Not long ago the fashionable problem was 'radicalisation' of Muslims. The government, ever inadequate, obligingly provided taxpayer funds to mosques to run 'de-radicalisation' programmes. This was done with no idea of what they would be, or how to assess their results: the process cost much and showed little benefit. Now the emphasis has been changed. In today's Cameron-approved vocabulary the problem (the same old one) is 'extremism', more particularly 'violent extremism'.
Part of the new fashion-speak is that the terminology must rigorously be kept abstract, never mentioning any ideology; it has to be free-floating 'extremism'. This imposes a handicap which deprives the public of information. Worse, a parallel notion is propagated, compulsorily, that all ideologies are equally prone to violent extremism, which is self-evidently a pernicious falsehood. Silently a further, and not immediately obvious, effect takes root. This is the implication, which grows in people's unwary minds, that the inferred major part of the ideology, that part which is not 'extremist', is all fine and dandy, no problem to anyone, peaceful and respectable. This is a trap.
The Government's Prevent strategy gives its definition of 'extremism':
"Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas."
The British public is accustomed to "vocal ... opposition", whether as spectator or by being involved: it is part of freedom of speech, a valued British freedom. Active opposition, likewise, is part of freedom of assembly, another valued British freedom. What is it that transforms these into "extremism"? It is when they are done in opposition to "fundamental British values". Taking the examples as listed in the Prevent booklet above, how does Islam, with its Sharia law, measure up to them?
Sharia is "incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy", European Court of Human Rights,Â Welfare Party case, 2003.
"Democracy, freedom, secularism, the parliament, all the MPs ... we have got to reject them", Anjem Choudary.
"We are definitely a danger to Western democracy", Abu Izzadeen (Trevor Brooks).
"Democracy is hypocrisy, sharia will dominate France", placard.
"Democracy is the opposite of Sharia and Islam ... Sharia is Islam, and Islam is Sharia", Fouad Belkacem, 'Abu Imran', Shariah4Belgium.
The rule of law
"British Police Go To Hell", placard.
"Man-made law Go To Hell", chant at demonstration.
"Sharia controlled zone â€“ Islamic rules enforced", illegal notices in London.
"Establish Islamic Emirates", placard.
"The only law we must respect and apply is the Shari'a", Tariq Ramadan of Oxford, Jihad Watch, 31 January 2009.
"There's nothing wrong with having our own police force", Anjem Choudary.
"We will rise up one day and implement the Sharia", Anjem Choudary.
"We will call for a complete upheaval of the British ruling system", Anjem Choudary, Express, 15 October 2009.
"You cannot accept the rule of the kaffir ... there will be no House of Commons", Dr Ijaz Mian, Derby, Dispatches: UndercoverÂ Mosque, Channel 4, 2007.
"It is the nature of Islam ... to impose its laws on all nations", Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"destroying Western civilisation from within", a 'General Strategic Goal' of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation that rules it", Abul Ala Maududi, scholar and writer, Jihad in Islam.
"Freedom Go to Hell", placard.
"No one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. ... the Islamic State bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states", Abul Ala Maududi.
"It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair", Koran 33:36, part of Islamic law.
"No peace can be made between us [Muslims] and the non-believers. This what our holy book says. This what Allah says", Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Spiritual Guide to Muslim Brotherhood.
Non-Muslims are "unclean" (Koran 9:28), "the vilest of beasts" (8:55), "apes and pigs" (5:60), all part of Islamic law. Allah "doesÂ not loveÂ the unbelievers" (30:45).
Muslims are "merciful to each other, and ruthless to the unbelievers" (48:29), part of Islamic law.
Tolerance of different faiths and beliefs
"I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate", Abu Bakr, Algerian-born cleric, Australia.
"Does Islam, or does it not,Â forceÂ people by the power of the sword to submit ... ? Yes", Osama bin Laden (Frontpage Mag, 28 June 2011).
"Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends", Koran 3:28, part of Islamic law.Â
"And whoever desires other than Islam as religion â€“ never will it be accepted from him", Koran 3:85, part of Islamic law.Â
"KiIl the unbelievers wherever you find them", Koran 9:5, part of Islamic law.
"Muslims must kill non-believers wherever they are unless they convert to Islam", Ali Gom'a, Grand Mufti of Egypt, the highest Muslim religious authority in the world.
Calls for the death of members of our Armed Forces
Anjem Choudary has been secretly taped urging his followers to raise money for Islamic fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying this would help them kill the "butchers and cowards" â€“ members of the Armed Forces â€“ from the U.S. and Britain.
All this is ordinary, basic Islam. Nothing has been hijacked, misunderstood, warped, twisted or perverted. The interpretation is straightforward. To put Islam's revered book into context, "The teachings of the Quran", explains Imam Ahmad Saad, of North London Central Mosque, "are not restricted by time and space. They are universal and trans-time. They can be applied today as they were applied 1400 years ago, and can still be applied till the end of time." The Koran forms part of Islamic law. Denying any verse is a capital offence (Manual of Islamic Law o8.7(7)). The text cannot be reformed: "None can change His words" (Koran 18:27). Unavoidably this leads to an uncomfortable conclusion: by the Government's own definition, ordinary, basic, orthodox Islam is extremism.
The concern becomes more serious: "There is a problem within Islam", said Tony Blair. Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson has a similar view: "There is a serious problem embedded within the ideology". Ordinary basic Islam â€“ which qualifies as extremism in the government's own definition â€“ commands violence. "Violence is the heart of Islam", said Ayatollah Yazdi, advisor to President Ahmadinejad of Iran. "Those who are against killing have no place in Islam", explains Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, Iranian judge.
Hear Ayatollah Khomeini: "Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: kill all of the unbelievers as they would kill you all" (FaithFreedom.org). "Those who say Islam should not kill don't understand [it]. Killing is a great [divine] gift that appears [to man]. A religion that does not include [provisions for] killing and massacre is incomplete. ... Killing is the same as mercy" (Winds of Jihad). A child preacher on television proclaims: "The tree of Islam is irrigated with blood, not with water."
"Peace is when the whole world is Muslim", explained Sayeed Qutub, co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. That is what all the violence is for â€“ to bring about peace.
At least a hundred verses in the Koran command killing of, or violence towards non-Muslims. They are all part of Islamic law, which is fixed, cannot be repealed, and is not subject to being overruled by 'man-made law'. The reality, for politicians and people, is that Islam itself instructs violent extremism. The problem is not 'Islamism'; the problem is Islam.
The Government's Prevent strategy booklet is available as a free download https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97976/prevent-strategy-review.pdf
The Manual of Islamic Law, "Reliance of the Traveller", is available as a free download http://shafiifiqh.com/maktabah/relianceoftraveller.pdf
The Koran can be consulted online http://corpus.quran.com/translation
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