Here’s an idea. All Britain needs to do to beat Muslim terrorism is subject imported Imams to one test: they’ve got to be FUNNY.
Let’s face it, when did you last meet a Muslim with a sense of humour? One thing that defines Britain is a mocking lack of regard for anyone who takes himself too seriously. And Muslims – of all stripes from fundie to moderate – seem to take themselves and their religion far too seriously. Anyone who takes himself too seriously tends to resent (even hate) those who aren’t paying them enough ‘respect’, from Muslims to blacks to gays. And from that hate rises militancy and violence.
What if they could be taught to just – lighten up?
This isn’t an up-in-the-air idea: breaking the problem down into parts, there’s a concrete route towards this solution. The root problem seems to be imported Imams at Britain’s mosques.
Most of these preachers – a major influence on young British Muslims – come from fiery branches of Islam in Egypt, Pakistan and the Middle East: many don’t even speak English and are spitting their shards of brimstone uncut. In a religion where 90% of your life revolves around the local Islamic Centre, having that Centre run by a preachy fundamentalist is really going to impact how your young grow up.
Indeed, given the proportions – some 80% of Imams born outside the UK – it’s amazing just how few young Muslims actually harbour ill thoughts towards the Western world (surveys put it at 22-29%, high but not a majority.)
So all we’ve got to do to prevent another generation of mad Muslims is: make sure every Imam can do a comic turn. Make classic comedy like Monty Python, The Fast Show, Blackadder, and Little Britain compulsory requirements for getting a visa. Make it a condition that they’ve got to book out a comedy club for seven nights as part of their application. Channel all their fundamentalist energy into something that can… bring people together, instead of driving a wedge between them.
As said Britain’s sole female Muslim comedian: “I walked past a building site in Mecca last week. Construction worker said… “SHOW US YER FACE!””
Teaching Muslims to laugh at themselves, and take themselves a little less seriously, would be the greatest force for harmonious change since slavery was abolished. We’d have Muslims realising that perhaps there’s something else in the world worth working for beyond their religion. We’d have less white middle-class resentment about how much religionists are indulged by politicians and employers. Muslims would integrate better and, more importantly, feel good about doing it, becoming part of the human race instead of forever huddling in a small subgroup.
(There’s actually plenty of comedy in the Koran itself. That 72 virgins thing? The original text actually means ’72 glasses of wine’. Yer suicide bomber arrives in heaven and gets his kit off, only to discover… – now THAT’S funny.)
Muslims would gain everything – respect, friendship, status – and lose nothing of Islam. (Except that killing-all-infidels bit. Which I’m not sure is actually in the Koran anyway.)
All we’ve got to do is learn how to laugh together.