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England is a nice place, generally. It took me a while to realise it, but I was helped to appreciate it when I came back to live here with my wife, who’d been reasonably active in the Thai democracy movement so had experienced being chased by men with M16s, friends “disappearing” and millitary dictatorship.
We tend not to do that here. Having been built up our culture over centuries by absorbing waves of immigration and different cultures, we tend towards tolerance (or, perhaps more cynically, we just hate each other in a quiet, law-abiding way). We mind our own business, which can mean that people die in their houses and nobody notices, but it also means that we don’t much care what God you pray to, as long as it stays your business. And that’s how most of us, muslim, secular, hindus, jews, whatever get along just fine.
So it’s particularly baffling that our recent terrorists have been home-grown extremist “muslims”. (I use quotes, as their brand of Islam has very little in common with that practiced by my muslim colleagues, friends and neighbours).
These guys obviously are pretty grumpy with the majority way of life in the U.K., so I’d like to suggest a way to live as they want to, without the tiresome necessity of blowing up themselves and everyone around them.
I propose that the government give them every assistance to relocate to places where liberalism, democracy and secularism are illegal, and religious zealots rule.
Take Iran, for example. There’s no nicer way for a would-be plane bomber to relax after a hard week’s plotting, than by enjoying the public hanging from a crane of a sixteen year-old mentally-disturbed girl like Atefah Sahaaleh, for “crimes against chastity” (that is, having the temerity to be repeatedly raped by a 51-year-old revolutionary guard).
Or Saudi Arabia: a fine place for a trainee terrorist to get spiritual sustenance by watching police force schoolgirls back into a burning school to their deaths, because they hadn’t put on their headscarves before trying to escape?
Or there’s that idyllic oasis of piety, Pakistan, where an ex-pat British wannabe mass-murderer can help administer religious justice by gang-raping women like Mukhtar Mai, “punished” because her 12 year old brother was seen walking with a girl from a different group.
All of these acts are completely abhorrent to 99.99% of muslims, but they illustrate the barbarity of people with too much heaven on their minds. We could equally cite the Catholic Inquisition of a couple of centuries ago, or the outlawed Hindu practice of burning widows alive. All horrible.
A modest proposal
So, let’s go further, as it’s not just extremist “muslims” who cause the trouble. There are jews who believe that killing Lebanese muslims is a religious duty. There are christians who murder abortion doctors or gay people. There are hindus who persecute muslims and christians.
Let’s get everyone, of whatever flavour of God-bothering, who believes that their religion requires them to kill, and send them to somewhere empty where sane people don’t want to go (I’m thinking of Antarctica, the Aussie Outback, nuclear test grounds, or Swindon). They can all slaughter each other to their hearts’ content, without disturbing the rest of us.
They would be more than happy, as even if they get murdered by a bigger, badder loony, they get to meet their Invisible Friends in the Sky. Meanwhile, the rest of us can continue to co-exist sensibly and peacefully, worshipping privately and getting on with our lives.
It’s a win-win situation.