Wednesday, June 27, 2007
An Islamic London: Part 1, History
Here, Time Out London argues that "an Islamic London would be a better place." And it, or I should say he as in columnist Michael Hodges, begins by imagining a London of the year 2021. We are witness to a public execution in fictional Mohammad Sidique Khan Square of some poor fellow for some undisclosed crime. A noose is fixed around his neck, as the eager crowd shouts, "Allahu akbar", and just as the executioner is about to press the button...Hodges relieves us of the drama and eases our terror, proclaiming the scene to be merely a "hysterical, right-wing nightmare of a future Muslim London."
But until I (or Hodges) mentioned that, you were probably on board with the realism of this 2021 nightmare, weren't you? I know I was. A public execution in the name of Allah sometime in the future still doesn't seem all that far from the truth in a city ruled by Islamic fundamentals. Hodges goes on to favor strict Islamic law over liberal, democratic freedom, and systematically debases almost all of the liberties enjoyed by the West as if they're annoyances that hinder our humanities. He begins his argument for a guaranteed Utopic society under Islam with the notion that the only reason we (as Londoners, Westerners alike) are so adverse to this apparent life in Eden's Gardens is that Islam is just too "alien" to us. Foolishly we are unaware of Islam's equation of women to men on the same first class level, their tolerance of same sex relationships, and their humanly just punishment of wrong-doers. So the burqa must be some whacky fashion statement by Islamic women that their men just don't understand. And countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are still old-fashioned when they punish homosexuality with death; but who knows, maybe by 2021, they'll come around.
Then Hodges makes an embarrasingly failed attempt at justifying Islam's supposed familiar nature with London by citing historical events post World War I. His completely shoddy history not only refutes all arguments for a successful London under Islam, it insults any of his countrymen that don't happen to have their head completely lodged up their own ass. He cites that Islam couldn't possibly be alien to Londoners when "at the end of World War I the city sat at the heart of an Empire that had 160 million Muslim subjects, 80 million in India alone. London was the largest Islamic capital in the world." But not by choice. This isn't even a historical issue to start out with, it's demographics. Saying London was the heart of an overwhelming majority of Muslims is simply stating a fact, ignoring the figures and ramifications. Like saying Los Angeles is at the heart of Mexico. Again, not by choice. But let history speak for itself, because even it can say something for 2021.
During World War I, the Ottoman Empire made the poor military decision of aligning itself with the Central Powers in that war (the Central Powers were to WWI what the Axis Powers were to WWII), thus clinching their position with the ultimate losing side and eventually ending their 625 year existence. To say London should be familiar with Islam at this time (as Hodges pleads) is like saying France should, at least, be familiar with Nazi Germany during and after WWII. Basically, during WWI the Ottoman Empire, by way of the Islamic Turks, made things very difficult for the allied forces of Britain, France, Australia, and Russia (to name a few). Headed by strategically minded German generals, and passionate (but inept) Turkish ones, the Ottoman-German Alliance swept Europe and Asia in an attempt to cut off ties between Britain and India, and wage an affront to Russia. Some battles, such as the Siege of Kut, were nominally successful; but as history tells, none were an absolute victory for the Central Powers. As a result, the Ottoman Empire was completely blown apart, and scattered across Europe and Asia, never to recover. It wouldn't be fully dissolved until 1922, but the period before then is when Mr. Hodges names London as the "heart of the empire". Sure, said empire listed 160 million Muslim subjects to it's name, but what's an "empire" when it's on its death bed? 80 million of those subjects resided in India alone, an allied stronghold during the war. I agree with Hodges' statement that places like London and India were epicenters for an Islamic Empire. But what he doesn't point out is that, given the subject's involvement in the war, things post were likely to be pretty awkward.