely by the police – and then let off by the courts for lack of evidence without even so much as an apology for ruining their lives.

However, if one looks at the Boston bombing of last month and the London attack, I shudder to think that terrorists today could be friendly neighbourhood boys brought up in civilised fashion who get so indoctrinated that they are unable to distinguish between barbarism and heroism.

At least Ajmal Kasab had come from a deprived background, sold to terrorists by his impoverished father and it can be said he had no choices. The same cannot be said of the Boston bombers or the London hackers – they are cold-blooded terrorists and this is what even the Bombay police had discovered and feared in the early 2000s when they found high motivation levels among some home grown terrorists across Maharashtra. Those boys spoke English better than their lawyers, had never been deprived of any of the resources that had been available to most of the rest of us and were all professionals – like doctors, chartered accountants and software engineers. That trend seems to have now travelled to the West and if this were to become the face of terrorism in the future, I wonder how impossible it might be for nations to contain the virus.

I agree with Lord Ghulam Noon that if British Muslims wish for a Muslim parliament or a sharia law in that country they better go where such laws already exist – here is no place in civilised society for any such barbarism. Why has the UK not thrown such elements out of the country, particularly when many of them are not even British born or naturalised?

Lord Adam Patel, a Gujarati migrant from India who now sits in the House of Lords, had then told me, “Britain is the best country to live in anywhere in the world.’’

Lets hope they keep it that way and that a couple of misguided youth do not win over the larger civilised people in this world, But for that, I guess, Britain would have to stop bending over backwards.

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