“Roots of the Problem”*

By Exerepts from U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron Speech on Radicalism
Friday, July 24th, 2015 @ 2:26AM

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On July 20, 2015, Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron presented his plan to defeat domestic Islamist Extremism (and how to stop it.).. Here are some excerpts:  

“It begins – it must begin – by understanding the threat we face and why we face it. What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine.

And like any extreme doctrine, it is subversive. At its furthest end it seeks to destroy nation-states to invent its own barbaric realm. And it often backs violence to achieve this aim – mostly violence against fellow Muslims – who don’t subscribe to its sick worldview.

But you don’t have to support violence to subscribe to certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish, ideas which are hostile to basic liberal values such as democracy, freedom and sexual equality.

Ideas which actively promote discrimination, sectarianism and segregation.

Ideas – like those of the despicable far right – which privilege one identity to the detriment of the rights and freedoms of others.

And ideas also based on conspiracy: that Jews exercise malevolent power; or that Western powers, in concert with Israel, are deliberately humiliating Muslims, because they aim to destroy Islam. In this warped worldview, such conclusions are reached – that 9/11 was actually inspired by Mossad to provoke the invasion of Afghanistan; that British security services knew about 7/7, but didn’t do anything about it because they wanted to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash.

And like so many ideologies that have existed before – whether fascist or communist – many people, especially young people, are being drawn to it. We need to understand why it is proving so attractive.

…The root cause of the threat we face is the extremist ideology itself.

Islam – Now the third plank of our strategy is to embolden different voices within the Muslim community. Just as we do not engage with extremist groups and individuals, we’re now going to actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices. This is a significant shift in government approach – and an important one.

In the past, governments have been too quick to dismiss the religious aspect of Islamist extremism. That is totally understandable. It cannot be said clearly enough: this extremist ideology is not true Islam. I have said it myself many, many times, and it’s absolutely right to do so. And I’ll say it again today.

But simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn’t work, because these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.

Now it is an exercise in futility to deny that. And more than that, it can be dangerous. To deny it has anything to do with Islam means you disempower the critical reforming voices; the voices that are challenging the fusing of religion and politics; the voices that want to challenge the scriptural basis which extremists claim to be acting on; the voices that are crucial in providing an alternative worldview that could stop a teenager’s slide along the spectrum of extremism.

These reforming voices, they have a tough enough time as it is: the extremists are the ones who have the money, the leaders, the iconography and the propaganda machines. We need to turn the tables.

We can’t stand neutral in this battle of ideas. We have to back those who share our values. So here’s my offer.

If you’re interested in reform; if you want to challenge the extremists in our midst; if you want to build an alternative narrative or if you just want to help protect your kids – we are with you and we will back you – with practical help, with funding, with campaigns, with protection and with political representation.

This should form a key part of our Counter-Extremism Strategy.

And let’s remember that it’s only the extremists who divide people into good Muslims and bad Muslims, by forcing their warped doctrine onto fellow Muslims and telling them that it is the only way to believe. Our new approach is about isolating the extremists from everyone else, so that all our Muslim communities can be free from the poison of Islamist extremism.

Now for my part, I am going to set up a new community engagement forum so I can hear directly from those out there who are challenging extremism. And I also want to issue a challenge to the broadcasters in our country. You are, of course, free to put whoever you want on the airwaves.

Counter-ideology

First, any strategy to defeat extremism must confront, head on, the extreme ideology that underpins it. We must take its component parts to pieces – the cultish worldview, the conspiracy theories, and yes, the so-called glamorous parts of it as well.

In doing so, let’s not forget our strongest weapon: our own liberal values.

We should expose their extremism for what it is – a belief system that glorifies violence and subjugates its people – not least Muslim people.

We should contrast their bigotry, aggression and theocracy with our values.

We have, in our country, a very clear creed and we need to promote it much more confidently. Wherever we are from, whatever our background, whatever our religion, there are things we share together.

We are all British. We respect democracy and the rule of law. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith.

We believe in respecting different faiths but also expecting those faiths to support the British way of life. These are British values. And are underpinned by distinct British institutions. Our freedom comes from our Parliamentary democracy. The rule of law exists because of our independent judiciary. This is the home that we are building together.

Whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian or Sikh, whether you were born here or born abroad, we can all feel part of this country – and we must now all come together and stand up for our values with confidence and pride.

And as we do so, we should together challenge the ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists. The world is not conspiring against Islam; the security services aren’t behind terrorist attacks; our new Prevent duty for schools is not about criminalising or spying on Muslim children. This is paranoia in the extreme.

In fact that duty will empower parents and teachers to protect children from all forms of extremism – whether Islamist or neo-Nazi.

We should challenge together the conspiracy theories about our Muslim communities too and I know how much pain these can cause.

We must stand up to those who try to suggest that there is some kind of secret Muslim conspiracy to take over our government, or that Islam and Britain are somehow incompatible.

People who say these things are trying to undermine our shared values and make Muslims feel like they don’t belong here, and we will not let these conspiracy theorists win.

We must also de-glamourise the extremist cause, especially ISIL. This is a group that throws people off buildings, that burns them alive, and as Channel 4’s documentary last week showed, its men rape underage girls, and stone innocent women to death. This isn’t a pioneering movement – it is vicious, brutal, and a fundamentally abhorrent existence.

And here’s my message to any young person here in Britain thinking of going out there:You won’t be some valued member of a movement. You are cannon fodder for them. They will use you.

If you are a boy, they will brainwash you, strap bombs to your body and blow you up.

If you are a girl, they will enslave and abuse you.

That is the sick and brutal reality of ISIL.

So when we bring forward our Counter- Extremism Strategy in the autumn, here are the things we will be looking at: *using people who really understand the true nature of what life is like under ISIL to communicate to young and vulnerable people the brutal reality of this ideology* empowering the UK’s Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish communities, so they can have platforms from which to speak out against the carnage ISIL is conducting in their countries* countering this ideology better on the ground through specific de-radicalisation programmes

I also want to go much further in dealing with this ideology in prison and online. We need to have a total rethink of what we do in our prisons to tackle extremism. And we need our internet companies to go further in helping us identify potential terrorists online.

Many of their commercial models are built around monitoring platforms for personal data, packaging it up and selling it on to third parties. And when it comes to doing what’s right for their business, they are happy to engineer technologies to track our likes and dislikes. But when it comes to doing what’s right in the fight against terrorism, we too often hear that it’s all too difficult.

Well I’m sorry – I just don’t buy that.

They – the internet companies – have shown with the vital work they are doing in clamping down on child abuse images that they can step up when there is a moral imperative to act. And it’s now time for them to do the same to protect their users from the scourge of radicalisation.

And as we do all of this work to counter the Islamist extremist ideology, let’s also recognise that we will have to enter some pretty uncomfortable debates – especially cultural ones. Too often we have lacked the confidence to enforce our values, for fear of causing offence. The failure in the past to confront the horrors of forced marriage I view as a case in point. So is the utter brutality of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

It sickens me to think that there were nearly 4,000 cases of FGM reported in our country last year alone. Four thousand cases; think about that. And 11,000 cases of so called honour-based violence over the last 5 years – and that’s just the reported cases.

We need more co-ordinated efforts to drive this out of our society. More prosecutions. No more turning a blind eye on the false basis of cultural sensitivities. Why does this matter so much?

Well, think what passive tolerance says to young British Muslim girls.

We can’t expect them to see the power and liberating force of our values if we don’t stand up for them when they come under attack. So I am glad we have gone further than any government in tackling these appalling crimes. And we are keeping up the pressure on cultural practices that can run directly counter to these vital values.

That’s why the Home Secretary has already announced a review of sharia courts.

It’s why we have said we will toughen the regulations. so schools have to report children who go missing from school rolls mid-year – some of whom, we fear, may be being forced into marriage.

It’s why we legislated for authorities to seize the passports of people they suspect are planning on taking girls abroad for FGM – new protection orders which came into force last Friday and were used immediately by Bedfordshire police to prevent two girls being taken to Africa.

And it’s why today I can also announce we will consult on legislating for lifetime anonymity for victims of forced marriage, so that no-one should ever again feel afraid to come forward and report these horrific crimes.

There are other examples of this passive tolerance of practices running totally contrary to our values. The failure of social services, the police and local authorities, to deal with child sex abuse in places like Rotherham was frankly unforgiveable.

And look what happened in Tower Hamlets, in the heart of our capital city. We had political corruption on an epic scale: with voters intimidated and a court adjudicating on accusations of ‘undue spiritual influence’ for the first time since the 19th century. As the judge said: those in authority were too afraid to ‘confront wrongdoing for fear of allegations of racism’.

Well this has got to stop.

We need everyone – government, local authorities, police, schools, all of us – to enforce our values right across the spectrum.

*The full speech may be found here.

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Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, Islam, UK