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Jihad by all accounts
Sometime last year, Hugh Fitzgerald wrote an article: Almost One Hundred Things that Fuel Muslim Extremism. The article concludes:
It took very little time to compose this list. It would not take much longer to add another hundred, two hundred, three hundred items to the list of things that “fuel Muslim extremism.”
In compiling this longer list, would Hugh or anyone else have thought of accountancy? Probably not. Accountants are dull creatures in real or metaphorical pin-striped suits. The only way you can tell an accountant from an actuary is that the accountant looks at your shoes when he’s talking to you, and the actuary looks at his own.
As Python’s Michael Palin said:
It’s dull, dull, dull. My God it’s dull. It’s so desperately dull and tedious and boring and unimaginative and irrepressibly drab and awful and desp-er-ate-ly dull.
Dull it is then. But dangerous? Apparently so. Despair at a dubious double entry, a dangling debit, a doomed deemed disposal or a dodgy derivative can – you’ve guessed it – Fuel Muslim Extremism. From Accountancy Magazine, an unlikely source of Jihad stories if ever there was one:
A man who urged Muslims to launch terror attacks on the four main accountancy institutes has been jailed for two years.
Malcolm Hodges, 44, of Sittingbourne, Kent held a ‘festering grudge’ against accountants more than 10 years after failing his ACCA exams.
Hodges admitted recklessly encouraging terrorism at the Old Bailey.
In November 2006 he sent identical letters to dozens of mosques around the country claiming that he was a follower of Osama bin Laden.
He told them: ‘Brothers, you are right to kill the infidels, but you are making a mistake to try to attack planes and other targets.’
They should focus their ‘jihad’ on four organisations connected to ‘the corrupt and Western society which are abhorrent to true believers which the infidels, in their arrogance, will not expect to be attacked’.
They were the ICAEW, the ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA.
He wrote: ‘Brothers, striking at these targets will be striking at the infidels where it hurts most and each of these targets was formed and is led by the Queen of England.
‘These targets are also full of swine and apes as they are crammed full of Jews, so striking against these targets is a strike against Israel and will take us closer to wiping Israel from the map.’
In January 2000, he was jailed for 10 weeks after sending a fax threatening to kill an ACCA official who was pursuing him for an unpaid fine.
The court heard the ACCA took the threats seriously and spent more than £140,000 on security measures.
“Sour grapes” doesn’t begin to cover it. Would the £140,000 qualify as an “exceptional item”? At first perhaps, but in time such expenditure will be nothing exceptional, and will be classified as “sundry Islam costs”.
Accountancy, actuarial, law and other professional examinations are arduous and frustrating. They are more difficult than general degree courses because the work must be done in your spare time, when you are tired. The exams themselves are immensely time-pressured, as much a test of nerve as of ability. Most people fail them at least once, and many never pass them. Such unfortunate people include Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, Confucians (accountancy in particular has a lot of Chinese students), Hindus, Jains and Jews. I have yet to hear of any of these groups plotting terrorism against the professional body they have failed to join, and doing so in the name of religion.
Professional failure happens to most of us at some stage. It is not enough to drive a man to violence unless his ideology supports it. And the ideology that supports, indeed commands, violence is Islam.