AN OBSERVER LIVING on the moon might have exvected the age of mass travel and electronic meda on earth to bring the various branches of mankind together. This may, indeed, have happened in some cases: in the remotest villages of china and Korea, many a young schoolchild dreams of one day playing the solo part in Beethoven's Violin Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall in London: and in the Islamic countries images of life in the West inspire multitudes, though this is not a side of the Muslim world that is ofien seen. Instead, we see, by and large, sentiments of suspicion, hostility and, in extreme cases, irrational hatred. And, although they may be a small minority among the estimated one blllion Muslims in the world, the young men who are seemingly devoted to the idea of the jihad (religious war untll the whole of humanity is conquered for the community of Muhammad) are std numerous enough to create history's most expensive security headache. When I joined the BBC's External Services as a broadcaster in Persian in the late 1960s, droves of foreign students fiom the neighbouring London School of Economics invaded the canteen every day to take advantage of the subsidsed curry dishes. Try to get into Bush House today without an invitation!
During my youth in the 1950s in the Kurdish highlands of western Iran, people in my village made a practice of feasting the scantily clad European youths who made their way on motorcycles from Baghdad to Tehran, and intolerant Muslims seemed to be confined to such shrine cities as Qom