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An article with the title “The wrong approach to Islamic Extremism…” by Marty Caine was posted at AltNewsMedia. The article was essentially suggesting that we should not “blame Islam” (the phrase he used) for Islamic terrorism. A quote from the article:
“Some time ago I tried to explain to people the importance of being Jihadiphobic rather than being Islamophobic, as the latter was only really helping the hate preachers to indoctrinate more radical extremists.”
Having engaged in debates about Islam and Islamic terrorism on many occasions, I am used to being confronted with this sort of accusation and similar ones – that I am assisting the Islamic extremists by “agreeing” with the “extremist” point of view. More worryingly still, this exact same attitude is held by those currently running the UK government, and is seen in the attitudes displayed from all MPs all the way down to counter-terrorism police officers. It is a central idea in the “Prevent” strategy, which is why I refer to this strategy as the “Pretend” strategy. I thought it was about time that I thoroughly dismantled this idea.
The biggest problem with the claim is that it leads to the suppression of honest debate about the Islamic religion. “We mustn’t criticize Islam because they might get angry” is essentially what this approach boils down to. If honest debate about the religion is suppressed, then more people might actually be inclined to join the religion than otherwise. Succumbing to this idea is also one step down the road towards submitting to the Islamic religion, because it is in effect paving the way for de facto Sharia blasphemy law, which also says that we must not criticize the Islamic religion (funny coincidence that).
If the Islamic texts do NOT incite violence, then why on earth would my claiming that they do run the risk of causing Muslims to commit acts of violence? If we do accept there is a risk that Muslims might be persuaded by my arguments and react violently, then surely we are ALSO implicitly admitting that there IS a possible way of interpreting the texts that DOES lead to that very conclusion. If the Islamic texts CAN be interpreted in that way, then that just proves the very point that I am making – that the Islamic religious texts do directly inspire people to commit acts of violence, so we should indeed “blame Islam”, because Islam is the problem.
The claim is also highly irrational in light of the fact that I am not only not an imam or any kind of Islamic authority on the religion, but also not even for that matter a Muslim myself. Why would the followers of Islam then believe a word I say about Islam? I am a “kafir”, one not to be trusted. Following that argument logically would lead us to think they are more likely to do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I say their religion tells them to do.
It’s so absurd, isn’t it? People have been arrested and convicted for saying and doing some quite silly and trivial things, such as teaching a dog to do Hitler salutes. Yet, when someone merely tries to criticize a religion that blatantly incites violence both against disbelievers and against those Muslims who try to leave the religion, they can face arrest. This is exactly what happened to Pastor James McConnell, who simply accused Islam of being an evil religion. Note that the legal proceedings took a year and a half, but the judge eventually decided that what the pastor had said was merely offensive, not “grossly” offensive, which is the completely subjective distinction made in the Communications Act of 2003. The prosecution process was quite a significant punishment in itself, even though he was found “not guilty” at the end of it.
Not just absurd then, but highly irrational. We have forgotten one of the most fundamental principles of a fair justice system – EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW. The police currently ignore blatant direct incitements to violence from the followers of Islam, and yet they arrest people for some very trivial expression. Furthermore, since we have to very seriously consider the possibility that Islam does incite violence, then we must also surely have to consider the possibility that all Islamic groups (excepting the Ahmadis) are acting in contravention of our laws (for example SOCA) by merely propagating their religion.
Marty Caine also says in his article that what we should be doing “instead” of “blaming Islam” is enforcing the law. I agree that we should be enforcing the law, but the aforementioned cases surely illustrate the fact that first we need to RATIONALIZE the law in all legislation that relates to the limitations of freedom of speech. Exactly this type of law reform is in fact a high priority of the For Britain party, a party which Marty disapproves of in his article.
He also claims that nobody has explained how “blaming Islam” is helping the problem of Islamic extremism. I replied first by saying that “blaming Islam” is the wrong phrase to use, what we are doing is CRITICIZING the religion; I believe Marty is trying to imply that our criticisms are wrong. I also gave a perfectly rational argument as to how such criticism of Islam can very much help to reduce Islamic extremism as follows:
In summary, the approach that Marty is proposing is not a new approach at all, but in fact has been the approach adopted by all UK governments since the Labour government first created the “Prevent” (Pretend) strategy in the wake of 7/7/2005. This current approach is a policy of appeasement of those who incite violence against us and want to replace our way of life with their way of life. As Anne Marie Waters herself rightly put it:
“You can’t have freedom of speech and death for apostates, someone has to lose.”
(It should be noted that Marty Caine is involved with a political party himself called “Engage” so he may not be entirely impartial. Please note for clarity that I currently support the “For Britain” party although I am not currently a member of it).
“The wrong approach to Islamic Extremism…”