THE JULY SUICIDE BOMBINGS IN London--some or all of whose perpetrators were Muslims born and reared in Britain--are likely to produce in the United Kingdom the same intellectual reflection on Muslim identity in Europe that is already underway in nearby countries. The French began this reflection in earnest ten years ago, after bomb-happy, lycée-educated, French-born Islamic holy warriors terrorized France. The Spanish began it after their own train bombings in March 2004, and the Dutch after the brutal slaying of the film director Theo van Gogh by a Muslim militant in November 2004. Quite likely the British will reach the same conclusion the French already have, to wit: Islamic terrorism on European soil has its roots in the Middle East. "British Islam"--the behavior and spiritual practice of Muslims in the United Kingdom--it will be said, is by and large a progressive force standing against pernicious and retrograde ideas emanating from the Middle East. There are big problems of acculturation at home in mother England, all will confess, but the holy-warrior mentality is imported.
This view, however, may turn out to be dead wrong. What was once unquestionably an import has gone native, mutated, and grown. Some of what the Europeans are now confronting--and for the United States this is very bad news--is probably a locally generated Islamic militancy that is as retrograde and virulent as anything encountered in the Middle East. "European Islam" appears to be an increasingly radicalizing force intellectually and in practice. The much-anticipated Muslim moderates of Europe--the folks French scholar Gilles Kepel believes will produce "extraordinary progress in civilization," a new "Andalusia" (the classical Arabic word for Moorish Spain) that will save us from Osama bin Laden's jihad--have so far not developed with the same gusto as the Muslim activists who have dominated too many mosques in "Londonistan" and elsewhere in Europe. Moderates surely represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe, but like their post-Christian European counterparts, they usually express their moderation in detachment from religious affairs.
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