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In the 19th century conflicts were wars between rival states. In the 20th century conflicts between states were driven by rival ideologies. Now, in this century, we are all, in every nation, being drawn into a conflict in which one ideology seeks to abolish states as we have long understood them, liberties as we have long enjoyed them and the idea of the individual on which our civilisation depends.


(ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL DALEY)


This ideology, while it threatens so much we hold dear, and has influenced so many to acts of violence across our world, is still, despite everything, remarkably poorly understood. This ideology animated the mass murderers of 9/11, inspired the Bali bombing, drove four men to kill 20 times their number in England in 2005, were behind the desecration of the Bamiyan Buddhas, attracted thousands from every nation to become born-again barbarians in the sands of Syria and binds together Hamas and Hezbollah, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the men who ran Birmingham Central Mosque. It is a clear and present danger to so much we hold dear. To counter it, we need to know its doctrines, its animating ideas, the organisations through which it works and the appeals it makes to potential recruits. But that understanding is neither as deep, or widespread, as it needs to be to meet the scale of the challenge. And until we develop that proper appreciation of the scale, and nature, of the threat we will not be able to mount the defence of civilisation that is so vital to the survival and spread of freedom.

The ideology that poses such dangers is Islamism. Not Islam. Islamism.

And it is vital, absolutely critical, that we maintain that distinction.

Islam is a great religion which provides spiritual nourishment and moral guidance to millions. Its essential doctrines — the importance it places on charity and self-discipline, reverence for life and joy in God’s creation — should inspire admiration in people of other faiths and none. Islamic civilisation kept alive classical learning during Europe’s Dark Ages and helped foster scientific and mathematical advances that spurred forward mankind’s progress. Islamic philosophers have provided ways of reflecting on man’s predicament which enrich our understanding of how societies grow and decay. And it should go without saying, but sadly does need to be repeated, that Muslim men and women across the world are inspired to teach, heal, create, lead, support, love and protect their fellow citizens by a love of all mankind.

Islam is one of the world’s youngest faiths, younger by seven centuries than Christianity and, of course, far younger still than Judaism or Hinduism. But it has also been one of the world’s most successful — the purity of its monotheism and the radicalism of its philosophy having proven attractive to many — especially those who have felt a sense of solidarity with the suffering.

Islamism has a very different history, pedigree and appeal.

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Chris Slater
November 20th, 2016
2:11 AM
“The ideology that poses such dangers is Islamism. Not Islam.” I used to think that until I though it through. In Islam, politics and religion are the same thing. There is a difference in process between Islam and Islamism but the agenda is the same – bringing the world into submission to the will of Allah. Islam’s major internal conflict is between modernism and the essentialist pietism of al-Ghazali. But it is unified on its inexorable agenda which is overtly driven by the Islamists and covertly driven by multiple causes. It is an existential threat for the West and a monumental error of cognition to assume that Islam is OK and just Islamism is the problem.

Alan Burdon
November 19th, 2016
9:11 AM
I wish it was that easy; that there is a clear separation between Islam and Islamism. Regrettably, Islam is the sea in which the Islamist sharks swim and hide themselves, and when push comes to shove Islam is not going to give up those of a more violent bent whose rationale is founded in the core tenets of the ideology that all Muslims follow. Until the bulk of Muslims reject much of what Mohammed uttered there will be no easy diminution of the threat to our society enthroned in Islamic doctrine; and that isn't going to happen. I am pleased that a mainstream politician is finally uttering sentiments that move us towards dealing with this existential threat, but I fear that he is whistling in the wind.

John Coelho
November 17th, 2016
3:11 AM
It's clear that some Muslims are with us. There is a moderate Islam predominant in the Balkans, the Kurdish regions, India and some real moderates exist through out the Islamic World, although--for most of it--a distinct minority. The Pew polls make this clear. The key factor is how much do Muslims buy into Islamic Law with its totalitarian hold over society and how much do they see religion as being a personal matter not to be enforced over others. The regressive left carries on with its hear no evil see no evil response to Islamist outrages, seeing no connection between the terror and Islam. Trump is likely to take a meat axe approach that will driver moderates away from us. An effective response to Islamism would have a yin aspect that draws susceptible Muslim elements closer to us and liberal democracy and a yang aspect that expels and drives out elements that have no intention to give up their caliphate agenda. This would require a change to our immigration laws so that immigrants are on probation for their entire lives. The tide of immigrants from the ME poses a serious threat to secular democracy. The correct refugee policy would put the most at risk religious minorities on the top order of priority. Muslims would be less and heavily monitored.The general stance of Western liberals should be to promote liberal reform in the Islamic World and give easy access to the victims of Islamism: atheists, free thinkers, women fleeing genital mutilation and forced marriages, Muslim heretics and apostates. As it stands, by buying Saudi and Qatari oil for many decades we have been funding terrorism and feudal reaction.

amcdonald
November 10th, 2016
4:11 PM
We can mow add President Trump to the coalition. It was the best American election ever. Camille Paglia was right about a Trump victory destroying the power structures of the democratic and republican parties and the mainstream media. He even called it Brexit Plus Plus.

Lorna Salzman
November 6th, 2016
7:11 PM
If you have observed ordinary Muslims, the only conclusion you can reach is that they are no different from Islamists in any way except practicing violence. Women are veiled, relegated to inferior status, subject to male domination and honor killing, and there is zero tolerance for dissent or criticism of their religion. They still regard apostasy or blasphemy as crimes and they support the death penalty for gays, apostates and blasphemers. Unlike guilt-ridden Christians they have no interest in "multifaith dialogue" or in cultural assimilation. They still do not embrace separation of religion and state. In the end it is their religion, Islam, that is a global threat, even though its objectives are carried out through force and violence. Muslim silence and inaction against radical Islam and jihad prove that fear of retribution as mandated in the qu-ran and fulfilled by Muslim men has turned them into moral cowards.

amcdonald
November 2nd, 2016
3:11 PM
There are Christians who see the koran/islam as the work of Satan. I wonder what % of the 17.4 million Brexiteers Michael Gove and Theresa May think are against Islam. The No More Mosques activists are also `rational actors` . Draw a cartoon and thousands of brit muslims turn into anti-democratic,anti-art irrational emotionalists. Have Gove,May and Corbym been `islamified` ? Have they `gone native` on the subject? The Guardian is now a muslim newspaper published by white lefties. Brexit is magnificent (Morrissey) and a glorious victory (Julie Burchill). The Brexit flag is raised by Brendon O`Neil over at the Spectator. The BBC only has junk mail and cakes to contribute.Islam makes pretending to be a muslim easy. There`s no spiritual nourishment in it. It`s a blasphemy against Jesus for a start. It`s a form of atheist materialism. And no use to science,art,politics or popular culture in the 21st century. The vast majority of women in the UK don`t want Islam cloning factories/mosques multiplying.

Anonymous
October 30th, 2016
4:10 PM
If Islamism is so clearly distinguishable from Islam, why isn't it easier to get the more tolerant Muslims to condemn this new strain? 2 possible answers: because it is so powerful within so many UK mosques, or because loyalties are divided, even amongst the more peaceful Muslims (if they were all jihadis, we'd be in the middle of a far more horrific war already)

Kevin Parlon
October 30th, 2016
8:10 AM
Finally. Finally we hear from mainstream politics what those of us paying close attention have known for years. Bravo Mr Grove. Bravo.

amcdonald
October 26th, 2016
2:10 PM
Fine words. So where is the govt website,phone number,office and all the leaflets and posters for this coalition ? Will it even have a website? There`s no mention of Douglas Murray,Julie Burchill or Camille Paglia. Paglia`s description (at Salon .com) of Trump v Clinton is the true one and the most well written. The id,superego and Dadaism of it all are well in evidence.

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