Nobel laureate: England is a “cesspit” of radical Islam
You might think Islamic terrorists are bred in, say, Afghanistan. Or maybe Pakistan. Yemen? Nobel Prize-winning author and activist Wole Soyinka says the place most likely to produce radicalized Muslims willing to blow themselves up is Britain.
“England is a cesspit,” Soyinka tells The Daily Beast. “England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. And yet England allows it.”
Soyinka’s remarks come in response to fellow Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s Christmas Day attempt to bring down a jetliner by lighting a bomb in his underwear.
While most of his criticism is leveled at the U.K., Soyinka condemns the U.S. decision to place Nigeria on the terrorist watch list.
“That was an irrational, knee-jerk reaction by the Americans,” Soyinka said. “The man did not get radicalised in Nigeria. It happened in England, where he went to university.”
Playwright, novelist and poet, Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1986). Born in 1934 to a Christian family — his father was a clergyman and headmaster of a school — Soyinka has been a leading Nigerian democratic activist, spending time in prison and in exile.
According to The Guardian, the attempted Christmas Day bombing “has helped to raise fears that some British universities are becoming places in which young Muslims are radicalised.” Abdulmutallab, 23, was engineering student at the University College, London between 2005 and 2008, reports the Nigerian newspaper Punch.
“I doubt you can have the kind of indoctrination schools in America as you do in the UK,” Soyinka says. “Besides, there’s a large body of American Muslims in the US – the Nation of Islam – which has created a kind of mainstream Muslim institution.”
Riazat Butt, the Guardian‘s religious affairs correspondent, attempts to refute Soyinka’s assertions in a blog post, arguing that Britain has laws against the preaching of hate. She questions the claim Abdulmutallab was radicalized in an English university. And she challenges Soyinka’s characterization of the Nation of Islam as an “antidote” to Islamic fundamentalism.
Soyinka laments religious violence in Nigeria, a country evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. “Roaming hordes of killers are entering homes and dragging out people of other faiths and hacking them to death. In my youth, you heard, side-by-side, the church bells ringing and the beautiful, sonorous call to prayer of the muezzin.”
The current phase of world religious violence began in 1989, Soyinka says, when Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued the infamous fatwah calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses offended Muslim sensibilites.
“There was an escalation,” Soyinka says. “The assumption of power over life and death then passed to every single inconsequential Muslim in the world—as if someone had given them a new stature.
“Al Qaeda is the descendent of this phenomenon.”
Soyinka’s solution? “Education. And rigorous punishment for those who feel, not ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ but ‘I’m right, you’re dead.'”