While bigots like Trump stoke racism with claims like London has 'no go' areas inhabited by Islamic extremists, it's not exactly a help when journalists unfamiliar with the city pen ill-informed think pieces on Muslims in the UK capital, either. The Wall Street Journal's widely-panned A Visit to Islamic England (£) is one such embarrassment of nonsense-spouting. Here, we pick up on some of the lines.
"Other tourists may remember London for its spectacular sights and history, but I remember it for Islam."
This is the kind of wistful, pseudo-dystopian tone that writer Andy Ngo employs throughout. We find it helps if you imagine it read out by a teared-up Morgan Freeman. Or maybe the old lady from Titanic.
"I got lost in an East London market. There I saw a group of women wearing head-to-toe black cloaks. I froze, confused and intimidated by the faceless figures."
See, that's where we differ. The thing that causes us to freeze, confused and intimidated in an east London market, tends to be the price of an artisan croissant.
"I walked down Whitechapel Road, the adhan, or call to prayer, echoed through the neighborhood. Muslims walked in one direction for jumu'ah, Friday prayer, while non-Muslims went the opposite way. Each group kept its distance and avoided eye contact with the other."
Right. We too have walked down the Whitechapel Road. Many times. In both directions. Because it is not a Muslim-non-Muslim dual carriageway system. Also, here's a lovely group of Muslims we met on Edgware Road recently. The direction of pedestrian traffic on this road, too, is non-denominational. Note the eye contact:
"At the barbershop, women waited outside under the hot sun while their sons and husbands were groomed."
Bloody Muslims. Coming over here. Bringing their clement weather with them.
A sign was posted on a pole: "Alcohol restricted zone."
This is true. There are many alcohol restricted zones in London. There are also areas where you're not allowed to walk your dog or flyer people. But it has nothing to do with Islam, as suggested here by the WSJ. And, as one of our American friends says, this is pretty rich coming from an American publication — a country where restrictions on drinking alcohol are widespread. Cheers.
"That night, I visited the Houses of Parliament. Rifle-carrying police officers greeted me when I stepped out of the Tube."
Oh dear. Had they been informed there was an ill-informed scaremonger in the vicinity?
"Forty-eight hours later, I woke up to the news that a car had rammed a Westminster security barrier... Three people were injured in the attack."
It was a pathetic terrorist attack though wasn't it. It wasn't even a very good car crash. None of those three people were seriously harmed. One didn't even go to hospital.
"I stopped outside the Masjid al-Tawhid, a South Asian Salafi mosque and madrassa (school), just before afternoon prayer time. A group of girls in robes and veils walked around back, toward the dumpsters, where the women's entrance is located."
Can we just say that we — in our ongoing state of non Muslimness — have to walk past 'dumpsters' to get into our flat. And into work. Again, WSJ, bins aren't really an anti-feminist Muslim thing as such. All Londoners have to walk past them. It's a big city with lots of people. Some just happen to be Muslim women.
"At the Central Mosque, I met a friendly group of Punjabi-speaking young men. "You’ve come to see Luton?" one struggled to ask me in English. The young men asked me to follow them through the town center."
You nearly did so well here. Admitting there are nice Muslims. And then you did the whole 'struggling to speak English' thing. Still, at least you speak fluent Punjabi.
"He led me to a bookshelf and said I could have whatever I wanted. I grabbed the first booklet that was in English."
"We passed a church, which was closed and decrepit, with a window that had been vandalized with eggs."
You would find the only embryo-strewn church in the country, wouldn't you. If you'd spent a little more time studying London's "spectacular sights and history" (see opening line), you might have run into St Paul's Cathedral. Or Westminster Abbey. Or Southwark Cathedral. Or the Walworth Methodist Church. I mean, the City of London has one (open) church for every 204 people. And do you know how eggy all these churches are? Hardly eggy at all.
"Pakistani flags flew high and proud. I never saw a Union Jack."
To be fair, Pakistan has a better cricket team.
"Other tourists might remember London for Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. I'll remember it for its failed multiculturalism."
Yeah, but that doesn't look great on a t-shirt or fridge magnet does it mate.