Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: The shadow hanging over Muslims is lifting


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History, they say, was made and unmade on 9/11. The psychic shock seemed to first unite all humanity, but then Bush and Blair et al launched their sinister war on terror and our earth was split apart, gashed like those scenes you see after earthquakes. Mistrust infected nations and neighbourhoods. So here we are, 10 interminable years on. Is the world any safer as a result of the actions taken by the Actionmen of retribution? Are Muslims worldwide less or more likely to support their extremist, suicidal warriors? With Osama bin Laden gone, is it nearly the end?

The story is not yet over. The questions above only raise more questions and any account of where the world is today has to be tentative. No bad thing, that. That era of élan and overconfidence has passed; all certainties have been stirred and shaken. We hear no more bombast from al-Qa'ida or Neocons and their cheerleaders.

But the UK government and its agencies continue to use McCarthyite tools to prevent terrorism. Muslims are asked to spy on each other and constantly "prove" they are innocent. They are subjected to unjust laws. According to a New Statesman survey, 49 per cent of interviewees feared home-grown terrorists and only 21 per cent worry about foreign attackers.

All parties also offer carrots, maybe to make the punishment more palatable. A donkey knows things don't even out in that way. So we have Muslim MPs, peers, members of the cabinet, but entryism can't stop those who want to blow us up. Then there is the continuing surrender to British Wahabism and separatism, the encouragement of regressive, state-funded Islamic organisations. Poverty, questionable foreign policies and racism are studiously ignored while right-wing politicians, media pundits and influential think tanks denounce "multiculturalism" and Muslim "ghettoes", both of which are actively encouraged by the confused state.

But even after 7/7, most of us would not live anywhere other than Britain. Many of our fellow-Britons never gave into fear and loathing, and they campaign for our inalienable rights. Muslims are now in prominent places, and the debates about our rights and responsibilities have grown more sophisticated and mature. Few would behave as intemperately as they did during the Satanic Verses furore 20-plus years ago.

Two very different events from this year could, at last, signal that the most destructive consequences of 9/11 are passing. Both involve ordinary folk, not leaders. First came the Arab Spring, proof that democracy matters profoundly to Muslims and is delivered not with bombs, but with bravery and conviction. The second was Tariq Jahan (pictured), the forbearing father of 21-year-old Haroon, killed during the riots in Birmingham.

Writer and passionate Christian AN Wilson wrote that this man "will make everyone who stereotypes Muslims as terrorists and fanatics feel deeply ashamed of themselves". Amen I say to that. And I hope his faith in us isn't shattered by Islamicist bombers who must find these optimistic developments totally intolerable.