Aside 5 Jan


 © Carrie Devorah

562 688 2883


Within a day of Iraqi insurgents beheading an American hostage, no one would have known Islamic communities existed in the United Kingdoms. America. Or Canada. Their uncharacteristic silence was deafening. Europe’s first fully Islamic Bank opened its doors on Britian’s Edgware Road blocks from London’s Marble Arch where hanging was outlawed. Edgware Road is nicknamed Little Kuwait after its majority populating community.  PR person, Alison Love, without addressing the fate of Liverpool’s Ken Bigley hostage in Iraq, said, “Other branches are opening in European highly populated Muslim communities starting with Birmingham, Leicester. Including Liverpool.”


The only voices heard were the kidnappers or scripted pleas from families begging loved ones lives be spared. The day after Jack Hensley’ beheading was broadcast over the internet, brother Ty’s lone voice in Marietta, Georgia was heard across the pond offering solidarity to Bigley’s British family.


SkyNews reporter Tim Marshall described behind-the-scenes maneuvering with clerics to save Bigley. He didn’t know who. Where. Just heard. Unconfirmed. Maybe. Marshall offered no explanation why Britain’s engineer society, around the corner from No. 10, hadn’t issued a statement supporting their tradesman. Marshall agreed Britain’s Muslim community’s absence of voice addressing their compatriot’s beheading is profound.


Because Islamics do speak up.


They spoke up against imprisonment of the Guantanamo Bay Muslim cleric suspected of treason. They spoke against a Middle Eastern version of reality TV show “Big Brother.” They spoke against America barring entry to Yusaf Islam, formerly known as the singer Cat Stevens. Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Daud Abdullah protested the act against the “man of peace’ as “insanity” despite Cat Stevens speaking for the fatwah issued against author Salman Rashdie.


Two Muslim Islamic book vendors spoke against British officers repeatedly warning them not to solicit donations on Oxford Street. One vendor grabbed a copy of “What Everyone Should Know About Islam And Muslims,” yelling, “Racist cop. Just because we’re Muslims.” Corrected, Muslims in Britain. British law applies equally to everyone.

One month earlier, A.N.S.W.E.R. and United for Justice and Peace led ¼ million anti-war/ pro-palestinian demonstrators outside NYC’s Republican National Convention. Prior October in Washington, A.N.S.W.E.R.  and UFJP led a lesser number past the White House. The year before over ½ million including pro-Muslims activists marched past No.10 Downing Street protesting Iraq’s war. In 2001, al-qaeda supporters swarmed Hyde Park.


The day after Hensley’s beheading, Bigley’s hometown Archbishop Jones pled salvation from his Walton man’s captors. Silently sitting next to the Archbishop was a western clothed Islamic cleric. He spoke the night before when Liverpudlian police visited his center advising him to expect repercussions from Brits angered by Bigley’s kidnapping. His sound byte clarified the kidnappers’ behaviour was not traditional Islam.


The Financial Services Authority approved Islamic Bank of Britain PLC’s ”operating in accordance with Islamic Sharia’a compliance under Mudaraba principles inscribed in the Koran.” It prohibits giving or receiving interest but “doesn’t prevent making a profit,” clarified British cabbie, Brian Alpert enroute to Paddington Station express to Heathrow airport, blocks from the conveniently located Islamic bank. Ireland. Dubai. Italy. All a train ride away to a plane ride away.  “If I want a loan of $1000 to buy this Starbucks coffee cup, they’ll charge me $1200 dollars, their profit possibly exceeding what interest might have been,” said Alpert, “that’s what the bank headquartered in Birmingham, with a 14 million pound backing from Gulf States investors, doesn’t make clear.”

 A fleet street article told that DVD’s of kidnap victims’ beheadings were for sale in Iraq’s marketplace within 48 hours of Jack Hensley’s death. 99p, in British coins. Almost $2 American. What the western world spoke up calling perverse entertainment, the Islamic world described as educational. Interesting the Islamic Bank details assured monies are “invested ethically in Sharia’a compliant goods and services, not alcohol or tobacco companies.” There was no disclaimer against industries like internet, DVD or weapons of individual’s destruction. Even orange jumpsuit manufacturers.


Two days earlier, I spoke with kidnap victim Bigley’s sister-in-law in Lancashire.  She was noticeably silent as I said “You have what I wish I had. A phone call preparing us for my brother’s murder. An opportunity to maybe make a difference. There are over 2 million Muslims in Britain. Demand your neighbors show their solidarity as Britons. That they care.” I apologized for not remaining silent.

I thought about an email response I received before leaving DC to the Middle East. It addressed a billboard I photographed featuring an Islamic Crescent, a Jewish star and a cross. And the word “Co-exist.” Foreground of the US Capitol. The e-mailer wrote she shows the co-exist image she had seen at the Museum of Seam in Jerusalem to promote connectiveness and peace amongst people in Canada. “It’s nice to see it is making a difference in the US” She introduced herself as the president of Muslims For Israel International at University of Toronto. Canada who had been “excessively profiled in DC.” She asked why my emails are politically related. And to introduce myself.

I did.

I told her my Toronto family are the first Canadians to lose a loved one in a Palestinian bus bombing murder in Jerusalem. I told her I work in DC. A credentialed journalist, I am routinely profiled. And I explained the e-mails are my contribution towards peace through understanding.

It is over two weeks. She has not written back. So much for Sharia’a principles. And speaking up. Just profit. No interest. 


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