In these depressing times, one of the most heartening developments has been the emergence of European Muslims taking a role in the anti-war movement. They have worked alongside their non-Muslim friends to organise massive demonstrations in every European capital city.
In Rome, over 2m people took to the streets on February 15. It comes as no surprise to me that some of those Italian anti-war protesters also held up placards denouncing you and your book,Miss Fallaci. You have made your name as a controversial writer, but to describe Europe as a “province of Islam” is inflammatory and outrageous.
You accuse the West of being blind to the threat of Islam. In doing so, you have crossed the line from legitimate criticism to Islamophobia. Your charges are unfounded and malicious.
Miss Fallaci, we Muslims are not “anti-American”. We are well-wishers of all peoples who want to live in peace with each other. Is it not strange how when as European citizens we exercise our democratic right to speak out against policies we believe to be detrimental to global order, we are accused in a hysterical manner of being “enemies” of the West? Or is it only a selective freedom you espouse? You accuse the anti-war demonstrators of “never yelling at Saddam Hussein”. The Muslim world has been vocally opposed to Saddam Hussein’s odious regime since at least 1980 when he invaded Iran with the encouragement of some of your friends in the United States.
You then descend even further — if that were possible — into a hate-filled invective against Muslims. This is more than a little curious after you have complained about the ugly rise of anti-semitism in Europe.
You say there are 16m “Muslim immigrants” who are being “hosted” in Europe. You complain of “mullahs, imams, mosques, burqas and chadors”. That rhetoric betrays a closed mentality that is typical of xenophobes in general and, in Britain, typical of the BNP. Muslims make up just 3% of the population of the UK and the latest census shows that most of them were born here. They are British. At what point does one cease to be an “immigrant”? I see you did not feel it necessary to substantiate your claim that there are “thousands of Islamic terrorists” in Europe. Still, never mind, eh, there’s a war to be getting on with in which we will doubtless see countless thousands of dead “Islamic terrorists”. In Islam we believe that all innocent human lives are valuable, whether they are American or Iraqi.
Your study of history reveals to you that “freedom and democracy are totally unrelated to the ideological texture of Islam”. You should read more closely. You talk of the triumph of the Moors in Spain and Portugal: at the time, Muslims led the world in learning and equality. Islam gave women rights of inheritance and property ownership before anyone in Europe had even thought of it — western theologians were still debating whether women had a soul.
As for democracy being inimical to Islam, Turkey recently held democratic elections. You might say that Turkey is the exception that proves the rule, but when other countries have tried to introduce democracy they have been prevented from doing so by the West.
When a democratic election took place in Algeria in 1992 — won by the Islamic Salvation Front — it was France and the West that supported a military coup. The party was banned and its leaders and supporters imprisoned.
So the West only likes democracy when it produces a result that suits it. It is short-sighted because the result has been 10 years of civil war in that country. Now lots of people are leaving; when they come here we complain about being flooded by asylum seekers. Is it not about time that we in the West examine the results of our foreign policy more closely? Much of the Muslim world is in a sorry state, I don’t deny, but just last year the US openly praised the military rulers of Algeria and provided them with the latest in military hardware as part of the “war on terror”.
In the Orwellian world you inhabit, Miss Fallaci, it seems the “terrorists” are not those who fly B-52 planes to drop huge bombs on petrified Iraqis who pose no threat to them.
I have the sneaking suspicion that you do not much like me or my fellow Muslims and would rather we abandoned our faith. Still, maybe we should be grateful that you did not advocate a return to the values of the Inquisition.
Iqbal Sacranie is secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain