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Reader comment on item: [London Terrorism:] British "Covenant of Security" with Islamists Ends

Submitted by Kevin Morrow (United States), Jul 8, 2005 at 13:31

This is a reaction to Daniel Pipes' article "British "Covenant of Security" with Islamists Ends."

It's always hard to know what to think when you read an article like this, because, not being familiar with the full range of opinions prevalent in Britain's muslim communities, I can't really judge how representative these views are of British muslims as a whole.

Articles like this, of course, beg the question: so, what are we supposed to do as a result of reading this article? Are we to conclude that this is what all muslims in Britain believe, and treat them accordingly?

I have no doubt that there are surely some British muslims whose views are represented by this article. But all? There's not enough information presented. I'd have to really read a well-detailed, well-sourced, well-thought-out book on the subject of Islam in Britain to get enough info.

Let's be careful about drawing conclusions from an article like this. A lot of similar articles were published in the US in the months after 9/11, purporting to show that such murderous, jihadist thinking and intentions are normative for all muslims. If you know any muslims, though, you know that that is simply not true of all. Maybe not even most, because it presupposes that all muslims are equally zealous for their faith. That is definitely not true. There is a range of zeal, ranging from the secular/virtually agnostic to the jihadist and everything in between.

I've also heard it said that muslims, coming from societies that are not as open as ours, aren't capable of the kind of all-embracing, pluralistic, tolerant thinking that is common here in the west, therefore, muslims are pre-determined culturally/socially to jihadist thinking. There again, this is more true of some muslim countries than others (for instance, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, I was surprised to find a surprisingly high level of religious tolerance among many individual muslims, even though I'm aware that religious persecution does definitely happen in the West Bank). Also, this presumes that all muslims don't make choices to go against their own cultural values as an individual. Maybe when they are home, they are not encouraged to think as an individual (Arab society is generally not as individualistic as western culture, it is more group and family oriented), but what about when they have lived in a western country for a number of years?

The long and short of it is this: let's be careful about not accepting expressions of jihadist views as representative of all muslim opinion, but instead, seek to put those views in a context that can help us understand more accurately what muslims think.

Kevin Morrow

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