Education, Politics and Economics, Religion

How can we tackle Islamic terrorism?

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.


Does terrorism have anything to do with Islam?

This argument boils down to defining the single, true and pure meaning of a particular religion.  This is an impossible task.  Muslims are as unlikely to agree on the true meaning of Islam as any other religion.  This is despite having a text, written in the original language that they all agree is the word of God.  Shias, Sunnis, Sufis (and at least 8 other sects of Islam) all disagree on its interpretation and within each sect there are many sub-sects.

And even individuals in each sub-sect will disagree on the correct interpretation of any particular passage in the Koran.  I was recently having dinner with a group of 8 Muslim friends (4 men and 4 women) and we discussed a passage in the Koran that allows a man to take up to 4 wives, so long as he treats them all equally.  Bear in mind that polygamy (only for men of course) is legal in all Muslim Countries.  So it seems that this interpretation of the Koran has been universally accepted.  However the next passage in the Koran states “but of course he can never treat them all equally”.  To the women in the group and at least one of the men this changed the meaning to the opposite view i.e. that a man cannot have more than one wife.

The point about anything as irrational, superstitious and unsubstantiated as religious belief is that you can infer anything you want from their ancient texts and then justify your actions by claiming God’s will.  They would not be alone in cherry picking convenient facts to support an entrenched view of the world.  Followers of political and social movements do the same. “In the messenger of God you have a beautiful model of behaviour” states the Koran. It matters just as much to jihadists and “moderate” Muslims who would never contemplate violence that validation for what they do is indeed to be found in biographies of Muhammad. Politicians and journalists who take it on themselves to define what is and is not “authentic Islam” are buying into the notion that such a thing actually exists. Unless one is a fundamentalist believer, it does not.  The concept of accepting that there is a single authentic interpretation of Islam plays into the hands of violent extremists who want the world to believe just that.

In any case, what Islam was meant to be is irrelevant.  I remember having a discussion about the practice of communism in the former Soviet Union with my parents during my philosophically idealistic youth. I felt that it was unfair to dump the extreme human rights abuses of the Soviets on the doorstep of Communism because they weren’t actually following “proper” communism.  It was called the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) after all.  However my parents dismissed this argument saying that what we saw in Russia and Eastern Europe was practical Communism.  Whatever it was meant to be, this is what you got.

A review of the Muslim world of the last decade or so makes lamentable reading: 9/11 trade center attack; 7/11 tube bombings; Madrid train bombings; genocide, public executions and public beheadings in Syria and Iraq; mass slaughter of Pakistani school children; murder of non-Muslims in shopping malls in Muslim Africa; ethnic cleansing, kidnapping and sex-slavery of school girls in Nigeria; Malaysian nightclub bombings; Bali nightclub bombings; US embassy bombings; USS Cole; Lee Rigby; Russian airline bombing; 2 Paris massacres, massacre at a Kenyan University…..

It seems that Islam is currently more open to a violent interpretation than other mass religions.

We must remember that 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.  The prophet Muhammad is said to have owned a sword whose name can be translated as “Cleaver of Vertebrae”. We used to say that there was nothing more dangerous than a fool with a cause. Well, 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.

Conversely, the violence we are seeing in the Muslim world may well be against the true meaning of Islam for most of its followers.  But so what?  They don’t have a monopoly on the true meaning any more than their violent, murderous, Jihadi brethren.

What we have around the word is practical Islam.  Whatever Islam was meant to be, this is what you get.