Libmonster ID: UK-1200
Author(s) of the publication: F. PLESHCHUNOV

Explosions in London on July 7, 2005, claimed the lives of 52 people. The attacks were carried out by four Muslims: Mohammed Sidiq Khan, Haseeb Hussein, Shehzad Tanveer and Jermaine Lindsey. The suicide bombers were citizens of the United Kingdom. Moreover, all of them, except Lindsay, were born and raised here, studied in British schools. Later it was established that Sidiq Khan was under the strong influence of Islamist extremists and it was with their help that he recruited and trained other participants in the July 7 terrorist attacks.

The scale of the attacks shocked the whole of the UK, but the public was even more shocked by the fact that the terrorists were homegrown. This situation has raised a lot of questions. What could have motivated young people to take such a terrible step? What are the reasons for this sudden radicalization? How were organizations representing radical Islamic movements able to gain a foothold in England and carry out active propaganda and recruitment? To answer these and other questions, it is necessary to make a short historical digression and a brief analysis of the processes of formation of Muslim communities in the country, the formation of representatives of the latest religious and political views.


Muslims began to settle in Great Britain in the mid-19th century, but their numbers began to increase significantly only in proportion to the increase in immigration flows to the country after the Second World War, which was primarily due to the beginning and actively gaining momentum of the process of disintegration of the British Colonial Empire. Immigration from the British Commonwealth (or first wave immigration) peaked in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This growth was facilitated by the fact that until 1962, when the Immigration Act was adopted, entry to the UK for citizens of former colonies and Commonwealth member states was unrestricted, and all these categories were then eligible for a British passport. 1

In the post-war period, Great Britain experienced an acute shortage of cheap and often unskilled labor, which was the majority of Muslim arrivals.2 After the war, as a result of the modernisation of the British economy, a number of old coal mining enterprises closed, and house prices in many industrial areas of England and Scotland fell. Muslim immigrants took advantage of this and rented apartments in old buildings located in the center of cities, because at that time among businessmen and clerks there was a fashion for housing in the suburbs. Over time, many moved relatives to their homes.

Adherents of Islam found more and more opportunities for resettlement, even after the adoption of the Immigration Act of 1962 and the laws on immigration from the Commonwealth countries of 1965 and 1968, which severely restricted entry to the country3. To gain a foothold in the country, Muslims had to abandon what the British scholar Mohammed Anwar called the "myth of return." 4

Immigrants did not immediately get used to the fact that the UK would become a permanent home for them and their families - initially, many were going there to earn money to help families who remained at home. Under the Immigration Act 1968, holders of British passports were denied free entry to the country if they were not born on its territory and had no relatives there. From now on, the criteria for obtaining citizenship were reduced to the same requirements. Thus, immigrants had to choose whether to leave for their homeland permanently or, on the contrary, to stay and move relatives to their homes. The second option was chosen by the majority, provoking not a reduction in immigration flows, which was expected by the creators of the law, but an increase in them.

All these factors and the fact that Muslim immigrants had to sacrifice a lot in the fight for a better life contributed to the formation of a certain mentality among them-first - generation immigrants valued the status of a British citizen and the rights that it gives. Therefore, in the 1960s and 1970s, communities preferred dialogue with the country's authorities to hold meetings and protest actions in order to defend their interests. The conflicts that arose were limited to protests against discriminatory immigration controls, racist attacks and harassment by the police. For its part, the Government sought to ensure that Muslims and other religious, as well as ethnic minorities, were integrated as fully as possible into British society, while preserving their cultural and religious characteristics. Such a poly-

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tika has been called multi-culturalism - that is, granting various ethnic and religious groups equal rights and opportunities to participate in the life of the state with the indigenous population.

The religious aspect came to the fore in the confrontation between the authorities and communities only in the 1980s. At this time, young Muslims of the second wave of immigration came to the country, among whom there were many immigrants not only from the Commonwealth countries, but also refugees and immigrants from the Middle East. They were motivated to immigrate by political instability, in particular, the revolution in Iran in 1979, the war between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988), the civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). During the same period, Muslims born on British soil in the 1960s gradually became involved in public life. and in the following decades. Young Muslims of this wave of immigration, as well as their British co-religionists, often did not share the traditional views of the founders of communities in the UK-representatives of the first wave of immigration of the 1950s and 1960s. They formed the main target audience for the ideas of radical Islamist extremists, who have been active in the country since the late 1980s.


In 1979, the first Muslim school in the country opened in Coventry, and the fight for the introduction of halal* meals for Muslim students in public schools began. The increased activity of Muslims and other minorities at the national and local levels has increasingly irritated indigenous people and often the authorities. The struggle for political and social equality in the 1980s turned into a crisis, which gave rise to mass protests organized by representatives of (not only religious) minorities.

Riots in Brixton and other British cities in 1981 were among the most widespread, followed by rallies and marches to protest the ban on halal food in schools, which resulted in Muslim demands being met. Further politicization of British Muslims was promoted by the so-called "Rushdie affair" of 1988, as well as protests against British foreign policy in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, etc. The publication of Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses" caused unrest among Muslims, book burnings and pogroms were noted. The Rushdie case became a key element in the political self-assertion of the British Muslim community, when the "cultural difference" of the latter gave rise to many new questions about the possibility of integration and, in fact, the special "Britishness" of British Muslims. The protests against the "Satanic Verses" were not just an expression of anger towards Rushdie for his portrayal of the prophet, but a broader expression of discontent with British social values: "Many British Muslims have taken the opportunity to articulate their grievances against a society that, on the one hand, positions itself as secular, and on the other-as a religious entity." It is profoundly Christian in its traditions, institutions, and social practices. " 5

In the 1990s, new religious teachers from the Arab Middle East arrived in the UK. They delivered sermons opposing Islamic civilization to the aggressive and anti-Muslim West. Many Muslims, politicized by the Rushdie case, no longer identified with the traditional "cultural Islam" of the first generation of immigrants. Born in the UK-

* Food that is permissible in terms of Muslim religious norms.

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However, they had little understanding of the religious practices and traditions of their parents and the local imams, who once came mainly from rural areas of the former colonies.6

So, gradually, under the influence of internal and external factors, the politicization of young British Muslims is taking place, and alienation between them and the older generation, which adhered to traditional trends of Islam, is growing. Young Muslims actively participated in the creation and operation of Muslim organizations in the country*.


The increase in the number of mosques in the UK occurred as immigration flows increased. If before 1963 there were only 13 mosques, then since 1966 at least seven have appeared annually. The breakthrough occurred in 1975, when 18 mosques were opened, and in subsequent years - from 17 to 30 every year7. Hisham Heller, a British representative of the University of Warwick and the Centre for the Study of Interethnic Relations, cited the following statistics in 2007: 203 mosques in 1980, 338 in 1985.Heller believes that by 2007 this number had more than doubled, including unregistered structures. 8 The largest number of them is concentrated in cities with the largest Muslim communities: London, Birmingham, and Bradford.

Data on the number of Muslims in the UK is currently quite different. According to official statistics, 1.5 million people lived in the country in 2001. Muslims?). At that time, 73% of them were of Asian descent: 43% were from Pakistan, 16% from Bangladesh, 8% from India, and 6% from other Asian countries. 10 By 2005, the total number had increased by 200,000 to 1.7 million, respectively. At the same time, representatives of the Muslim communities and organizations of the country themselves are of the opinion that there are at least 2 million of their co - religionists in the territory of foggy Albion, and some even call the figure in 4-5 million 11.

As in Islamic states, mosques in the UK serve as" strongholds " for Muslim movements and organizations of various kinds. The most influential fundamentalist movement in the country is the Jamaat-e-Islami ("Islamic Community"). The main goal of the movement proclaims not so much the reform of Islam, but rather the preservation and strengthening of the position of the faith of the Prophet Muhammad. The organization was founded in 1941 by Maulana Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979), a prominent Muslim figure in British India. The movement has developed an active propaganda activity among various social groups and strata of the Muslim (and not only) population of Great Britain. A number of organizations have been created that, while formally declaring their independence, are actually subordinate to the Jamaat-i-Islami, coordinate their actions with the movement and have an identical structure with it. Among them: "Islamic Mission in the United Kingdom", "Muslim Foundation", "Muslim Educational Foundation", "Young Muslims of the United Kingdom" 12. All of them consider Maududi their spiritual leader, and demand strict discipline and adherence to Islamic principles from their members. The Islamic Mission has 13 centers, 39 branches and 28 mosques across the country. The Muslim Foundation was established as a research and publication center and has taken the lead in the field of print products for children, translating and publishing the heritage of A. A. Maududi. The Muslim Educational Foundation specializes in developing, together with schools, measures for Islamic education of Muslim children outside the school curriculum.

Members of the Muslim communities of Great Britain also succeeded in creating organizations that were active at the local level. One of the founders of this kind of organization, the Young Mullahs, was Mohammed Sidiq Khan in the mid - 1990s. Its main goal was to fight drug addiction, which literally overwhelmed small towns and centers, such as Beeston, the suburb of Leeds where Sidiq Khan and his supporters lived. Members of the organization used a rather harsh "therapy": peers who were addicted to drugs were locked up in an empty apartment near a mosque in downtown Beeston with the consent of their parents, where they were almost literally beaten off from the drug habit. After the events of September 11, 2001, the religious component of the organization sharply increased, and Sidiq Khan himself was already in close contact with extremist organizations. 13

Muslim immigrants of the first wave have their own point of view about the radicalization of the younger generation. Mohammed, a shopkeeper in Beeston who knew all the bombers, says :" It was on our shoulders that the main difficulties fell, and these guys were born and raised here. They are idle, bored, and have no sense of honor or respect for their roots."14 Maulana Munir, the imam of one of the mosques in Biston, on the contrary, believes that the younger generation is free to choose what they do, and the mosque has nothing to do with it. Thus, there is a certain distance, if not misunderstanding,

* In the UK, Muslim organizations operated in accordance with the Charities Act, which did not require them to be registered after their establishment, but rather had an internal charter. Such registration provided certain advantages - easing the tax burden. Therefore, almost all mosques and Muslim organizations in the UK are charitable institutions.

** Maulana-literally "our holy one", "our lord". The usual title of spiritual authority that became part of his name.

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between two generations of British Muslim immigrants and their children born in their new homeland. This is also confirmed by the appearance of representatives of different generations: while the older generation, mainly Muslims from Punjab, prefer to wear shalwar kurta (shalwar kurta) -the traditional clothing of residents from the subcontinent, their sons are often dressed in long Arab clothes and wear a characteristic beard in accordance with the requirements of Islam. It is such clothes, and not shalwar kurta, that they consider traditional for themselves.

A British journalist of Pakistani origin, Atish Tazir, concluded that when for young British Muslims, even Pakistan, from where their parents immigrated, is not a country with which they could identify, "British identity"inspires them even less. They grew up in relative peace and prosperity, they did not have to solve the urgent tasks in their lives that fell to the lot of their fathers, who were trying to establish life in an unfamiliar country. Young Muslims in the UK do not particularly value their British identity, because they take it for granted - after all, they did not have to fight for citizenship and for recognition in society, like their parents. In addition, this identity in the absence of clear life guidelines often only hinders them.

In this regard, we can talk about a kind of "second generation syndrome of the religious and ethnic diaspora", when for young Muslims of Pakistani origin, the most relevant norms and values are not the homeland of their ancestors and not the Great Britain that sheltered them, but the culture of the Arab world or the values of the global Ummah, and with it often the radical norms of Islamism and fundamentalism. At the same time, many members of the older generation are cut off from these processes and trends, not noticing the loss of their sons ' identity and the meaning of life, which pushes the latter into the arms of Islamic radicals. In most cases, the recruiters of these movements and organizations are representatives of the second generation of British Muslims. A week after the bombings in London, they said: "It's a pity that people died, but what about those who are dying in Iraq? And what's the difference between Al-Qaeda and Mi5 (the British domestic intelligence service)?!"

Russian orientalist R. G. Landa in one of his works lists in detail Muslim organizations engaged in extremist activity or sponsoring it15. For example, Al-Muhajiroun, which is associated with Islamic terrorist groups in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc. Al-Muhajiroun declares its support for the fighters for the faith in the so-called "occupied territories" of Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine. For fundraising, they often use retail stores and businesses that are owned by the majority of Pakistanis in Britain and a significant part of the rest of the Muslims.

This is how Hassan Butt, a young British Muslim of Pakistani origin, a representative of the same extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, who is engaged in recruiting people to fight against coalition forces in Afghanistan, earns his living and preaches. Living in Manchester, Hassan, like many second-generation British Muslims, has gone from a crisis of self-identification and the associated search for a new meaning in life to radical Islam. He says his life was chaotic and purposeless until, at the age of 17, he met members of the Islamist party (Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islamiyyah) who claimed that only Islam could bring order to his life. Hassan later joined Al-Muhajiroun .

Butt believes that British-born Muslims do not owe anything to the government of the country, because they did not ask to be born and raised here. This means that they should not feel any political loyalty or loyalty to the state. Butt's position is very significant for radical Islamists in the United Kingdom also because he is a supporter of the establishment of an Islamic caliphate both in Muslim countries and in the UK itself and believes that every Muslim should contribute to the establishment of Sharia law in these countries as a political system.

According to Batt, Muslims can only get along with non-Muslims within the framework of a Muslim state, and the enemies of Islam should include all countries where the rights of followers of Allah are somehow violated.16 In an interview with Prospect Magazine, Butt explained that his main job as a recruiter was to find the right people.

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weak spots in the soul of a potential recruit, and if he felt that the target had problems with self-identification, he should definitely point out how difficult it is to be Pakistani (Bangladeshi, etc.) and British at the same time. Butt believes that the two-generation alienation within the UK's Muslim communities is pushing young followers of Allah towards Islamism. And the primacy in the competition between the main Muslim trends - traditionalists, fundamentalists, modernizers and Islamists - today belongs to the latter. The attitude of Islamists towards other branches of Islam, especially traditionalism, was very eloquently expressed by Mohammed Sidiq Khan in his suicide address distributed by Al-Qaeda: "Our theologians are happy with their Toyota cars and two-family cottages. But it is better for them to stay at home and entrust their work to the true heirs of the prophet. " 17


As for the two-faced policy of the above-mentioned organizations, it has a simple explanation - Muslim movements and organizations lived very comfortably on the shores of foggy Albion until the beginning of the XXI century. According to the British press, in England, up to the attack on the World Trade Center in the United States, about 20 Islamic terrorists lived freely, who were charged by the authorities of other states with the murder of hundreds of people. Following the policy of multiculturalism, the British government rarely interfered in the internal affairs of Muslim communities. However, today the foundations of this policy have been seriously revised and criticized: the country's authorities are increasingly inclined to believe that British values and traditions, as well as the English language, should dominate the process of integrating minorities into the host society.18

Also, until recently, there were people in the UK who openly made aggressive statements and just as openly implemented them. These include 43-year-old Alexandria native Mustafa Kamel, better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri ("The Egyptian"), an associate of bin Laden and a former British national. The fate of Abu Hamza has a number of similarities with the fate of Mohammed Sidiq Khan. Being brought up in the spirit of the norms of traditional Islam, both at one time were very fond of radical Muslim teachings. The son of a Naval officer and a primary school headmistress, and a construction worker by training, Abu Hamza came to the UK in 1979.He was strongly influenced by the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Afghan war. In the UK, he spent some time as an interpreter for Mujahideen fighters arriving from Afghanistan for medical treatment. After meeting the founder of the Afghan Mujahideen movement, Sheikh Abdullah Azam, the "Egyptian" himself went to Afghanistan, where he lost both hands and his left eye. After returning from there, he, like Sidiq Khan, begins to recruit new supporters of the aggressive movement.19 Only the Bistonian did this privately, without advertising his ideas, and Abu Hamza openly preached in the capital of his host state. He maintained close ties to several radical Islamic groups, including the Afghan Mujahideen and the Al-Jihad al-Islamiyyah movement, as well as the ultra-terrorist Armed Islamic Group, on whose behalf he began publishing the Al-Ansar bulletin in the mid-1990s. Later, he even proclaimed himself "the main English mufti", declaring jihad of Russia with the beginning of the Chechen war.

The UK authorities did not respond immediately. It wasn't until 2003, when the Finsbury Park Mosque was already a well-known terrorist propaganda center, that they banned Abu Hamza from delivering sermons. But since the arrest did not follow, the Islamist continued to preach every Friday in front of the mosque entrance. In April of the same year, Abu Hamza was stripped of his British citizenship. In October 2004 alone, he was arrested and charged with 16 charges. Based on the content of the sermons of Abu Hamza and found at

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Among the materials, it was about inciting hatred and incitement to murder. On 7 February 2006, the court sentenced Abu Hamza to seven years in prison.20

* * *

Today, many ideas are being put forward in British society and political circles regarding the causes of radicalization of Muslim youth, and it has become very popular in recent years that the main reason for it is British foreign policy - the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, support for Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians. Similar points are made, in particular, in an article by Tariq Ramadan published in the Guardian newspaper in June 2007. 21 However, as David Goodhart, editor-in-chief of Prospect Magazine, points out in an open letter to Ramadan, Ramadan actually repeats the misconception of many Muslim figures in the country who claim that Sidiq Khan was "well integrated a young British-Pakistani driven mad by Tony Blair's foreign policy. " 22

Goodhart himself sees two factors as the causes of radicalization: an acute generational conflict provoked by the departure of young people from traditional social and moral norms in a modern liberal society, as well as the active activity of Islamist political and religious movements that offer young adherents of Islam a complete explanation of the world and a heroic role in creating a new world order. This was the essence of Abu Hamza al-Masri's sermons at a London mosque, and it was this path that Mohammed Sidiq Khan followed when he abandoned the traditional Islam of his parents in the mid-1990s and joined the Islamist extremists. Today, these people are potential role models for young Muslims in the UK, who, in the face of generational alienation and a crisis of self-identification, find themselves virtually alone in the face of difficult choices.

Since the generational conflict is unlikely to be resolved quickly, the British government is likely to seek to limit as much as possible the influence of such movements and organizations on the Muslims of their country. The first steps on this path, which were expressed in the tightening of migration legislation and regular inspections of the activities of Muslim institutions of various profiles, have already been taken. Only time will tell how effective these and other measures will be.

1 Entry was carried out under the British Nationality Act of 1948, which recognized the independence of citizenship of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia and allowed their residents to enter England as immigrants from countries that had special relations with Britain.

2 Among them were highly qualified people from Pakistan and India (Gujarat and Bombay), as well as educated Bengalis who occupied positions in the social security system and the national health service created in the late 1940s. - See: Kotin I. Yu. Banyan Shoots, St. Petersburg, 2003, pp. 70-75.

3 According to the Immigration Act of 1962, a quota of 61,000 people per year was introduced for holders of British passports from Commonwealth countries, which in 1964 was reduced to 4.7 thousand people.

4 См.: Anwar М. The Myth of Return: Pakistanis in Britain, London, 1979.

Goulbourne H. 5 Race Relations in Britain since 1945. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1998, р. 66.

Brighton S. 6 British Muslims, Multiculturalism and UK Foreign Policy: "Integration" and Cohesion" in and beyond the State // International Affairs. 2007, N 1, р. 8 - 9.

Rath J., Penninx R., Groenendijk K., Meyer A. 7 Western Europe and its Islam. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2001, р. 233.

Hellyer H. 8 British Muslims: Past, Present and Future // The Muslim World, April 2007, Volume 97, р. 230.

9 Belonging to a Religion, 2001: Social Trends 34 -

10 Families with Dependent Children: by Family type and Religion, April 2001, GB -

Tulsky M. 11 Islam in the non-Islamic world / / Nezavisimaya gazeta, 29.09.2001.

12 См.: Nielsen Y. Muslims in Western Europe. Edinburgh University Press, 1995, p. 46.

13 См.: Malik S. My Brother the Bomber // The Prospect Magazine, June 2007, Issue 135.

14 Here and further cit. by: TaseerA. A British Jihadist // The Prospect Magazine, August 2005, Issue 113.

15 See: Landa R. Muslim Diaspora and Islamo-extremism in the UK / / Moslems in the West, Moscow, 2002.

TaseerA. 16 A British Jihadist...

17 Cit. by: Malik S. Op. cit.

18 См.: Obrien S. In Praise of Multiculturalism // The Economist, June 14, 2007 -

19 Abu Hamza al-Masri. London leader of radical terrorists -

Freeman S. 20 Abu Hamza Jailed for Seven Years for Inciting Murder // Times Online, 07.02.2006 - uk/article728117.ece

Ramadan T. 21 Blair Can no Longer Deny a Link between Terrorism and Foreign Policy // The Guardian, 04.06.2007.

Goodhart D. 22 Open Letter to Tariq Ramadan // The Prospect Magazine, June 2007, Issue 135.


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