Reading about the recent ‘Allahu Akbar’ incidents in France, I was reminded of my ‘Allahu Akbar’ story.
Across from my workplace in Oxford there is a house for vulnerable young adults and people with learning difficulties. Every now and then they sing from the windows, play loud music, dance on the pavement. They jump out of the windows to go for a walk. There is a particularly talented one with a large build who becomes a rapper.
One Friday afternoon a couple of months ago it was rather quiet in the office. The few of us who were there were concentrating on our work when suddenly we heard someone shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, God is Great in Arabic.
When we looked out, the guy who normally becomes a rapper was wearing a robe and a black balaclava, standing in front of the building. He looked like the ISIS fighters seen on television beheading Westerners.
‘Allahu Akbar!’ he was shouting, his arm up in the air, making the victory sign, posing for his friend to take a picture.
Later he went up to his room, and sticking his head out of the window ecstatically began shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ at the passersby, including a young mother wearing a headscarf.
Watching this young man made me wonder how much more sane the ISIS fighters were. The hundreds who had travelled from Western European countries to join the Jihad — how much had they thought through what they were doing?