Less than 8 months away from the general election, political campaigning has begun, this time in a renewed “war on terror” climate. The UK’s terror threat level has been raised from “substantial” to “severe” in response to conflicts in Iraq and Syria with the IS group supposedly representing a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before.” It’s as though Britain is reliving the great ‘Battle for Britain” as the Home Secretary put it IS operating “within a few hours flying of our country.” , which is an irrelevant point as IS posses no aircraft. Addressing the Conservative party conference in Birmingham Theresa May described IS as “World’s first truly terrorist state” that could get a hold of “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons”, harking back to the spin of the Blair years and his 45 minute WMD threat.
National security has thus become the “number one issue” that any party will have to audaciously deal with, never mind the gobsmacking wealth inequality which Britain learned about following an Oxfam report earlier this year which found the country’s five richest families own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population or the endemic sexual abuse scandals being uncovered on a daily basis, what can be more important than the threat posed by 500 British citizens who have left the country to fight the regime of Bashar Al-Assad returning and committing another Woolwich? The gruesome beheadings of Western journalists are shown to inject fear in the British public as though their own heads are at risk of being slaughtered. Obviously such actions are prohibited in Islam, however it in this context the Conservative party pitched their conference and think they have the solution to adequately manage this threat with proposed “extreme disruption” orders which will feature in their 2015 election manifesto.
Even if we were to take the overblown perspective of terrorism from the government seriously, at the very least one would expect to see a discussion on circumstantial data to analyse the causes of terror attacks in which undoubtedly British foreign policy would be reviewed. Instead we see terrorism taken out of its political context and the juxtaposition of terrorism with Islam. As if Islam is to blame for the killing of half a million people in Iraq or as if Islam is to blame for British support to Bashar Al-Assad for two decades until his shelf-life was expired following the civil war in Syria. With a principled argument, the British government should be blaming Judaism for Israel’s atrocities and occupation of Palestine, instead we see here Britain removing religion out of the equation and defending Israel’s right to exist.
It is clear then that the war on terror has nothing to do with terror itself but everything to do with Islam. In a chilling speech the Home Secretary stressed the need to “defeat the ideology that lies behind the threat”. Ironically, in the land of freedom of speech and belief, speech and belief have become the very enemy of the state. The extremism disruption orders intend to empower the police to be able to apply to the high court to restrict the “harmful activities” of an extremist individual. The broad definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder or the vague-sounding “threat to the functioning of democracy” as well as the ability to ban broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web, social media or in print. Taking part in public protests or speaking at any public event would also be banned.
In her speech Theresa May, quotes a verse in the Qur’an “let there be no compulsion in religion”. Indeed Islam prohibits the forced conversion to Islam, what we see paradoxically from her proposals however are the complete opposite. A forced compulsion of secular liberal parameters on the beliefs of individuals. “You don’t just get the freedom to live how you choose to live, you have to respect other people’s right to do so too and you have to respect British values and institutions – the rule of law, democracy, equality, free speech and respect for minorities” Islam has a different ideological outlook to secular British values and institutions predicated on these secular ideas. Islam prohibits man-made legislation, promotes responsible speech rather than the fallacy of free speech and doesn’t view equality from the liberal angle. Islam is copiously incompatible with secular liberal beliefs no matter how much Theresa May believes it to be. Islam has its own distinct view on politics, economics and social systems. The ideology Theresa May wants to defeat therefore is not the view of a small group of a Middle Eastern militia, but rather are fundamental and core beliefs of Islam. The counter-extremism policies are thus in effect to curtail all Muslims from upholding their core beliefs. Her policies will only alienate the Muslim community who will never accept the reformation of Islam to fit within secular liberal box.
In her speech May said “We celebrate different ways of life, we value diversity, and we cherish our freedom to lead our lives as we choose” in reality however what she means is the conditional acceptance of secular liberalism in whatever beliefs one has. The recent Trojan Horse investigation in which the government identified schools in Birmingham whose curriculums were not in compliance with British values is proof that ordinary Muslims do not wish to teach their children the hedonistic secular liberal values that include sexual freedom or the freedom to insult. Rather than accept that Islam has an alternative way of life, what we witnessed instead was the criminalisation of Islamic values and now in the process attempts to enforce secular liberal curriculums on Muslim children.
The future for Muslims in Britain is a “snooper’s charter” that will restrict their expression of Islam. Mosques, Islamic community centres and Islamic learning institutes will be monitored and forced to only convey those Islamic beliefs that are acceptable to British secular liberal standards until a new generation of Muslims adopt a secular version of Islam that ignores Islam’s distinct ideological beliefs. This is not an ideological war against IS but an ideological war against Islam. Muslims should therefore be informed of the government’s designs for the Muslim community and counter the counter-extremism policies in order to safeguard the muslim community in the UK.