Islam came out of the xenophobic and violent Arab / Bedu culture of Saudi Arabia. It was then spread violently by conquest throughout the Middle East, Far East, North Africa and into Southern Europe. The sword on Saudi Arabia’s flag celebrates this fact.
We used to say that there was nothing more dangerous than a fool with a cause. But a fool with a cause who believes they are carrying out God’s will is literally capable of anything. Any genocide, any atrocity, any sacrifice.
In Britain we have three pillars of the State – The Monarchy, The Church and Parliament and they are all largely independent. The Church and Monarchy have been suitable neutered and liberal parliamentary democracy rules supreme.
Islam is not just a religion. In Islamic countries it is not part of the state, it is the state. It is also an ideology that seeks total control over its citizens in their personal life, their economic life and their political life. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan Somalia and Afghanistan Sharia is the only source of legal decisions. Stoning to death, beheading and amputation of limbs remain a legal form of punishment for such crimes as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, theft and homosexuality.
In the West we value rational, evidence-based debate, democracy and the rule of law. Much of Islam values only irrational religious doctrine written down over 1000 years ago for goat herders living in a different age.
The problems of the Middle East can be summarised into a series of failed nation states. The only stable Middle East countries have autocratic leaders and they quickly dissolve into chaos if they are deposed (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt…). The national borders are contrived and their populations have more loyalty to their tribe and their Islamic religious sect (Sunni, Shia, Wahibists, Aliists…) than they do to their nation state.
The same will be true of many Muslims in the UK. Some would rather fight and die for their fellow religious sects in Syria and Iraq than their own country. There is also a deafening silence from the many moderate Muslims who will not criticise their religion’s extremists. A few meager conciliatory words from a couple of media contrived Muslim “leaders” but where are the marches and mass participation campaigns on social media – either in the West or the war ravaged Middle East? Again they have more loyalty to their religion than their community.
Clearly these values are incompatible with liberal Western values and our idea of the Nation State.
Worse still, these poisonous views have now infested our Western cities where they are passionately held by legitimate Western citizens.
So what is our solution?
Western liberal values and the fear of further provoking these evil extremist groups prevents us from isolating Islam for particular attention. We are a society that is comfortable making “The Life of Brian” but would recoil from considering making the Islamic equivalent.
However we have a long history of neutering the power of religion in order to achieve peace and build our Western democracies. By religion we meant Christianity, but from now on it must mean all religion. i.e. any form of irrational, unsubstantiated, superstitious belief.
We can criticise and defeat the generic ideas behind Islam without inflaming and offending one particular religious group.
All religions must pay the price for peaceably neutering the power of extremist Islam, because if we accept the philosophy of one religion we must accept them all.
Firstly we must protect our children from this evil. Any religious indoctrination should be seen as a form of child abuse.
We do not have ”Conservative children” or “Labour children” or “Socialist Workers children”. We accept that a child does not have the maturity and knowledge to give their consent to a political ideology. We do not allow political activity in our schools, do not allow children to join a political party and we do not allow them to vote in a general election.
We believe the same is true of sexual activity. We do not have “gay children” or “heterosexual children”. Children cannot give consent to sexual activity until 16.
Restrictions on political and sexual activity is intended to protect naïve impressionable minds from the sinister manipulation of predatory adults.
We should have similar policies towards religion.
How can we have a “Jewish child”, a “Muslim child” or a “Christian child”? Have they made an informed choice? Given their consent? The sinister power of indoctrination over young and impressionable minds has been known to Catholics for centuries. Their priests claiming, “if you give me a child, I will give you the man”.
No child should be forced to adopt any form of religious activity in schools until they are old enough to give their informed consent. This would eliminate faith schools and the form of religious apartheid that exists in Northern Ireland and Glasgow. It would starve extreme religions of their future brainwashed, indoctrinated disciples. All Jewish and Muslim schools would be banned and all forms of religious clothing and adornment could not be worn in schools until the child is old enough to give informed consent.
Britain would still have complete religious freedom of expression, exactly the same as we have political freedom of expression and sexual freedom of expression. But only when the person is old enough to give informed consent.
Secondly all religious activity must be viewed with suspicion and prevented from spreading its ideas using the machinery of State. No State sponsorship or tax breaks for religious activity.No special treatment for religious groups in our democracy (e.g. no automatic right to bishops in the House of Lords). Furthermore religious belief should have no privileges when drafting laws. No automatic right to Halal or Kosher food and no special exemptions from employment law based purely on religious doctrine. No pandering to religious belief when setting our national curriculum. No politesses when teaching our children the realities of evolution. No laws that hinder free speech for fear of causing offence.
Finally there must be more education and open debate about the dangers of irrational, illogical, superstitious belief. We should be free to criticise these generic religious beliefs and ridicule and hopefully dissuade all those people that follow them.
This is very unfair on the moderate religions. It is also not a perfect solution but the best available solution. But we let this evil into our societies and extreme measures must now be taken to keep it under control whilst protecting our liberal Western ideals.
Islam cannot be tackled head on without provoking more violence. But its fundamental tenets can be demolished with allegory, analogy, comedy and satire. This should be further backed up with an insistence on logical, evidence based debate, democracy and the rule of law.