Saturday, 20 June 2015

David Cameron Continues to Speak Both Truth and Falsehood About Islamic Jihad

Not for the first time, David Cameron has shown that he has the cajones to say some things that most other British politicans dare not say - and once again he has shown that despite the courage of his convictions, he has very little understanding of what he is talking about.

In a speech at a security conference in Slovakia on Friday, the Prime Minister warned of the dangers posed by those who "quietly condone" Islamic State's jihadist ideology. He said the police and intelligence agencies were not responsible for people deciding they wanted to go to fight for IS in Syria, and that recent cases show how young people from Britain are at risk of sliding towards "violent extremism".

Mr Cameron said: "The cause is ideological. It is an Islamist extremist ideology, one that says the West is bad, that democracy is wrong, that women are inferior, that homosexuality is evil.

"It says religious doctrine trumps the rule of law and Caliphate trumps nation state and it justifies violence in asserting itself and achieving its aims. The question is: How do people arrive at this worldview?"

Here we have both the good and the bad of Cameron's analysis of the problem. On the one hand, he summarises more succinctly than most of our political class will dare the basic ideological tenets of the enemy. But then he flaps his hands in the air and wonders how anyone could come to believe these kinds of things.

Yes, how could those who are described by those who know them as "devout Muslims", and who do things such as holding evening classes on the Qur’an and creating websites where they share lectures from Islamic scholars, ever get the idea that "religious doctrine trumps the rule of law and Caliphate trumps nation state", and that violence is necessary in "asserting itself and achieving its aims"? Could it have anything to do with...Islam?

Cameron and his ilk don't just answer this question in the negative - they refuse to allow anyone to ask the question in the first place. For them, Islam is a religion of peace, and the vast majority of Muslims condemn and reject the "extremist" interpretation of it, so that even when people are devout Muslims, who read the Qur'an and know it intimately, and then seem to get the idea that violence and hatred is not condemned at all in the Qur'an, it must somehow not have anything to do with Islam. If it did, then their initial presuppositions might not be true - and that's just inconceivable. The truth shouldn't be defined by the facts, but rather by what makes us feel better.

And so Dave has to resort to blaming "questions of national identity", and suggesting that "making sure young people in our country feel truly part of it" will solve the problem. I'm sorry, but why isn't Dave asking why it is only Muslims who are answering questions of national identity in this insanely barbaric way? There are Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Africans, Jamaicans, Koreans, and many other groups in this country, all of whom must at some point have to grapple with questions of national identity, and none of them have formed international groups that have declared war on the rest of the world, and behead, immolate, enslave, rape and kill people on a daily basis. None of them have alarming numbers of British residents travelling overseas to join such groups. Why is it only Muslims who need to take a "British values" short course in order not to be induced to go out and join a barbaric death cult?

The PM's oversights are even more inexcusable considering that in the same speech, he did show some understanding, however limited, of one of the most serious problems of all. He mentioned that some British Muslims "don't go as far as advocating violence, but do buy into some of these prejudices". This "paves the way for young people to turn simmering prejudice into murderous intent", and to "go from listening to firebrand preachers online to boarding a plane to Istanbul and travelling onward to join the jihadis".

Whether he knows it or not, Dave has made an extremely important observation here. Poll after poll in the Muslim world has shown that while the majority of Muslims reject terrorism and murderous violence to advance the cause of Islam, that majority also endorse the imposition of sharia law in the Muslim world, in all its draconian glory.

In the UK specifically, following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, the ComRes polling agency carried out a widely publicised survey of British Muslims and their attitudes towards blasphemy and extremism in the UK. Despite mainstream media attempts to present the results of the poll as somehow encouraging,  what they actually showed was that 27% of British Muslims (over a quarter) said they have some sympathy for the motives behind the Paris attacks, while 24% felt that violence against those who publish images of Muhammad can sometimes be justified. This would seem to explain why there have been a number of public Muslim demonstrations in the UK – often attended in the thousands or even tens of thousands – advocating the criminalisation of criticism of Islam,  and not a single one in support of freedom of speech.

And so we can see the problem as Mr Cameron has summarised it. Many Muslims will never go to join Islamic State, and disapprove of their actions for a number of reasons. And yet, they still have a cultural mindset that sympathises with any attempts to enforce sharia, no matter how brutal and savage, and which instinctively feels a degree of hesitation over engaging in any form of self-reflection that might lead to serious reform and meaningful action to tackle the worldwide serial "misunderstanding" of Islam that we see on the news every single day.

This is what we have in Britain in 2015: a Prime Minister with enough common sense to understand a good part of what we should do about the problem, but who systematically closes down all the avenues towards dealing with that problem, by denying its root causes, applying poor, inconsistent logic, and shutting down those who attempt to inject realism into the debate.

This is Britain in 2015. It doesn't make one too optimistic about what Britain will be like in 2025.

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