I’m unconvinced that it’s the job solely of Muslim community leaders to tackle the radicalisation of young Muslim men – a position the Government seems at times to be advocating.
I don’t ever recall anyone telling Cardinal Hume that it was his sole responsibility to tackle the perversions which saw the IRA bomb Northern Ireland and the mainland with appalling regularity. Instead, that situation was taken forward after John Major and later Tony Blair oversaw a process of political engagement after decades of confrontation which failed both to the give the terrorists the united Ireland they wanted or stop the killings of innocents.
However much we might disagree with specific actions taken by the UK Government, and I believe Blair has been too quick to make concessions to the IRA, the current situation at least gives a sense of worth to their efforts.
This pragmatic approach forms a stark contrast with the same Government’s refusal to accept that their own foreign and domestic policies are at least contributing factors in the radicalisation of Muslim youths.
Whereas actual Catholic terrorists have been set free without serving their full sentence (and an attempt made to legislate so that ‘on the runs’ are spared a jail sentence and can return safely home) the Government has passed law after law which allows them to detain suspected Islamic terrorists without trial.
Can it really be that such an obvious discrepancy doesn’t anger some young Muslim men?
When we all remember being told Saddam had WMD and that the removal of the “threat” posed by them was the justification for the invasion of Iraq can it really be that none within Britain’s Muslim communities feel a sense of betrayal and even mistrust towards the Government and intelligence services?
Would not such a sense of anger and mistrust give terrorist mentors enough to work with in their attempts to pervert people to their cause?
There are of course less justifiable expressions of anger. There is no justification for wider community anger over the Forest Gate raid. Police apparently had probable cause to suspect that illegal activity was being conducted. They have a duty to us all to investigate those suspicions and ascertain the facts. This isn’t persecution, it’s the rule of law being properly conducted within a democracy.
Many commentators have made much of the “deprivation” which blights Muslim communities. Just as Government must honestly consider whether its’ policies are contributing factors so Muslims have to ask themselves if the poverty is at least in part due to the practice of bunching together in defined areas.
This isn’t a call for outside action to break up populations or a quota system, but economics suggest that mixed populations are more likely to create the wealth and job opportunities we all need to flourish and succeed.
Extreme Views and Religion
Ministers have made much of the large numbers of respondents who apparently tell opinion pollsters that they see the July 7th bombers as “martyrs”.
In midst of their calls for action let’s remember that the politicians using these polls as evidence that ‘Something Must Be Done’ are the same ones who deny the validity of polls which show a majority believe Tony Blair sells peerages and that we should bring our troops home from Iraq.
Even if those people honestly do think of the bombers as martyrs, isn’t their ability to say so simply the price of living in open and free society? Surely there’s a gulf between seeing people, no matter how wrongly, as martyrs and being prepared to join their perverse cause?
Ruth Kelly has called on Muslim community leaders to confront religious extremism but how can we take seriously such calls from someone who belongs to an extreme wing of the Roman Catholic Church? Is it remotely credible for someone who refuses to answer a simple question over her beliefs to challenge others to confront their own?
The Christian Institute has organised a series of appointments “featuring Ake Green, the pastor who faced prison in Sweden for preaching against homosexuality”. Green gave a sermon in which he described homosexuality as a “deep cancerous tumour in the entire society.”
This is as offensive to homosexuals and their families as labelling murderers as “martyrs” yet there has been no wall of condemnation by Government or mainstream media.
Last year Christian Voice sought to censor the BBC and block the broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera. Is this any different from protesting against the publication of offensive cartoons?
Will Christian leaders now be called to a summit and asked to confront the extremism within their ranks? Almost certainly not and nor should they – people have a right to voice their opinions no matter how odious the rest of us might think them.
The existence of extreme views within some sectors of religion should come as no surprise to Ministers. During the passage of the religious hatred bill the fact that some religions and religious followers held extreme views which needed challenging was repeatedly voiced. Eager to try and shore up their vote within certain communities the Government ignored the issue and pressed ahead.
Hampering the ability of outsiders to question and tackle extreme religious views may be a decision the Government comes to regret.