It is no secret that, for some time, the Prime Minister David Cameron has been expected to make a speech setting out his Government’s approach to the threat of Islamist terrorism, extremism and incitement.
Some of you may have heard rumours that the Prime Minister had been persuaded to “tone down” the speech, to suit the tastes of the Peter Obornes of this world. Indeed, only a few days ago Oborne was arguing – with a straight face – that institutions aligned with Islamist political parties which foster and promote hatred of others, are a valuable bulwark against Al Qaeda (rather than a validator of their narrative) and that they play “an important role in enabling Muslims to vent their anger and frustrations” (rather than reinforcing anomie and mistrust).
I am pleased to say that David Cameron has completely rejected that thesis, in the clearest possible language. I recommend that you read his speech, when it is published.
Here are a couple of articles which quote sections of it. The Financial Times:
“Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism,” he will say.
“So let’s properly judge these organisations. Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism.”
Mr Cameron will promise a new willingness to argue against and “defeat” extremist ideologies that lead some to engage in terrorism.
That means abandoning the notion that different communities should be able to live according to their own values and traditions as long as they stay within the law. “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream,” Mr Cameron will say. “We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.”
The true boldness of Mr Cameron’s message lies in his view that non-violent extremism is an entry-chamber for terrorism itself. He blames Islamist doctrine – the political ideology advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood under the cloak, or rather the veil, of religion – as the bad thought from which bad actions naturally spring. It fills the dangerous vacuum created by multi-culturalism. Paranoia about Western governments, anti-Semitism, the oppression of women – all these things fire up young men with hatred of a society they are taught to see as decadent. Soon they are only the click of a mouse away from people who will teach them how to blow themselves up on a crowded train.
In arguing thus, the Prime Minister is directly confronting large elements of officialdom. The Prevent programme of counter-terrorism, currently under review, is managed by Charles Farr, an MI6 man seconded to the Home Office to run counter-terrorism. His approach depends on the idea of doing deals with extremists to rein in their own – fulfilling the old Iranian saying, dating from our colonial era, that “behind every beard there is a British agent”. Because of this doctrine of “it takes one to know one”, Islamists are employed under Mr Farr’s wing. The dangerous men are thus empowered by the state, becoming the gatekeepers for all Muslims.
There is much, much more. It pulls no punches.
This speech is an excellent first step. The proof of this particular pudding is in its eating. David Cameron needs to ensure that these words are Government policy, across the board.
Right on cue, Bungle turns up:
Inayat Bunglawala, chair of an anti-extremist group called Muslims4Uk, said: “Mr Cameron’s remarks are ill-judged and deeply patronising. The overwhelming majority of UK Muslims are proud to be British and are appalled by the antics of a tiny group of extremists and so will hardly be pleased with his lecture on integration.
“Ironically, the PM’s comments come on a day when the viciously Islamophobic English Defence League are to stage their biggest demonstration yet on our streets. Integration works both ways and we would expect Mr Cameron and his government to be openly challenging these EDL extremists. Instead, he and his senior ministers have to date remained totally mute. It is disgraceful.”
1. Muslims4UK is not an “anti extremist group”. It is a defunct website. Apparently linked to, erm, the extremist group MPACUK!
2. More to the point, Muslims4UK was set up as a response, not to extremism, but to the fact that British Muslims for Secular Democracy were planning to protest against Al Muhajiroun. As you can see, the website was hastily set up by Bungle following the announcement of that protest.
And why did Bungle want to set up Muslims4UK rather than join with British Muslims for Secular Democracy? Why, indeed, did he want a separate pen from BMSD at the demonstration?
Because Yasmin Alibhai Brown drinks alcohol and does not believe that little girls should wear the hijab.
Oh and Bungle – you should have waited to listen to the speech. He will condemn anti-Muslim bigots. Repeatedly.
On the one hand, those on the hard right ignore this distinction between Islam and Islamist extremism and just say:Islam and the West are in irreconcilable. This is a clash of civilisations.So it follows: we should cut ourselves off from this religion – whether that’s through the forced repatriation favoured by some fascists or the banning of new mosques as suggested in some parts of Europe.These people fuel Islamaphobia.And I completely reject their argument.
Sayeeda Warsi let her unhappiness be known after she was barred from sharing a platform with extremists. Conservative MPs called for Charles Farr, the Director of Security and Counter-Terrorism, to be fired after he sought to ensure the entry to Britain of a hate preacher. Some Conservative MPs may still be willing to let Engage serve as the secretariat of a Parliamentary enquiry into Islamophobia. Cameron’s speech is in one sense rage against the machine, or parts of it, at any rate. But it’s easy to kick the apparatus of government; it’s much harder to make it work as required – to which task the Prime Minister must now turn.
Unfortunately, Sadiq Khan MP drops the ball:
Sadiq Khan, a prominent Muslim Labour MP, accused the PM of ‘writing propaganda for the EDL’.
That is a very mistaken response. The speech contains, as we have seen, a very clear and blunt attack on the EDL and the anti-Muslim hatemongers. Cameron’s speech says PRECISELY the same things that Tony Blair has said. Is Sadiq Khan attacking Labour’s legacy on this issue?
Fortunately the Mirror article isn’t very long or prominent.
Labour can’t lose the mainstream over this issue. That would be a betray of this country’s citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Edmund Standing adds:
Birds of a feather…