f_0020450_17212

f_0020450_17212 - Summer'10 UP FRONT-FINAL0618:Summer...

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16 WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • SUMMER 2010 Qanta A. Ahmed is a physician in the department of medicine at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York. Previously, she practiced in the King Fahad National Guard Hospital in Saudi Arabia and worked as a consultant in critical care medicine at the Royal London Hospital. Dr. Ahmed is a 2010 Templeton-Cambridge Fellow in Science and Religion at the University of Cambridge, England. LONDON—Afternoon dissolves into evening. I peer out of my office in the Royal London Hospital, spying the window that once framed the Elephant Man. A century later, a new and equally grotesque spectacle enthralls—in the street below, a well-fed British-Pakistani dis- tributes cassettes. Transplanted Wahabi women, black-gloved, clad head-to-toe in black abbayas , faces masked by niqabs , snatch the recordings, nodding brief salaams . Other women, too busy, rush by in damp, rain-streaked chadors . I watch the figures until they disappear into the dank Whitechapel tube station. Muslim men stuff the cassettes into their grubby Adidas jackets, worn over thobes , the traditional Arab male dress. Only a sprinkling of stolid British police officers reminds me that, under the lapping Oc- tober tides of Western European Islamofascism, this is still London. The man thrusts his homemade compila- tions at passersby. A thobe ending above his an- kles—its length identical to those worn by Sau- di Arabia’s muttawah , or religious police—marks his fundamentalism. He mounts a makeshift podium atop a monument donated to Whitechapel by Jews who had thrived here 90 years earlier. What British Jews once dignified, British Muslims now desecrate. “Death to America! Death to Israel!” he shouts. His working-class Geordie dialect is flaw- less. Leaning into the headwind, he intersperses his sedition with the plea known to every Mus- lim as the Takbir: Allah-hu-Akbar! God is Great. Anchored to his pulpit of hate by Nike high tops, his fat fists punch a canopy of defi- ance overhead. Constables eye him, unper- turbed. They have heard his rant before. Uncer- tain clusters of British Muslims are ensnared in his devious orbit. Fundamentalism in Scrubs Abandoning the scene, I hurry. I am needed. While reviewing X-rays, I test the resident. Faisal is a young anesthesiologist and a caring, gentle physician. He is dressed in operating room greens. To the informed eye, they reveal a cultivated Islamic identity: his scrub pants are a deliberate fraction too short, ending just above his surgical clogs, the still-damp hems testament to his recent ablutions. Faisal’s straggling beard
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