The Evening Standard has been busily making mischief, or, if you prefer, drawing the attention of Londoners to the Islamist credentials of some of those behind the "Muslims4Ken" pressure group which is attempting to mobilise the vote for the Islamophile incumbent. And, more particularly, distributing evidence of Boris Johnson's alleged Islamophobia. "Websites have been bombarded with selected quotes from his journalism," the report claims.
Indeed they have. One such website, cryto-Islamist blog Ummah Pulse, carries a small selection of Borisisms. Including this one on the Iraq war, from 2003, which while far from Islamophobic has a somewhat unfortunate appearance in retrospect:
"If we know the Pentagon, there must be a very good chance that this will be an outstandingly successful and stress-free war."
Still, London isn't electing a fortune-teller. It is also, like many of these quotes, taken completely out of context. It comes from a Telegraph column he wrote at Christmas 2002, which goes on to say,
At every key moment in the Iraq drama, there is a little Whitehall-generated drum-roll of alarm about a terrorist threat in London. Last week, the Americans declared that Iraq was in material breach of UN resolution 1441. The war came closer! And offstage, as if by magic, government sources muttered about anthrax on the Tube, smallpox in the water supply, etc.
It is a cynical and ludicrous attempt at Pavlovian conditioning. War in Iraq! Terrorist threat! War in Iraq! Terrorist threat! On it will go until the poor mutton-headed public believes that only the first will obviate the threat of the second.
It is a belief for which, alas, there is no evidence whatever. Try as he may, Blair has been unable to link Saddam with September 11, and we have no good grounds for thinking a war on Saddam will make future al-Qa'eda attacks less likely.
Which isn't bad soothsaying. Although he was among those calling for the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Boris was never a whole-hearted proponent of the Iraq war. Nor is he one of those (many on the "Left", whatever that means) in long-term denial about its justification or aftermath. Here he is in 2005, for example:
Whatever we achieve in Iraq, we will not have made our own world safer, or made the risk of terrorism less likely: quite the reverse. Perhaps it is just my paranoia, but there was something too neat about the way the British authorities released the new pictures of the four suicide bombers this week, not just to take the heat out of the Basra story, but also subliminally to remind the public of the claim with which Blair invaded Iraq - that it was part of the "war on terror". That claim was a lie, and whatever good may come out of the Iraq war, we should never forget that it was based on that lie.
Apart from the high quality of the prose, that could almost be Ken talking.
I was, though, particularly struck by this comment, left on Ummah Pulse by someone calling himself "Coolness of Hind".
Yes, Borris Johnson. I sat down with him once. He wanted to gauge the understanding of a young Muslim and try to figure out why educated people would blow themselves up. At the time no criminal convictions were made. I raised the inconsistencies in the reportings, the distinct lack of evidence, and pointers to suggest that the suspects were in fact innocent; distinctly opposite take on what the media was regurgitating at the time.
Through the entire meeting he gave me "dirty looks" (you know the ones which start off fights). He then chose to ask why women were subjugated/segregated and made to wear the veil. I asked why he had an affair...
In essence, I could see his hatred spewing out in his uneasy gestures and "dirty" looks.
I gathered the man knows absolutely nothing about Islam. I invited him to the Deen, and gave him a Quran. May Allah guide him.
I wonder if Boris managed to get very far with the Koran. He's a busy man, after all.