Monday, May 27, 2002
When you come out of the Finsbury Park railway station in North London, if you turn in one direction you find a large shop selling memorabilia from the Arsenal football club. (The stadium where Arsenal play is close by). If you turn the other way, you quite quickly come across the Finsbury Park mosque, infamous for the extremism of the Islam preached in it, and for some of the people who have stayed there from time to time - certainly shoe bomber Richard Reid, and likely a number of the September 11 terrorists. A couple of month ago I visited in order to see precisely where the enemies of civilisation hang out, and I was somewhat struck by the juxtaposition of the two things. Non - locals appear to come to this part of London for two reasons - Arsenal and extreme Islam. Perhaps impolitely, I was struck by the peculiar question as to whether the two went together - whether, in their travels, fundamentalist muslims were in fact tempted by western decadent behaviour such as supporting Arsenal. From this article in the New York Times (free but irritating registration required) I now discover that Osama bin Laden himself has purchased Arsenal memorabilia in that shop, and has attended a number of matches at Highbury. I am not sure what to make of this.
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