Sunday 12 November 2023

Is there anything that can be done?


For many years I have been reading Douglas Murray. I read his columns in the Spectator, and I have read many of his books. Lately since October 7th I have been listening to his podcasts and interviews. Many others have too.

The first stage is to recognise that we have a problem. One of the difficulties is that even to state that there is a problem is to invite being described as a racist or an Islamophobe.

But this is false. There are Muslims from all races. More importantly as I argued recently there is no equivalent phobia about Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists. Nobody is racist about Rishi Sunak’s Hinduism. People may be racist about his family origins in India and his brown skin, but it is much more likely in modern Britain that he will be criticised for being a Conservative.

So, we must distinguish opposition to radical Islam from racism. Many Palestinians look the same as Israelis. When Hamas attacked Israeli civilians, it was because they were Jewish, not because of what they looked like. Likewise, when the IDF responded it was not because of the skin colour of Gazans, but because of what Hamas had done.

The problem many British people have with the hundreds of thousands who are marching against Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour. If 300,000 Hindus marched through London to celebrate a Hindu festival people might find it inconvenient, but it would cause little or no controversy.

So, what is the problem with radical Islam? In the past decades it has become clear that radical Islam is a threat to our safety. The West has been involved in a number of wars with radical Islam. There have been numerous terrorist attacks carried out in the name of radical Islam. Many Islamic countries whether radically Islamic or not, have laws and customs that a lot of British people find disagreeable, unpleasant and contrary to our values.

I am completely unbothered how people live and the laws they follow in Saudi Arabia or Iran. If I went to visit any of those countries, I would expect to follow their rules. That’s why I don’t visit. But I don’t want to bring this way of life to the UK.

Until recently in British history there was no threat from radical Islam. There was no one to march through the streets in 1948 complaining about the formation of the state of Israel. There was no question of anyone blowing himself up in a terrorist attack and to be fair most Muslim countries at the time were fairly moderate and caused the rest of the world little trouble.

But suddenly we have people shouting words like Jihad and quoting verses in Arabic about killing Jews and marching through London about a war that does not involve Britain. There are people wearing headbands that look like those worn by the terrorists who murdered, raped and mutilated Jewish people. There are people waving black flags that look like the ones ISIS terrorists waved.

It may well be that most of the demonstrators don’t really mean what they say. They are angry about a war that involves Jews attacking their fellow Muslims and they say the worst things they can imagine about Israel, and they are as supportive as they can be to the Palestinians who they side with.

The marches have been unpleasant and intimidating. People have said and shouted disgraceful things, but I am unaware of any deaths that have resulted from the marching.

But how do you tell the difference between someone who only pretends to support Jihad and radical Islam and someone who really does? I think this is what is worrying so many British people. What if only 10% of the crowd of 300,000 really supported Jihad. That would be 30,000 people, living here.

As Mr Murray has ably pointed out once you accept that there is a problem the question then becomes what if anything you do about it?

The thing you don’t do is get the Far Right involved. Violence against the marchers won’t solve the problem, it will make it worse. No one should be unpleasant to Muslims living in the UK. Muslims have all sorts of different beliefs just like the rest of us. Treat people as individuals rather than representatives of a group.

The first thing to recognise is that the problem has been caused by mass immigration. The Faroe Islands do not have a problem with Jihad, neither does Poland and most other Eastern European countries.

The problem of radical Islam does not apply to every ethnic minority. Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are not likely to be Jihadists nor black Christians from the West Indies and Africa, nor people from Hong Kong. So again, the issue is not one of race.

The problem is not even a problem with Islam. The vast majority of Muslims living in the UK are peaceful, law-abiding model citizens. But some Muslims in the world are fundamentalists and some do believe in radical Islam. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t have the problems we have.

So, if we are going to have mass immigration it might be worth screening people to check that they don’t have views that are contrary to the values of most British people including most Muslims.

People from countries where radical Islam or Muslim fundamentalism is the dominant ideology might only be allowed visas to come to the UK if they could demonstrate that they accept Western values about tolerance, homosexuality and religious pluralism.

If hundred of thousands of people march through London shouting slogans that might constitute hate crimes, or which we might consider to be threatening to our security, it might be worth finding out who they are.

It might be possible one week to block off the streets on which people are marching and require each marcher to provide evidence of his identity. Some of the marchers might prove to be living in the UK illegally, or on temporary visas. The British Government might reasonably point out that they might be happier living somewhere where people shared their values.

Other people might have dual nationality or be able to obtain dual nationality. They too might be invited to live somewhere which better fitted their values. Others might be convicted of various hate crimes and incitement to violence.

Of course, none of these things can happen unless British voters support it and vote for a government that has the will to address the problem. It would especially be necessary for ordinary Muslims to contribute to the aim of making Britain a country where Jihadist views are unacceptable.

I don’t think anything like this will happen. It’s not bad enough yet. There are too many who would condemn even the attempt to do anything. There is not the political will to even admit that there is a problem let alone try to solve it. Instead we merely have cliches that no one believes anymore.

Mr Murray has been better than anyone in pointing out the problem and in suggesting what might be done. The difficulty is that the police and political parties think that even trying to do anything would inflame the situation and turn pretend Jihadists into real ones. Perhaps they are right.

But if we continue down the path, we are on ten years from now there will be marches with 500,000 and in twenty years marches with one million by then it will be too late even to limit the damage. Jihadist views then will be not merely acceptable, but commonplace.

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