Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said that the United Kingdom is a breeding ground for Islamist radicals like Umar AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian allegedly at the centre of the attempted bombing of a United States airliner on December 25, 2009.
Soyinka also slammed the United States for adding Nigeria to the watchlist of countries deemed to be incubating terrorists, saying it was â€˜an irrational, knee-jerk reaction.â€
The Guardian of London reported on Tuesday that the celebrated writer, in an interview with a US news portal, The Daily Beast, accused the UK of not doing enough to stem radicalisation in its universities, insisting that the situation had thrown up radicals like AbdulMutallab.
The 23-year-old Nigerian terror suspect, who was engineering student at the University College, London between 2005 and 2008, was alleged to have attempted to detonate an explosive device aboard a Detroit, Michigan-bound aircraft on Christmas Day. Following the botched bombing, the US reviewed its security situation, expanded its terror watchlist and added Nigeria to the list.
Responding to a question about the inclusion of Nigeria in the watchlist, Soyinka said, â€œThat was an irrational, knee-jerk reaction by the Americans. The man did not get radicalised in Nigeria. It happened in England, where he went to university.
â€œEngland is a cesspit. 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.
â€œAnd yet England allows it. Remember, that country was the breeding ground for communism, too. Karl Marx did all his work in libraries there.â€
He added, â€This is part of the character of Great Britain. Colonialism bred an innate arrogance, but when you undertake that sort of imperial adventure, that arrogance gives way to a feeling of accommodativeness. You take pride in your openness.â€
The writer had earlier in January condemned the US for including Nigeria on its terror list, describing the action as harassment of Nigerians.
He told journalists in Lagos that the extra screening Nigerians were made to undergo at US airports following the action was ment to punish innocent Nigerian citizens.
The failed Christmas Day bombing led to the search of where the 23-year old Nigerian was radicalised. It was originally thought that he was radicalised in Yemen following allegations by US officials that he told his interrogators that he received the bomb from an al-Qaeda network in Yemen.
However, Yemen Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Rashad al-Alimi, told a news conference earlier in January that AbdulMutallab was radicalised during his stay in London as a student.
That revelation raised fears that some British universities were becoming places where young Muslims were radicalised. But according to The Guardian, Soyinka suggested that British Muslims were being radicalised earlier in their lives.
â€I doubt you can have the kind of indoctrination schools in America as you do in the UK. Besides, thereâ€˜s a large body of American Muslims in the US, the Nation of Islam, which has created a kind of mainstream Muslim institution. The Muslims there are open Muslims, whereas in Europe they tend to go into ghetto schools.
â€The Nation of Islam provides an antidote in the United States to fundamentalist Islam, which is why individuals from America have to go abroad to find radical teachings.â€
Soyinka, who also spoke about the fatwa issued by Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, against writer, Salman Rushdie, said it was wrong for the Iranian leader to assume the power of life and death over the writer, arguing that the al-Qaeda challenge was direct fall out of that fatwa.
He said, â€œIt all began when he assumed the power of life and death over the life of a writer. This was a watershed between doctrinaire aggression and physical aggression. There was an escalation. 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.
â€œAl-Qaeda is the descendant of this phenomenon. The proselytisation of Islam became vigorous after this. People went to Saudi Arabia. Madrasas were established everywhere.â€