Forget the Footnotes

Not killing Tony Blair (again)

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The sirens of police cars have sounded almost continuously for the last 72 hours. Unmarked cars whizzing up and down Green Lanes with make-shift lights flashing on their roofs. As always when terrorism is concerned, everyone’s world event is our local news. Walthamstow, where 9 of the suspect of the recent terror plot live, is next to Tottenham and Tottenham is next to us. In fact one of the suspects is from Stoke Newington which is just down the road.

Of course there is no way of actually determining whether plots like this would have happened if it hadn’t been for the war in Iraq. Still it makes you wonder. If Britain hadn’t invaded, there would have been nothing to avenge. If so, what is Tony Blair’s responsibility for terrorism? Obviously he is never going to admit to a connection, but does he ever think about it? Perhaps in a private moment, if he ever lays awake at night? The mere possibility of a connection should be enough to make him break out in a cold sweat.

In the end this is a story about Walthamstow and nothing else. Or rather about Walthamstow in relation to Britain. It’s a story of what it’s like to be a second generation Muslim in Norflondon. For many Muslims the marginalization they suffer blends perfectly with the way their religion is brought low by British and American foreign policy, and they begin to see a pattern. As some young men conclude, if Britain and the US make war on them, why can’t they make war on Britain and the US? If Osama bin Laden stands up for them, shouldn’t they stand up for him? This is a perverted logic but for someone sufficiently alienated from his fellow human beings, it makes sense.

It is possible to explain terrorism without justifying it. The solution to the problem of terrorism begins in Walthamstow.

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