Those who seek justice should do justice
David Cameron’s speech on 29 August 2014 highlighted the level of “terror threat” Britain faces, potentially at the hands of British born terrorists, as severe. The speech was full of ironies and misinformation. He amazingly mentioned many grievances of radicalised individuals only to ignore them subsequently by placing the blame on an evil ideology called “Islamist extremism”. Cameron has again used the term “Islamist” to describe acts of terror or extremism? It appears that he is simply not interested in an honest discussion and will continue to sing the tunes orchestrated by the increasingly Islamophobic political establishment. The media and the politicians are simply not interested in an honest debate on the British foreign policy and its global repercussions. Even the resignation of Sayeeda Warsi, one of the senior ministers, didn’t change the attitude of this government. Some of the comments made by Cameron in his speech will be addressed to put things into perspective. But before Cameron’s speech is addressed, I would like to clarify that we, as Muslims in particular and humans in general, condemn the killings of all innocent people on the planet, whether they are conducted by a bunch of barbaric terrorists or a bunch of “civilised” eloquent politicians. We do not condone, uphold or defend any form of extremism.
Cameron stated (his words in italics henceforth):
‘We have all been shocked and sickened by the barbaric murder of American journalist, James Foley and by the voice of what increasingly seems to have been a British terrorist recorded on that video.’
Indeed, to see anyone beheaded or murdered on screen is shocking as well as sickening and I wouldn’t like to witness it. I wonder if the prime minister was shocked due to the nationality of the murderer or the murdered. Or was it the act itself that shocked our dear prime minister? This cold blooded murder was indeed very disturbing but did the prime minister not hear about the murder of over two hundred thousand people in Syria? Are the children of Syria less worthy of sympathy? Is the Syrian regime not barbaric enough for the prime minister to conduct an emergency press conference? What on earth is wrong with our government’s sense of justice? Why do we value western blood more than that of others? Why is a British terrorist more barbaric than a Syrian one? Is our government actually concerned about the Yazidis and Christians of Iraq on humanitarian basis? If humanitarianism is the driving force then there is a bigger holocaust taking place in Syria. Does the prime minister care enough to give them the same amount of attention? These are some very pressing questions we must contemplate.
‘The ambition to create an extremist Caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK’
What exactly is an “extremist Caliphate”, he doesn’t explain. Does he only have a problem with an extremist Caliphate? Not quite. He seems to have a problem with “political Islam”, whatever that means. He deems political Islam a threat and equates it with “radicalism”. This is clearly evident from his Munich speech. What he fails to acknowledge is the fact that Islam is a way of life that also governs states, not only mosques and charities. It is clear from the history of Islam that Muslims governed large chunks of this planet with the law of Islam and were successful in bringing cultures and faiths together. Political Islam was far more pluralistic and inclusive than most secular states are today (see Islam’s War on Terror). Cameron just needs to understand some of the terms before he uses them in his speeches. Imagine if one was to state: “the ambition to create an extremist democracy in the West is a threat to our security”. So, the question is: would the prime minister accept the establishment of a non-extremist Caliphate? Would he care to define as to what that “Caliphate” might constitute? Or is the Quranic (24:55) concept of Caliphate abhorrent to him altogether? In all honesty, most educated Muslims cannot take the prime minister seriously because he uses every single act of terrorism to pick on the political dimension of Islam. We clarify, again, that Islam is not extreme in any shape or form. Just like an apple cannot be a pear.
‘We now believe that at least five hundred people have travelled from Britain to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq’
Who allowed these people to travel in the first place? Was it not the British government that turned a blind eye to all these youngsters travelling to Syria in big numbers? If anything, the prime minster himself is guilty of negligence here. Why did the government change its policy towards Syria? No one talked about this “threat” for over a year when multitudes were travelling to Syria. Why has the British government suddenly woken up to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq while there was deafening silence for three years over the holocaust of the Syrian people? The Syrian regime continues to kill the children of Syria in thousands but it can’t be regarded as a terrorist institution because the regime is not an “Islamist” establishment. One has to be an “Islamist” to be a terrorist, according to the current political narrative in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I condemn every single killing of an innocent person regardless of religion or location. I condemn all British citizens involved in the killing of innocent people, whether they are part of an extremist group or a “civilised” parliament. The point I am making is that the British government is not an innocent bystander in whatever is taking place in the Middle East.
‘Let’s be clear about the source of the threat we face. The terrorist threat was not created by the Iraq war ten years ago. It existed even before the horrific attacks of 9/11 themselves, some time before the Iraq war. This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with the perceived grievances over western foreign policy. Nor could it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region, as important as these things are.’
Well, I don’t know where to start on this one. The prime minister seems to be under the delusion that all British people are a bunch of stupid morons and they simply won’t see through his sophistry or he himself is utterly ignorant of recent history. Indeed the terrorist threat was not created by Iraq war or 9/11. It was created by the US intervention in Afghanistan. When the “Islamists” were fighting Russia they were an honourable people, doing the job of the civilised world, according to the then US president Ronald Reagan. As soon as Russia was defeated, the West created another monster to fight. War is money and so is oil. It is the western foreign policy that has caused almost all major catastrophes in the Middle East recently. It is the blind inhumane support of the state of Israel that causes many to lose their minds and commit atrocious acts. It is hopelessness in the western justice/political system that caused many to turn to alternatives. Even a government minister couldn’t tolerate the hypocrisy of the British foreign policy towards the recent Israel/Gaza conflict. How can one expect thousands of youngsters to take the prime minister seriously? Why is the prime minister so blind to these questions? Perhaps he is not so blind. Perhaps he is too worried about his political carrier and doesn’t want to upset the real power holders i.e. the media and the known unknown policy makers.
Mohammad Siddique Khan, one of the 7/7 suicide bombers, made it amply clear as to what his grievances were. What he did was absolutely condemnable and atrocious but can we afford to ignore his grievances, just like the prime minister insists on doing. There is no justification for Siddique Khan’s acts but can we ignore the underlying reasons that caused him to lose his mind. He said it was the British foreign policy that served as the raison d’être for his acts. Likewise, the killer of Lee Rigby had expressed similar grievances for his irrational behaviour. Moreover, there are many academic studies available, if the prime minister and his advisors cared enough, to suggest that it is the foreign policy and dirty politics that causes some vulnerable people to lose their minds. So, it appears that there is plenty of evidence to show how deliberately ignorant our political establishment is in this regard.
‘The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology, the Islamist extremism, that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders. It believes in using the most brutal forms of terrorism to force people to accept a world view and to live in an almost a medieval state. A state in which its own citizens would suffer unimaginable brutality including barbaric beheadings of those who refuse to convert to their version of Islam, enslavement and raping of women and the widespread slaughter of Muslims by fellow Muslims and of course the exporting of terrorism abroad.’
It seems the prime minister is describing medieval Europe here. As clarified above, this behaviour is utterly condemnable regardless of the perpetrator. Anyone who rapes or forces anyone to accept a world view must be condemned. My concern is the term “Islamist extremism”. What does it actually mean? Is this a new religion? Is it Islamic in nature? Why would anyone associate the word Islam with such ugly behaviour? Can Muslims behave like this? All these things described by the prime minister are antithesis of Islam. Why does he then use the word “Islamist” to describe this behaviour? What is so “Islamist” about this behaviour? This behaviour is barbaric and must be described as barbaric or medieval European, not as “Islamist”. I believe the prime minster is ill-advised and deceived on Islam and its history. He needs sincere advisors, not a bunch of manipulative spin doctors. A good book on Islamic law or medieval Islamic history might help him understand as to what may be “Islamist” or what is not. When Christians were killing fellow Christians during the IRA bombing campaign in Britain, no one called such a campaign “Christianist extremism” or “Catholicist barbarity” etc.
‘We know that terrorist organisations thrive where there is political instability and weak and dysfunctional political institutions. So we must support the building blocks of democracy, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities, free media, free association of proper place for society…’
Having seen the state of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, who would like to believe the promises made by the prime minister? We intervened in Afghanistan only to leave it in a huge mess by planting corrupt “democratically” elected dictators like Hamid Karzai. We destroyed Iraq and then “democratically” planted an extremely sectarian despot like Nouri al-Maliki, who caused the mess Iraq is in now. We supported the Libyan uprising and then walked away from the mess. Who will ever believe such promises made by another western leader? It only goes to show that another big mess is on its way, God forbid.
‘We will always take whatever actions necessary to keep the British people safe here at home’
I agree 100%. This is what a good prime minister must do. The British people must feel safe and prosperous. One of the best ways to achieve that is to spend money at home on NHS and education. We have spent billions of pounds on wars that have only made us more vulnerable and poorer. It is about time that our policy makers are replaced with more patriotic ones. Changing the foreign policy may also help, as it is due to our inhumane policies in the Middle East we are facing trouble.
‘Britain is an open, tolerant and free nation… but we cannot standby and allow our openness to be confused with the tolerance of extremism or one that encourages different cultures to live separate lives and allows people to behave in ways that run completely counter to our values. Adhering to British values is not an option or choice, it is a duty for those who live in these islands.’
Britain is indeed one of the most tolerant, free and progressive countries in the world and we must collectively cherish this fact. This country has been a peaceful abode for thousands of immigrants, allowing many of them to make a better life for themselves. I am personally very thankful to the British people for the tolerance and hospitality they had to offer to my family, mostly from Pakistani origin. I went to university here; I love the libraries and museums here; I admire the countryside and the British landscape; I appreciate the fact that many historical sites such as castles and monuments are well preserved here; I have deep respect for the openness of the British people in accommodating so many different cultures within their midst and allowing them to flourish freely. In short, I have many reasons to praise Britain as home and I will continue to do so.
Having said all of this, I must admit things are changing now. Due to the media hate mongering and the reckless behaviour of some politicians this country is changing. Many have chosen the way of ignorance and hatred. I couldn’t imagine the existence of groups like EDL. I couldn’t imagine the print media attacking Muslims on daily basis. I didn’t anticipate the use of Islamophobic language openly, just like anti-Semitism isn’t allowed. It seems I was wrong and things are changing fast. This is not a natural turn of events, far from it. This is a deliberately orchestrated campaign of fear mongering and hatred against a minority group in Britain. It seems the British Muslims are being forced into agreeing with the British foreign policy or they will receive the same treatment Catholics met in the sixteenth century Elizabethan England. The prime minister doesn’t quite explain as to what these “British values” are? He gives superficial answers to this question. He asks all to adhere to the rule of law, equality and justice. Who disputes such virtues? I hope the prime minister doesn’t mean by “our values” the British foreign policy, as there are many non-Muslims who find the foreign policy to be absolutely immoral. So, I don’t quite understand as to who the prime minister addresses when he talks about the “British values”. He doesn’t want people from different cultures to live separate lives and ironically condemns “Islamist extremists” for forcing others to believe in their world view. If people cannot celebrate different cultures and live according to their beliefs (as long as they do not break the law) then what is the difference between Mao’s China and Cameron’s Britain? If Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims cannot uphold their distinct cultures in Britain then what right do we have to condemn Hitler? So, effectively the prime minister plans to force “British values” on every British citizen without explaining in clear terms what those values are. I wonder what the prime minster will say next. Perhaps Muslims will be forced to disbelieve in some parts of their faith, God forbid.
We celebrate multicultural, tolerant and free Britain. Another Britain wouldn’t look so beautiful. We cannot standby and allow our openness to be confused with the tolerance of intolerance of other cultures and difference of opinion. We must not allow our freedoms to be taken away by a bunch of hateful and ignorant policy makers. We must stand firm and promote British values such as justice and one standard for all.