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Radical Islam, its impact on western culture, and what to do about it!

September 18, 2012

 

I was going to dedicate my soon to be released Crime Thriller, London’s Falling, to the late Dutch artist Theo Van Gogh, but was persuaded by my former failed publisher not to. I say the late Van Gogh because he was brutally murdered in the middle of Amsterdam following vitriolic protests about his film Submission which was critical of Islam. Further back we have Salmon Rushdie and his Satanic Verses which inspired a fatwa (a calling for his murder) which has recently been upgraded with a higher bounty of three million dollars on his head.

In the event the publisher pulled the printing of London’s Falling  atthe very last minutewith a pathetic and flimsy pretext. What drew this publishing house, (which I shall call Tea Leaf Days Publishing, Tea Leaf being rhyming cockney slang for thief) to the book in the first place was its topicality (the novel concerns the overlap of Islamic terrorism, organised crime and political corruption in the city of London) and this I believe this very relevance prevented commercial publication at the end of the day.   The fact that a novel that depicted a radical Islamic Imam who preaches the doctrine of the hateful Hizb ut-Tahrir while planning wide spread mayhem and worse, was also scheduled to be released during the wonderful London Olympics proved too much for this pusillanimous publisher. Despite such indirect censorship the book shall be coming out next month with Love of Books and launched on October 20, although I shall have the first copies in the coming days.

It would appear that art truly can imitate life. For example over the weekend there was a violent protest over the film of the hour Innocence of Muslims, by Muslims young and old in the city of Sydney last Saturday the 18th of October. Now from what I understand the production values of this film were very poor and its depiction of Allah, the Prophet and Islam in general is hardly flattering yet this is hardly a reason for global unrest and violence. The fact is this was a pretext and the violence in Sydney and around the world (and which led to the death of the US ambassador to Libya among others) was well coordinated with Skype, Twitter and all the rest of the Western Mod Cons. A group calling themselves the Sixth Pillar, which supposedly means Jihad, had seized on this film to attack or attempt to attack the American embassy. Before thy got to the embassy the police intervened with pepper spray and arrested a number of the ring leaders. The riot has brought widespread discussion here in Australia in media like the Australian and the ABC and around the world. Children were photographed holding up signs calling for the deaths of these who dare to insult Allah. The shock jocks got into this well and truly and why not it was all shocking and topical enough by any standards.

Last night the ABC 7:30 Report showed an interview between presenter Leigh Sales   and the UK representative of Hizb Ut-Tahrir Taji Mustafa. He denied preaching hate or calling for the destruction of the state of Israel even when transcripts from the sect’s website advocating just this were shown to him. As with anyone caught up in the philosophy of this dangerous organisation he calls for a world- wide caliphate in which Islam will virtually rule the world. Mr Mustafa suggests that when this nirvana (really a fool’s Paradise in Paradise) is attained, Jews shall sit down with Gentiles and Muslims; providing of course everyone converts to Islam. He doesn’t say what will happen to those who are unwilling or unable to convert but you can use your imagination. Like anyone connected to the tortured arguments of Hizb Ut-Tahrir the man is in denial and expects everyone to suspend disbelief and go along with whatever he says. It’s a tactic that probably works wonders with his misguided followers but doesn’t come across well on irreverent Western television.

These are the problems and questions of our times and considering that the struggle for the Caliphate could take a hundred years or more until one side gives up or is defeated they shall be talking points for a long time to come. I have long been engaged in these issues and especially so after I worked as a teacher of religion in an Essex, UK secondary school with predominantly Asian (meaning Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) students. Teaching the great religions (although not Judaism for some reason) in this kind of environment was a crucible for my novel London’s Falling and it is no coincidence that the main protagonist starts out as a teacher of religion in an Asian UK high school. Later, in a new vastly more prosperous incarnation (although in great danger in reality), he comes up against a demented Imam who spreads the mind destroying propaganda of Hizb Ur-Tahrir and succeeds in fomenting death and destruction across the city of London.

With respect to the ultimate shabby treatment by my original publisher, I believe a fear of possible retribution was at the heart of what amounted to censorship. Or that’s the best way of looking at it. Moral cowardice and a lack of understanding or sympathy with the creative process also played as part.  Australian playwright David Williamson has said that his confronting plays could be unfairly criticised for ‘Not being Hamlet, not for what I said.’

This is true; there is a kind of shoot the messenger approach taken by some publishers and editors that can be destructive to freedom and the creative principle. So while The Innocence of Muslims may be bad art it doesn’t at all mean that artists would avoid these important issues. To the artists of the world I say if you have something to express about a religion more dogmatic and violent than most then make your statement. Don’t be cowed by the zealots and the crazies, not to mention those too afraid to express themselves and who are happy to transfer that fear to others as a sly form of censorship! The world needs to know your views, Sharia Law or not.

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