Pick up any newspaper today in Britain or elsewhere in Europe, switch on the TV or tune in to any radio station, and you’re very likely to get the impression that “our societies” – if not western civilisation in its entirety – face an imminent Islamic threat, on a par with the old dangers of fascism. Since the terrorist bombings of New York, Madrid and London, the “fundamentalist peril” has become part of the air we breathe. It has become a rhetorical crutch for everyone from rightwing bigots to opportunistic politicians and repenting “former extremists”, each with their own agenda.
Today we live amid an explosion of discourse and imagery around Islam and Muslims. Sparked by al-Qaida’s lunatic atrocities, it has since fed on the politics of fear and suspicion.
LONDON (Reuters) – Three British Muslim men pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to cause explosions, part of a plan prosecutors say would have involved smuggling liquid bombs onto airliners with the intention of blowing them up mid-flight.
The same three, and two others, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause a public nuisance by publishing martyrdom suicide videos, admitting their guilt in the final stages of a major airline bomb plot trial.
Those who entered the pleas are among eight men on trial for the so-called Heathrow airport bomb plot, which was uncovered in August 2006 and led to the imposition of tight new restrictions on carrying liquids on board flights worldwide.
The title to Ghannoushi’s piece is “Saying ‘Islamic threat’ over and over doesn’t make it real”.
Of course it doesn’t. So what would?