The government’s position on combating Islamist extremism now ranges from the farcical to the dangerously flawed. First we had the spectacle of the security minister, Admiral Lord West, saying he didn’t see the need for more than 28 days’ detention before charge for terrorism suspects and then, an hour later, being forced to say that he did. I’m sure that makes us all feel a lot more secure. Then there was Gordon Brown’s statement on beefing up security and dealing with Islamist extremism. In a withering commentary in yesterday’s Telegraph, Michael Burleigh pointed out that the sensible things the Prime Minister said were staggeringly overdue and anyway largely filched from the Tories, while there was still an alarming absence of substance and an even more alarming failure to distinguish between Islamist extremism and those trying to draw attention to its dangers:
Mr Brown also intimated that he will be seeking to persuade senior media figures to tone down reporting that allegedly gives rise to ‘Islamophobia’. This is sinister, especially since it will not be accompanied by attempts to inhibit the expressions of hatred or disgust that Muslims direct at Western society. Nor did Mr Brown have anything to say about organisations such as Hizb-ut Tahrir — which function as sectarian totalitarian parties bent on dominating institutions they manage to infiltrate — beyond the pathetic assurance that they would not receive grants from local authorities.
‘Hearts and minds’ cuts two ways. It is not just up to us to avoid giving egregious offence to Muslims. There was nothing in Brown’s speech about the plans to build a 25,000-capacity mega-mosque near the 2012 Olympic stadium in West Ham, which is intended to serve as a Muslim quarter for athletes and spectators during the Games, in flagrant violation of everythin the Olympic Games represent. And no categorical rebuttal of insidious attempts by Islamists to introduce Sharia courts, thereby sanctioning what would amount to exclaves outside the law.
What seems to be happening is that the government is adopting some sensible policies on beefing up physical security but is going completely wrong over how to combat the ideas driving the terror. Its ‘hearts and minds’ policy – on which the fingerprints of the security service are clearly visible — appears to be promoting a kind of twin track approach: tough measures against Islamic extremism while encouraging ‘moderate’ Islam. But the first part of this seems ineffectual, while the second seems to be merely another variation on the disastrous existing strategy of trying to buy off Muslim rage by adopting what is actually an Islamist agenda without the violence. It is beyond depressing that the Prime Minister actually praised the
recent remarkable letter by 138 Muslim scholars from a diversity of traditions within Islam, which paid tribute to the common roots of Islam, Christianity and Judaism and called for deeper dialogue.
As I wrote here, that letter masqueraded as promoting peace through emphasising apparently shared characteristics while actually saying to the Christian church: ‘Peace on our terms’. It suggested that the Christian world was at war with Islam, which is the very opposite of the truth; it made no mention of Islamist aggression and implied instead that the Christian world must abandon its own self-defence; and it implied that the Islamic world would indeed attack Christians if it thought it was justified in doing so. In short, that letter was an example of precisely the kind of Islamist aggression which the government should be robustly exposing and opposing. But instead, Gordon Brown actually praised it and said further that as a result
we stand ready to support new facilities for multi-faith scholarship in Britain
and that he was
inviting the Higher Education Funding Council to investigate the idea of setting up in Britain a European centre of excellence for Islamic studies
and also that the UK would work jointly with the French and German governments
on building an appreciation of the Islamic and Muslim heritage across Britain and Europe.
This is all a bit like responding to Nazism in the 1930s by holding road-shows on German culture. In other words, government policy is to come up with meaningless and empty rhetoric about combating extremism; ignore or even sanitise extremist and aggressive statements by Muslims and praise them instead as moderates; accept their mind-bending dissimulation, and give them what they want.
It is simply astounding that the Prime Minister can make a long and detailed statement about how to respond to the terrorist threat against Britain and the west without once mentioning ‘Islamic extremism’ or indeed religious fanaticism, the actual motivation for that terrorist threat, restricting all mention of Islam or Muslims instead only to positive mentions. Just as it would be wrong to deny that many Muslims derive only spiritual solace from their faith, it is not only wrong but lethal to deny that religious fanaticism is the cause of the terrorist threat. For the British government, however, winning hearts and minds seems to mean delivering British heart and minds to Islamism.
This is because the government refuses to acknowledge that this is a religious war being waged against the west. As a result, it will lose it.