An article online in Slate, Europe's confused debate about Islam and Terrorism, flags up several matters which neither the liberal left, nor the extreme right are addressing, or, if they are, it is only to obfuscate. It is not as if the problem of extremism is unforeseen, there have been warnings of the rise in it for at least the last forty years. But the political classes have refused to address many of the issues, and even encouraged some. When they pushed 'multi-culturalism' down our throats we were told it was to combat 'intolerance' and 'religious prejudice'. In the face of evidence that the 'intolerance' was daily being promoted by certain 'radical' preachers, no action was taken, on the grounds that to do so would infringe their 'right' to express an opinion.
Anyone else expressing similarly abhorrent 'opinions' about the ideology these preachers pushed could expect to receive a visit from the Police and to be vilified in the pages of the Guardian, the Mirror and several other left or liberal newspapers, went unremarked. Now faced with the reality of having created, or helped create, the monster, the Right seek to label all Muslims as extremists, and the Left, to deny that Islam has anything to do with it.
The massive drive in the western democracies to embrace 'multi-culty' and 'secularise' the 'state', has created something of a vacuum morally, culturally and spiritually. It is NOT matched by any similar willingness to embrace anyone else's views, customs, religion or any other 'cultural' matter from any other group in any of the countries outside of the 'liberal' West. The aggressive secularising campaigners add to the problem. I regularly read aggressive statements from atheists trumpetting the belief that 'Christianity is dying' or that 'unbelievers will soon outnumber believers'. Most of them fail to even consider the impact of demographics, with Europe and North America - 100 years ago representing 20% of the world population - now only 8% of the world population, and falling to 6% by 2020, we, and the 'atheist' movers, are a very small group within the worlds major religions.
Nor do they appreciate that the present 'Islamic extremism' actually has its roots in the aggressive 'secularisation' policies of Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s, and in the Egyptian and other governments of the 1950s and 60s. Those policies effectively placed the Islamic 'Scholars' or leaders of Islam under the control, and in the pay, of the governments concerned. Once the trust of the people in the government was lost, as it was fairly rapidly, so the influence of the 'scholars' diminished.
Step forward the back street Mullah. Let him set up his 'religious school' and start brainwashing children. Let him become the administrator of Sharia Law and the 'interpreter' of the Quran and the Hadiths, and the journey into fundamentalism is well under way. Both Turkey and Egypt attempted to control or suppress these 'unofficial' schools and teachers, without success. Throw in the Cold war with both sides supporting various extremist factions - and the mess we see before us isn't going to go away anytime soon. Compound that with the much welcomed (by the liberal western intellectuals) 'Arab Spring' - and turn loose the dogs of war in every society as rival fundamentalist 'Islamic' groups fight for control of the religion and the world.
Two days ago two young Muslim men stormed into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered twelve people. Their motive was, they said, to stop the defamation of 'The Prophet'. The problem is, they have now provoked a backlash against Muslims, the vast majority of whom, though they may not like people poking fun at their Prophet or their faith, understand that in western countries this is permitted. I would suggest that the vast majority of Christians don't like some of the smeers and obscene portrayals of Christ, but I am not aware of any Christian taking 'direct action' over such so-called 'art'.
There are, no doubt, many reasons young Muslim men, in particular, feel alienated in Europe. Not least, I would suspect, because they often don't want to 'fit in'. They are told, usually by contacts from their 'old' countries (though many are born, educated and raised in a European country, often being third generation) that things are so much better when a man can beat his wife, or exercise control over his sisters, that they genuinely believe they are being 'held back' by our liberal values. As the infamous Mullah, Choudary has told the USA Today news, Muslims 'reject' our freedom of choice.
While I suspect he is speaking for himself and his radical followers in that statement it serves very well to highlight why men and boys like him do embrace extremism. It would be well to remember that 'Islam' actually means 'Submission'. Submission means giving up choices and rights ...
Our political classes are doing us and the Muslims among us, no favours by continuing to ignore and tolerate 'hate speech' being propagated by the likes of Choudary. They do us no favours by continuing to promote division instead of integration, and they certainly do no one any favours by encouraging the promotion of Islam by the suppression of Christianity on the grounds that it 'offends' a small and obnoxious minority.
We are all Charlie. We are all threatened by this growing cancer in Islam, but it cannot be dealt with by force or violence. It is a battle that must be won by winning hearts and minds, and that means a lot less rhetoric, much more engagement, and less encouraging the fostering of alien 'cultures'. Continuing down this road will lead only to ever increasing threats, less tolerance and many, many more 'Charlies'.