Darcus Howe - fears the aftermath

London's bombings ensured that the deep dissatisfaction of Muslim youths will stay buried

What the young Pakistani boys and the single West Indian did on that fateful day in London was morally wrong. And what is morally wrong is invariably politically disastrous.

Let me give an example. Immediately after President Bush was declared victorious in his first ascent to the White House, an outpouring of protest emerged from within the US black community. Black Americans were challenging Bush on the wilful disenfranchisement of black Democratic voters on election day. Sit-ins were initiated in several public buildings in Florida and elsewhere. I immediately resurrected my old contacts in the States in order to find out the strength of the movement. They told me there was a vibrancy among protesters and a possibility of mass action was on the agenda. Enter the bombings now coded as 9/11, and the movement rapidly retreated. It would have been highly unpatriotic for the gatherings of radical activism to have continued.

I speculate with some caution that the only real opposition to the mad attack on Iraq has been destroyed by Muslim terrorists.

And now to London to discover whether the bombings there hindered a similar phenomenon. The possibility of huge protests among Pakistani youths had been emerging before the very eyes of Muslim MPs, lords and religious leaders, as I discovered in a documentary for Channel 4 broadcast in September last year, entitled Who You Callin' a Nigger?. The film took me into the heart of the Pakistani community.

In Walsall, I interviewed several youths. This is what I recorded from their mouths: "Birchills is a no-go area for anybody but we Pakis. There is no respect for our culture or religion. In 20 years' time Birchills will be Pakistan not England. We will deal in fake passports." The sentiments expressed were ill-formed but pointed to a deep dissatisfaction and a dislocation from our society. I proceeded to the Birmingham Central Mosque where I met Tahir Alam, who had some responsibility for these youths. He is a decent man, but he refused to recognise the jets of violence, or the possibility that a torrent of vitriol might burst on to the streets of London.

The film drew fire from the blind in the Pakistani community. The first in the queue was Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury, who appeared on Channel 4 News spitting abuse against me. Now, post the bombings, he babbles incessantly in condemnation of the four young bombers. I hold that the London bombs beheaded a social movement which would have emerged from the fret and fever that young Pakistani Muslims were expressing. Confusion reigns; the steep slide downhill has just begun. It will accelerate in the long days and nights to come.

By Darcus Howe

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.