Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Sane, ordinary Muslims must stand up and be counted

These nihilists undermine our fundamental right to belong in this country

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As they wake up to news of the foiled car-bomb attack on Glasgow Airport, I know what millions of my compatriots - atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Christians - will be saying, their easy Sunday ruined by yet another alleged Islamicist plot: "What's wrong with these crazed Muslims?" "Why the hell are they here if they hate it so much?" "When will we be rid of the lot of them?" "What do they want?" "Other minorities also have a hard time, they don't blow up nightclubs and airports".

What these aggrieved Britons don't realise is that exactly the same conversations are taking place in most Muslim households too, with many more expletives flying. Sane, ordinary British Muslims are even less forgiving of such nihilists, whose barbarism undermines our fundamental right to belong to this country as absolute equals. These are hobby terrorists with screwdrivers and screwed heads; they appropriate legitimate concerns, turn them into excuses on their own violent reality shows, sure to be broadcast again and again on screens around the world.

With no politics, no aim, no dreams, no noble imperative, for these Islamicists and their ideological masters, the means is the end. They are at once satanic abusers of our faith and social misfits unloved by all except their own reject band of brothers. Scorned by those they claim to defend, the dreaded sociopaths now seem determined to wound fatally the social contract made between this country and Muslim citizens. Only each assault deepens our sense of nationhood. We still rail against racism and unethical government policies - and I do so incessantly, as you know. Unlike self-righteous neocon liberals, we see how our young are profoundly affected by Iraq and Palestine. However, when bloodthirsty Islamicists strike, we experience a collective intensification of our attachment to Britain. There is no place like this home for us, the only place we want to live and die in.

On Saturday night, at a lavish Shia wedding in Hertfordshire, Muslim guests were livid about "these bastards giving us a bad name". "Send them packing to the Middle East or Pakistan," said a solicitor to much cheering at one table. "Time to say we love this country. For Muslims, no better country - that's why so many want to come over," added a businessman, who had come here penniless and turned his fortunes around within 10 years.

The father of the bride, too, arrived in Britain with little and joined a small English family firm. He brought entrepreneurial energy; they gave him encouragement and support. This ultra-loyal immigrant for many years led the pre-dawn prayers at our main mosque in Kensington.

As we enter another hyper-crisis period, the danger is we will again succumb to the dystopian nightmare of irreconcilable clashes and culture wars. Calls for draconian laws are sure to ring through the nervous land, although thus far the new government sounds more temperate.

The measured response is an acknowledgement that few Muslims now excuse the killing brigades. The apologist Muslim Council of Britain, whose leader was knighted by Mr Blair, is a spent force. It tried to incite rage and riot over Salman Rushdie's knighthood and failed. Muslims realise what a disaster that confrontation was for both sides. Now, the MCB grovels and seeks rehabilitation. Ex-militant Ed Hussain and Hassan Butt have written denunciations of fellow jihadis. The hardline Hizb-ut Tahrir asks Muslims not to "fuel dangerous political agendas". These organisations have been humbled and discredited.

One Independent reader, a graduate, described how Islamicists operated on campus. An idealistic young woman, she fell for the leader, a charismatic man who all too soon did her head in and wrapped it up in a cloak of his choosing: "He commanded me to declare I hate this country and got me into a niqab. Then one day I heard him chatting up this new student and he was saying exactly the same things to her as he said to me when we met, about beautiful eyes, and how he loved women with spirit. I told him to bugger off." Her hair is lovely in the photo she sent me, free now as she is.

I am not naive. Islamicists are cunning and well-connected. Their backers pretend to believe in liberal democracy while plotting its demise. But there are now passionate Muslim democrats standing up to be counted.

Imran Ahmad, young trustee of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, writes in Unimagined, his evocative memoir: "I have had great opportunities and choices. There still is racism in the indigenous society, it's undeniable ... but [compare] Britain to all those so-called Islamic countries, where tribalism is endemic and anything is used as an excuse for discrimination, hatred and mistreatment: village, clan, family, sect, province, class, money, gender, occupation, even shade of skin. At least Britain is committed to implement the highest ideals - personal freedom, social equality, human rights and justice."

With friends like these, Britain can beat its enemies within. Have faith; a time will come when jihadis will terrorise our lives no more.

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

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