Another horrific and appalling attack took place in London a couple of days ago. On Sunday, the Prime Minister gave a speech denouncing the atrocity, proclaiming that there has been ‘far too much tolerance of extremism in our country’. You can watch her speech below:
In the immediate wake of a terror attack, you will be hard pressed to find people unwilling to countenance further measures. Most people like to feel something is being done, if only to make themselves feel better. The problem, as Yes, Prime Minister so cleverly put it, is that this smacks of politicians logic:
Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.
The problem with Theresa May’s speech is not her identification of the immediate problem. She rightly recognises that Islamism is the issue; those who hate Western values, deem them incompatible with Islam and believe terrorism is a legitimate response to the West in general. But May believes the answer to the problem is not to tackle Islamism per se, nor terrorism in particular, but – drawing on her formerly favourite catchphrase – ‘extremism in all its forms’.
After a terrorist attack, who is going to argue that we don’t need to tackle extremism? Clearly those who kill and maim in the name of religion are extremists, we can all see that. So, using politicians logic, the reasoning is thus: (1) Something must be done to stop Islamism; (2) All Islamists are extremists; (3) We must therefore tackle extremism in all its forms. That may seem reasonable but for two key questions that matter a great deal.
First, if Islamism is the specific problem, why target ‘extremists’ in general when it is only one kind of extremist causing the problem we intend to tackle? If we are trying to stop Islamism in particular, why would we focus our energies on tackling the extremism (for there is no denying such people are extreme in their beliefs) of Orthodox Judaism? If the problem is Islamism, why would we be concerned about tackling the extreme behaviour we see exhibited by, for example, devout vegans? These sorts of ‘extremists’ are not concerned with committing terrorist atrocities so don’t really need tackling. Their extreme beliefs are not rubbing up against our right to go about our daily lives without fear of violence or injury. In fact, to waste our energies tackling the extremism of vegetarianism will do nothing to stop Islamism and will actively divert valuable resources away from where they need to be focused.
Second, and directly related to the first question, how are we defining extremism anyway? If we are now not just tackling Islamism because it leads directly to the kind of terrorist atrocities we have seen in Manchester and London, where are we drawing the line? The reality is that Theresa May’s record on extremism – particularly her introduction of Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) as Home Secretary – is not heartening on this question.
EDOs have been publicly announced as intending to go ‘beyond terrorism’ and eliminate ‘extremism in all its forms’. You can see earlier comments on EDOs and their abusive application here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here among others (just type extremism into the search box, top right of this blog). May has form in wanting to go much further than eliminating the sort of extremism we saw on the streets of Manchester and London and instead wants to eliminate the sort of ‘extremism’ that manifests itself in beliefs, words and actions that in no way lead to violence. The Defend Free Speech campaign offers a handy run down of those considered ‘extremists’ by Theresa May. Needless to say they extend well beyond Islamist terrorists.
Herein lies the problem. The connection between all of the recent terror atrocities that have been committed on the UK mainland since 2001 is Islamist jihadist dogma. The extremism that is causing terrorism, not just in the UK, but across Western Europe is Islamist terrorism. Clamping down on non-mainstream views and beliefs as a whole will do absolutely nothing to curtail Islamist terrorism. Insisting on OfSted inspections for Sunday Schools, for example, will do absolutely nothing to stop terror on our streets. It is not hordes of Sunday School children blowing themselves up and mowing people down, it is a particular brand of Wahabbi-Salafi Islam.
Here is the great hypocrisy. Theresa May plans to offer a zero-tolerance policy on ‘extremism in all its forms’. She has already categorised vast swathes of the UK population as extremists, none of whom have ever shown the slightest inclination to terrorist violence. Clamping down on Evangelical Christians, political activists or journalists will make not one jot of difference to fighting Islamist terrorism. Whilst acknowledging that Islamism is the problem, and implicating plethora of groups who have no links to Islamism and have never shown any inclination toward terrorism, she walks hand-in-hand with the Saudi Arabian crown prince and refers to them as our allies. As I note here, Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of Salfai-Wahabbi Islamism in the world. They have the most aggressive mosque building programme of all Islamic nations, bolstered by petro-Islam, and an awful lot of radicalisation takes place in mosques funded by Saudi Salafi money.
As horrific as was the attack in London on Saturday, 7 people were killed by 3 others. Theresa May wishes to characterise vast swathes of the UK population as extremists because of 4 people (three in London; one in Manchester). The total loss of life across Manchester and London – appalling and horrific as it was – was 29 people. May wishes to impede the freedoms of 70 million based on these numbers. More than that, she speaks out of both sides of her mouth about tackling extremism while supporting the Al-Saud regime who have done the most in recent years to export the odious jihadi Islamist dogma that underlies these attacks. It is shameful that May is willing to demonise multiple non-violent groups and faiths as ‘extremist’ – imposing measures upon them – whilst cosying up to the very people who propagate and fund the kind of Islamist extremism she claims to want to eradicate.
In the last few weeks, 4 Islamists have claimed the lives of less than 30 people. Theresa May now wants to impinge on the lives of millions of people, none of whom have shown the slightest inclination to terror-related activities – under the catch-all ‘extremism’. EDOs are so loosely drawn they already implicate vast numbers of people as ‘extremists’. May now wishes to go further still. While labelling huge portions of the population ‘extremist’ and impinging upon their liberty, she continues to call the Saudis our friends and allies who themselves fund the Islamist radicalisation of British young people through their aggressive Wahabbi-Salafi mosque building programme. You tell me, dear reader, who presents the greater threat to freedom?
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