Monday, June 05, 2017

Finding a weakness

As I'm sure everyone knows by now we experienced another weekend of Islamist fun in London on Saturday evening. We learn today (again) that the criminals who perpetrated the attack on innocent people enjoying a Summer evening in Borough Market, were known to police. It will be interesting to see what kinds of Muslims this group were, obviously not the brightest of bunnies and clearly catastrophically gullible (as, by definition, all Islamist foot-soldiers are) but were they also petty criminal stoners and losers, as many of their predecessors have turned out to be? As many have suggested there is perhaps a correlation and possible weakness in this area that's well worth investigating.

It's crystal clear from eye-witnesses what was motivating these particular people, "this is for Allah" was being shouted as knives were plunged into the bodies of terrified and defenceless Women. It's also clear that we no longer have any use in our public discourse for religious and liberal apologists telling us that these crimes are nothing to do with Islam, they clearly have something to do with it. Even the Prime Minister acknowledges this fact (at long last!), although I'd prefer it if she'd had said not that this is a "perversion" of Islam, but that it's more of a "literal reading" of the scriptures of that religion. When you combine a tradition and celebration of martyrdom with a literal reading (brainwashing) of 7th century feudal mythology it isn't beyond reason that you will end up with at least some being lead to the kind of vengeful and irrational murderous acts that we now seem to have to endure on a monthly basis in Europe.

The big question of course is what we do now? You could argue that we were lucky on Saturday night, the police response was absolutely stunning, but that was this time, next time it might not be eight minutes and for those of us that frequent our capital city on a regular basis this thought is never far from our minds. "Enough is enough" say our leaders, but concrete actions appear as nebulous as ever. It would however seem clear that what we are fighting here are a set of ideas (an ideology). Religions (and literalist/political interpretations of them) are after all, just ideas. So how do we displace a set of ideas? There are two most likely routes, either you replace the ideas with better ones or you remove the ideas and/or people that hold them by killing the people and/or suppressing the ideas to an extent that they fade away. Many kings, popes, chancellors, dictators and generals have favoured the latter approach over the years but it seldom works well and more often than not, rebounds. So, where are the places that pre-existing closed/literalist thinking could possibly be challenged and/or replaced?

There are a number of areas that I think are worthy of looking at, my list would include,

-Speakers at Mosques and other religiously framed meetings/events
-Sources of funding for the spreading of literalist interpretations (Saudi-Arabia for example)
-Single faith schools that flout pluralistic standards
-Conditions of citizenship
-Restrictions on travel to and repatriation from certain places (like Syria)
-Support for moderate Muslim groups
-Coordination of approach across government departments
-Sharia courts
-Review enforcement of secular, anti-discrimination laws within Muslim communities
-Education (ensuring plurality) and especially in religious education
-Police and anti-extremism policy funding

There are also a number of areas that I think would be unfruitful,

-Censoring of social media or other internet resources
-Internment of any kind
-Overt banning of any religious practice (that doesn't conflict with existing laws)

Whatever happens in the coming days, weeks and months we can only hope that our security forces are at the top of their game and that our politicians start getting their act together; I can guess which is more probable.

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