News of the Islamization of Britain comes thick and fast. In the last few days, the children’s story of the three little pigs who built a house against the Big Bad Wolf has been forbidden for fear of offending Muslims. I have eaten eggs and bacon with at least as many Muslims as Jews, and in Algeria I once shared a bottle of whiskey with the local imam, a near-alcoholic — but let that pass. According to a government program, British schools are now to be twinned with madrassas in Pakistan, to show how much the children have in common. Bigamy is a crime in Britain, but also this week it has been decided that Muslim husbands with multiple wives are allowed to claim extra welfare benefits. Along that route lies the introduction of sharia law, as demanded already by some Muslims, and which would complete their independence from British law.
Oxford, the famous university city (and where I once studied — but let that pass too) is the latest scene for a test to see how much, and how quickly, the British are prepared to surrender these days. The population is roughly 150,000, with 6,000 Muslims, some say 7,000. A huge mosque has just completed a seven-year building program in a residential part of Oxford some distance from where the Muslims live and where people are pretty well exclusively Christian. The mosque imam proposes to broadcast the call to prayer through loud speakers in the minaret three times a day — though it ought to be five times, and no doubt will be if permission is given. “We live here as British citizens and it is our right,” says the imam who takes it for granted that the city council will agree.
Actually they may be living here nominally as British citizens but Islam is their primary identity. The people of Oxford are making it known that they see the mosque and the call to prayer as alien, “un-English,” a step in the direction of “Islamic dictatorship” and the destruction of Western culture. The Daily Telegraph quotes a member of the Oxford history faculty: “this is a move to torment and torture non-Muslims. It’s not a matter of people’s right to religious freedom, it’s about making Islam the religion of public space…If this is granted it will show that Muslims have the upper hand in a Christian country.” The Church of England, needless to say, has abdicated any defense of its faith. The bishop of Oxford has urged people to “enjoy our community diversity,” and further urges them to be “as respectful to others as you would hope they would be to you.”
It is irresistible to recall one of the most famous and resonant passages in Edward Gibbon’s great history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. If Charles Martel and the Franks had not defeated the invading Muslims at the battle of Poitiers in 731 and so turned them back from all of Europe except Spain, he wrote, “the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.” Gibbon considered the clergy of his day to be contemptible and ignorant time-servers. What irony, what mockery, he would heap on a latter day bishop who supports the teaching of Islam, and in Oxford of all places.