In medieval times, moreover, Christianity used its interpretation of the Bible also to kill ‘unbelievers’, because early Christians believed they had a divine duty to make the world conform to their religion at all costs. That stopped when the Reformation ushered the Church into modernity, and today no Christian wants to use violence to convert others to their faith. The problem with the extremist teachings of Islam is that the religion has never had a similar ‘reformation’. Certainly, there are enlightened Muslims in Britain who would dearly love their religion to be reformed. But they have the rug pulled from under their feet by the Government’s flat denial of the religious nature of this terrible problem. Some people instead ascribe the actions of the Woolwich killers to factors such as thuggish gang membership, drug abuse or family breakdown. But it is precisely such lost souls who are vulnerable to Islamist fanatics and who provide them with father figures, a sense of belonging and a cause which gives apparent meaning to their lives. Many people find it incomprehensible that such fanatics remain free to peddle their poison. Partly, this is because the Security Service likes to gather intelligence through their actions. But it is also because of a failure to understand what amounts to a continuum of extremism. There are too many British Muslims who, while abhorring violence at home, nevertheless support the killing abroad of British or American forces or Israelis, regard unbelievers as less than fully human, and homosexuals or apostates as deserving the death penalty. Such bigotry creates the poisonous sea in which dehumanisation and religious violence swim. To the failure to understand all this must be added the widespread terror of being thought ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘racist’. It is quite astonishing that universities mostly refuse to crack down on extremist speakers and radicalisation on campus — despite at least four former presidents of Islamic student societies having faced terrorist charges. In a devastating account published at the weekend, Professor Michael Burleigh, who advised the Government on revising its counter-radicalisation strategy, described how this process descended into a ‘sad shambles’. He related how the Federation of Islamic Student Societies (FOSIS) had created a sexually segregated environment in which young people were being systematically indoctrinated in anti-Jew, anti-homosexual and anti-Western hatred by Islamist speakers on campus. But although the Government condemned FOSIS for its failure to ‘fully challenge terrorist and extremist ideology’, with the Home Secretary even ordering that civil servants withdraw from its graduate recruitment fair, the Faith and Communities Minister, Baroness Warsi, actually endorsed it by attending one of its events at the House of Lords. Lethal Nor has the Government done anything to stop extremist preachers targeting and converting criminals in British jails at a deeply alarming rate. On top of all this official incoherence is the paralysis caused by the excesses of the ‘human rights’ culture. Thus the Home Secretary is facing a monumental battle to get through Parliament a Communications Bill that would give police and security services access to records of individuals’ internet use. It is said that some of these extremist preachers exploit loopholes in the law. If so, then the law should be changed. But we all know what would befall any such attempt. It would be all but drowned out by shrieks that we were ‘doing the terrorists’ job for them’ by ‘undermining our own hard-won liberties’. Well, it’s time to face down such claims as vacuous and lethal nonsense. The people threatening our liberties are Islamic radicals determined to destroy our way of life. It is those who refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this threat who are doing the terrorists’ job for them. And unless Britain finally wakes up from its self-destructive torpor, all who love civilised values — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — will be the losers.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Melanie Phillips on Islamic Extremism in Britain