Yesterday I wrote an admittedly facetious piece pointing out the advantages of the niqab, “…provided of course we can be sure that the person inside the niqab is indeed a demure Muslim woman rather than an escaping male terrorist – something that apparently has happened a few times.”
What do you know – in a startling demonstration of life imitating art, that very day a tagged Somali-British jihadist used the garment to escape the attentions of the police.
Al Qaeda-trained terrorist Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed (MAM for short) entered a London mosque wearing normal clothes complete with an electronic tag. He then disabled the device and slipped out of the mosque in a burka.
Now we’re all in favour of free religious worship, but surely the freedom to adore Allah doesn’t incorporate the freedom to abet terrorists – or indeed to incite terrorism. It has always been my contention that any mosque implicated in such activities should be immediately and irreversibly shut down, even at the risk of having few mosques left.
In this instance someone inside the mosque must have helped MAM to disable the tag, and someone must have supplied the burka. This sort of thing may be called aiding and abetting in some quarters, but this is strictly a police matter. What should be a matter for society at large is that houses of God must not be used as safe houses for murderous aliens.
Moreover, we must ban the burka – even though the French have done so and we certainly don’t want to be known as copycats. For using the garment for terrorist activities is nothing new: it’s a tradition going back centuries.
Russia springs to mind. Throughout the nineteenth century the tsars waged a non-stop war against Caucasian, mainly Muslim, guerrillas. Echoes of this desperate struggle resonate from the pages of great Russian literature, from Pushkin and Lermontov to Tolstoy.
Using their books for historical reference, we find out that the use of a burka as a means of escape was widely practiced 200 years ago. In Lermontov’s sublime novel The Hero of Our Time, a young Muslim guerrilla demonstrates how effective this trick can be.
Closer to our own time, the Muslim, chiefly Turkic, provinces of the Russian Empire, never quite at ease with their status, rebelled against the Soviets directly they took over in 1917. The rebellion continued well into the 1930s, at first as a straight pan-Islamic war of national and religious liberation.
The war was truly pan-Islamic – for several years it was led by Enver Pasha, who had held the post of War Minister in Turkey’s Young Turk government. After the Red Army routed the badly outgunned and outnumbered basmachi groups in the mid-1920s, the jihad movement went underground.
The old burka trick stood the basmachi in good stead: bearded men could easily sneak up on Bolshevik occupiers and gun them down. Interestingly, one of the most persistent slogans used by the Bolsheviks in their early days was “Free the toiling woman of the East from the parandja [the Central Asian version of the burka]!”
Considering the well-documented affection the Bolsheviks felt for freedom of any kind, one may suspect that their main concern wasn’t so much the toiling woman as the sharpshooting man.
My retrospective sympathy is in this case with the Central Asian jihadists: they fought the greater evil and their cause was just.
You may call me a moral relativist if you wish, but I don’t exactly feel the same way about MAM and his fellow wild-eyed al Qaeda murderers. Their cause is evil, and the only way to defeat it is to display fortitude and resolve.
The two measures I’ve suggested (banning the burka and shutting down any mosque implicated in nastiness) would be a good start.
The next thing would be to look at the desirability of massive influx of Muslim (and other non-Christian) immigrants. Part of the rich panoply of life and all that, but I doubt many Brits agree with our consecutive governments that these groups enrich our life.
I may change this shamefully unfashionable, reactionary view if someone were to demonstrate the specific advantages we’ve derived from the presence of, say, the 115,000 Somalis (and these are just the ones we know about).
As our transvestite MAM proves, demonstrating the disadvantages would be considerably easier.