WE’RE a funny lot, we human beings – we love nothing more than a bit of arms-length drama.
This week’s revelation of a bunch of bearded nutters planning to blow up Dewsbury town centre last summer has provided plenty of ammo for that syndrome – if you’ll pardon the tasteless pun (but that’s another funny thing about us – a common reaction to near misses is to resort to black humour).
Almost everyone I’ve spoken to this week was in Dewsbury town centre that day, walked past the EDL protestors, could have been caught up in the mayhem … it’s a wonder the town isn’t booming – oops again! – given how many people claim to populate the place on any given Saturday!
One thing is for certain – no one would have been laughing if Omar Khan, Mohammed Saud, Jewel Uddin, Zohaib Ahmed, Anzal Hussain and Mohammed Hasseen hadn’t dillied and dallied on their way to use a bomb, guns and machetes on the EDL rally last June.
I don’t know how adept at bomb-making and shooting these guys were – judging by their inability to keep their date with glorious destiny, you have to suspect ‘not very’ – so it’s highly unlikely they could have confined its explosive fall-out to EDL members, or ensured every bullet found an intended target.
Shrapnel tends not to ask for ID before taking someone’s leg off.
Police officers, innocent shoppers, your mums and dads, our kids and their cousins, anyone could have lost that lethal lottery.
And what seems to have been lost in the background noise is that however much we disagree with the EDL’s message, they have a democratic right to make it.
The stark, brutal truth, is that not just Dewsbury but all of England had a miraculous near miss thanks to the EDL rally finishing early and those men running late.
As for the coincidence of their car being stopped for having no insurance – and their arms cache only being discovered two days later – it’s a chilling thought.
We have to assume that having taken the time and trouble to assemble a small arsenal, they would have set their alarm clocks an hour earlier the next time they took issue with a group of fellow Britons they disagreed with.
It’s a thought that also brings home how effective our police and security services have been since the July 7 massacre wrought by Mohammed Siddique Khan and his acolytes.
We may never know how many Dewsbury-like near misses we’ve had, but every time a terror plot is thwarted and the guilty are paraded at Woolwich Crown Court, I offer a small nod towards the men and women of MI5 and counter-terrorism, who tend to be one very long step ahead of the fanatics. They’re doing something right.
The frightening thought is that we can’t expect them to keep a 100% strike rate – and Lady Luck will run late herself one day.
THE Press office was inundated this week with messages of condemnation directed at the would-be EDL killers.
Sayeeda Warsi and Shahid Malik issued a scathing joint statement about the treasonous actions of these so-called ‘British’ Islamists.
All three Savile Town councillors Abdul Patel, Masood Ahmed and Salim Patel, encouraged young Muslim men to respect the concerns and protestations of alienated white English youths, worried about the fragmentation of society, the undermining of their culture.
From the mullahs of the Markazi mosque came an unequivocal, thundering denial that the plotters were given refuge or succour there, after a CCTV photograph showed they had visited the Savile Town shrine.
How refreshing for Dewsbury to have a united front of condemnation, eh?
Yup – of course I’m kidding! Not a single one of them has muttered a dicky bird! The attack never happened! What’s to get worked up about?
I’ve no doubt that if we phoned them all up in turn (the few who would speak to us) they would murmur appropriate platitudes – but they’d be meaningless in the wider context of this issue.
Such as I’ve heard anyone from ‘the community’ on the subject it was Aziz Daji, chair of Batley’s Indian Muslim Welfare Society, as close as our district gets to a media ‘talking head’.
Mr Daji was righteously indignant on a radio programme that innocent people could have been caught up in the massacre.
How difficult would it have been for him to go one short step further? To abhor violence against any fellow Briton, just because of their antagonistic views? By narrowly condemning the potential for harm to passers-by it invites the view that the EDL might be considered fair game.
No one is fair game, not black, brown, white, or bright pink with yellow dots. I’m sure Mr Daji believes that. So why not say it?
Until Muslim public figures say ‘no’ to all violence by their brethren, they will propagate the suspicion that, actually, the EDL and their like are getting what was coming to them.
Their silence feeds the chasm between our communities just as bitterly as any bombs or plots.
We know why it is of course – because loyalty to Islam transcends all other secular interests or concerns.
To criticise their own where a religious motive (however warped) is involved, is to risk criticising their own faith.
And we’ll be waiting a long, long time for that attitude to change.