Archive for the ‘Islam in Britain’ category

Britain: The “Islamophobia” Industry Strikes Again

December 20, 2017

Britain: The “Islamophobia” Industry Strikes Again, Gatestone InstituteBruce Bawer, December 20, 2017

The new report is a remarkable document. Among its premises is that “anti-Muslim hate crime” is a major crisis in the U.K. that demands urgent action by politicians, police, educators, employers, civil-society groups, the media, and pretty much everybody else. As for the far more serious matter of crimes committed by Muslims, the report mentions them only within the context of discussions of anti-Muslim hate. In the town of Rotherham alone, for example, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years – but the epidemic of “grooming” is cited in the Runnymede report only as one item on a list of practices and phenomena that it identifies as contributing to British “stereotypes” about Muslims. Similarly, here is the Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie: “In Britain…many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” The point here is apparently that Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

The British government’s program Prevent, the part of its counterterrorism strategy that seeks to inhibit the radicalization of British subjects, also comes in for criticism in Runnymede’s report. Prevent is faulted both for being rooted in the notion (which it finds offensive, true or not) that the chief terrorist threat to the country is posed by “Islamist terrorists” (a term that the report puts in scare quotes) and for “put[ting] the onus on Muslim communities.” The report charges that because the British government, as part of the Prevent program, monitors (for example) imams who preach violence against the West, Prevent represents a violation of free speech. I can find no record of the Runnymede Trust ever criticizing the zealous attempts by British authorities to silence critics of Islam – a practice that has led to the banning from the U.K. of prominent American critics of Islam, even as the government has continued to permit preachers of violent jihad to enter the country

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The Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie states: “In Britain… many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” Apparently, Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

Much of Runnymede’s report is devoted to the high levels of Muslim poverty and unemployment in the U.K. — but instead of seeking reasons for this problem in Islam itself, it blames this problem primarily on “institutional racism,” while avoiding the ticklish question of why Hindus, whom one would also expect to be victims of “institutional racism” in Britain, are economically more successful than any other group in that nation, including ethnic British Christians.

The Runnymede report points out that domestic violence and child abuse are also committed by Westerners; the difference, needless to say, is that while FGM and honor violence enjoy widespread approval in Muslim societies and communities, where they are viewed as justifiable (if not compulsory) under Islam, domestic violence and child abuse are universally condemned in Western society and are never defended on cultural or religious grounds.

Founded in 1968, the Runnymede Trust describes itself as “the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank.” Its chair is Clive Jones CBE, a former executive at Britain’s ITV; its director is Omar Khan, a Governor of the University of East London and member of a variety of advisory groups involving ethnicity and integration. Runnymede’s reports are taken extremely seriously, and its recommendations heeded, at the highest levels of the British government.

In 1994, Runnymede published a report on anti-Semitism. Its title, A Very Light Sleeper, was borrowed from a statement by the author Conor Cruise O’Brien: “Anti-Semitism is a very light sleeper.” Now, anyone familiar with contemporary Britain knows that the alarming contemporary rise in Jew-hatred in that country – as in all of western Europe – is principally a consequence of the growing population of Muslims. But the Runnymede Trust’s report seemed designed mainly to divert attention away from that fact. Tracing anti-Semitism through Luther, Voltaire, Marx, Henry Ford, and Hitler, the report did a splendid job of implicitly identifying anti-Semitism as a Western phenomenon – a product of what the report presented a distinctively Western tendency to divide the world into “us” and “the Other.”

Of course, no civilization is more virulently anti-Semitic than Islamic civilization. But the Runnymede Trust’s 1994 report presented as gospel the at best exaggerated notion that medieval Islamic societies were tolerant of Jews, who were thus “able to play a full part” in those societies. To the extent that the report acknowledged the reality of today’s Muslim anti-Semitism, it depicted that prejudice (a) as being confined to “extremist” groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, that (it was quick to emphasize) are also hostile to many Muslim countries; (b) as being caused by anger over the fact that Jerusalem, “the third most sacred place for Muslims after Mecca and Medina,” is controlled by Israel; or (c) as being caused by irrational fears of the sort that also exist in Christianity and other religions.

But when it came to Jews and Muslims, the thrust of the report is summed up in its assurance that the Koran also “refers to Jews and Christians as People of the Book” – never mind that the Koran also refers to Jews as “apes and swine,” describes them as cursed, calls on Muslims to kill them, and forbids Muslims from befriending them. Reading Runnymede’s report on anti-Semitism, one gathered the impression that it was compiled mostly so that Runnymede could be able to point to it and say that it had, in fact, issued a report on anti-Semitism.

The reality is that the Runnymede Trust does not appear to be terribly interested in anti-Semitism. For many years, it has seemed to be far more exercised about the purported pervasiveness of anti-Muslim prejudice in the U.K. In 1997, it published a report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, which “was launched at the House of Commons by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw.” Of its 60 recommendations, many were ultimately implemented. This year, on the twentieth anniversary of that report, Runnymede issued a new, 106-page report, Islamophobia: Still a Challenge for Us All, edited by Farah Elahi and Omar Khan.

The new report is a remarkable document. Among its premises is that “anti-Muslim hate crime” is a major crisis in the U.K. that demands urgent action by politicians, police, educators, employers, civil-society groups, the media, and pretty much everybody else. As for the far more serious matter of crimes committed by Muslims, the report mentions them only within the context of discussions of anti-Muslim hate. In the town of Rotherham alone, for example, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years – but the epidemic of “grooming” is cited in the Runnymede report only as one item on a list of practices and phenomena that it identifies as contributing to British “stereotypes” about Muslims. Similarly, here is the Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie: “In Britain…many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” The point here is apparently that Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

In the town of Rotherham, England, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

The report does acknowledge the reality of what it euphemistically calls “the terrorist threat,” but it never seriously addresses this threat and excuses this failure by explaining that “this report is about Islamophobia.” While noting, moreover, claims that some individuals that Islam “should be subject to criticism” because it “is a system of beliefs,” the report maintains that this “focus on ideas (or ‘ideologies’) has obscured what instead should be a focus on people.” The point apparently being that even if you’re criticizing Islam strictly as a set of ideas, that act of criticism is still being directed at people – which, again, makes you an Islamophobe. Several paragraphs of the report are, indeed, devoted to a convoluted “explanation” of why, even though Islam is not a race, Islamophobia is nonetheless a form of racism.

The British government’s program Prevent, the part of its counterterrorism strategy that seeks to inhibit the radicalization of British subjects, also comes in for criticism in Runnymede’s report. Prevent is faulted both for being rooted in the notion (which it finds offensive, true or not) that the chief terrorist threat to the country is posed by “Islamist terrorists” (a term that the report puts in scare quotes) and for “put[ting] the onus on Muslim communities.” The report charges that because the British government, as part of the Prevent program, monitors (for example) imams who preach violence against the West, Prevent represents a violation of free speech. I can find no record of the Runnymede Trust ever criticizing the zealous attempts by British authorities to silence critics of Islam – a practice that has led to the banning from the U.K. of prominent American critics of Islam, even as the government has continued to permit preachers of violent jihad to enter the country.

Much of Runnymede’s report is devoted to the high levels of Muslim poverty and unemployment in the U.K. – but instead of seeking reasons for this problem in Islam itself, it blames this problem primarily on “institutional racism,” while avoiding the ticklish question of why Hindus, whom one would also expect to be victims of “institutional racism” in Britain, are economically more successful than any other group in that nation, including ethnic British Christians.

There is nothing in the Runnymede Trust report about Islamic theology – about jihad, sharia, the caliphate, the systematic subjugation of women, the execution of adulterers and apostates and gays. Audaciously, a chapter on women and Islam reduces the whole question to “Western stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, passive victims.” Female genital mutilation (FGM) and honor violence, the report asserts, have been “sensationalized” by the British media. In an effort to downplay the importance of these phenomena, the Runnymede report points out that domestic violence and child abuse are also committed by Westerners; the difference, needless to say, is that while FGM and honor violence enjoy widespread approval in Muslim societies and communities, where they are viewed as justifiable (if not compulsory) under Islam, domestic violence and child abuse are universally condemned in Western society and are never defended on cultural or religious grounds.

As for Islamic patriarchy, the report insists that patriarchy exists in the West as well as in the Islamic world. The report’s repeated endeavors to draw this kind of moral equivalency are so patently absurd – and desperate – that they do not even merit a civilized response. Indeed, the report itself – whose authors are manifestly determined throughout to absolve Islam of any blame for anything whatsoever, and to attribute every ill afflicting the British Muslim community to Islamophobia – would not merit any comment at all if the Runnymede Trust were not taken as seriously as it is in the corridors of British power.

Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017

July 28, 2017

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, July 28, 2017

Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an “industry” of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain and also condemned “self-appointed” community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims “as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals.”

Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with “appeasing jihadists” for authorizing the Al-Quds Day march.

More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office.

June 3. Khuram Shazad Butt, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born British citizen, Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old who claimed to be Libyan and Moroccan and Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian, murdered eight people and injured 50 others in a jihadist attack on and around the London Bridge. The three assailants were shot dead by police. It was the third jihadist attack in Britain in as many months.

Floral tributes at London Bridge on June 6, 2017, following the 3 June 2017 terrorist attack. (Image source: Matt Brown/Wikimedia Commons)

June 3. Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an “industry” of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism by peddling “myths” about the Prevent strategy, the government’s key anti-radicalization policy. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain, and said he was shocked that in the agenda for its annual meeting there was “nothing about radicalisation and nothing about the threat of people going to Syria.” Afzal, who prosecuted the Rochdale sex-grooming gang, also condemned “self-appointed” community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims “as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals.”

June 3. Khalid Al-Mathkour, chairman of Kuwait’s sharia council, and Essam Al-Fulaij, a Kuwaiti government figure known for his anti-Semitic diatribes, are listed as trustees of a UK-registered charity that is building a mosque in Sheffield, according to the Telegraph. They have helped channel almost £500,000 ($650,000) into the project from Kuwait. Another £400,000 ($525,000) has been donated to the charity, the Emaan Trust, by a Qatari organization. The stated aim of the new mosque, which will have a capacity for 500 worshippers, is to “promote and teach Islamic morals and values to new Muslim generations.”

June 4. Prime Minister Theresa May said there was “far too much tolerance of extremism” in Britain and promised to step up the fight against Islamic terrorism after the London Bridge attack. “Enough is enough,” she said. May also claimed the jihadists held to an ideology that was a perversion of true Islam: “It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.”

June 5. Conservative election candidate Gordon Henderson said that Muslims are duty bound to report extremists in their midst:

“The only people who can defeat the Islamic terrorists are the British Muslims in whose midst they find sanctuary. It is time for peace-loving Muslims to start providing information to the police about those within their community that they suspect of plotting attacks. The only other option is to put all suspected terrorists in internment camps, and that is not a route I would like to go down. We tried it with the IRA and all it did was make the prisoners into martyrs.”

June 6. Khuram Butt, one of the London Bridge attackers, was known to British authorities, according to the Telegraph. He had appeared in a Channel 4 documentary about British extremists called “The Jihadis Next Door.” Butt was also filmed at events attended by questionable Islamic preachers, and had tried to go to Syria to become a jihadist there.

June 7. Three “Asian girls” shouting “Allah will get you” slashed a woman near a nursery in Hermon Hill, London. The victim, named as Katie, was walking along the street when she was ambushed from behind. Police said they were not treating the attack as a terrorist incident.

June 10. Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet, said that Britain’s relationship with its Muslim community needs to be reset from scratch:

“When things go wrong with an iPhone or a coffee machine, pressing the restart button is usually a good, safe place to start. Right now, Britain’s relationship with her Muslims is within that frozen, overloaded, splurging episode — we need to press the button….

“Just because you don’t speak English does not mean you’re going to be a terrorist — the majority of terrorists speak good English. Secondly, there’s always a fraction of religious groups that choose to live separate lives and that is not an issue of integration. We have to keep the issue of terrorism and integration separate.”

June 10. Police increased patrols at local mosques in Cambridge after strips of bacon were left on four cars parked at the Omar Faruque Mosque. A 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage.

June 11. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick said that jihadists do not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims in their attacks:

“An attack in London is an attack on all of us. I understand Muslim communities are feeling shattered and there are concerns within the community that it may find itself as a target of hate crimes.

“What I will say to the Muslim communities is that we must all stand up in the face of terrorists. The London Metropolitan Police are here to work with Muslims, to protect them and to work with them to stop crimes. If you are a target, we will work hard to protect you.”

June 13. Mak Chishty, who recently retired as the most senior Muslim police officer in Britain, said it was time for Muslims to stop “skirting around the issues” and have some “very difficult conversations.” He issued a “call to action” to all British Muslims, urging them to launch a social media blitz to let the rest of the country know how strongly they feel about extremism:

“I would like to issue a call for action today for every single Muslim, from a young person all the way through to my mother-in-law who is well in her mid-60s but has got a WhatsApp or a Facebook, to get on there and start to denounce extremism as not theirs.

“All of a sudden, maybe you will find that these extremist voices start to shrink… remove their dominance, starve them of oxygen. Make sure they have got a powerful lobby against them. We can do that now, we can do that today.”

Chishty also said that terrorism and extremism is “hurting” Islam:

“It is the Islamic duty of every Muslim to be loyal to the country in which they live and we are now asking questions to understand how extremism and hatred has taken hold within some elements of our own communities. Muslims must do more to stop such attacks from happening again and we want to know how we can play a greater role in the future.”

June 13. Lugman Aslam, 26, was sentenced to five years in prison for plowing his van into five men in Leicester after an argument during Ramadan. Aslam admitted to dangerous driving and attempting to inflict intentional grievous bodily harm. Recorder Justin Wigoder said:

“You quite deliberately drove your van at that group who were walking along the pavement. I’ve seen it on CCTV and you deliberately mounted the pavement and drove straight at them and right through the middle of them at speed…. I accept it was completely out of character. You’re of very positive good previous character and I’ve received a considerable number of references setting out all the good that is in you. You’re a good family man with a young daughter and I take that very much into account.”

June 14. Shamim Ahmed, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi from Tower Hamlets, East London, was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to join the Islamic State in Syria. During his trial, Ahmed pointed his finger at Judge John Bevan QC and warned him he, Ahmed, would continue to “wage jihad”: “Give me 20 years, I will come out the enemy.”

June 15. New statistics showed that in the year to March 2017, police arrested 304 people for terrorism-related offenses — a 20% increase compared to the previous 12 months. Combined with those held since March, the total arrests in 2017 may top the previous record of 315, set in 2015.

June 18. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters carrying Hezbollah flags marched through the streets of London to mark Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), an annual event initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, ostensibly to support the Palestinians, but undoubtedly to promote hatred of Jews. At a rally outside the U.S. Embassy after the march, one speaker blamed the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower public housing project on so-called Zionists. “Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists,” the speaker ranted. “They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.” Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with “appeasing jihadists” for authorizing the march.

June 19. Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old unemployed father of four, drove a van into a group of worshippers close to the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. One person was killed and eight others were injured in the attack, which police said was premeditated. Osborne was “self-radicalized into his extremist hatred of Muslims,” according to the Guardian.

June 20. Armed police were deployed to the Neolithic Stonehenge to protect thousands of pagans celebrating the summer solstice from jihadist attacks. David Spofforth of the Pagan Federation said it was “very sad” that armed police were necessary: “I am not saying I am welcoming this, I sadly accept it. But you just have to look at the events such as at Finsbury Park, a peaceful religious gathering where people suffered so much by the actions of one hate-filled individual.”

June 22. A Muslim woman sued her former employers after allegedly being ordered to remove her black headscarf because the garment had “terrorist affiliations.” The estate agent had been working for Harvey Dean in Bury for almost a year when she says managers took issue with her hijab. A complaint filed at the Manchester Employment Tribunal said the woman was told that moving from a back office into public view meant “that it would be in the best interest of the business for her to change the color of her hijab, due to the supposed terrorist affiliation with the color black.” The woman said she felt “singled out” as the only Muslim woman in the office and claimed the company discriminated against her on the basis of both religion and gender.

June 23. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, the schools regulator, vowed to crack down on Islamic extremism in British schools. She said that school children must be equipped with the “knowledge and resilience” required to combat the violent rhetoric “peddled” by hate preachers who “put hatred in their hearts and poison in their minds.” She added:

“One area where there is room to improve is the active promotion of fundamental British values in our schools. Recent attacks in Westminster, London Bridge, Manchester and Finsbury Park have brought into stark relief the threats that we face.”

June 24. More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office. The study, a copy of which was leaked to the Telegraph, describes how lawyers, funded by legal aid, have successfully prevented foreign-born terror suspects from being sent back to their home countries.

June 25. Michael Adebolajo, who together with Michael Adebowale murdered British soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London in May 2013, is now regarded as the most dangerous prisoner in the British penal system, according to prison sources. A prison officer described him as “violent, unpredictable and a major danger to other prisoners.” He has also radicalized dozens of inmates, including non-Muslim prisoners who are said to have converted to Islam and sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. One prison official said:

“Adebolajo spends most of his waking hours preaching his distorted form of Islam to anyone who will listen. He sees every inmate as a potential Islamic State soldier whether they are Muslims or not. He has a big personality and is very charismatic and some of the more vulnerable prisoners will fall under his spell. He is a very dangerous individual.”

June 27. Muslims launched an online petition to oppose a new veil policy at John Thursby Community College, in Burnley, Lancashire. The school announced plans for a universal-length headscarf that some Muslims said is too short and not sufficiently modest. Previously girls were free to choose any length they pleased. Some feel that the move is aimed at deterring girls from wearing headscarves at all. Local councilor Shah Hussain said: “The whole point is that it is supposed to protect the wearer’s modesty, and that does not happen.” The school’s head teacher David Burton said he may reconsider the policy. “We are sorry there have been suggestions that the school is against headscarves. This is not true. We fully respect the wishes of girls to wear a headscarf.”

June 28. The trial began in London of four jihadists — Naweed Ali, 29, Tahir Aziz, 38, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 32 — for allegedly plotting a knife rampage on British soil. The men, who called themselves “The Musketeers,” were accused of sharing “the same radical belief in violent jihad.” Prosecutors said the terror plot involved a samurai sword and a meat cleaver with the word “Kafir” (unbeliever) scratched onto the blade. The four men were arrested after a stash of weapons, ammunition, and a pipe bomb were found in Ali’s car during a counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham.

June 29. Three men were arrested in the Armagh and Coalisland areas of Northern Ireland for displaying anti-Muslim posters and stickers. Police said the material — which included the slogan “Rapefugees Not Welcome” — was likely to stir up “racial hatred.”

June 30. Tarik Chadlioui, a 43-year-old Moroccan cleric living in Birmingham with his wife and eight children, was accused of recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State. Chadlioui, a Salafist, is wanted in several European countries and is believed to be the spiritual leader of an Islamic State cell in Spain. Chadlioui, also known as Tarik Ibn Ali, is said to have formed links with jihadist groups which aim to impose Sharia law in Europe.

No Tolerance for Extremism

June 16, 2017

No Tolerance for Extremism, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, June 16, 2017

What May plans to do will take us far, but not far enough. Her weakness, set against Corbyn’s show of strength, undermines the likelihood of any serious changes to how Britain tackles the Islamic threat. Bit by bit, the political fear of appearing xenophobic or “Islamophobic” will reassert itself. Labour will make sure of that. Members of parliament with substantial numbers of Muslim constituents will answer calls to water down any legislation that can be labeled as discriminatory to Muslims. It is only when we come to terms with the fact that terrorist attacks are not being carried out by Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is, Quakers or the members of any religion except Islam.

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At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high. People known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of Britain and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities. It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.

Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?

To see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point. The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality. Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit. The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews and Christians. It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century.

On the Sunday morning after the terrorist attacks in London the night of June 3, British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the nation in a powerful speech. It deserves to be read in full, but several points stand out and call for a response.

We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change and they need to change in four important ways.

First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.

It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.

Lower down, she enhances that by saying:

Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.

No one who has watched the endless stream of radical Muslim preachers who appear on YouTube or who post extremist, anti-Western, anti-democratic, or anti-Semitic opinions on Facebook would object to May’s stricture. But given earlier attempts to rein in the providers of so many internet spaces in a demand for better scrutiny and the removal of radicalizing material from their sites, we must remain pessimistic about how far May or any other Western leader can bring effective pressure to bear. Without strong financial disincentives, these rulers of the internet will pay little heed to the concerns of the wider public and our security services.

Perhaps May’s strongest statement comes some lines later:

While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is — to be frank — far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.

Here, she puts her finger on the most sensitive yet compelling reason for our vulnerability. The democracies have been and still are weakened by the very things that in other contexts give us strength. May speaks rightly of our “pluralistic British values”. But those values include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, open-mindedness, and tolerance — things that are not held as desirable values in any Muslim country. Such values are key to our survival as free and tolerant people unrestricted by any overarching ideology. Yet May is right. Even toleration has its limits. While allowing Muslims to live in our societies with full freedom to live their lives according to the tenets of their faith is desirable expression of our openness and love for humanity, we have been tolerant of radical Islam and even traditionalist and conservative Islam where it leads into radicalization and an extremism that erupts in physical assaults, fatalities, and, as intended, widespread public fear.

For years, we have known the identities of radical Islamic preachers and extremist organizations, but we have allowed them to bring their hatred for us onto university and college campuses, into mosques and Islamic centres, and even onto our streets, where they set up stalls to speak and hand out literature. Scroll down here or here to find long lists of radical individuals and organizations, few of which have even been banned. Few terrorist suspects have ever been deported. In a Telegraph article from 2015, one reads:

Here is an astonishing figure to mull over. In the past 10 years, the UK has deported just 12 terrorism suspects from its shores under its Deportation with Assurances (DWA) scheme. In the same period, France deported more than 100 more. The British figures come from a review of the DWA programme that is unlikely to be published until after the general election. It suggests, as we have always suspected, that the UK remains a soft touch for foreign-born jihadists.

It took eight years, 15 court cases and a £25 million bill to keep the hate preacher and terrorist fighter Abu Hamza and his huge family in the UK before he was finally deported (to the United States) in 2012, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In that same year, Theresa May (then Home Secretary) was frustrated because another sinister figure, Abu Qatada, could not be deported to Jordan because the European Court of Human Rights had ruled against it for fear of his being tortured there. But in 2013, once Jordan agreed not to do so, he was sent there only to be tried and set free. Last year, he used Twitter to urge Muslims to leave the UK for fear of persecution and “bloodshed” — a possible encouragement to would-be jihadis to head abroad. May spoke vehemently against the Strasbourg ruling:

It is simply isn’t acceptable, that after guarantees from the Jordanians about his treatment, after British courts have found that he is dangerous, after his removal has been approved by the highest courts in our land, we still cannot deport dangerous foreign nationals.

The right place for a terrorist is a prison cell. The right place for a foreign terrorist is a foreign prison cell far away from Britain.

We constantly undermine ourselves by our need to be principled. This is an ongoing problem in politics. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, is frequently described as a man of principle, and in many ways that judgement seems fair. Certainly, he has stuck by his socialist principles even if they have led him to adopt positions not well aimed at creating security for Britain. He has supported the IRA; refused many times to condemn their terrorist attacks; has called Hamas and Hizbullah his “friends” and invited their representatives to the British parliament. If that were not enough, he has boasted of his opposition to every piece of anti-terrorist legislation parliament has tried to pass.

In a 2015 interview just shown by the tabloid newspaper The Sun, Corbyn spoke with the Bahrain-based LuaLua Television. Although The Sun is not a reliable source, the clip from the interview shows Corbyn speaking in English with an accurate Arabic translation in subtitles. The interviewer speaks in Arabic. What are alarming are Corbyn’s statements, including a criticism of the UK government laws preventing would-be fighters who have travelled to Syria and from returning to the UK:

The British government’s response has been to try to make it impossible for them to travel, to restrict their ability to travel, to take upon themselves the ability to remove passports and, strangely, to deny people the right of return – which is legally a very questionable decision.

Surely no responsible politician would want to make it easy for jihadi fighters to come and go between Syria and the UK, especially while Islamic State is encouraging jihadis who leave to go back to European countries to carry out acts of terror — which seems to be exactly what has been happening.

In 2002, Corbyn addressed a large anti-Israel rally in London attended by Hizbullah supporters, several radical preachers including Abu Hamza, and 300 members of al-Muhajiroun, a banned extremist organization. According to one left-wing newspaper:

None of these groups called (openly at least) for the destruction of the state of Israel. It was a different story though for the ultra-reactionaries of such organisations as Al Muhajiroun, who held placards reading, “Palestine is muslim”. They chanted, “Skud, Skud Israel” and “Gas, gas Tel Aviv”, along with their support for bin Laden. Two would-be suicide posers were dressed in combat fatigues with a ‘bomb’ strapped to their waists. This section accounted for no more than 200-300, but they made a noise far out of proportion to their numbers.[1]

Stories concerning Corbyn’s support for jihadis was plastered on the front pages of several newspapers one day before the general election on June 8. He may never take charge of our national security, but following the results of the election, which proved disastrous for May and her Conservative party, it is now not entirely unimaginable that he may yet form a minority government. Overconfidence in her party’s strength, a hardline stance on Brexit, and a lack of concern in her Manifesto for public sensitivities concerning the National Health Service, social care and pensions led May to lose the confidence of much of the public, especially some, such as the elderly, who were traditional Tory voters. The campaign she ran turned out to be very badly handled. The two advisers who worked on it have just resigned, and large numbers of citizens, including 60% of Conservatives, are calling on her to resign. She no longer commands the large parliamentary majority of which she was so sure when she called the election, in fact she has no majority at all without pairing with the backward-looking Democratic Unionist Party, founded by bigoted Ian Paisley in 1971 and now the largest party in Northern Ireland. Many predict that the alliance will soon founder.

Whoever remains in power in coming months, the threat of terrorism has risen to the top of the agenda as a public preoccupation. Except that almost nobody talked much about it in the days after the London Bridge attack leading up to the election. Alarmingly, large numbers of young people rushed to vote for the leader of the one party that will do the least to combat that threat. The abolition of student fees or other right-on issues mattered so much more. And yet, in a matter of months, the British people have grown frightened of a beast our political correctness and laxity helped create, a Frankenstein monster that has risen from its slab and shows no signs of lying back down again. This beast has, in a few fell swoops, changed the nature of politics in Britain as it has elsewhere.

Jeremy Corbyn is the last person to whom we should entrust our future safety, yet he is now in a position to water down or cancel any legislation that might ensure more preparedness and better control. Theresa May, whatever her political disaster, has at least promised firmness in our relations with the Muslim community, identifying the problem and calling for action.

That promise of action is exemplified in her statements that:

If we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorist-related offences — even apparently less serious offences — that is what we will do. Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say “Enough is enough”.

On June 6, addressing party supporters in Slough, and again speaking about resistance to terrorism, she went farther, saying:

I mean longer prison sentences for those convicted of terrorist offences.

I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terrorist suspects back to their own countries.

And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.

And if our human rights laws get in the way of doing it, we will change the law so we can do it.

Clearly, not even May can ride roughshod over essential human rights values and legislation, things put in place to protect the public. Now, with Corbyn looking over shoulder, tough and measured action is in jeopardy. It is clear nonetheless that an excessive concern for the rights of dangerous individuals and hostile communities has served to take away vital protections for the lives of British citizens. This misguided generosity is linked to a growing worry that we have been too relaxed about individuals who have later gone on to commit atrocities in our midst. Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who murdered 22 concert-goers, including several children, during an Ariane Grande concert in Manchester, had been reported to the authorities no fewer than five times, yet had been allowed to walk free enough to take forward his mission to kill and maim.

Youssef Zaghba, one of the three attackers on London Bridge and Borough Market on June 3, had been stopped in Bologna in 2016 carrying terrorist literature while trying to fly to Istanbul en route for Syria. He told officers “I am going to be a terrorist”, was arrested but later released. His name was flagged on an international terrorism database and the Italian authorities notified the British security services. Allowed to go to the UK, he helped kill seven people and injure more.

Even more alarmingly, his accomplice, Khuram Butt, a Pakistani-born British man, was well above the horizon. He had been reported to the security services and was alleged to have been an associate of Anjem Choudary, a radical preacher now serving time in jail for his support for Islamic State. Butt had defended Choudary by calling a Muslim opposed to the preacher an apostate (murtadd); and in 2016, he had appeared in a Channel 4 television documentary where he was seen with others in a park holding an ISIS flag and at two events attended by radical preachers who had been arrested for radicalizing others. One of those preachers, Mohammed Shamsuddin, has said: “Our message is deadly, we are calling for world domination, and for Sharia for the UK.”

In 2015, MI5, the UK’s domestic intelligence service, stated that it had 3,000 extremists on its watchlist. According to Business Insider:

There are 6,000 employees at GCHQ and 4,000 at MI5. But there are up to 3,000 terror suspects in the UK. At the French ratio, you would need 60,000 officers to track them all. That’s almost half of Britain’s total number of police officers, 127,000.

What this means, in effect, is that thousands of potential terrorists are left free to live with little interference from the police or MI5. Raising the number of police, as Jeremy Corbyn demands, would place a heavy strain on the economy of a country sailing into uncharted waters as it leaves the EU. The answer must be, as May suggests, a different approach to human rights legislation. At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high. People who are known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of the UK and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities. It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.

That the police and security services are avoiding any real confrontation with Islamists is clear from the contents of this letter, sent on June 7 to the Daily Mail by pro-Israel activist Clive Hyman. It makes troubling treading:

On 18th June, Muslims will be holding a march in central London to celebrate Al-Quds Day. In previous years these marches have called for the destruction of Israel and death to the Jews, and the marchers have carried signs to this effect and flags supporting Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS. Despite requests from both the Christian and Jewish communities for this march to be cancelled because of the violence it will incite amongst those participating and their followers, Mayor Khan and the Metropolitan police have refused to do so, their reason being that there has been no violence at these marches in previous years.

By comparison, an event to honour Israel organised by Christians United for Israel for 22nd June has been cancelled apparently because Mayor Khan and the Metropolitan Police cannot guarantee the safety of those who wish to attend.

Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?

As might be expected, leftists have rejected May’s appeal for changes in human rights legislation. They argue that she will need to declare a state of emergency, something that can only be invoked when the life of the nation is under threat. This is not incorrect, since all democracies have to avoid potential dictators using changes in the law to give themselves powers they might not otherwise have. But that is not the whole story.

What May plans to do will take us far, but not far enough. Her weakness, set against Corbyn’s show of strength, undermines the likelihood of any serious changes to how Britain tackles the Islamic threat. Bit by bit, the political fear of appearing xenophobic or “Islamophobic” will reassert itself. Labour will make sure of that. Members of parliament with substantial numbers of Muslim constituents will answer calls to water down any legislation that can be labelled as discriminatory to Muslims. It is only when we come to terms with the fact that terrorist attacks are not being carried out by Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is, Quakers or the members of any religion except Islam.

Regrettably May herself fell into a politically-correct trap in her speech, when she said in reference to Islamic radicalism, “It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.” It is easy to see what she means by this — that she wants to distance radicalism and terrorism from the majority of decent Muslims in the UK, the ones like Sara Khan who work to create a British Islam based on the best Islamic values in alliance with the British values May rightly extols. However, to see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point. The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality. If not tackled head-on, that reality will not go away.

In a June 3 speech, British Prime Minister Theresa May regrettably fell into a politically-correct trap, when she said in reference to Islamic radicalism, “It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.” (Photo by Hannah McKay/Pool/Getty Images)

Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit. The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews, and Christians. It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Muhammad himself led his followers into battle and sent out expeditions out of Arabia before his death in 632. The astonishing Islamic conquests that followed in the Middle East, Europe, and far beyond into Central Asia and India turned a swathe of territories into Islamic fiefdoms, and most of these remain under Muslim rule today. The Ottoman Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453 not only destroyed the Eastern Orthodox Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire), but is still regarded by Muslims as a turning point in the history of the world. The subsequent Ottoman conquests across eastern Europe were only halted when the King of Poland John III Sobieski (1629-1696) defeated a massive Turkish army under the command of Sultan Soleiman I outside the city of Vienna.

In 2015, after Islamist attacks in Paris, French president François Hollande declared that “We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.” But Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century. The beheadings, crucifixions, massacres and demolitions of towns and churches carried out by Islamic State today are replicas of wider atrocities carried out by the Muslim conquerors of Spain in the 8th century.[2]

Jihad wars against the Byzantines were carried out twice a year. Spain and Portugal were occupied for centuries until the Christian kingdoms of the north drove the Muslims out, in a process that itself took some centuries. The Ottomans continued to be a threat down to their defeat in the First World War. From the sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries, the Muslim slavers, known as the Barbary pirates, dominated the Mediterranean and took more than a million Christian slaves to North Africa. In the nineteenth century, jihad wars against European colonists were frequent.[3] Today, Europeans and others are fighting wars against Islamic radicals from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria, and on the streets of our own cities.

To be at war is justification for extreme measures. Deportation and internment are unattractive, just as the measures Western countries have been forced to take against their enemies in other wars. But set next to the threat of unending terror in our cities, and given the nature of the people we will deport or intern, they are probably not as bad as the alternative. We will not execute terrorists (just as Israel has never executed the thousands of terrorists who have murdered its citizens) nor torture them or harm their families. Minor adjustments to our human rights laws and the lowering of the bar a bit on what we consider unacceptable are all we need. But that will not stop Jeremy Corbyn and his terrorist-supporting friends crying that such measures will be a “slippery slope” that will set back community relations by decades.

Dr. Denis MacEoin has recently completed a large study of concerns with Islam. He is an Arabist, Persianist, and a specialist in Shi’i Islam. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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[1] See also here.

[2] See Darío Fernández-Morera, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, Wilmington, 2016, chapters 1 and 2.

[3] See Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History, The Hague, 1979, especially chapter 3.