Londonistan is a pejorative sobriquet in use by parts of the media referring to the British capital of London and the British Government's tolerance of the presence of various Islamic groups in London and other major cities of Britain as long as they carry out their controversial agendas, ideologies or terror campaigns outside Britain.
The word is a portmanteau of the British capital and the Persian suffix -stan, meaning "land" (used by several countries in South and Central Asia). The term has been used in a number of publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Weekly Standard, and in the 2006 book Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within.
Origin of the term
According to Omar Nasiri
The mid- to late 1990s were the years when Britain's capital earned the sobriquet of "Londonistan," a title provided by French officials infuriated at the growing presence of Islamist radicals in London and the failure of British authorities to do anything about it. [...] Raids in France and Belgium had produced phone and fax numbers linked to the United Kingdom, and names of suspects were passed on. Some French officials believe that if more had been done by Britain at the time, the network behind the summer of 1995 bombings might have been broken up and the attacks prevented.
The bombings and attempted bombings, mostly in Paris, in summer and autumn of 1995 by Armed Islamic Group (GIA), killed eight and injured more than 100. The French observed that a number of Muslim radicals from London had connections to these bombings. Around that year, in 1995, the French intelligence had coined the term "Londonistan" for the city of London.
The perception of "Londonistan" is powered by the strong foothold of Islamic radical fundamentalism in the region. It is believed that the "Londonistan" environment radicalizes British Muslim youth (involving the strife in identity politics, such as the perception of racism and decadence in British culture) and that it is ineffective in combating the Islamic radical entities.
According to critics, Britain's "deep tradition of civil liberties and protection of political activists" led to the country becoming "a crossroads for would-be terrorists" for a decade after the mid 1990s. The Islamists used London "as a home base" to "raise money, recruit members and draw inspiration from the militant messages." The British government's perceived unwillingness to prosecute or extradite terrorist suspects provoked tensions with countries in which attacks occurred. Allegations of a British policy of appeasement of Islamists were made and denied by members of the British government who debated the issue.
Late 1980s onwards
Foreign governments were particularly angered when the head of Al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri Muhammad, claimed he lived in the UK under a "covenant of security", whereby he was left alone by the authorities so long as he did not sanction attacks on British soil. The British government denied the claim. Some suspects of the 1995 attacks on Paris have fled to the United Kingdom; Rachid Ramda was eventually put into French custody on the 1 December 2005, after ten years of permanent request by French judges. Several non-British major newspapers have echoed the claim that the UK intentionally tolerates radical Muslims and hinders extradition of suspects in order to buy peace from terrorists. In the wake of the 2015 Sousse attacks, the Daily Mail stated plainly that:
|“||Hundreds of extremists from the Middle East and North Africa used the capital – dubbed Londonistan by exasperated French security officials – to plot the downfall of governments in countries such as Egypt, Yemen and Algeria. Some of the groups had ties to Qatada and were often affiliates of Al Qaeda. But the police and security services effectively turned a blind eye to their activities. It was only after 9/11 that officials began rounding up the ringleaders and trying to either deport them or subject them to control orders.||”|
Following 11 September 2001
The activities of London-based Islamists came under greater scrutiny after the 11 September attacks, which brought home the vulnerability of Western countries to large-scale terror attacks. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allowed foreign terrorist suspects to be detained indefinitely without charge. In 2004, the Law Lords ruled that this violated European law, but it was replaced by the system of control orders in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which provided the Government with powers to place various restrictions on suspected terrorists. The 2005 Act was subsequently replaced by the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011. Many Islamists may have left the UK to avoid internment,[who?]. Other ones, such as Ali Salman, returned to their home countries after domestic political reforms.
Usage in the Arabic press
- Islamism in the United Kingdom
- Islam in the United Kingdom
- 7 July 2005 London bombings
- 21 July 2005 London bombings
- Murder of Lee Rigby
- Jihadi John
- Bahrain Freedom Movement
- Islamist demonstration outside Danish Embassy in London in 2006
- Stop the Islamification of Europe - Political group
- "For a Decade, London Thrived as a Busy Crossroads of Terror". The New York Times. 10 July 2005.
- Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
- Caldwell, Christopher (25 June 2006), After Londonistan, The New York Times, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Hitchens, Christopher (June 2007), Londonistan Calling, Vanity Fair, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Stelzer, Irwin M. (1 August 2005), Letter from Londonistan, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Phillips, Melanie (2007), Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within, Gibson Square, ISBN 978-1-903933-90-9
- Nasiri, Omar (20 November 2006), Inside the jihad: my life with Al Qaeda : a spy's story, Basic Books, p. 16, ISBN 978-0-465-02388-2
- Barling, Kurt (8 September 2005), What's the risk to London?, BBC London, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Robertson, Nic; Cruickshank, Paul (23 July 2012). "Cagefighter 'cures' terrorists". CNN.
- Miks, Jason (1 June 2013). "Memorable moments: 5 years of GPS". CNN.
- Leiken, Robert (6 January 2010). "London breeding Islamic terrorists". CNN.
- Sciolino, Elaine; Don Van Natta Jr (10 July 2005), For a Decade, London Thrived as a Busy Crossroads of Terror, New York Times, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Fielding, Nick (24 July 2005), Terror links of the Tottenham Ayatollah, London: The Times, retrieved 12 December 2009
- Les limites du cynisme britannique (the limits of British cynicism) (in French), Le Figaro, 18 July 2005[dead link]
- dailymail.co.uk: " EXCLUSIVE - Sunbed killer's link to Britain: Tunisia massacre gunman was inspired by fanatic who ran global terror cell in London", 29 Jun 2015
- Sean O'Neill Why France lived in fear of 'Londonistan', Daily Telegraph (13 Oct 2001)
- London Review of Books’ In the Streets of Londonistan (22 Jan 2004)
- New Statesman’s Why the French call us Londonistan (9 Dec 2002)
- Jamestown Foundation: Stephen Ulph on Londonistan (26 Feb 2004)
- Combating Terrorism Center: The Changing Scene in Londonistan (3 Feb 2010)