Former Labour Party minister Kim Howells, who was responsible for military security under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has suggested the Labour government of which he was a member was wrong to ignore the religious roots of Islamist terror, urging authorities to ‘take on’ the ideology to defeat terror.
While Blair was playing the Christian crusader as sidekick to US President George W Bush (and being reminded by his spin doctor Alistair Campbell that in Britain "we don't do God" there was, Mr. Howells said, a failure to understand that Islamist violence is distinct from other forms of terror and Western values such as democracy must be defended. Presumably he is trying to tell his party the time for appeasement of Islamic extremism is gone, it's time to push back.
“I was part of a Government that said: ‘Well, we don’t do God.’ he commented, "But you can’t afford not to do God on this one, I think,” he told Wales Online.
“These people aren’t motivated – not on the most part, anyway – by money or some kind of nationalism. It’s different from the IRA. These people are prepared to kill themselves and they do it because they think it’s a shortcut to paradise…
“Unless people have enough courage to take that on and try and convince young people that the Caliphate is not a better way of running society than a democracy they are going to be lured to these organisations.”
Whilst some say Islamic terror is largely driven by grievances such as “Islamophobia”, “alienation”, marginalisation, poverty and Western foreign policy, Mr. Howells argues that in order to understand fundamentalist Islam's loathing of western culture it is necessary to appreciate the importance of theological conflicts in Islamic societies.
“These guys are not just trying to kill unbelievers and Christians and so on. Their main enemy is another form of Islam,” he said, referring to the violent schism between Sunni and Shia Islam.
"Many other nations and ethnic groups have been affected by foreign interventions and discrimination, yet the vast majority of recent terror attacks have occurred in countries afflicted by Islamist insurgencies."
It is true that western governments have failed to understand the deep rooted causes of Islamic extremism but this blog would argue that is not a failing on the part of western cultures. Rather it is not possible for westerners to understand the backward and tribalistic mindset of many subcultures in the Muslim world. How for example does one go about persuading randy young men who have been indoctrinated with the idea that women are unclean, their only purposes being to serve men and to produce babies, to understand that in the west women are independent beings, free to dress how they wish and go freely wherever they want to in the same way men are. Or to make fundamentalists understand that while nobody is going to make Muslims or Jews eat pork and ham, we accept the right to eat those foods in accordance with the values and traditions of our culture, and they must learn to live alongside pork eaters.
If we cannot do that, and I suspect we can't, then we in the secular democracies must accept that mass immigration from certain Muslim cultures is not going to work, that some people just cannot accept that while we respect their right to worship as they wish, we expect them to afford us the same respect, even if in the cases of many of us it means that we choose not to worship but use our right to freedom of speech to argue against religion. Because until they are able to grant our values the same respect as they demand we grant theirs, fundamentalist Islam and secular society can never live side by side.
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