As Britain heads into its first pre-set general election on May 7, political parties have gone into overdrive in launching their official and unofficial campaigns. At the top of the bill as it has been for nearly a decade and a half are yet more threats of new counter-terrorism measures as each party tries to outbid the other. It is the only time Muslims are the top of the pecking order as they have become easiest target of all to be abused.
Before it tended to be the race card that politicians cynically played, exploiting overblown fears of immigrants and virtually anything xenophobic. Feeding like a parasite in the most primitive way to win votes, the clear favourite has now become unadulterated Islamophobia, based upon the most sinister and populist of old political strategies – inventing a common enemy in the hope of securing power.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, a new counter-extremism strategy is planned by the Conservatives that targets Shari’ah courts and calls for a ban on radicals working unsupervised with children over fears the young could be brainwashed. Other measures include a requirement that staff at job centres identify vulnerable claimants who may become targets for radicalisation as well as penalties in the benefits system to make people learn English to improve their integration into British society.
Extremist policies are now not only directed against terrorism but radicalism, the all embracing term meaning whatever politicians what it to mean. It a much more far reaching target than just finding and catching anyone prepared to use violence for their cause. Even the Home Office draft has apparently confessed it is not “primarily” directed at terrorism, but at behaviour which, while “often legal”, is said to cause social division and “very significant damage to our communities”. In this light, in a speech to the Jewish security body, Community Safety Trust earlier this month, Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised to introduce new banning orders for what he terms extremist groups that are not covered by the existing laws relating to terrorism.
Ten rounds of terrorism legislation have done little to tackle the real root causes that have evolved in the past 15 years. It has been a slippery slope directed more and more openly and aggressively against Muslims. The use of terminology has played a significant derogatory role. The insistence on linking perpetrators with Islam is particular pernicious given that terrorism acts committed have nothing to do with religion as was the case in Northern Ireland. Both politicians and the media need reminding.
To go down the same route of more intransigent policies which have failed to address terrorism is just going to alienate and victimise Muslims further. It will only exacerbate the problems and give further ammunition to detract from the twisted logic of those who commit acts of terror by the way they are being painted. Using such disparaging labels as “Jihadi” John is a gross insult to victims as well as to the principled religious concept.
For the past 15 years, successive governments have been waging a virtual witchhunt against Muslims, increasingly seeing the entire community as an apparent security threat and enacting endless laws. Islam itself has come under scrutiny as if claiming the religion was flawed. The latest law seem only to legitimise false suspicions being generated about Muslims, their beliefs and political views.
There is so much disinformation – whether it is the idea that Muslims do not respect universal British values when poll-after-poll shows they do, and when the Trojan Horse fiasco has been proven to be more about poor governance than extremism according to the latest report by MPs; or whether it is that Muslims are unable to speak English, when only 6% struggle to speak the language according to the Muslim Council of Britain’s British in Muslims report. Facts do not prevent politicians and the media peddling out these dangerous views about Muslims. Smears are emotively put out of being extremist or radicalised often in couched but deviously imprecise terms and nursery workers, schoolteachers and universities are expected to look out for such signs. Can there be any worse example of exploiting public fear?
Counter-terrorism policies are not only flawed and alienating Muslims but are actually counterproductive and making the contrived phenomena even worse. The entire Muslim community is being blamed for the actions of a few, who have nothing to do with Islam but are more than happy by the West’s reaction to believe their propaganda. It is being made to fuel media hysteria. Enough is enough.