Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Western leader says to defeat Jihadists the West must reject Islamist values

Overnight a western political leader was finally making the case that Islamic values can’t be countered by denial, but must be fought with better values – with western values. It was not an American president however who outright rejected the “all-cultures-are-equal” multicuralism model, but a British Prime Minister, arguing that young Brits taken in by “the Islamic narrative” can only be avoided by attacking that narrative, by supporting other Muslims who attack it, and – in the end – by promoting a better one.

He’s mushy on what that better “narrative” is and what exactly western values are. But he’s clear that today’s violence is everything to do with Islam. This should be major news.

[UK] Prime Minister [David Cameron]’s Birmingham speech on radicalisation and Muslim communities in the UK given earlier today is a rather important one [says Douglas Murray in the ‘Spectator’]. Regular readers will know that I’m not easy to please in this area, but it seems to me that David Cameron has come to understand the real problem of Islamic extremism and has been developing his attitudes towards that problem…
    The Prime Minister is right to present the threat of radical Islam as an ideological threat which needs countering. And he is particularly right in stressing the non-governmental, civil-societal responses that are needed if the problem is going to be brought under control. The whole speech seems to me to benefit from a deeper and broader understanding of the problem than any other speech recently given by a Western leader.
    And although I know it won’t be enough for some, the speech contains a number of important shifts in tone. For instance the Prime Minister’s warning that people who go to join ISIS will be ‘cannon fodder’ is an important change in emphasis which I’ve
called for here before…  Another positive development is the change in emphasis from supporting Muslim groups because they claim to be representative of the majority of Muslims to supporting Muslim progressives who are supportive of Britain.
    Another crucial shift in emphasis is in relation to the whole question of how to address the religious elephant in the room. For many years, after any and every terrorist attack, Prime Ministers, politicians and police chiefs have said that Islamist violence has ‘nothing to do with Islam.’ Now finally David Cameron has found a way to correct this misleading statement and said of Islamist violence, ‘To deny it has anything to do with Islam means you disempower the critical reforming voices.’ This is a vital change in emphasis.

It is.

Maajid Nawaz who has argued that a 'change in attitude' is needed towards Islamist extremism, and who helped prepare the speech, reckoned this is a key feature: naming & isolating what he calls “Islamism” and “Jihadism”—made possible by a new taxonomy.

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Here’s the full text of the speech. And audio.

Key passages:

  • Over generations, we have built something extraordinary in Britain – a successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy. It’s open, diverse, welcoming – these characteristics are as British as queuing and talking about the weather… It is here in Britain where in one or two generations people can come with nothing and rise as high as their talent allows… So as we talk about the threat of extremism and the challenge of integration, we should not do our country down – we are, without a shadow of doubt, a beacon to the world.
  • It begins – it must begin – by understanding the threat we face and why we face it. What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine.
  • At its furthest end it seeks to destroy nation-states to invent its own barbaric realm. And it often backs violence to achieve this aim – mostly violence against fellow Muslims – who don’t subscribe to its sick worldview.
        But you don’t have to support violence to subscribe to certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish.
        ideas which are hostile to basic liberal values such as democracy, freedom and sexual equality.
  • So when people say “it’s because of the involvement in the Iraq War that people are attacking the West”, we should remind them: 9/11 – the biggest loss of life of British citizens in a terrorist attack – happened before the Iraq War.
  • When they say that these are wronged Muslims getting revenge on their Western wrongdoers, let’s remind them: from Kosovo to Somalia, countries like Britain have stepped in to save Muslim people from massacres – it’s groups like ISIL, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram that are the ones murdering Muslims.
  • Now others might say: it’s because terrorists are driven to their actions by poverty. But that ignores the fact that many of these terrorists have had the full advantages of prosperous families or a Western university education.
  • We must be clear. The root cause of the threat we face is the extremist ideology itself.
  • First, any strategy to defeat extremism must confront, head on, the extreme ideology that underpins it. We must take its component parts to pieces - the cultish worldview, the conspiracy theories, and yes, the so-called glamorous parts of it as well.
        In doing so, let’s not forget our strongest weapon: our own liberal values.
  • We should expose their extremism for what it is – a belief system that glorifies violence and subjugates its people – not least Muslim people.
        We should contrast their bigotry, aggression and theocracy with our values. We have, in our country, a very clear creed and we need to promote it much more confidently. Wherever we are from, whatever our background, whatever our religion, there are things we share together.
  • We are all British. We respect democracy and the rule of law. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith.
        We believe in respecting different faiths but also expecting those faiths to support the British way of life. These are British values. And are underpinned by distinct British institutions. Our freedom comes from our Parliamentary democracy. The rule of law exists because of our independent judiciary. This is the home that we are building together.
  • We must also de-glamourise the extremist cause, especially ISIL. This is a group that throws people off buildings, that burns them alive, and as Channel 4’s documentary last week showed, its men rape underage girls, and stone innocent women to death. This isn’t a pioneering movement – it is vicious, brutal, and a fundamentally abhorrent existence.
        And here’s my message to any young person here in Britain thinking of going out there:
        You won’t be some valued member of a movement. You are cannon fodder for them. They will use you.
        If you are a boy, they will brainwash you, strap bombs to your body and blow you up.
        If you are a girl, they will enslave and abuse you.
        That is the sick and brutal reality of ISIL.
  • So when we bring forward our Counter- Extremism Strategy in the autumn, here are the things we will be looking at:
    • using people who really understand the true nature of what life is like under ISIL to communicate to young and vulnerable people the brutal reality of this ideology
    • empowering the UK’s Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish communities, so they can have platforms from which to speak out against the carnage ISIL is conducting in their countries
    • countering this ideology better on the ground through specific de-radicalisation programmes
  • I also want to go much further in dealing with this ideology in prison and online. We need to have a total rethink of what we do in our prisons to tackle extremism. And we need our internet companies to go further in helping us identify potential terrorists online. [Oops! – Ed.]

  • And as we do all of this work to counter the Islamist extremist ideology, let’s also recognise that we will have to enter some pretty uncomfortable debates – especially cultural ones. Too often we have lacked the confidence to enforce our values, for fear of causing offence. The failure in the past to confront the horrors of forced marriage I view as a case in point. So is the utter brutality of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
        It sickens me to think that there were nearly 4,000 cases of FGM reported in our country last year alone. Four thousand cases; think about that. And 11,000 cases of so called honour-based violence over the last 5 years – and that’s just the reported cases.
        We need more co-ordinated efforts to drive this out of our society. More prosecutions. No more turning a blind eye on the false basis of cultural sensitivities. Why does this matter so much?
        Well, think what passive tolerance says to young British Muslim girls.
        We can’t expect them to see the power and liberating force of our values if we don’t stand up for them when they come under attack. So I am glad we have gone further than any government in tackling these appalling crimes. And we are keeping up the pressure on cultural practices that can run directly counter to these vital values.
        That’s why the Home Secretary has already announced a review of sharia courts.
  • * But confronting non-violent extremism isn’t just about changing laws, it’s about all of us, changing our approach. Take, for example, some of our universities. Now, of course universities are bastions of free speech and incubators of new and challenging ideas. But sometimes they fail to see the creeping extremism on their campuses.
        When David Irving goes to a university to deny the Holocaust – university leaders rightly come out and condemn him. They don’t deny his right to speak but they do challenge what he says. But when an Islamist extremist goes there to promote their poisonous ideology, too often university leaders look the other way through a mixture of misguided liberalism and cultural sensitivity.
        As I said, this is not about clamping down on free speech. It’s just about applying our shared values uniformly.
  • * Now the third plank of our strategy is to embolden different voices within the Muslim community. Just as we do not engage with extremist groups and individuals, we’re now going to actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices. This is a significant shift in government approach – and an important one.
        In the past, governments have been too quick to dismiss the religious aspect of Islamist extremism. That is totally understandable. It cannot be said clearly enough: this extremist ideology is not true Islam. I have said it myself many, many times, and it’s absolutely right to do so. And I’ll say it again today.
        But simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn’t work, because these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.
        Now it is an exercise in futility to deny that. And more than that, it can be dangerous. To deny it has anything to do with Islam means you disempower the critical reforming voices; the voices that are challenging the fusing of religion and politics; the voices that want to challenge the scriptural basis which extremists claim to be acting on; the voices that are crucial in providing an alternative worldview that could stop a teenager’s slide along the spectrum of extremism.
        These reforming voices, they have a tough enough time as it is: the extremists are the ones who have the money, the leaders, the iconography and the propaganda machines. We need to turn the tables.
        We can’t stand neutral in this battle of ideas. We have to back those who share our values.
  • * Britain has never been cowed by fear or hatred or terror.
        Our Great British resolve faced down Hitler; it defeated Communism; it saw off the IRA’s assaults on our way of life. Time and again we have stood up to aggression and tyranny.
        We have refused to compromise on our values or to give up our way of life. And we shall do so again.
        Together we will defeat the extremists and build a stronger and more cohesive country, for our children, our grandchildren and for every generation to come.

From any modern western leader, this is all virtually new. There will be many hurdles, both practical and cultural. Let’s hope it gets traction.


  1. I read this yesterday and thought he can't be saying this.
    Saying what many know but has been tip toed around by world leaders , especially Obama.

    Naming the enemy is the first step to winning the war


  2. Surely this is a hoax? The National party here tries desperately to out-green the Greens, while in the UK the PM grows a pair. Unbelieveable.

  3. This is good stuff. Ain't it pleasant to see him state the truth that Britain is 'a beacon to the world' of liberal values. Also the birthplace & main exporter.

    One of the benefits of Obama's 'leading from behind' is that other Western countries have to step up.

  4. For all the good in it, he is still avoiding the truth. The extremists are true Islam. We will not truly be on the road to turning things around until that fact is made explicit.

    1. WEll, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn't entirely agree with you:


      "The first step is to recognize that the Muslim world is in the early stages of a religious reformation. To understand its nature, it is important to distinguish between the three different groups of Muslims in the world today. The first consists of Muslims who see the forcible imposition of sharia as their religious duty. The second group—the clear majority throughout the Muslim world—consists of Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but are not inclined to practice or preach violence.

      "The third group consists of Muslim dissidents. A few, including myself, have been forced by experience to conclude that we cannot continue to be believers, yet we remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. But the majority of dissidents are reformist believers, among them clerics who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.

      "Yet there are two fundamental obstacles to a reform of Islam. The first is that those who advocate it, even in the mildest terms, are threatened with death as heretics or apostates. The second is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrants for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts...

      "Nevertheless, three factors at work in the Middle East today resemble the drivers of religious reform in sixteenth-century Europe. First, new information technology has created an unprecedented communications network across the Muslim world. Second, a constituency for a reformation has emerged in major cities, consisting of people disenchanted with Islamist rule (as in Cairo and Tehran) or attracted by Western norms (as in London and New York). Third, there is also a political constituency for religious reform emerging in key regional states, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

      "Already, a growing number of ordinary citizens in the Muslim world, as well as in the West, are calling for reform. The Muslim Reformation will likely be driven by such lay reformers, rather than by the clergy, but a number of clerics are still playing an important role. Among them is Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of the Drancy mosque, near Paris, who predicted earlier this year that “Islam will also follow the same historical pattern as Christianity and Judaism,” in terms of reforming its doctrine. “However,” he warned, “this battle for reform will not be concluded if the rest of the world treats it as a solely internal battle and sits as an idle observer, watching the catastrophe as it unfolds."

    2. She doesn't disagree with me. If you read that again you'll see that it illustrates my point.

    3. We have a Prime Minister who says that the Jihadists are not following Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn't say that. She says that the Jihadists see it as their religious duty to impose Islam. Where do they get this idea from? They get it from Islam. They get it from Muhammad himself. That is core Islam and that is what needs reforming. How can it ever be reformed if that truth is constantly evaded? When Western leaders stop evading that it will go a long to towards empowering the third group she mentions.

  5. IS are following Muhammads creed to the letter, which makes it pure Islam. How does avoidance of that fact, by Western leaders, help overcome obstacle two? It can only serve to reinforce obstacle two.

  6. @ Richard - And likewise, the barbarities perpetrated by Christians centuries ago were no doubt supported by something in the Bible. But the point is that Christianity was reformed not by attacking Christianity per se, but by articulating and offering a positive alternative, to which Christianity had to accomodate to try and stay relevant, resulting in a gradual changing of ways. Both history and Hirsi Ali suggest that Islamism can be defeated more effectively by reforming Islam and offering a better alternative to those born into that culture, than a full frontal attack on Islam per se.

  7. After pondering what I just wrote, in particular my last sentence, I realised it could be interpreted in a way I didn't intend.

    To be clear, I have no problem with a 'full frontal" attack on Islam in terms of recognising Islam is the problem and confronting the the threat militarily where appropriate. However the two main points I am making is that:

    1. To effect change you need both carrot and stick. Identifying Islam as the problem and confronting the Islamists militarily is the stick, but the West also needs to offer a viable alternative in terms of the carrot. Any last peace following major wars has only ever been achieved with both.

    2. We don't need all Muslim's to become atheists to remove Islam as a threat. We just need them to reform and reach an acceptable truce with civilised values, just as Christianity and Judaism have done over centuries. The latter will be easier to achieve than having Muslims renounce Islam in it's entirety.

    1. The West can't reform Islam (what is presently happening with the rise of global jihad is a reformation) because only Muslims can do that. The best that the West can do is to empower Muslims who genuinely (and genuinely must be stressed) wish to reform (in the sense that they want to tame) it. Evading the fact that the Jihadists are following pure Islam does not empower would-be reformers. It disempowers them, to their detriment and to ours.

      You suggest that Islam is the same beast as Christianity, but that is to compare oranges to lemons. They are both fruit, with many similarities, but also very different. Christianity was much easier to tame than Islam can ever be. Here is the core of Islam:

      Muhammad said “I have been commanded to wage war until the people say there is no god but allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

      I don't believe that Islam is tameable. To tame it, Muhammad really needs to be taken out of the picture, but realistically, what are the chances of that? Whether or not it is reformed though should not greatly matter to freedom lovers. It is mystical and vicious mumbo jumbo that is incompatible with freedom. We should defend ourselves whether Muslims reform it or not. The kind of evasions that our leaders are making, including David Cameron in his otherwise good speech, is no defence.

  8. "She doesn't disagree with me. If you read that again you'll see that it illustrates my point."

    These are not the droids you're looking for, move along!

    1. Arguing from authority is droid-like. Perhaps there are droids here, on this issue at least.

    2. Hirsi Ali disagrees with you. Her observations do not change no matter how many times you get someone to re-read them.

    3. There's clearly a difference in interpretation here. I don't see any disagreement in what Peter pasted. She clearly states that group one and group two consider themselves to be following Islam, but that group two has a distaste for the violence. That doesn't disagree with me, and she says absolutely nothing about whether or not they are, if at all, following Islam as Muhammad taught it. Regardless though, it wouldn't matter if she disagreed with me or not. Argument from authority is no argument. As extraordinary and beautiful as she is, she is a socialist, so she disagrees with you too, on many things. That doesn't make her right and you wrong.

  9. Two of the factions going head to head. One of them a minority, one of them not so much.


  10. It is her observations that matter not her authority that I'm calling upon. No more than you are (I hope) calling upon The Argument From Calling People Who Disagree With Richard 'Droids'.

    You say the extremists are the true Islam. She says no, they are a subset and outlines the other two. These are competing claims which disagree with each other.

    Writing's on the wall there yet you say "She doesn't disagree with me. If you read that again you'll see that it illustrates my point."

    I think if I keep engaging with you on this point as I have done for the better part of a decade then I'm the one failing to learn from experience. So this is the last go-around for me!

  11. "She says no"

    Show me where she says this?

  12. "She says no, they are a subset and outlines the other two."

    She doesn't say which group most closely commits themselves to Islamic law. She just says that the violent jihadists are a smaller group than the middle ground. You clearly take Islam to be the behaviour of the middle, but this is an error. Islam is not a behaviour. It is what is in the Islamic texts, doctrines, and laws. Which group are the most consistent practitioners of these doctrines and laws? Is it the smaller, but still substantially large (Jasser puts it in the hundreds of millions), group of supremacists, or is it the middle ground mass?

    Also, ponder this. If the supremacists are not acting on what Islam teaches them, as Cameron says, then what is there to reform? There would be nothing to reform. There would simply be a need to show the supremacists their error. But this is not what Hirsi Ali says. She says this:

    "The second [obstacle] is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrants for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts..."

    In not acknowledging any link, David Cameron does exactly the same as the Muslims she criticises.

  13. I'm done this for all time on the grounds you're not listening.


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