Another editorial and another bashing of the Prime Minister for what he is saying again about Muslims. Yes it may be tedious but it is only because David Cameron seems to keep harping on and unfairly targeting the community and the tenets of Islam which he claims are being abused for extremism. It is becoming a virtual monthly witch-hunt against Muslims found to be such easy prey while pandering to the worst prejudices.
The annual Tory Party conference was an ideal place to launch yet another populist assault by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
It is excessive indeed that depressingly fits the mould of war propaganda – if something is said enough times, people start to believe it even when it is truthless. It was an art that former premier Tony Blair tried but failed to perfect in wanting to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The latest outburst was to make inroads this time in controlling what is taught at Madrasahs. It was billed as needing to “really confront extremism” and be one more “big social reform in our mission to rebuild Britain as an even greater country.” The aim was to tackle what Cameron described as the “diseased view of the world (that) has become an epidemic – infecting minds from the mosques of Mogadishu to the bedrooms of Birmingham.”
“When I read what some young people born and brought up in this country are doing, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Girls not much older than my eldest daughter, swapping loving family homes and straight-A futures for a life of servitude under ISIL, in a land of violence and oppression. Boys who could do anything they wanted in Britain – who have benefited from all this country stands for – instead ending up in the desert wielding a knife.”
The answers to his grossly exaggerated claims were firstly to “tear up the narrative that says Muslims are persecuted and the West deserves what it gets” and secondly to take on “extremism in all its forms, the violent and non-violent.” People he argued “don’t become terrorists from a standing start” but begins with “preachers telling them that Christians and Muslims can’t live together.”
“It moves to people in their community saying the security services were responsible for 7/7. It progresses to a website telling them how to wage jihad, fight in Syria, and defeat the West. And before you know it, a young British boy, barely 17, is strapping bombs to his body and blowing himself up in Iraq. We have to stop it at the start – stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds, let alone allowing it to grow.”
The third thing is needed to “tackle segregation.” There are parts of Britain today where you can get by without ever speaking English or meeting anyone from another culture,” the Prime Minister revealed to his party supporters. Zoom in and you’ll see some institutions that actually help incubate these divisions. His punch line was did the Conservative faithful know that in Britain “there are some children who spend several hours each day at a Madrassa?”
But Cameron insisted he was not simply targeting Muslims again. “Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it’s at Madrassas, Sunday Schools or Jewish Yeshivas.” What he meant to allege without a shred of evidence that “in some Madrassas we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.”
“These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened … not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate.” His language became more emotive as he announced that there would not be an educational institution left untouched as he aimed to root out all the potential extremism, as has been the case with the Prevent duty being made mandatory at educational establishments across the UK.
There was the “wider truth,” Cameron further argued in nailing his contentions. “For too long, we’ve been so frightened of causing offence that we haven’t looked hard enough at what is going on in our communities. This is passive tolerance. And I’ll tell you where it leads: to children, British children, going to Pakistan in the summer holidays, before they’ve even started their GCSEs, and forced to marry a man they’ve never met.”
Whether or not the Prime Minister realised it, he was encroaching rather on cultural traditions and customs that he was stereotyping and have nothing to do with religion. As was his denunciation again of female genital mutilation, which he said was being carried out “not just in a clinic in Lagos but the backstreets in Britain.” It may sound good to demonise Muslims yet the barbaric practice has nothing to do with Islam and surely Cameron is aware of this.
With a further sleight of hand in his speech, Muslims were being blamed of forced marriages, a tradition that has no basis in Islam and is common in many other communities and used as an example of radicalisation. “This passive tolerance has turned us into a less integrated country; it’s put our children in danger. It is unforgiveable.” He told his annual conference that there would be “no more passive tolerance in Britain” as if giving further licence to sections of the press to continue much of their often sensational demonisation of Muslims.
Muslim leaders have obviously voiced their alarm at Cameron’s latest discrimination against their communities and called upon him to back up his allegations that are supposed to go on at Islamic supplementary schools. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged the Prime Minister to substantiate his claims that pupils were taught not to mix with children from other religions, were beaten, and fed conspiracy theories about Jewish people. It is “neither Islamic nor prevalent in madrasas to be isolationist or to preach hate of other faiths.”
Following the Government’s onslaught on state schools and universities it has already been accused of creating a new category of thought crime and compromising free speech with the result of all Muslims being turned into a “suspect community”. The most worrying part is that the Conservatives are still refusing to talk to mainstream organisations like the MCB and instead seem to being fed by suspect advisers, which only exasperates the war being waged against terrorism and extremism.
According to Government figures, over 4,000 Muslims have been referred to the controversial counter terrorism Channel scheme since the programme was rolled out nationally in April 2012. But since Prevent was made a statutory duty in June, the number asked to report soared to 796 in the first three months, with more than a third aged under 18. Despite the scale, Security Minister, John Hayes, told The Muslim News that “only a small percentage of these go on to require specialist intervention support.”
Despite imposing such a duty to challenge Muslim children at virtually every turn, it appears that the Home Office is not even bothering to keep a breakdown of Channel programme statistics, like who referred them and for what reason or even the numbers and ages of those sent for deradicalisation, the so called twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people.
Is this the way to treat the most vulnerable citizens in the country? So many mistakes have been made to combat the evils of terrorism that has only resulted in the phenomenon becoming much more of a scourge but one that has nothing to do with Islam. If the Conservatives are just dry for fresh policy ideas, it is time for a party like Labour to have a revolution.