Where is the Muslim condemnation of the Nairobi massacre by maniacs in the name of their religion?
8:21PM BST 25 Sep 2013
Picture the scene if you can bear to. A bustling shopping precinct where a group of men, women and children are surrounded by armed men. As one of the terrorists moves among them, he demands that the person quailing in front of him names the mother of Jesus or recites the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father which art in Heaven,” says one woman. She is spared. Her neighbour, a Muslim boy, racks his brain for any line of the Bible, anything he has heard in school or on TV. But it’s too late. The boy is shot through the head; put to death for not being Christian.
Imagine the uproar if that ethnic and religious cleansing had taken place this week. Picture the hollering human-rights activists, the emergency session at the United Nations, the promise of action against the perpetrators who had singled out non-Christians for execution.
Yet this is a hellish mirror image of what took place in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. Islamic fundamentalists murdered scores of innocent shoppers for failing to name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed or recite from the Koran – sufficient proof that they were despised “kafirs” or unbelievers.
Radio presenter Saadia Ahmed said she saw people say something in Arabic “and the gunmen let them go. A colleague of mine said he was Muslim and they let him go as well.” But she added: “I saw a lot of children and elderly people being shot dead. I don’t understand why you would shoot a five-year-old child.”
Roughly the same reason you would stroll down a street in Woolwich and behead a young squaddie wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt – which is to say, no reason at all, unless blind ideological hatred counts as a reason.
“You’re a very bad man. Let us leave,” four-year-old Elliott Prior shouted at the gunman in Westgate mall who had just shot his mother, Amber, in the leg. The startled jihadist gave Elliott and his six-year-old sister, Amelie, a Mars bar and allowed mother and children to go after urging Amber to convert to Islam. As if.
There is a photograph of Elliott and Amelie standing next to a dead body, still clutching their unopened Mars bar. The children’s eyes are brimming with what they have seen, and can never un-see. Amid the carnage and inhumanity, an off-duty SAS man went back 12 times into the mall and was said to have personally rescued a hundred people. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil.
We have grown squeamish about using the word evil. We feel it’s a little black and white, a bit too judgmental for modern tastes; but what other description will do for the slaughter of Australian architect Ross Langdon and his partner, Elif Yavuz, a vaccine researcher? The couple was shopping for clothes for their first baby, who was due in a fortnight. The two humanitarians died with their arms around each other and the child they would never meet.
All of this may sound as if it’s taking place at a safe distance. In fact, it’s perilously close and could be coming to a mall near you. There are reports that British-born Somalians were among the gunmen and that Samantha Lewthwaite, aka the White Widow, was leading the attack.
Lewthwaite, who is already wanted for terrorist offences in Kenya, was married to Germaine Lindsay, the July 7 London bomber. She said her husband’s mind had been “poisoned by radicals”. A nervous Britain, bending over backwards to soothe Muslim fears in the wake of the attacks, actually gave Samantha Lewthwaite police protection before she did a runner on a false passport. All the while, it was us who needed protecting from her.
Because the killing of Christians and other “kafirs” took place in a shopping mall and because some of the victims were white, the Nairobi story has dominated the headlines. Another massacre in Pakistan on Sunday barely registered. Some 350 worshippers at All Saints in Peshawar were laying on a free lunch for the needy when two suicide bombers killed 80 people. The attack is part of a savage pattern of assaults on Christians, from Iraq to Egypt.
Why the embarrassed silence when it comes to Islamist persecution of Christians? In Pakistan, a bishop called John Joseph committed suicide in protest at the execution of a Christian man on “blasphemy” charges introduced by fundamentalists. In Germany this week, a Green Party MP of Turkish origin received death threats after urging her Muslim sisters to take off their headscarves and live like Germans.
Here in the UK, we tolerate the increasingly intolerant. It was revealed a few days ago that non-Muslim members of staff at the Al-Madinah School in Derbyshire had to sign contracts agreeing to wear the hijab and make girls sit at the back of the class while boys sat at the front.
Jesus wept. And so should we, quite frankly. Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Muslim Ramadan Foundation, condemned calls to ban the burka, but where is his denunciation of the Nairobi massacre? Where are the voices from Britain’s Somali community condemning the murder of innocents by maniacs acting in the name of their religion?
As a former Sunday schoolteacher, I sort of get the point of turning the other cheek. But, really, enough is enough. Time for a crackdown on fundamentalism in all its poisonous guises. Time to stop appeasing those who hate us and our way of life. Time, in fact, for the clear-eyed moral judgment of a four-year-old child.
“You’re a very bad man,” said Elliott Prior to the jihadist. And he was, and they are.
Sex comes out of the box – but most of us would rather keep it clean
In 1968, BBC2 broadcast a play called The Year of the Sex Olympics. The play imagined a future in which a small elite controlled the media and kept the masses docile by serving them a diet of lowest-common-denominator titillation. Forty-five years ago, that was satire. Today, it’s an average night on Channel 4.
Welcome to Sex Box. In the new show, couples will have sex in front of a studio audience, though tactfully hidden from view in an opaque, sound-proofed room. After doing the deed, the rumpled, sated pair – let’s call them Terry and June – will stagger out of the box to discuss their experiences with a panel of sexperts.
Think Mr and Mrs, but rated 18. Instead of inquiring politely, “Does your husband like his eggs fried, poached or boiled?”, host Mariella Frostrup will ask what can only be called penetrating questions. Euw.
I do foresee problems, such as: has any man stayed awake long enough after sex to offer an unbiased review of his own performance?
My only hope is that Channel 4 will get less than it bargained for. A survey this week found that Britons say they get more pleasure from a neat house than from sex: 36 per cent prefer cleaning, against 18 per cent who enjoy lovemaking.
On that basis, Mariella will end up breaking down the door of the Box and finding Terry wearing a pinny and a pair of marigolds in front of the sink, while a flustered June, one hand gripping Mr Sheen, explains that she can’t get started on the ironing while they still have a dusty dado. That’s Britain for you: sex may come and go, but tidiness is for ever.
Beauty in black lace who drove my men mad
Given the posses of stylists that actresses have at their disposal, it’s amazing how many terrible dresses turned up at the Emmy Awards. Girls, you’re supposed to walk down the red carpet, not wear it!
Downton Abbey’s waif-like Michelle Dockery appeared to be sporting a red school swimming costume, tied at the neck by an outsize bow, under a voluminous burgundy skirt. No wonder Lady Mary was in such a bad mood on Sunday night. She wouldn’t be seen dead looking like a badly wrapped Christmas present.
Saving the show as ever, though, was Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks in black lace. I got to observe the small-screen siren up close at the premiere of the movie based on my book, I Don’t Know How She Does It. Truly, photographs do not do justice to the Hendricks Effect.
At the after-party, I lost the Small Boy and tracked him down to the bar where he was three inches from the star, gazing up from beneath the astonishing promontory of her breasts. “Daddy,” he cried, “come and meet Christina!”
Himself required no second invitation. Soon, Christina was chatting away charmingly while my menfolk stood rooted to the spot with the slack-jawed faces of happy simpletons.
Envy was futile. It would be like being jealous of the moon. When I finally prised the two besottees away from their new friend, with only a simple pair of box-cutters, Himself sighed and said the only trouble was that the bar had just been set very high for a lad hitting puberty. “Women don’t usually come in that size and shape,” he explained to Small Boy.
They sure don’t. That’s why the lady is a vamp.