Inside The World Of 'Non-Violent' Islamism
The Muslim Council of Britain's secretary-general, Dr Shuja Shafi: He has said he has "no idea" why young people become radicalised (Philip Toscano/PA Wire)
With Islamist terrorist plots now running at more than one a month, the UK counter-terrorism effort can deal only with the crocodiles that are bumping against the boat. So the Home Office is setting up a special unit that will analyse the effectiveness of government measures aimed at "draining the swamp" as the Prime Minister has put it.
The Extremism Analysis Unit (EAU) will be the first of its kind in government to gather empirical evidence about the behaviour and ideologies of extremists. In some ways, this may be even more challenging than the task performed by its companion unit—the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), which analyses intelligence on the terrorist threat. While JTAC's job is to stop terrorists from killing, the EAU will analyse the extremist spectrum from its violent to its non-violent end. It will also explore the relationship between integration and extremism.
Many Muslims in Birmingham, Luton, parts of London and the old northern mill towns seem resistant to integrating into the liberal mainstream. More British Muslims have gone to Syria and Iraq than there are Muslims in the British army. I understand that officials have been unable to demonstrate that any initiatives by this government or the last to promote integration have had any beneficial impact.
The EAU will attract controversy because while it will, of course, analyse all sources of extremism, its principal focus will inevitably be on Islamist extremism, because this will pose the greatest threat to national security for the foreseeable future.
The reaction here to the slaughter of 17 people in Paris offers a glimpse into why extremism presents a generational challenge. The journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo magazine were executed for lampooning the Prophet Muhammad and the Jews shopping on the eve of Shabbat just because they were Jews. Paris probably inspired the Danish jihadist last month to target a Copenhagen synagogue killing a Jewish guard after killing a film director at a free speech debate hosted by Lars Vilks the Swedish cartoonist who has also sent up the Prophet.
How do you persuade those British mosques in London and the Midlands reported to have expressed greater offence over Charlie Hebdo's cartoons than the fate of the massacred that such attitudes won't create the common life required for a cohesive, harmonious society? Rather than demonstrate around the Cenotaph against global jihadi terrorism, 1,000 Muslims instead waved banners warning non-Muslims to "be careful with Muhammad", and telling them to "learn some manners".
"Whether Muslim people say it or not, deep down they are probably happy with what happened," the Muslim manager of a small supermarket in Slough told the BBC Today programme. "Not in the sense of people having lost their lives . . . but in the sense that something needs to be done to stop insulting our Prophet." The reporter pressed him. "Are you really saying what's happened [in Paris] has taught those who insult Islam a lesson?" He replied: "To be honest, it's not as if people are going to be jumping around the streets for joy but (it's also) not as if people are going to be mourning their deaths, in my opinion." Some mosque congregations are also reported to have been told that the killers simply could not have been Muslims. Mossad then? 9/11 déjà vu.
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