Four men aged 19-27 were arrested by British police on Thursday, November 6th, for allegedly planning a terror attack in London against Queen Elizabeth during the Remembrance Day ceremony that took place on Friday, November 7th.
The terrorists were seized by the police following months of surveillance and police were said to be interrogating the suspects – who are thought to have hatched a plot to assassinate the Queen with a knife.
England, of course, under Prime Minister Cameron is a leader in tolerance and respect for Islam and even allows Sharia Law-governed “no-go” areas. After the ISIS beheading of British citizen David Haines, Cameron was quoted as feeling the need once again, just as after every terrorist murder, to emphasize that such terrorism was not done by the “religion of peace”: "They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people… they boast of their brutality… they claim to do this in the name of Islam, that is nonsense, Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters."
In my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (Mantua Books, second edition), I discuss how the endless tolerance of the intolerant illiberals endangers us all if these intolerants take power and end all tolerance. Britain has quite an ambivalent relationship with Islam and especially those who commit violence, or otherwise attack British historic liberties and freedoms, for the purpose of conquest and a jihadist caliphate.
Britain, of course, had its own version of 9/11, the July 7, 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) which were a series of coordinated suicide attacks in central London, which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.
As well as the four bombers, 52 civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured.
So, when threats were discovered against the Queen, British police and armed forces took the matter seriously and thwarted the proposed attack. It all brought to mind, however, just how the British have related to radical or militant Islam, or Islamism, however you term it.
In view of the recent thwarted attempt against the Queen, perhaps, we should take a look at the views of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. Is there anything that should concern us? Has he become what I call a “tolerist” – one whose tolerance of evil seems to have been exacerbated by terrorism; that is, do we have another case where we see terrorism being successful in creating more tolerance and more submission to the demands of radical Muslims both inside and outside Britain, with every terrorist attack?
The royal wedding between Prince William and the beautiful Kate Middleton on April 29th, 2011, seemed, to many, a turning back in time to when the British monarchy really mattered, and Britain itself mattered. The Queen herself, resolute in her dedication to duty and country, with a mother who had lived to 101, seemed to be ready to carry on for years to come.
The striking young couple and the 85 year old monarch, brought the monarchy into a perhaps unexpected place of honour and excitement in a Britain, beset by economic problems and social tensions relating to its increasing Islamic population. The very popularity of the young couple and the elderly monarch made the public’s disdain of William’s father and Elizabeth’s son, Charles, all the more apparent. It prompted me to research a bit about Prince Charles and his views.
Charles was the one who was mostly famous for ditching the popular and beautiful Diana for the plain and somewhat unappealing Camilla. An eccentric, seemingly in search of a cause in life, his interest in architecture and the environment was about to come into fashion again, when he made the turn in his career which seems somewhat puzzling: his interest in promoting the cause of Islam.
In this, he might be seen by his critics as taking after no one so much as his eccentric uncle Edward, the Nazi sympathizer who abdicated the throne to marry the divorced American Wallace Simpson.
In both cases, it did not help that the public was not at all enthralled with the choice of woman. Neither did the uncle or the nephew appear to be a strong and ideal candidate to lead the British people (even though the monarchy’s power is symbolic only) in a time of crisis in world affairs – with the Nazis in Edward’s time, and with Radical Islam, terrorism, and attempts to create a new caliphate to include Europe, in Charles’ time.
Charles seemed to latch onto the defence of Islam as his pet project and his standing in the Islamic world increased accordingly, at least until Islamist demands, as they do invariably, start to increase with every step of tolerance.
By the time of William’s engagement, polling showed an overwhelming majority of the British public believed Prince Charles should make way for his eldest son and allow him to be the next king.
The story of Charles’ infatuation with Islam was not followed closely by the press, but here are the basics:
The grand mufti of Cyprus has said: "Did you know that Prince Charles has converted to Islam. Yes, yes. He is a Muslim. I can't say more. But it happened in Turkey. Oh, yes, he converted all right. When you get home check on how often he travels to Turkey. You'll find that your future king is a Muslim.”
Assuming that Charles remained a member of the Church of England, however, he made many worrying statements that seemed to go above and beyond wishes for peaceful relations:
1. Charles made several strong public statements endorsing Islam as the solution to the spiritual and cultural ills of Britain and the West. In 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a British citizen, for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. Charles did not defend Rushdie's freedom of speech, but reacted to the death decree by reflecting on the positive features that Islam has to offer the spiritually empty lives of his countrymen.
2. Similarly, in the matter of the riots after the publication of cartoons about Mohammed, Prince Charles again took the Muslim side: The Times of London reported that in front of an audience of more than 800 Islamic scholars at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, Charles made a "serious, impassioned 30-minute speech" that "The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others. In my view, the true mark of a civilised society is the respect it pays to minorities and to strangers." He of course made no comments on how minorities are treated in Muslim countries.
3. Back in March 2000, Prince Charles visited the Islamia Primary School in North-West London. This, Britain's first state-funded Muslim school, was founded and is headed by Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens), an Islamist who threatened Salman Rushdie's life during the Satanic Verses controversy and has since been banned from entering the United States. The Prince told the children: "You are ambassadors for a sometimes much misunderstood faith. I believe that Islam has much to teach increasingly secular societies like ours in Britain.
4. The idea that Christians and Jews must learn from Islam became a recurring theme from Charles: “Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is poorer for having lost. At the heart of Islam is its preservation of an integral view of the Universe. Islam-like Buddhism and Hinduism refuses to separate man and nature, religion and science, mind and matter, and has preserved a metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world around us. . . . But the West gradually lost this integrated vision of the world with Copernicus and Descartes and the coming of the scientific revolution. A comprehensive philosophy of nature is no longer part of our everyday beliefs.”
5. In a speech at the Foreign Office Conference Centre at Wilton Park in Sussex on December 13, 1996, he called on Islamic pedagogy and philosophy to help young Britons develop a healthier view of the world. Praising Islamic culture in its traditional form for trying to preserve an "integrated, spiritual view of the world in a way we have not seen fit to do in recent generations in the West," he went on to say: “There is much we can learn from that Islamic world view in this respect. There are many ways in which mutual understanding and appreciation can be built. Perhaps, for instance, we could begin by having more Muslim teachers in British schools, or by encouraging exchanges of teachers. Everywhere in the world people want to learn English. But in the West, in turn, we need to be taught by Islamic teachers how to learn with our hearts, as well as our heads. The results of this study will help Westerners to rethink, and for the better, our practical stewardship of man and his environment-in fields such as health-care, the natural environment and agriculture, as well as in architecture and urban planning.”
6. As noted by Gordon and Stillman, “Prince Charles of Arabia”, The Middle East Quarterly, September, 1997, Charles took steps to give Islam a special status. He set up a panel of twelve "wise men" (in fact, eleven men and one woman) to advise him on Islamic religion and culture. This caused much talk, especially as the group was reported to have met in secret. Some noted that no comparable body exists to inform the crown prince about other faiths practiced in his future realm.
7. To Charles, it was Islam that can best implement his cherished environmentalism: In an hour-long speech on "Islam and the Environment" at Oxford University's Sheldonian Theatre on behalf of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, reported Rebecca English of the Daily Mail, "the heir to the throne argued that man's destruction of the world was contrary to the scriptures of all religions - but particularly those of Islam." He "spoke in depth about his own study of the Koran which, he said, tells its followers that there is 'no separation between man and nature' and says we must always live within our environment's limits." He also said: “The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason - and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us. Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with creation.” He did not comment on the environmental aspects of Islamic harvesting of its vast oil wealth, nor the environmental aspects of suicide bombing and other violent acts of Islam as it implemented Jihad at its every border.
8. In 2007, after watching ten whirling dervishes perform at a cultural centre in Turkey, Charles stated: "Whatever it is, it seems to me that Western life has become deconstructed and partial." The East, on the other hand, he went on, had given us "parables of the soul." He also cited the Koran and Hadith.
9. Among the many titles borne by the British sovereign is "Defender of the Faith," a reference to the fact that the monarch heads not only the government but also the Church of England. But the prince had reservations about this title. In a June 1994 television documentary he declared his preference to be known as "Defender of Faith" rather than "Defender of the Faith," which prompted then Prime Minister John Major to quip, “it would be a little odd if Prince Charles was defender of faiths of which he was not a member.’
10. We note that in 2004, the Sultan of Brunei awarded Charles a $50,000 prize chosen by an international jury set up by the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies for his contribution to understanding Islam in the West, being the first non-Muslim to receive the prize. Some years earlier, at a private dinner with prince Charles in May 1997, Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia announced a donation by King Fahd of $33 million to Oxford University to construct a new Centre for Islamic Studies at Oxford, a gift designed "to establish Islamic studies at the heart of the British education system."
11. Finally, it appeared that Charles made dozens of trips to Muslim countries (Turkey being a special favourite), but when invited to visit Israel (no member of the Royal Family has made an Official Visit to Israel), Charles’ advisors were quoted in a 2007 story in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper as saying that there was "no chance" the prince would ever visit Israel - so as not to boost Israel's international image. One famous trip of Charles was the eight day tour of the U.S. in 2005 where he tried to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam because he thought that the United States had been too intolerant of the religion since September 11. The Prince voiced private concerns over America's "confrontational" approach to Muslim countries and its failure to appreciate Islam's strengths.
However, Charles' efforts to promote Islam did not do his mother any good in Al-Qaeda's eyes. The organization's number two, Ayman al- Zawahiri, called Queen Elizabeth II "one of the severest enemies of Islam" and blamed her for what he called Britain's "crusader laws." In addition, he criticized British Muslims who "work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England" and ridiculed them for saying (his words, not theirs): "We are British citizens, subject to Britain's crusader laws, and we are proud of our submission . . . to Elizabeth, head of the Church of England." Such was the attitude towards a woman Ruler who failed to “submit” to Islam, in contrast to her son who knew how to plead Islam’s case.
Moreover, there was an earlier plot to assassinate his mother, the Queen. In 2007, Al-Qaeda plotted to kill the Queen during her state visit to Uganda. Security services foiled the plot, which involved hiding inside two vans belonging to the Ugandan Broadcasting Corporation and setting off bombs, as the Queen came to Kampala on an official visit in November.
Lately, the world has been stunned by the violence and murder and torture of religious minorities by the brutal Islamists of ISIS – beheadings, rapes, mass killings. And it has finally dawned upon people that Christians, as well as Yzedis, Kurds and Jews, are being targeted by Islamists.
And so, Prince Charles woke up: After the release of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat, Prince Charles was forced to speak out.
Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.
He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent.” But again Charles espoused a supposed role of Defender of (all) Faith(s), rather than the monarchy’s historic role as Defender of the (Christian) Faith.
While emphasizing the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam.
Britain’s “future as a free society” depends on recognizing the “crucial role” played by people of faith, he said. “First and foremost, rather than remaining silent, faith leaders have, it seems to me, a responsibility to ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions.
Prince Charles is to be praised for noting that: “Sadly, in many other countries, an absence of freedom to determine one’s own faith is woven into the laws and customs of the nation.”
But even this modest criticism of Islam, in the context of a speech emphasizing that he sees himself as a Defender of all religions, including Islam, was too much for some British Muslim leaders: Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "Prince Charles is somebody who is deeply respected in the Muslim community and he is absolutely right about Christians being oppressed - but the point is when innocent Iraqis were being killed by British bombs Prince Charles was quiet silent.
"I would like him to have spoken about Muslims being oppressed in a stronger way."
And so in the context of the increasing number and influence of Muslims in Britain, we must scrutinize the words of the man next in line for the throne. And we note, that after showing such extreme tolerance, and much advocacy for Islam, Prince Charles is still criticized for making comments about ISIS and the murder of Christians.
For those of us in Britain (or myself in Canada, a member of the British commonwealth), it is apparent that the Queen remains a target for Islamist terrorists even as her son, the heir apparent, leans over backwards to compliment the religion of Islam and seeks to “Defend” it as well as the Monarchy’s (Church of England) Christianity. Whether his actions are naïve and foolish “tolerism” or an example of moderation and peaceful dialogue, only time will tell.
Howard Rotberg is a Canadian writer with a special interest in ideologies, values, and cultures. His latest book is Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (Second Revised Edition, 2013). He is founding president of publishing company Mantua Books.
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