Are our public schoolboys quietly stitching us up over a game of tennis?
Peter Oborne the Sherborne educated Telegraph columnist confided to a roomful of academics and Muslim radicals at the East London Mosque today that he’d been beaten 7-5 by his mate the Mayor of London. During the course of which trouncing, on a freezing Highbury tennis court, they’d discussed the launch later in the day of the Exeter University report Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies 2010 whose forerunner, the London Case Study, Oborne had gallantly endorsed.
Oborne shared with us his conversation with the Mayor: glossing the famed US academic John Esposito’s sentiment, in the introduction to the report, that ‘the exclusive Judaeo-Christian tradition of the West was an unhelpful and false doctrine’ (I quote) and should be jettisoned. Boris, sensing how convenient that would be as a way of avoiding some deeply tricky questions on his watch, evidently agreed.
‘East London mosque is splendid’, Oborne reported Boris as saying. ‘It does an enormous amount to help increase understanding between Islam and the rest of society. He was entirely positive about it - which I took as an implicit rebuke to Andrew Gilligan.’
Poor old Gilligan. Demon de jour. We may not denounce Islamists – cuddly newcomers to the political landscape. But it’s open season on Gilligan, the journalist who worries about the terrorist sympathisers who now run the once English borough of Tower Hamlets. Him we may vilify. Melanie Phillips, the Mail columnist and author of the heroic exposé Londonistan we may also vilify because she insists on loud-pedalling the nasty side of Islam in Britain.
Muslim bullying is making cowards of our elites, whose only response to what’s happening is to deny that it matters. Am I mistaken, or was it Muslims who bombed the Underground system? Or is it a crime to mention that now?
Thirty years of policies that ignored religion and denied reality on the the UK's streets; policies that allowed Muslims to remain in isolation and then pandered to every demand for separate development, ignoring the bitterness of the 'poor whites' and even poorer blacks already settled here, have created the tinder box that this remarkable and overdue report documents.
It is a frightening testimony to years of failure; the backlash is upon us. The violence is not simply, as John Esposito in his introduction assumes, perpetrated by 'a few extremists' but as often as not black on Muslim and Eastern European on Muslim - and it's clothing that people seem to hate and that signals who is what.
Some of the 'fear' of Islam in Britain must be attributed to persecution in the home countries: the UK is after all home to many seeking asylum from Muslim countries who have experienced torture, peremptory divorce and ostracism for not producing sons, the prospect of honour killing, and persecution for apostasy. The ignorance about this of even thoughtful men like Oborne and Johnson, is truly staggering. Yes, we must not lump all Muslims together. God forbid. But by what mental sleight of hand can we dissociate altogether the violent ones from the texts and teachings that comprise the religion itself, and that keep so many in thrall to obscurantism and fear?
It was Oborne who reported in an Unreported World documentary that Northern Nigeria’s Christians (the shattered minority) were the cause of the carnage up there. The enslavement of Christian children as debt reparation; the marriage of minors, the beheading of 'kafirs', the land-grabbing and killing that have gone on for years and years clearly don’t count as provocation - or as Islam.
Is it Islomophobic to point this out? A phobia is a sick fancy. Something ugly arising out of one's unconscious. If our ‘Judaeo-Christian’ culture is a false doctrine, can we simply jettison it to be 'cured'?
Esposito says the basis for real integration in society is active participation in the political sphere. For sure - but let's be under no illusion that that for him and the report's authors means Islamists too, those who seek power for Islam.
Great news then for Christians from Pakistan who learned in January this year that a new law had been passed requiring that the Prime Minister be a Muslim.
And for Sherif Hassan Abdelwahab Mohamed, who attends All Souls Langham Place, who got locked up after taking his new British wife back to meet his family. He's been in an unknown Egyptian gaol since 9 November. No charges have been brought; there is no knowledge of his whereabouts, but he believes he's been singled out for his faith.
After I left the Mosque, I went to Oxford Street, seeking the solace of a jollier festival. But the Christmas lights had no Christmas theme - merely a parasol and a parcel - and, in my favourite shop, John Lewis, no festive music, no jingle bells. And everywhere women in gruesome black - black hijabs, black niqabs, black burqas - reminding me of the brave new world.