Roland of Scotland, the Tooth Fairy and the New Caliphate

Although I was aware of the tensions between English and Scottish people and the strong nationalist movement existing in Scotland, I quickly learned that some of my Scottish friends and students were taking the matter very seriously. But, I did not expect that the the majority of my Scottish Muslim friends and informants were even more radical in their nationalist leanings than the MacDonalds, McKenzies, McSomethings and McFulans. Although the SNP (Scottish National Party) has left-wing political views, some of the Scottish nationalist supporters have restrictive views about immigration, particularly when the migrants happen to be Muslims. The argument pro-or-against migration, well represented in this forum, sounds more or less like this: we might accept immigrants if they have the IQ of Hopkins, Berlusconi’s money and are ready to become more Scottish than the Haggis. Well, I admit, there is at least an exception…if the migrant is a dentist s/he will be tolerated even if s/he does not have Hopkins’ IQ (just click here if you want to know the reason). So, if you are ready to give up all your previous identities, and ready to assimilate or pull teeth, you are welcome to come to Scotland, even if you are Muslim.

Well, not exactly. Cardinal Keith O’Brien recently explained in an interview with the BBC that if you are Muslim, and you want to live in Scotland, you have to learn how to live in a Christian way. Although Scotland has both Catholics and Protestants, a unitary church does not really exist. Yet Cardinal O’Brien insists, “In a re-Christianised Scotland I would certainly respect the beliefs of people of other faiths, the great world faiths, and acknowledge when they are celebrating their feasts, just as they acknowledge we celebrate the feast of Christmas and these sort of things.” The cardinal’s remarks are related to the statistical reality that in the 2001 U.K.census the most secular part of the Isles was Scotland — loch, stock and North Sea oil barrel.

Since the Scots seem to have lost their Christian moral values (and may be far from finding them again in the near future), Cardinal O’Brien is reluctant to respect other beliefs during such a state of church decline. I see here a call to action by a contemporary Scottish crusader, fearing the apocalyptic invasion of infidels infesting the Scottish Christendom. “I feel I must take a stand when Christianity itself is questioned in this country,” declares the cleric. Apparently Cardinal O’Brien has not noticed that Muslims in Scotland account for a razor thin 0.84% , Sikhs 0.13% , Jewish 0.11%, Buddhist 0.13% , Hindu 0.11%. Secular Scotland may be, but it is hardly a crossroads of world religions.

I must make a confession, not only to the cardinal. I am not Scottish. I’m a migrant professor from a southern European clime where haggis are scarcer than Hajjis. I certainly do not have the IQ of a Hopkins, but my quick perusal of the 2001 census indicates a possible stealth factor in Scotland’s political and religious future. The data indicate that the birth rate among Scottish Muslims is the highest for any segment of the population. Furthermore, “Scottish Christian” autochthons are migrating like Italians. Now I know why my friend Muhammad pragmatically voted for the SNP, despite the anti-immigrant and pro-Christian rhetoric in the campaign, in the last election. It is only a matter of time before Muslims simply outgrow the remaining remnant of local Christians. By 2056 the new Caliphate may be established in Scotland (sorry oh future Osama, but you will have to hand in your turban and robes for a tartan kilt). If Cardinal O’Brien does not become the next pope and remains to the last in his native land, he might witness an event that will change the course of history, at least the history of an increasingly secular Scotland. Should an independent Muslim sultanate be voted in by the future Muslim majority, there will be a need for a spiritual patriarch of those few remaining Christians. It has been more than eight centuries since the exploits of Roland, but as a loyal Scot the cardinal may one day be as great a boon to his flock as the lionized heroes of old, especially if he knows how to pull teeth or believes in the tooth fairy.

Gabriele Marranci

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