Mayor Livingstone’s Conference on Civilisation.

Yesterday I attended the Mayor of London’s conference “A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations” in London’s Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (20/1/2007). Clearly the vast majority of the audience, which must have been at least 3 – 4,000, lived in London, although it would be difficult to imagine a place on earth not represented. I arrived a bit late.
I managed to get a fairly early train direct to Marylebone on the Chiltern line. It was, as is usual, exceptionally clean and very quiet. Takes a bit longer than London-Euston on Virgin, but you don’t get the claustrophobic feeling that you’re sitting in one of Branson’s airliners. The seats are more comfortable and spacious. There was a bit of panic on the tube. A large red suitcase was wobbling about by the door apparently unattended. A lady opposite with a walking stick attracted my attention by waving it at me and saying the luggage had been left. I leapt into action and was about to push the offending item onto the platform. Luckily I didn’t since its owner appeared from down the compartment to take charge and I was saved a deal of embarrassment.
At the conference centre I entered the room to find a large screen where Ken Livingstone was giving an introduction to the conference. There was no one at the microphone however. It turned out to be one of the two overflow halls. Livingstone, together with Councillor Salma Yaqoob, also from Birmingham, were speaking for the proposal with Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum and advisor to the Washington government on MIddle East Policy and Douglas Murray of the Social Affairs Unit, speaking against.
Pipes argued that “Islamists”, who were inherently right wing, were being supported by the left who were not recognising the danger they posed. He made a distinction between “Islamists” and Islam as those who held views that they wanted to see states with Sharia law opposing more “moderate” Islamic opinion. Quite where he drew the line was not clear however since he attacked Councillor Yaqoob’s position. I suppose he defined his outlook by citing an axis of opposition from Washington, London and Jerusalem. As I pointed out a short while ago, it appears Israel has an identity crisis concerning its geographical location, seeing itself as part of Europe rather than Asia where it actually is. There are clear racist undertones to this.
Yaqoob clearly articulated the difficulties Muslims faced given he way they were characterised. no one raised the issue of Christian fundamentalism and the idea of Armageddon which seeks to justify believers sacrificing their lives and taking others.

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