Wednesday 4 July 2007

The real engine of their violence

Yesterday I quoted ex-jihadist Hassan Butt's riposte to those who pin the blame for terror attacks on the BFP (British foreign policy):

By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

Or rather: a twisted, fundamentalist interpretation of that theology. The information emerging about Bilal Talal Abdulla, one of the Glasgow would-be self-immolators, provides evidence to support Butt's argument:

At al-Mansour high school and later at Baghdad College, Bilal Talal Abdulla was known as an earnest young scholar whose fervent Islamic faith seemed at times to border on the over-zealous. His mother was apparently afraid to remove her headscarf in his presence. And one classmate recalls an incident when he tried to destroy a crucifix dropped by a Christian student in a classroom. According to the classmate, he never again spoke to those who insisted on returning it to its owner.

Although raised in Baghdad, Dr Abdulla was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where his father, also a doctor, worked. He has several relatives in Cambridge, some of them associated with the university. In Baghdad, however, he is remembered as a figure from whom classmates kept their distance. "By high school he was known as a Wahhabi," said one former classmate. "He was a Sunni extremist."

To paraphrase the great James Carville: It's the theology, stupid.

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