Saturday, June 20, 2015


My generation in the UK born in the 1940s but after the end of WWII has so far been the first British generation for years, to have been able to live life free from national calls to arms or bombing and killing  on huge and barbaric scale. There have of course been  some truly dreadful incidents but largely these  have had local and political origins and at least with the benefit of hindsight short lived.

The example I recall best was in 1981 when at about 11:30pm in SW20 there was an enormous explosion so loud that nearly all the residents in our normally quiet street, came out of our homes - many in dressing gowns - to ascertain what had happened. It turned out that the IRA had planted a bomb at the home of the then Attorney-General Sir Michael Havers, This had exploded causing  a large amount of damage to the house but thankfully the house was empty at the time and there were no injuries. The property has long since been restored to its former glory and more significantly the Irish 'troubles' have  in subsequent years substantially abated.

I recollect too that Germany or West Germany as it then was had a gang of hugely affluent but presumably bored young people called "The Red Army", which used tactics similar to those used by the IRA though the Red Army's aims or reasons for its members' dis-affectation with their lives, were never clear, at least to me. More recently the West has been involved with wars in Iraq and Libya which   involvement is open to criticism, though the same if not more, could be said of the previous rulers of those countries, one of whom for example was responsible for the killing of many in the bombing of the US aircraft over Scotland at  Lockerbie.

The violent Red Army or IRA type  happenings  hideous though they were for all who were involved especially people who were in the wrong places at the wrong times, at least had some kind of reason whether or not one empathised with the reason.

I have blogged about the Syrian refugees before at   Syrian Refugee Crisis and many of  the multitudes of refugees are clearly fleeing ISIS.

The rationale behind ISIS if there is one  is unfathomable. If the society created by ISIS is so religiously correct or marvellous why is attempting to leave an ISIS controlled area in the Middle East or Africa treated like a capital offence?

Of greater local concern is the reason why so many first and second generation Asians in the UK seem to be attracted sufficiently greatly to take  huge risks of travelling to say Syria to join the ISIS armies?

 Prime Minister David Cameron very recently spoke out about the need for local UK based Muslim communities to become more involved in tackling this very sad and tragic. problem. He has been criticised for speaking out in this way. Today's Guardian newspaper for example reports Sayeeda Warsi (also a conservative politician) as saying:

However, what concerns me about the prime minister’s speech in Slovakia is his emphasis on one aspect of the challenge, while overlooking all the other aspects of the problem. He has apparently decided to focus on the idea that “some” in our Muslim communities condone the activities of Isis and “perhaps” encourage young people to take the ruinous path of joining the terrorists. Although he rightly said there are “many reasons” why young people become radicalised and then take the next step towards acting on those warped beliefs, his speech focused only on the notion of Muslim community complicity. 

She makes some good points but the one which I have not seen made there or elsewhere is the tradition in many Asian countries of  girls being required to marry men selected by their families rather than selected by  themselves and presumably this practice substantially also affects many young Asian men.

If such practice is being carried on in the UK there is surely a risk of the new Asian families not only failing to integrate well into the society in which they they or at least some have chosen to reside but also  perhaps many of those involved  finding themselves living in a society which has hugely different values and freedoms from their own. This risk if it has materialised may result in both the affected young women and men feeling disaffected from the main British community and then seeking what they perceive to be the excitement and feeling of belonging that may be engendered by ISIS membership.

Who knows? But I would be interested in learning whether the mothers who have recently fled from the UK to  Syria  with their children, were married and if so whether their marriages were freely entered into or whether their spouses were designated for them by others. Forced marriage imho denies many who are in that kind of relationship, a key C21 feature namely that of freedom of choice with whom to live.

The practice of forced marriage which is I believe already theoretically outlawed by the state should  also be  outlawed by the mosque and both state and mosque should ensure that such outlawing should be effected in practice and not merely by words.


  1. Very interesting and thought-provoking, Jerry.

  2. On a different but connected subject, I found this article very interesting:


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