Wednesday, July 27, 2005

IDFYP - I don't feel your pain

Something that happened in Holland on July 12th is helping me to make more sense of the troubles raised here in London by July 7th.

In a Dutch court, Mohammed Bouyeri turns to Anneke van Gogh, the mother of the man he murdered for attacking Islam, and tells her "I don't feel your pain. I don't feel any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because I think you are a non-believer."

Meanwhile here in Britain, Islamic clerics find themselves thrust in front of the cameras, trying to make the clear condemnation of the bombers that may help defuse a backlash against their communities, a task made difficult by the fact that the same hatred of British and Western foreign policy which drove the bombers is shared to some degree by so many in their community, and that pretending otherwise would reduce their credibility with Muslims and others alike.

Perhaps Mohammed Bouyeri could help them. His words seem to me to offer the clearest definition I have ever seen of unacceptable belief-based extremism. Extremism itself is just a label, and I know from my own experience that fundamentalists can be very decent people. But IDFYP-ism is something that means something, it is something that can perhaps be identified and condemned regardless of your attitude to British involvement in Iraq, and that condemnation could serve the Islamic and wider communities alike.

And as a true non-believer, aware of the fate of non-believers through most of history, I could feel a little more faith in the non-transience of these tolerant times.

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