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For the past few years we’ve experienced a procession of prime ministers, presidents and chancellors queuing up after every Islamist atrocity in the West to tell us that the latest attack has nothing to do with Islam. Six days after 9/11, George Bush stood in a Washington mosque and told an overwhelmingly Islam-ignorant Western public that “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that“, and later he added, “Islam is peace”.
Following the murder and near beheading of Lee Rigby, David Cameron announced, “There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.” The television viewing public had just watched one of the Islamists standing in a street in London in the middle of the day, hand holding a large butcher’s knife, soaked red, and dripping with blood, explaining precisely “we are forced by the Quran in Surah at-Tawbah…”. Boris Johnson said, “It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam”. On different occasions of massacres by Islamist terrorists, there have been similar outpourings from numerous high-ranking politicians in Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Belgium and more.
There are two possible views at the extremities. That such an Islamist atrocity has nothing to do with Islam, and conversely, an Islamist attack has everything to do with Islam. Most rational, smart people will agree that somewhere between those two extremes, is the truth.
Douglas Murray, a well-connected journalist, and best-selling author with contacts in the media and government, wrote in the Spectator:
“All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting. ‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake”.
Other less well-known politicians believe that “blaming Islam” for Islamist atrocities is the wrong approach, again with the premise that Islam and Islamic extremism are completely separate. This is a very simplistic concept that has also been propagated by most of the media, and is false. It’s as absurd as another extreme, of claiming that all Muslims are Islamic radicals.
The chart on the left, below, illustrates how most of the UK media portray the extremity of views of British Muslims, and then the chart on the right, shows an approximation of reality.
The coloured sections in the chart labelled “reality”, vary in area, depending on the definition of extremism one uses. If one takes the BBC ComRes poll, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, 24% of British Muslims said they would justify violence if an image of the Prophet Muhammad was published, and 7% refused to answer or claimed they did not know. A 2016 ICM poll, showed that 52% of British Muslims believed homosexuality should not be legal.
If I were able to show the bell curve on the right in a state of constant flux, with shifting patterns like the surface of the sun in profile, and for the colours to be interacting and merging together and unmerging in animation, that would be an even more accurate reality. Those in the population within the bell curve are constantly interacting with each other, re-evaluating their views from different sources; family, friends, mosques, madrassahs, media – both UK, and channels such as the very popular Islam Channel. Its slogan, repeating several times an hour, is “Voice for the Voiceless, Voice for the oppressed”, in shrieking victimhood.
To think of Islam, and extremist Islam in another way, Islamic extremism is a subset of Islam – a smaller circle within the larger circle of the entire Muslim population.
An oft-used phrase by denialists of the bell curve and subset thesis is “the real problem is not Islam at all”.
The idea that radical Islam is somehow entirely separated from Islam, as the chart on the left, above, portrays, is clearly a misrepresentation. Imagine trying to claim that the Christian Crusades were nothing to do with Christianity.
The idea of something not being “real” or “true” is often put forward by certain UK radio presenters when trying to mitigate a recent Islamist attack. For example, in the case of the Manchester Arena suicide bomb, so often I’ve heard, “but he’s not a true Muslim. No true Muslim would carry out such an attack”. This is a well-known logical fallacy called the “no true Scotsman”. It’s a fallacy because one can say that about any group of people in false justification for any foul deed perpetrated by one of them: “that Martian who killed the Prime Minister with a laser, you know, he’s obviously not a true Martian, he must be a renegade”. It may be true, it may not, we need some actual evidence. Either way, it is a logical fallacy. In the case of Salman Abedi, he was a devout Muslim from a devout family, and so devout, he was a hafiz – he had memorised the entire Quran.
The denialists often continue “the real problem is not Islam at all, even though there are parts of the Quran that are clearly radically extreme”.
This problem is not just that the Quran has parts that are radically extreme, but the much bigger problem of a combination of factors that compound each other. In short, they include:
To solve these compounded problems, Islam needs an equivalent of the Reformation and Enlightenment, and, if so, it seems it will be doing a significant part of this in the West, over this century, assuming it is even capable of achieving such a reformation. Numerous previous attempts to reform have ended with the bloody demise of the reformists, and repeated victory by the Islamic fundamentalists, by means of merciless, brutal slaughter.
So, the idea that some stipulate “the real problem is the fact that our laws are not being enforced in our own country as they should be”, and if they were being enforced properly, it would somehow tackle Islamic extremism, is rather optimistic. I agree that there has been, and continues to be, a parallel legal system developing in England and Wales, which we’ve seen in the examples of FGM, child grooming and rape gangs, and the application and sentencing of so called hate-crime. But addressing these issues, while important, is not some panacea for radical Islam. Other countries, such as the US and France, have pandered and appeased far less, and yet they have far from escaped radical Islamic atrocities. Many different countries in the West have tried different approaches in managing the rapid growth of Islam, to little or no avail. Countries that have managed the best include Poland, Hungary, and Japan, where there is little or no growth.
The UK has other vibrant populations of other religions, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Polish Catholics, who have mostly arrived over the past few decades. If religious ideology is irrelevant to levels of radical extremism fomenting terrorist atrocities, why have we not seen deaths from radical terrorist attacks from the fringes of these ideologies too?
“How does blaming Islam actually help to combat radical extremism?” some ask.
We’ve seen above that Islam and radical Islam are very much intertwined, and one is the subset of the other. The premise of the question is false. Islam is the root cause of Islamism and radical Islam, often combined with other pre-existing factors, such as hatred of the West, and victimhood, and as with any problem, in order to solve it, one needs to ascertain its root, and while rejecting political correctness, and the desire to virtue-signal, admit to it. It’s a statement of the blindingly obvious.
Should we watch the emperor parading down the street naked, while nodding at one another? Remarking how finely he’s attired, after being repeatedly informed by the weavers, (the political and media elite), the garment is crafted of such fine fabric, that it’s invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position, or “hopelessly stupid”. The weavers in this H. C. Anderson tale, are of course, two-con men, who convince the narcissistic and image obsessed emperor, this is so, and in turn convince the court and the citizens.
The politicians and the media have weaved this deceitful web of denialism, and one wonders how long it will take the British electorate to hear the little boy in the crowd blurting out “The Emperor has no clothes”, and who is the little boy, and will it be in time?