A DECADE OR so ago, I was invited by the Foreign Office to a seminar at Ditchley Park, a grand mansion in the country, to promote understanding between the West and the world of Islam. There were, as expected, the usual senior diplomats (the Foreign Office 'Arabists'), becoming dewy-eyed whenever they heard the names of the sheikhs who regularly entertain them in the Arabian Desert with tales of falconry and quails in rice served by hosts of servants. But the majority of the participants was made up of Christian theologians, from both sides of the Atlantic, and a large group of amiable mullahs who had lived here for decades - although they still did not dare to drink in public. Soon the pretence emerged that the priests and the mullahs could deliver their two peoples to each other in a grand peace treaty, provided that sufficient cash came their way from (Western) governments.
The portion of my blood that was still wild and Kurdish boiled over. I got up and told them how deluded they were. While a Christian 'flock' worth delivering to anyone today hardly existed, Muslims were having the largest population explosion in their history and becoming more frustrated and more