Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Afghanis and Pakistanis in London

This Newsweek article doesn’t take sides in the War on Terror. But if you’d like to take a short break from the one-dimensional images of religious fanatics and terrorists — these are the personal experiences and impressions of a Pakistani citizen who spent three months in London. The author was born in Afghanistan but his family fled to Pakistan in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

This article is long but fascinating. London’s South Asian immigrants really come alive here. Well-educated immigrants who fit right in with London, Taliban chickenhawks — you’ll meet them all.

The author struck up a friendship (or acquaintanceship anyway) with one of these Jihad Chickenhawks. This wannabe was 23 years old. Nine years ago his family had him smuggled out of Afghanistan and into England so he could be safe from the Taliban. The author says: “Now he's a legal resident, yet openly cheers for his supposed oppressors to defeat troops from his adopted homeland in Afghanistan. The irony seems lost on him.”

A lot of non-militant “normal” Afghani immigrants are scared shitless of these Taliban wannabes. Anyone who crosses them or gets in their way, is warned that if they still have family members back in Afghanistan, they might be paid a visit by the Taliban. Picture somebody named Vinnie or Luigi saying “I know people. I could make a few phone calls.” Only now, “Vinnie” has been changed to Hassan or Ahmad.

The same above-mentioned Taliban wannabe had a different way of ruining things for one fellow Afghani immigrant who was “assimilating” too well. This person was walking along with his English girlfriend, and the jihad wannabe went up to him and hollered at him for looking too “Western,” and threatened to tell his family back in Afghanistan that he was having a forbidden affair with one of those decadent Western women. At that point, his girlfriend broke off their relationship because she had been lied to. The Afghani had told her that he was from Turkey, and this run-in with the jihad wannabe had blown his cover.

The author also mentions racism and being marginalized as reasons for militancy among Afghani immigrants. Not that that justifies anything, but…

I was in London for two weeks in 1992, and I remember two minor — but very telling — incidents. They both happened on Brick Lane, a South Asian neighborhood in London’s East End.

I went into an Indian restaurant, and everything went quiet; there was this tension you could cut with a knife. As soon as I asked the waiter something (I guess he recognized my accent), he turned and said something to the rest of the patrons; I only picked out the word “American.” Immediately the tension evaporated and everybody started talking and chatting again.

In the other incident, I heard some Indian pop music booming out of a store, so I went in just to listen to it. (Yes, I like some of that Bollywood music, what can I say.) But as soon as I walked in, the owner turned the music off.

The British term “Paki Bashing” has been around since the early ‘70s, if not before. Those two incidents seemed to confirm all the rumors.

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

I think devout Muslims, especially from the Mideast, generally should think very carefully about relocating to a Western democracy. Most should then refrain. I don't say that out of dislike or any desire to discriminate.

The problem is that they follow an absolutist religion. It's so absolutist that its followers demand that a strict interpretation of the Koran should be the law of the land.

Western democracy requires secular government, the rule of civil law, not theocratic, and compromise. Try talking compromise to someone who thinks Sharia law is the only real law.

While a Brit, Frenchman or American is willing to split the difference in settling some public policy matter, a Mideast Muslim comes out of a culture where there's a strong habit of instead lopping off the heads of people with public policy notions that differ from Sharia law and the edicts of mullahs.

The cultural differences are a difficult challenge. But the religious aspect, IMO, makes it largely unworkable and even dangerous.

May 4, 2009 at 1:21 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I grew up in England and I just can't understand this kind of attitude. For a nation that once ruled a third of the globe and that is arguably the cultural parent of western democracy, this kind of racism and exclusionism is absolutely unacceptable.

We really need to concentrate our disdain on the Welsh.

May 4, 2009 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

The boy is brain damaged. No way around it. He has no idea how lucky he is to be away from the Taliban. but if he want s to cheer them on, then he should give up everything he has in the UK and take up the struggle with his fellow idiots back in Afghanistan. Oh wait, that's too dangerous. Better to hide in London and bully people so he can feel important. Maybe he'll get clocked in the head after a football game by some rowdy fans and get amnesia. It would be good for all.

May 4, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Demeur said...

I think if you go live in another country you need to follow that countries' laws. For them to expect others to follow Shari Law is ridiculous. I wouldn't go live in Europe or China or whatever country and expect them to abide by U.S. law.
For muslims to put a raped woman to death as an "honor" killing defies any international law. I don't know about Britain but in the U.S. if an imigrant is charged with a felony he gets deported.

May 4, 2009 at 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

Wonderful post, Tom. It's nice to see a bit of a different angle on the issue. The part that intrigued me was the part about the young man who was smuggled out of Afghanistan to protect him from the Taliban - and he ends up a cheerleader for them. Reminds me of the middle-class tea-baggers here.

SW: Just as an aside,I heard some time ago that a small european country, which one I can't remember, made all immigrants applying for visas to watch a 2 hour video complete with tape from their nude beaches and red light district. If the immigrants could handle it, they were allowed to stay.

May 4, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Interesting points. Secular democracy really does clash with any strict orthodox religion. And Islam, probably more than any other religion, doesn't seem to be a religion where you can pick and choose which tenets you like and which ones you don't.

There are apparently lots of Muslims who do adapt to their Western environments; so I guess they come up with some way of compromising and rationalizing.

Thomas: I liked England a lot from my brief impressions of it, but they do seem to have a lot of superior and racist attitudes mixed in with with all the culture and history.

And you know what happens when too many Welsh people start moving into a neighborhood :)

Ricardo: Yeah, the irony is just too much. He sought out asylum in a Western country so he can take advantage of their democracy and modern comforts while cheering on the police state that he ran away from. And I guess every militant/terrorist organization has its own chickenhawks. Yes it would be poetic if he had a little run-in with a few soccer hooligans.

Demeur: From that article, England seems incredibly tolerant towards radical Muslims. And I think there can be too much tolerance, even though I'm a liberal. The author even pointed out that that militant Taliban style of hair and clothing would be grounds for questioning in Pakistan, but apparently not in England.

Bee: I guess that "Unclear On The Concept" disease is prevalent everywhere. Taliban chickenhawks, teabaggers...

May 4, 2009 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

Bee, that country, whichever one it was, has a good strategy. I expect, though, that most Mideast people who emigrate to a Western country have friends or family who give them a pretty good idea ahead of time about what their new environment will be like.

May 4, 2009 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Whatever country that is, I want to watch the video. Oh wait, you mean the nude beach might be full of guys that look like me? Time to convert to Talibanism.

May 5, 2009 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: So before you can enter a foreign country, you have to look at feelthy peectures. Works for me.

May 5, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Hi, Im a muslim from the Middle East, one of millions of moderate Middle Easterns who lived in the US and elsewhere. What I believe in has nothing to do with the country I live in. I do practice relegion and my relationship with my God is something between me and him. Im not bothered with the American or Western cultures as both are seperate things. I'm a Palestinian living in Jordan and you guys seem to forget that we have also many Christians from the Middle east who have the same rights as Muslims and any other group, our Prophet Mohammad was married to a Christian from Egypt. But I doubt that you have met any normal looking, Muslims or Christians in the Middle East. You make it sound as if we are all out there ready to kill and chop heads, this is just another misconception and bad media. It is true that some groups like Taliban have hijacked Islam to their own means but Middle Eastern are peaceful people. I suggest you do mingle with some in your neighborhoods before doing any judgements.

May 9, 2009 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ali: I've never been to the Middle East but I traveled all through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1975-76. All of those countries were full of friendly people. I'd be afraid to go there now because of all the civil wars and terrorist activity, but that's political; it has nothing to do with the people themselves.

I don't know what changed everything. My guess would be that Russia's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan set off a chain reaction of vengeance, Islamic militancy and civil wars. But that's just a guess.

May 9, 2009 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Well Tom, Afghanistan and Pakistan are a mess thanks to Bush and his stupidity. Iran, has no civil war but not sure u would be comfortable visiting as an American. Turkey is an amazing beautiful secular muslim country and has no civil war. As for Aeab countries, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, UAE, Egypt, North Africa are all beautiful countries to visit and u will surprised how friendly the people are and well behaved and speak good English and French. Danger and terror in the middle east is only something brainwahsed by Hollywood and US media.

May 17, 2009 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger jj said...

First, all british should leave from Canada,usa, australia,send these cheap criminals back to their homeland. All they have done is to steal land and resources from non brit lands and terrorize the world.
We should also stop speaking latin languages, the ugliest in the universe.

October 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

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