Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Until our leaders admit the true nature of Islamic extremism, we will never defeat it
By Melanie Phillips
Ever since the spectre of Islamic terrorism in the West first manifested itself, Britain has had its head stuck firmly in the sand.
After both 9/11 and the 7/7 London transport bombings, the Labour government promised to take measures to defend the country against further such attacks.
It defined the problem, however, merely as terrorism, failing to understand that the real issue was the extremist ideas which led to such violence.
Accordingly, it poured money into Muslim community groups, many of which turned out to be dangerously extreme.
When David Cameron came to power, his Government raised hopes of a more realistic approach when it pledged to counter extremist ideas rather than just violence. This approach, too, has failed. The Government still has no coherent strategy for countering Islamist radicalisation.
Following last week’s barbaric slaughter of Drummer Rigby on the streets of Woolwich by two Islamic fanatics, the Prime Minister has announced that he will head a new Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force. And the Home Secretary has said she will look at widening the banning of radical groups preaching hate.
But at the heart of these promises remains a crucial gap. That is the need to define just what kind of extremism we are up against.
The Government has been extraordinarily reluctant to do this — because it refuses to face the blindingly obvious fact that this extremism is religious in nature.
It arises from an interpretation of Islam which takes the words of the Koran literally as a command to kill unbelievers in a jihad, or holy war, in order to impose strict Islamic tenets on the rest of the world.
Of course, millions of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere totally reject this interpretation of their religion. Most British Muslims want to live peacefully and enjoy the benefits of Western culture. They undoubtedly utterly deplore the notion that the kind of carnage that occurred in Woolwich should take place in Britain.
And let’s not forget that, worldwide, most victims of the jihad are themselves Muslims whom the extremists judge to be polluted by Western ideas.
Nevertheless, this fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran is what is being spouted by hate preachers in Britain and on the internet, and is steadily radicalising thousands of young British Muslims.
Now the Prime Minister says he will crack down on such extremism. Yet after the Woolwich atrocity, he claimed it was ‘a betrayal of Islam’ and that ‘there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act’.
The London Mayor Boris Johnson went even further, claiming: ‘It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam’ and that the cause was simply the killers’ ‘warped and deluded mindset’.
Yet the video footage of the killers — who had shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ when butchering Drummer Rigby — records one of them citing verses in the Koran exhorting the faithful to fight and kill unbelievers, and declaring: ‘We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.’
Frankly, these comments by the Prime Minister and London Mayor were as absurd as saying the medieval Inquisition, for example, had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but was just the product of a few warped and deluded individuals.
Their comments were also deeply troubling. For if politicians refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this extremism, they will never counter it effectively.
But then, government officials have always refused to admit that this is a religious war. They simply don’t understand the power of religious fanaticism.
Of course, there are fanatics in all religions. Within both Judaism and Christianity, there are deep divisions between ultras, liberals and those in between.
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.
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.
I hate censorship but the BBC's wrong to pander to our enemies
By Quentin Letts
Back in the bloodiest days of Northern Irish terrorism, Margaret Thatcher called it ‘the oxygen of publicity’ – a vivid phrase for a knotty dilemma.
To what extent should the media report extreme views? The BBC is accused of giving undue prominence to Muslim demagogue Anjem Choudary, the cleric who stands accused of having inspired Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo.
Another associate of Adebolajo, one Abu Nusaybah, was arrested at BBC studios just after giving an interview about how the blood-soaked suspect was once courted by our security services.
Mrs May said it was inappropriate to interview Choudary in the wake of Drummer Rigby¿s death
The decision to 'go' with studio guest Choudary was that of a management which is even more remote from its viewers than our much-criticised politicians are from their voters.
Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday signalled her unease at liberal broadcasters’ readiness (some might say precipitous desire) to make media stars out of these unalluring men. Does she have a point?
Chauffeurs were dispatched to convey Choudary to BBC and Channel 4 studios, as though he were some sort of celebrity. He was accorded the full courtesies of a member of London’s ‘punditocracy’.
Had the make-up girls combed that beard? Sure looked like it. He was given the powdered, soft-backlit treatment normally extended to politicians and representatives of respectable views. So what did he make of the Woolwich butchery?
Choudary conceded to feeling ‘shock’. But he certainly would not condemn it.
Here was a so-called man of religion, dressed in the clerical garb of one of the world’s great faiths.
Yet he would not criticise two machete-wielding motorists who mowed down a pedestrian and then tried to sever the defenceless soul’s head from his neck.
Ye gods. And now over to Liam for the weather.
Defenders of the BBC will say it is important that we know such violent sympathies bubble under society’s facade. Society has, in its darkest pockets, men and women who believe in all sorts of Satanic misdeeds.
But liberals, rightly, would never contemplate giving them a platform on prime-time network television.
If they bubble under society’s facade, let them stay there. Don’t turn them into gurus for the masses.
As a journalist who dislikes politicians meddling in the media, I would normally be tempted to side with the BBC.
Indeed, I find it more difficult to feel disquiet about Channel 4, whose news reporting has long been testing and rigorous, even if it often dresses to the Left. It is harder to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt. This is a Corporation which for years has promoted political correctness at the expense of journalistic truth.
This is a Corporation whose news editors have been bullied into silencing criticism of working-class views about multiculturalism and immigration.
You agreed with Enoch? Your voice went unheard. The middle-class snoots of the BBC hierarchy would not hear of such intolerance.
You support the death penalty, English nationalism, a flat tax rate, an end to the welfare system? No airtime for you.
Would Anjem Choudary have been given such a comfortable ride on primetime telly if he had been attacking wind farms; if he had been calling for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union; if he had been questioning the MMR vaccine?
This conditioning of BBC editors as to what is and what is not ‘acceptable’ – a conditioning which earlier this month prevented them telling us the Pakistani background of most of the Oxford sex ring – explains how Choudary sauntered into a BBC studio to abuse our country.
Free speech is not the same as naïvely giving houseroom to enemies of the state.
When journalism tries too hard to be politically correct it becomes opaque, dishonest and, in this instance, culpably unpatriotic. The timing was wrong. The tone was wrong.
The decision to ‘go’ with studio guest Choudary was that of a management which is even more remote from its viewers than our much-criticised politicians are from their voters.
When the country’s most powerful media organisation (by far) is so out of touch, is it any wonder democracy is in such ill health?
No journalist wants to return to the days of Mrs Thatcher’s attempt to prevent Sinn Fein leaders ever being heard on air (the BBC, rightly, got round that authoritarian ban by employing actors to voice the words of Gerry Adams and Co).
But the comparison to Irish republicanism is instructive. Sinn Fein was and is a political party. Not so Anjem Choudary.
This row weakens the BBC. Politicians are pouncing. Shadow Justice Minister Sadiq Khan said that Choudary was an ‘offensive and obnoxious media tart’.
The Tories’ Lady Warsi deplored the promotion of extremist ‘idiots and nutters’.
Sucking up to the Centre Left and its grubby electoral scheme of multiculturalism was once seen by the BBC’s ruling Left-wing clique as a good career move.
It has backfired terribly, not just on them and on our country, but most terribly on the family of Drummer Rigby.
Suspected terrorist who tried to kill a French soldier in copycat attack was 'caught on security camera footage removing his robes'
Paris police today conceded that the stabbing of a French soldier was inspired by the terrorist murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Private Cedric Cordier, 23, was stabbed in the neck while on patrol in the business district of the French capital on Saturday evening. He is now recovering in hospital.
The attacker, who has not been caught, was 6ft2in, of North African origin and wore a long, Arab garment called a djellaba.
In a copycat of an ambush in London in which a British serviceman was murdered, the attacker struck in front of dozens of passers-by, stabbing his victim in the throat and neck.
Police spokesman Christophe Crepin said: ‘You don’t have to be a great observer to see that people are taking inspiration from what’s happened abroad.’
Politicians also acknowledged the similarities. ‘The sudden violence... could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London,’ said interior minister Manuel Valls.
And defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that attack had undoubtedly been an ‘attempt to kill’ the soldier, whose regiment had recently fought in Afghanistan.
Two comrades from the 4th Cavalry Regiment were with him, and carrying automatic rifles, but they failed to react before the man ran off.
‘We are looking through video surveillance footage,’ said an officer at the scene of the crime. ‘He was seen taking off his Arab-style robes and running away wearing European clothing.’
Detectives are convinced that the attacker was ‘inspired’ by the savage murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, who was allegedly hacked down by two radical Islamists in Woolwich, south London, last Wednesday.
While Drummer Rigby was off duty, Private Cordier was on an anti-terrorism patrol in La Defense business district of west Paris.
France’s defence minister Jean Yves Le Drian said that attack had undoubtedly been an ‘attempt to kill’ the soldier, whose regiment had recently fought in Afghanistan.
Private Cordier lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and is being treated at the nearby Percy military hospital.
France is considered a hotbed of radical Islamists, and the country’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan is currently in action.
Last year Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French-Algerian Islamist, murdered three French soldiers near the south west city of Toulouse during a killing spree which also claimed the lives of four civilians.
Eleven people across UK arrested for making 'racist or anti-religious' comments on Facebook and Twitter about British soldier's death
No free speech in England -- except for Muslim preachers, of course
The murder of soldier Lee Rigby has provoked a backlash of anger across the UK, including the attacking of mosques, racial abuse and comments made on social media.
Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making 'racist or anti-religious' comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in Woolwich on Wednesday.
The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism.
Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline. But the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, told BBC Radio Five Live: 'What's really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They're coming in from right across the country.
'Secondly, some of them are quite aggressive very focused, very aggressive attacks. And thirdly, there also seems to be significant online activity...suggesting co-ordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate.'
It comes as 22-year-old man appeared before magistrates in Lincoln today charged with posting a 'grossly offensive' anti-Muslim message on Facebook following the Woolwich murder.
Benjamin Flatters, of Swineshead, Lincs, faces a charge under the 1988 Malicious Communications Act following a message he posted on Facebook on 22 May which is alleged to be offensive to Muslims.
No details of the message were given at the hearing but another man was warned about his conduct on social media.
Flatters, who spoke only to confirm his name, age and address, was refused bail by Lincoln Magistrates following a 20 minute hearing.
The court was told he faces further matters including four charges of inciting under-age girls to engage in sexual activity by sending sexual messages by Facebook as well as two drugs charges.
Flatters was remanded in custody until Wednesday when he will appear before Skegness Magistrates via video link.
His court appearance came within 24 hours of Lincolnshire Police warning users of social networking sites such as Facebook that they face arrest if posts were likely to incite racial hatred or violence.
A force spokesman said 'We have received a number of reports from local members of the public about tweets and Facebook comments that could potentially incite racial hatred and violence.
'These are currently being investigated. If such communications are reported to us and they do breach the law, those messages may be monitored; captured and robust police action will be considered.
'We would urge people to consider the very real impact of their online comments in relation to this matter.'
Flatters court appearance comes after two men were arrested and released on bail for making alleged offensive comments on Twitter about the murder of Lee Rigby.
Complaints were made to Avon and Somerset Police about remarks that appeared on the social networking website, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.
A 23-year-old and a 22-year-old, both from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred.
Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley of Avon and Somerset Police said: 'These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.
'People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.'
Two men will also appear at Thames Magistrates Court today charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour over an incident in an east London fast food restaurant on Thursday.
Labourer Toni Latcal, 32, and plasterer Eugen-Aurelian Eugen-Beredei, 34, both from London, were arrested following the incident at 9.15pm on Thursday. Latcal was charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour and causing criminal damage, while Eugen-Beredei was charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour.
Surrey Police said a 19-year-old man has been charged in connection with comments placed on a social media website following the murder of the soldier.
Mohammed Mazar, of Balmoral Drive, Woking, has been charged with improper use of public electronic communications network under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
A police spokesman said Mazar has been freed on police bail to appear at South West Surrey Magistrates' Court on June 11.
Superintendent Matt Goodridge said: 'Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.'
Another unemployed 28-year-old has been charged by police after allegedly posting an offensive message on Facebook.
Sussex Police said Adam Rogers, of Kingsman Street, Woolwich, was arrested in Hastings, East Sussex, yesterday.
He will appear at Brighton Magistrates' Court later today accused of sending an 'offensive, indecent or menacing message' online.
A police spokesman said: 'The entry was allegedly in connection to an incident in Woolwich on Wednesday.'
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old woman has been charged with allegedly sending a 'grossly offensive' message on Facebook, Hampshire Constabulary said.
Michaela Turner, of Lumsden Road, Southsea, was arrested at her home yesterday evening after a post was uploaded at 10.42pm on Wednesday. The post has since been removed.
Turner was charged overnight with an offence contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. She has been bailed to appear at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on June 7.
A police spokesman said: 'Following the terrorist incident in Woolwich this week, Hampshire Constabulary is working closely with local partnership groups to safeguard all members of the community.
'This includes monitoring social networking sites, and we will seek to arrest and prosecute anyone inciting hatred or violence online.'
Police have also arrested three people ahead of an EDL protest for allegedly making racist tweets.
Northumbria Police said two people from Gateshead and a third from Stockton, Teesside, were held earlier. The EDL has planned their demonstration for months, but the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday has heightened tensions in the local community.
A counter demonstration by opponents of the EDL has been planned.
Northumbria Police said it will 'allow people the right to peaceful protest, protect the safety of everyone in the city and prevent serious disorder and damage'.
Newcastle area commander chief superintendent Gary Calvert said: 'We appreciate that the events in London on Thursday may have heightened community concerns about this weekend's planned protests in Newcastle.
'We are constantly monitoring the situation and will continue to adapt accordingly.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.