Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UK Juggles Islam and Islamism

by A. Millar

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, co-Chairperson of the Conservative Party, the senior partner in the United Kingdom's coalition government, in January gave the Sternberg Lecture Speech at Leicester University on the subject, "Islamophobia." "For far too many people," she said, "Islamophobia is seen as a legitimate – even commendable – thing. You could even say that Islamophobia has now passed the dinner-table-test." This, she told The Telegraph, prior to delivering the speech, meant that: "It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have these conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is quite openly discussed."

The "dinner-table" image is clever, suggesting not only that "Islamophobia" is respectable, but that whenever two or three non-Muslims get together the conversation surely turns to attacking Muslims. Despite rampant political correctness in the media and political class, the speech was almost universally attacked. The Prime Minister's office also denied seeing the speech prior to its having been delivered, although the media had reported on it 24 hours earlier, and some reports suggested that it had, in fact, been seen there.

Among the critics was Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn, who reminded his readers that "In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything." With the recent enquiry into the London 7/7 bombings and fresh revelations of Pakistani Muslim gangs raping and pimping White non-Muslim girls, Wari's timing, he suggested, could not have been worse. According to reports, at least hundreds of girls, between the ages of 11 and 16 have been abused, raped, drugged, and prostituted by the gangs. There had been a history of the police authorities overlooking the gangs and their sexual crimes against children since they feared being branded "racist and, of course, "Islamophobic."

However, in a certain respect, Littlejohn's remark was unfair to the baroness. After all, when would have been the right time for the speech? If Warsi had given it a month earlier it would have been during the aftermath of the Stockholm suicide terrorist bombing (the perpetrator of which had been radicalized in the British city of Luton), and on the same day as 12 Islamist terror suspects were arrested for planning mass casualty attacks inside the UK.

If Warsi had waited until February, the speech would have come close to a Wikileaks revelation that MI6 believes Britain is now facing a new wave of suicide bombings, and another showing that the US had financed counter-radicalism schemes in the UK, owing to the extent of Islamist radicalism in the country.

Although not limited to Islamist terrorists, it would also have been delivered in the same month as Home Secretary Theresa May's announcement that terror suspects would be given greater freedom and the statement by Lord Carlile (the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws) that rulings by the European Curt of Human Rights meant that terrorist in the UK now had more rights than ordinary citizens.

Warsi's timing might have been bad, but, if recent history is any guide, it would have been an extraordinary stroke of luck for it to be significantly better.

Perhaps reaction to Warsi's speech, and recent revelations about the scale of Islamist radicalism in the UK, helped to mold the tenor of Prime Minister David Cameron's speech at the Munich Security Conference last week. This was the most forthright by a British politician since Tony Blair's statements in the wake of the 7/7 bombing (unless one includes Michael Gove's excellent book Celsius 7/7). Addressing the issue of Islamist terrorism, Cameron told his audience that

We should acknowledge that this threat comes, in Europe, overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens.

Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries.

And we need to be absolutely clear of where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie, and that is the existence of an ideology – Islamist extremism – and we should be equally clear by what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority. At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal – an entire Islamist realm governed by an interpretation of sharia. Move along the spectrum and you find people who may reject violence but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview including real hostility to Western democracy and liberal values.

The Prime Minister advocated a more "muscular liberalism" in which the bedrock of "shared values" would be reintroduced, replacing political multiculturalist separatism. The "feeling of belonging in our countries," Cameron suggested, "is the key to true cohesion." In this, he is certainly correct, as the example of the US has shown.

Cameron also suggested that extremist Islamist groups will be given "no platform" with Ministers, and no funding, as had been the case under the previous Labour government. Those espousing Islamist supremacist views will be treated, in effect, as the state currently treats White supremacists. This, too, is absolutely the correct approach.

Cameron often reflects earlier statements made by baroness Warsi, and the Munich speech was no exception. Warsi had complained of the dangers of using the term "moderate Muslims", the inference being, she suggested, that dedicated Muslims are extremists. Far more eloquently and successfully, Cameron made a similar point:

It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand and political ideology on the other. Time and again people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion. So they talk about 'moderate Muslims' as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is profoundly wrong. Someone can be a devout Muslim and not be an extremist. We need to be clear Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.

Despite clearly differentiating between Islam as a faith, and Islamism as a political ideology, Cameron's speech also was attacked, in this case primarily by those moving in Leftist-Islamist circles, as ell as some of its most prominent spokespersons. In particular, an open letter was published in the Guardian newspaper, which denounced the Prime Minister's speech as a "dangerous declaration." As with other critics, the signatories also sought to link the timing of Cameron's speech to a demonstration held by the anti-Islamist English Defence League in the city of Luton, held on the same day.

Many of the signatories of the letter are those that condemn the EDL as "racist" and "fascist", despite the organization having a Jewish division, as well as Sikh and LGBT divisions, and despite the EDL describing itself as "multicultural" – accurately since it has not only Jewish, Sikh, and LGBT members but also Black, Asian, and even one fairly high-profile Muslim member. The linking of mainstream politicians to protest movements is not new, but a tactic increasingly employed in recent years, and meant simply to shut down debate before it can begin. After all, what reasonable objection could one make to stamping out Islamist extremism?

Tellingly, perhaps, the top signature on the letter is that of Martin Smith, who gives his affiliation as Love Music Hate Racism. He is apparently shy about being on the central committee of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which called for a "wider revolt" to bring down the "rotten government" [pdf] during recent, large-scale, violent "student" demonstrations in London. (The Conservative Party headquarters was attacked and vandalized during one of these.)

Smith also neglects to mention that he is an officer for Unite Against Fascism, an SWP front organization. A few months ago he gave a speech in Amsterdam in which he denounced French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel along with the US Tea Party movement and the English Defense League, who he described as "monkeys." Like the SWP, the UAF has allied with Islamists to advance its agenda, and, last year, held an "anti-racist" event in conjunction with Love Music Hate Racism and the Islamic Forum of Europe, among others. The IFE, which believes in waging jihad and wants to transform Britain into a state ruled by sharia law, was revealed to be "secretly infiltrating the political system" only months before this event was held.

This perhaps does not worry the UAF, since it has been a policy of the far-Left in Britain, since the mid-1990s, to align themselves with extremist Islamist, and to use the latter as the vanguard of revolution.

One needs only to look a few names down the list to see more proof of the far-Left-Islamist clique. There is Ken Livingstone, one-time supporter of the hate preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi who once issued a fatwa allowing the murder of pregnant Israeli women, and who has also advocated the murder of gays in Islamic states, and the beating of women.

Beneath Livingstone's name is that of Salma Yaqoob of the misnamed "Respect" party. She recently made news when a British soldier, who had fought in Afghanistan, was given a standing ovation at Birmingham City Council. The soldier had thrown himself on a live grenade to save the lives of his comrades. Remarkably, he survived. Yaqoob refused to stand.

Such a crew disgraces itself by its actions as well as its condemnation of Cameron's declaration against Islamist extremism. It is time for the UK government to realize that, whether publicly embracing hate preachers, or organizing joint conferences, the extreme-Left facilitates the penetration of extremist Islamists into positions of influence. Cameron's declaration that he will disenfranchise Islamist extremists is a very positive step, but the authorities must also take into account the logistical importance of far-Leftist activists and organizations to some racial Islamist organizations and individual activists.

Lastly, despite Warsi's poor speech on "Islamophobia," she might still play an important role in the campaign against Islamism, by offering a more positive image of Islam. Rather than appearing to mock the Old Testament, as was the case with her recent speech, she might try quoting those verses of the Koran that she believes support her case, and to articulate Islam as compatible with modern, liberal British life.

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A. Millar

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