You are here:   Features > Enough is enough of terror — but also of our self-doubt

The company you keep says a lot about you — and it also says something about the people who follow you. Between them, these seven organisations have Facebook followings of 824,000. One of the preachers — who has made venomous anti-Semitic remarks — has more than one million followers.

None of the above opinions are banned by law. But because it is so blindingly obvious that the language of violent extremists echoes some of these non-violent but extreme and intolerant ideas, for the first time in this country’s recent history, a British government has felt compelled to devise a formal policy to counter them.

How do we know that violent extremists make use of non- violent extreme ideas? How’s this for starters: “This is for Allah,” the London Bridge attackers yelled as they stabbed random victims. The fact that they may only have read an “idiot’s guide to Islam” is supremely irrelevant. As Hannah Stuart, joint head the Security and Extremism Unit at Policy Exchange, has explained, conflating theology with ideology completely misunderstands the issue. Just because young jihadists are ignorant of one “ology” (theology) doesn’t mean they aren’t driven by the other “ology” (ideology) — the simple notion that the West hates Islam and is determined to undermine the global Muslim umma, which is entitled to retaliate. That’s why they see themselves so perversely as “the truest” of Muslims acting on behalf of their co-religionists. What’s that but ideology?

We confronted this ideology in Afghanistan in 2001 with American B-52 bombers and special forces followed by the deaths of a lot of very brave British men and women to prevent al-Qaeda from recovering its foothold there—only for IS to supersede them, to say nothing of the vastly greater and continuing death toll of Afghan security forces and civilians.

But it is an ideology that here at home, by and large, our elected representatives, much of academia, leaders of public institutions, the churches and pockets of the BBC have been slow to square up to in open debate. Why, one might ask, when these non-violent ideas violate our own mores, and their violent manifestation is so pernicious, vicious and backward?

Our reluctance to confront the regressive culture and ideas that underpin violent extremism has been apparent since the anti-Salman Rushdie rallies in 1989. On 28 May that year more than 70 British Muslims were arrested as a 20,000-strong mob descended on Parliament. They waved banners and shouted slogans like “Rushdie must die” with effigies of the writer hanging from a gallows. We looked on in horror as we realised then that some migrants to this country had brought with them a lot more than just their possessions: a total lack of understanding about how dissent was ultimately the only guarantor of religious freedom, including theirs, but also that there were limits.

View Full Article
Harry H
September 25th, 2017
4:09 PM
No Muslims in the West, no Muslim terrorism. Pretty simple, even a liberal can understand, right?

July 30th, 2017
4:07 PM
Islam is a bent version of the Bible. The Koran promotes a bent version of Christ. And yet no Christians challenge and correct the bent Islamic picture of Christ. Tories and Labourites can`t `speak truth to power` on this. Richard Dawkins is right but not so precise. It couldn`t be easier for all muslims,christians and atheists to watch artist Akiane Kramarik`s short filn ` Painting the Impossible ` (YouTube). It`s a work of art in itself not only about one. You want an alternative narrative and interfaith dialogue ? Well let`s see this film in churches ,mosques, synagogues,temples and Tate Mpderns. The BBC is just too thick to show and discuss it. Nor would it show artist Stella Vine`s `Evangeline` pictures. The cultural provincialism of our religious,political and cultural leaders is not shared by the people. Which is one reason 17 million voted for Brexit.Freedom Day.

July 15th, 2017
5:07 PM
British Values ? £10 per hour minimum wage? Grants not loans for students? All those others listed in the Labour Manifesto ? Tory values are symbolised by the atrocity exhibition that is now Grenfell Towers.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.