By AMIR TAHERI
THE car-bomb/suicide-terror operations in London and Glasgow should have provided a fresh opportunity for reminding everyone, especially Muslims in Britain, that terrorism in the name of Islam still poses a major threat to public peace and safety. Yet this is not what is happening.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown keeps repeating that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam - but, at the same time, keeps inviting "Muslim community leaders" to Downing Street to discuss how to prevent attacks. If the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, why invite Muslim "leaders" rather than Buddhist monks?
Brown hasn't deemed fit to tell it like it is: that Muslims in Britain, indeed all over the world, must come out and condemn terrorism in unambiguous terms.
Instead, we are hearing that the attacks may have been prompted by "Muslim bitterness" about Salman Rushdie's knighting, the latest addition to the Islamist litany of woes. Some "moderate community leaders," like a certain Baroness Uddin, drop hints that Muslims have "foreign-policy issues" that might make them unhappy. The barely coded message: Unless Britain reshapes its foreign policy to please al Qaeda, it must expect to be attacked.
The most that "the moderate community leaders" concede is a "yes, but" position: Yes, it is not quite right to blow up innocent people - but, then again, we must understand how anger at the policies of the government of those same innocent people might prompt some Muslim youths to want to slaughter everyone.
Worse still, Ken Livingstone, London's quixotic leftist mayor, has shifted the blame from the terrorists to the British at large, who are supposedly tempted by "Islamophobia."
Thus, Livingstone works his way into a logical impasse: Do we dislike them because they want to kill us, or do they want to kill us because we dislike them? He implies that the main blame must lie with the British government and its U.S. allies, especially President Bush, who has declared war on terror rather than seeking to cuddle it.
But can one accuse Britain of "Islamophobia"? The answer is an emphatic no.
Britain and a few other Western democracies are the only places on earth where Muslims of all persuasions can practice their faith in full freedom. A thick directory of Muslim institutions in Britain lists more than 300 different sects - most of them banned and persecuted in every Muslim country on earth.
A Shiite Muslim can't build a mosque in Cairo; his Sunni brother can't have a mosque of his own in Tehran. Editions of the Koran printed in Egypt or Saudi Arabia are seized as contraband in Iran; Egypt and most other Muslim nations in turn ban the import of Korans printed in Iran. The works of a majority of Muslim writers and philosophers are banned in most Muslim countries.
In Britain, all mosques are allowed; no Muslim author or philosopher is banned. More importantly, rival Muslim sects do not massacre each other, as is the case in half a dozen Muslim-majority countries.
The only time that the British media practice self-censorship is when an item might be seen as remotely anti-Islamic. Every British publisher has turned down at least one book proposal for fear of hurting Muslim feelings. "Taking Muslim sensibilities into account" is also the reason given for the cancellation of some art exhibitions and the selection of works on display in others.
Even the most rabid anti-West and pro-terror Islamist clerics are granted visas to come to the United Kingdom and spread their message of hatred (at times, as guests of Mayor Livingstone and his friends). Hamas and Hezbollah are strongly present in Britain; the Islamic Liberation Party, banned in all Muslim countries, has its headquarters in London.
Pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah militants are featured on British TV almost every evening. The Islamic Republic of Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, maintains a "personal office" in London with twice as many personnel as Iran's official embassy.
The latest "Islamophobia" charges come as Prime Minister Brown has appointed two Muslims to his ministerial team, the first in U.K. history.
The terrorists who tried to kill people in London and Glasgow are the same ones killing people in Baghdad and Karachi. They are the same who killed tens of thousands of Egyptians and perhaps as many as a quarter-million Algerians over the decades. They are motivated not by any religious grievance but by an insatiable appetite for political power. They want to seize control of societies, break them into submission and impose on every individual a mad tyranny of terror in the name of God.
If Islam is the religion of peace, then the real Islamphobes are those who planted the car bombs in London and Glasgow - not the poor Brits who are censoring themselves and curbing their hard-won freedoms in order not to offend "the Muslim community."