Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Co-Opting Jihad

Islam may be unique among world religions. It appears to be the only one which admits no tolerance, no 'dialogue', no comparison of texts to see what other Holy Books besides the Quran have to say about our journey here and its possible meaning. But to the Muslim there is no other Holy Book, the Quran is the only one. It exists to be recited, not analyzed, redacted, or personally interpreted. Any other use is apostasy and the consequence is death. Death by Allah.

Islam is a rigorous belief system; not for the faint of heart. For more than a thousand years Moslems has fought and conquered infidel lands, wreaking havoc and death in its application of righteous jihad. Civilizations have fallen before its inexorable power. The prospect of death by the sword has stricken terror into countless hearts, has turned more than one fervent soul toward Mecca.

Now, in our time, Islam sallies forth yet again to deal death and destruction to unbelievers, to follow Mohammed's teaching of Allah's will regarding the annihilation of those outside the Quran's teachings. The fierce followers of Allah bring down tall buildings, blow up children, televise beheadings, hide in mosques and hospitals, and stand belligerently astride the universal commonweal of civil and martial law, slashing the bonds of common agreement among nations.

After WWII, Muslims began to immigrate to infidel Europe in large numbers. Once there, they acclimated without assimilating. The Quran says that where they do not dominate, they must live in Dar al Sulh, a temporarily peaceful behavior and mind-set which allows for interaction with the unbeliever until such time that Islam comes to predominate, at which point the infidels can be dealt with in justice and truth. Muhammed's truce with Mecca is the best examplar of this approach.

When the time is ripe, when Allah wills it, Europe will become Dar al Harb, Islam at war, though again this is but a temporary stopping place along the way to Dar al Islam. This is the final destination, the place where infidels will convert, or become subjects under Islam, or they will die. In the perfect Islamic vision there will be no expulsion since the whole world will be Allah's; there will be no fair field that is not an Islamic field, no unclean place to send unbelievers except to the sword. And thus, finally safe from apostasy and evil, will the world be subject to Allah's will once and for all.

This world view is, obviously, a closed one. Absolutist, terrifying to those who are forced to yield, and impossible to turn aside. Except...

...who would have thought anyone would consider tunneling into the cave instead of out of it? Yet the Muslim Boys in London are doing exactly that. Feral and intransigently criminal, the Muslim Boys appear to be afraid of nothing. And they love Islam. But here's the catch for their 'brother' Muslims: it's Islam on the bruvs' terms, not on Mohammed's.
...what makes them unique is that they are so-called "converts", whose perverted interpretation of Islam is central to their identity as killers and criminals. Their stamping grounds are the estates of south London, where they hole-up in safe houses, living ascetic lives in stark contrast to the " blingbling" lifestyle of other gangs.
The beginning of their story, one of deprivation and neglect with its eventual outcome in prisons for robberies, assaults, murders-all the behaviors of the thrown-away underclass young male in Britain-has become commonplace, as has their introduction to Islam as an alternative "life-style." Their 'conversion' and eventual banding together seems to have begun in the jails where Muslims do so much missionary work. The discipline and rigors of Islam have great appeal for those who have known little of either. Thus, less than two years ago, there emerged a group of "hardcore"

Afro-Caribbean "Muslim converts" {who} began violently "taxing" the south London criminal community. Dressed in long, flowing black leather coats, as in the film The Matrix, and initially dubbed "the Taliban Terrorists", these were exconvicts who had been turned on to Islam in prison, and who began to use the austere discipline of Islam to fashion a criminal network with a "higher" purpose.

Their first targets were other criminals - especially local drug dealers and pimps - who were ordered to pay "protection money". If the dealers refused, they were held at gunpoint, often facing the muzzle of a MAC-10.

In the early days, there were about 25 hardcore members, plus 40 " footsoldiers". They had come out of a gang called the SMS, the South Man Syndicate, and now began to rope in other crews, such as The Brotherhood and the Stockwell Crew, evolving into an umbrella crew called the PDC, Poverty Driven Children. To this day, gang members refer to themselves as PDC, regarding the Muslim Boys as a term used by outsiders.

By January 2004, the gang had managed the unique feat of uniting the bitterly divided south-east black criminal-fraternity against them.
The emnity of other criminals doesn't deter them. Nor does police action. One thing which does anger them-mortally so for their victims-are peers who fail to convert to their way of thinking, or who backslide. They are dealt with summarily and without mercy. Forced conversions are a new twist on an old terror; for the bruvs, it's all a part of loyal family feeling. David Cohen, a journalist from The Evening Standard, reports this conversation with "Winston," a Muslim Boy who agreed to be interviewed:

Here's how gang member Winston describes "conversion". "You got to be Muslim to be in our group," he tells me. "If you not down [cool] with Muslim, we visit your home, maybe strip you naked in front of your f***ing mother, we put a gun in your mouth. We give you three days [to change your mind], then, if you not down with it, we f***ing blow...
The remonstrations of imams that the bruvs are not "true" Muslims fall on the deaf ears of the Poverty Driven Children. For the bruvs, the imams are there to serve, and their functions are simple: open up the mosque when told to do so by the bruvs. When asked about his belief in Islam, Winston's description of his spiritual life at the mosque is to the point
... I ask Winston whether he believes in Islam... he prevaricates. "Sort of," he says. "I converted when I was in prison. I found it relaxing, we got better food. Now we all go to mosque together. If I refuse, they blow [shoot] me, innit. I pray twice a day: before I do crime, and after. I ask Allah for a blessing when I'm out on the street. Afterwards, I apologise to Allah for what I done."

Winston becomes angry when I show him the Brixton mosque's denunciation of his crew as "bogus Muslims", crushing their statement in his fist. "F***ing cheek!" he says. "Mocking us. There be retribution for this!"
Islam is learning a bitter lesson in underclass Britain. It is a lesson the Catholic Church learned in Haiti, when the African population subverted Christain saints to their own native religious needs. Try as they might, the Catholic missionaries never prevailed; voodoo and Catholic saints were intertwined in a complicated but completely Haitian worldview. It worked for the Haitians; it subverted the Church. Now, in Britain, the Poverty Driven Children are re-imagining Islam for their own needs.

Unfortunately for the terrorists in Islam, a new generation of jihadists just upped the ante.


Dr. Sanity said...

Fabulous post, Dymphna! I'm going to nominate it for Best Non-Council Post in next week's Watcher of Weasels contest, if you don't object.

I especially like the analogy with Catholicism and Haiti. I will be commenting on the post in my own blog tomorrow.


Dag said...

Very nicely done. I've seen your work before, always impressed.