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There is a subtlety and allure to the Islamist message which can prove hugely seductive. Many young Muslim men and women feel adrift in modern Europe. Their parents’ and grandparents’ generations seem to follow a form of Islam which is shaped by the traditions and mores of “the old country”. But Western society can seem empty and materialist, with no sense of belonging or idealism, only getting and spending. Islamism is tailor-made to occupy this space. Instead of thinking of yourself as Pakistani like your out-of-touch parents or British, which is a shallow and weak thing, define yourself above all as a Muslim. Not a British Muslim who sees no tension between citizenship and faith, but a defiant Muslim who rejects the corruption of a country, and world, sunk in jahiliyyah.

And, critically, see your Muslim identity not just as a matter of faith but an assertion of fundamental difference from all around you. It is dignified and moral, it transcends ethnic and racial divisions, it places you in solidarity with the oppressed of the world, but also exalts you over your hedonistic neighbours, who don’t have anything like the sense of mission and purpose which this ideology can provide.

For most, this message will draw them into purely political activity. They might join an organisation on campus like Hizb-ut Tahrir, or get involved with groups influenced by Jamaati or Muslim Brotherhood thinking.

But as the memoirs of former Islamists like Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz have powerfully shown, some of those who succumb to the Islamist temptation don’t limit their activism to politics. For some there is a conveyor belt, a continuum, which leads them into support for, or involvement in, violence. The journey to jihad in Raqqa begins with an ideological epiphany in Ilford.

That is why this government’s decision to confront both non-violent and violent extremism is so important, and why other nations have much to learn from the work undertaken in this area by Theresa May and David Cameron.

Before 2010 there was a disposition on the part of the British government to concentrate only on extremism when it became violent and embraced terror. But since 2010 ministers have recognised that there needs to be intervention upstream, before extremist thinking has had a chance to incubate and produce not just defiant separatism but hostile action.  

It is the thought-world of the Islamists which provides a spur to, and justification for, subversion and violence. Counter those Islamist thoughts, argue for democratic values, oppose those organising to spread Islamist ideology, celebrate those committed to making a success of liberal Britain, and you can draw the poison from the well, not just halting the drift to violence but enhancing the cohesion of our society.

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WW2_historian
April 2nd, 2017
4:04 AM
I think you have to be pretty much free of any religious doctrine - and practice! - to be able to see that the problem of Islamism and Islam requires a deeper, wider and more involved engagement than most of us are neither ready for nor wiling and capable of. Firstly, yes, there are - at least to my, decades long experience - Muslim men who do not beat their wives and who do not practice bending in the Mecca direction five times a day, as there are Muslim women who are quite comfortable in jeans, shorts and bikinis, when on beach. The problem is deeper and does not stop at the Mecca's gate; the adherents of ALL major monotheistic religions have shifted toward "fundamentalism" the last several decades. True, the Europe has emerged from its 30-year, 100-year and whichever else religious wars which have hemorrhaged it for centuries but, lest we forgot, the adherents of two Christian sub-fractions, the Serb Orthodox, and the Croat Catholics have been gauging each other's eyes mere 25 years ago, right in this same Europe. The problem stems, in part at least, from the fact that most of us either do not have a reliable looking-glass in our homes or even if we do have, we are not capable of taking a real hard look at ourselves, and identify all the primitivism, bigotry, rejection and intolerance lurking from the depths of our souls. Islam - not homogeneous by any means! - is panicked from the prospect of falling off the bandwagon of modern civilization and is frantically trying to catch up; the Islamists are the friction layer between the subduction zones - to borrow from geophysical vocabulary - between Islam and western "civilization"; the two tectonic plates: the Jesus's land and the Allah's land (I would like to make a strong amendment for the third one but let's skip it for the sake of expediency). But in fact - there is no substance in either one; there has never been one. It is all about power control, the control of masses, be it through the Pope in Rome, the Pope in Alexandria, ..., through Lloyd Blankfein, and many others. The Internet and the cell phones notwithstanding we are - let's have enough courage to admit it - slipping into a new dark age. My vote goes to wise and courageous women of the future.

amcdonald
February 21st, 2017
12:02 PM
Geert Wilders advocates closing mosques and banning the koran in Holland. We`ll soon see how the will of the people (also known as the Holy Spirit in Zizek`s philosophising) finds expression theologically and polititically there. Even President Trump doesn`t go that far. Douglas Murray has some appreciative things to say about both (Spectator). I agree. Douglas Murray and Julie Burchill are the best journalists. Julie B goes even further advocating the death penalty for the scum who murder women. Theresa May`s feminism is milder than Wilders but has been appreciatively welcomed by feminist campaign groups in the UK. I like the way she turned up at the House of Lords for the Brexit speeches. If muslims simply misunderstand Jesus who can simply correct them?

amcdonald
January 30th, 2017
5:01 PM
Theresa May and Michael Gove agree on the `Jesuitical` distinction mentioned by Ed in his comment. A truly Jesuitical distinction has Islam/the Koran as an `alternative fact`, a bent version of Judaeo-Christian theology. Does our Prime Minister and Michael Gove think the Brexit voters are for more mosques and more sharia anti-feminism? Theresa May did amazingly well in the USA. Britain and America are now actually leading the world. Putin now knows it. He did outsmart the West until Brexit and the voters for Trump. Trump has said he will give no advance warnings about the how and when of any advances against the islamists. According to the Daily Mail the murderers of the muslims in the Quebec mosque were shouting the jihadist war slogan God Is Great. Royal Academy artist Grayson Perry is inviting Vote Leavers and Remainers to contribute graphics/thoughts/facts/alternative facts for display on two large pots to sit on the nation`s mantlepiece ( a Ch4 commission). And from the NE are two tracks of a pro-Brexit,pro-art,pro music soon to be cd circulating on social media. George Osborne allocated £5million to the Great Northern Exhibition Newcastle/Gateshead 2018. Manchester got £50 million.

amcdonald
January 15th, 2017
6:01 PM
I don`t buy newspapers anymore but I`ll be buying the Times on Monday to read the Michael Gove interview with Donald Trump. Politics is becoming surprising since Brexit. Islam is actually the greatest atheism as well as a great blasphemy against Jesus. Having an adept of Islam read from the koran in a Glasgow cathedral is just dumb.

Ed
December 21st, 2016
10:12 PM
Mr Gove, it doesn't work. Your artificial distinctions are Jesuitical in extreme. The roots and seeds of Islamism are in Islam, and the fruits of it are violence, oppression, destruction, subjugation - after all "Islam" means "Submission". I refuse to submit. Call the spade a spade.

amcdonald
December 13th, 2016
7:12 PM
I watched the BBC Muslims Like Us last night. We are all basically evil, egotistical, disgusting (says Zizek). Isn`t the pro-Sharia,islamic state and superior so-called muslim character actually displaying his inferiority complex regarding western civilisation and our popular culture ? Is he a cartoon of the prophet? Is it Islam that`s actually Satanic ? Either that or he`s evil,egotistical and disgusting. Just like the BBC for giving him the oxygen of publicity. Broadcasting treason puts public security at severe risk. And the BBC `ponces` want paying to do it. No wonder 17.4 million voted for Brexit. So no BBC rushing to join the coalition to defeat Islamism ? A bloke goes into a muslim bookshop. He`s having a look around and the muslim assistant comes over and asks if he can help. The bloke says "Have you got the new Donald Trump book?" "Get out! Get out of here and never come back!" shouts the assistant. "Yes that`s the one," says the bloke, "How much is it?".

Ean Dorugh
November 25th, 2016
4:11 PM
I don't see how/why v intelligent and knowledgeable Gove has written this. I've lived amongst Muslim communities inc in M East and I agree with comments here (eg by Burdon, Saltzman) that most Muslims find it nearly impossible to denounce/disown Islamism, rather than only condemning its current murderous campaigns, because violence is condoned in the Quran - just as it is in the Bible. But most 'Christians' have never read large parts of the Bible and in any case they have been careful from the beginning to minimise/ignore bits that are inconvenient, even some that are stated to be the very words of God- from the 10 Cs. They won't even permit the law/State to punish those who grossly defame Jesus (Witehouse v Lennon 1977), unlike the violent protests and book-burning by ordinary UK Muslims over Rushdie, not to mention the fatwah encouraging his murder from one of the top and best educated Muslim 'clerics' and jurists. I would like all indoctrination of children (inc by their parents) in supernatural beliefs of all kinds to be banned. In a generation, we could hope to find mosques emptying like churches have.

Michael Martin
November 25th, 2016
12:11 PM
I spent several years teaching at university or similar in Iran and Saudi, the leaders of the two sects of Islam, and there is no way you could separate the universalist tyrannical beliefs of these countries, esp Saudi, with those of Islamists. And, as for 'God’s will was undermined', I have never been able to get, even 'ordinary', Muslims to accepy that it is stupid, irrational and oxymoronic (and, I would have thought, listening to Saudis, blasphemous) to defend some action of theirs on the basis that omnipotent and omniscient Allah seemed not able or willing to accomplish its aim.

Arnie Ward
November 24th, 2016
4:11 PM
I lived for many years in Cape Town which has a large Muslim population. I didn't experience Islam as being admirable. It was a revelation how aggressively separatist many Muslims became following the Khomeini revolution.

Observer of the Scene
November 21st, 2016
10:11 AM
The idea that mainstream Islam is an admirable, moderate religion is somewhat undermined by the behaviour of Muslims in Rotherham (and elsewhere), and by the imam-sanctioned corruption seen in Tower Hamlets (and elsewhere). None of all that was inspired by Islamism. But the idea that Islam and Islamism are distinct doesn't hold water either. Lots of Mohammed's behaviour was "extremist" and he, to orthodox mainstream Muslims, was the most admirable human being who has ever lived, a model for imitation at all times and in all places.

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