We are all taught that Muslims somehow are more fickle than the rest of the population. Children in general may not be susceptible to many kinds of degenerative influences as long as they are, for better for worse, deemed acceptable to cultural norms. But when it is claimed that they risk becoming radicalised, Muslim children are suddenly presented as being hypersensitive, ready to be led astray at a whim and become hardened terrorists, according to the country’s anti-terrorism strategy. The all-knowing words of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, are now telling us that Muslim parents are to be blamed for failing to carry out their proper responsibilities.
Whether Johnson made this up himself or it was the invention of his advisers and script writers, he is asserting that Muslim children who risk radicalisation by their parents should be taken into care. For some seemingly unbeknownst reason he cited the murderers of Lee Rigby as just one example of “the kind of mad yearning for murder and death” that children are at risk of. Interestingly, the murderers of Lee Rigby were brought up by Christian parents. “Radicalisation is a former of child abuse and authorities must have the power to intervene.” He equated it with paedophilia and female genital mutilation to try to justify his claim.
His article published in the Daily Telegraph this month reminded us all of Enoch Powell’s notorious Rivers of Blood speech and his foreboding of doom. Radicalism was an “infection” that had to be stopped. Only of Muslims. Non-Muslim terrorism and responsibility of non-Muslim parents is not mentioned at all. “Some young people are now being radicalised at home, by their parents or by their step-parents.” They were being “taught crazy stuff: the kind of mad yearning for murder and death.” It was an “awful virus: the contagion of radical Islamic extremism.” Emotive words indeed for someone not due to stand for re-election for two more years.
The fault was the work of counter-terrorism officers which was being “hampered by what I am obliged to call political correctness.” Inbuilt in the British system was a “reluctance to be judgmental about someone else’s culture, even if that reluctance places children at risk.” The failure to intervene by the social services was even when “they and the police have clear evidence of what is going on” because it is not clear that the “safeguarding law” would support such action. “A child may be taken into care if he or she is being exposed to pornography, or is being abused – but not if the child is being habituated to this utterly bleak and nihilistic view of the world that could lead them to become murderers.”
The apparent remedy was that the law should “obviously treat radicalisation as a form of child abuse.” Children “being turned into potential killers or suicide bombers can be removed into care – for their own safety and for the safety of the public.” Britons needed to be “less phobic of intrusion into the ways of minority groups and less nervous of passing judgment on other cultures.” The country could have “a great, glorious, polychromatic society, but we must be firm to the point of ruthlessness in opposing behaviour that undermines our values.” Understanding of British values was “nowhere more apparent in the daily job of those who protect us all from terror and who are engaged in tackling the spread of extremist and radical Islam.”
His call comes amid that the on-going Government inquiry into ‘radicalisation’ and underlying assumptions that have time after time proved to be misguided and flawed. Muslims for more than a decade have been put under a distorted microscope to find an excuse to and justify putting the whole community under surveillance from cradle to grave. So many institutions can and have been spied on, from schools and universities to the NHS, mosques, madrasahs and Islamic societies. The enemy is within and it would be laughable if presented as a Hollywood movie.
It is not the first attempt to embroil Muslim parents into the war on terrorism. Back in 2006, former Home Secretary, John Reid, called on parents to spy on the behaviour of their sons and treat them as suspected terrorists. It was the opposite to what Johnson is calling for. He urged Muslim parents to “confront” their teenage siblings and protect them from harm. But the overall thrust was to sow seeds of distrust and suspicion to divide Muslim families and generate a new climate of fear that all in the community were potential terrorists.
The latest thrust comes when the profile of terrorists is being confused with many coming from irreligious backgrounds, some often converts and as in the case with Syria supporting the same cause as the British Government in seeking to overthrow President Basher al-Assad’s regime. Contrary to anti-terrorism legislation, the BBC this month promoted the cause of Abdul Waheed Majeed, who blew himself up when driving a truck bomb at the gates of Aleppo Prison. In an interview with Newsnight his brother Hafeez declared that the suicide bomber should be regarded as a hero, combating the regime, not a terrorist. “If my brother had been a British soldier and there were British people in that prison and the act of heroism or bravery that he did, I know he would have been awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross,” he said.
Johnson’s attempt to invoke suspected radicalism as a form of abuse is reported to already being probed in a family litigation case that could lead two bothers aged 11 and 12 to be taken into care. At the High Court in London, it was revealed that a local council has started proceedings on the children’s future after their non-Muslim mother claimed two of her boys were being radicalised by her estranged Libyan husband, who is also a British citizen and had lived in England for a long time.
The couple, who have not yet been named, apparently have seven children. According to the Daily Telegraph, the mother had made a statement that her two sons had both been “extremely hostile and rude” to her and called her a “Christian witch”. A care decision is not due to be made until June but the judge has warned the claims were “no more” than statements made by or attributed to the woman and had been strongly denied by her husband. Whatever the marital dispute, it seems extra ammunition is being given in family breakdown cases over custody rights.
Under British law, parents currently are responsible for not only providing a home and protecting and maintaining their children but also in matters of discipline and choosing and providing their education. If radical messages are so seductive, parents are best placed to stay in the picture to intervene and combat. Islam is perfectly suited to counter with its principles of piety, obedience and disassociation from troublesome acquaintance. What is missing, as is always in the narrative that the causes of terrorism, is essentially political and has very little to do with religion. The alleged growth of those willing to fight in Syria is further confirmation of this and yet the Government prefers to become even further lost in the quagmire it has created. Anyone seizing on Johnson’s claims only further distorts the dichotomy of the Government in seeking the support of the Muslim community while doing everything to alienate it.