UK foreign policy key to tackling extremism

Reyhana Patel dares to raise the possibility that UK foreign policy may be the real issue that’s ignored when tackling extremism in the UK


Stop the War demonstration

Stop the War demonstration

Following the Woolwich attack, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced the establishment of a new ‘extremism taskforce’ to investigate and implement new procedures to combat radicalisation in Muslim communities across Britain.

Proscribing organisations, closing unregulated Muslim schools and a crackdown on mosques are set to be the latest wave of measures targeted at Muslim communities to help the 2,000 Muslims in the UK who are at risk of radicalisation, according to the home secretary.

This is all set for failure if the government continues to ignore some of the issues Muslim communities say need addressing. And one subject that has been left off the agenda in this taskforce is that of foreign policy, in particular, Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Radicalisation and foreign policy

Immediately after the revelation that the victim was a member of the armed forces, the need to address foreign policy in the government’s counter-terrorism strategy headlined the political debates that followed, with many individuals and groups advocating that “getting rid of all troops in foreign lands was the solution in preventing radicalisation.”

While many will argue that such a suggestion is counter-productive, what is clear is that foreign policy can be a driving force to draw an individual into committing violent acts just as we saw in Woolwich, the 7/7 bombings in London and a number of other failed and successful terror plots over the years. Like the vast majority, I believe that opposition to foreign policy alone cannot lead to radicalisation; it stems from a range of factors and one other factor which can contribute to the radicalisation of young British Muslims is the fear of speaking out against mainstream political views on foreign policy.

Fear of opposing the war in Afghanistan

When it comes to speaking out against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is widespread fear and anxiety amongst British Muslims of being stereotyped and labelled as an ‘extremist.’

I have always opposed Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and before discovering avenues such as the anti-war movement, activist groups and journalism; I couldn’t dare utter the view that the war in Afghanistan was counter-productive in mainstream British society without being looked at with disgust and shock. After expressing such views during a conversation at one on my previous jobs, I was called an ‘extremist’ and warned by management that such views shouldn’t be expressed in British society.

I’m not alone in this. Plenty of institutions, Muslim groups, individuals and mosques across the country are silenced from opposing foreign policy. As one Imam in the Midlands told me:

“People ask us all the time to discuss and have debates on Afghanistan and terrorism but we refuse because we want to avoid anything controversial that will lead to government officials knocking on our doors, accusing us of preaching extremist views”

As a result, hundreds of Muslim youths are switching on their televisions where they are seeing mainstream British media headlining with soldiers being killed and then switching the channel and seeing alternative sources of media showing children being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where can they turn to for answers after this? Communities cannot address such issues; mainstream British society doesn’t allow it, what is left?

And it is just not Muslims. Non-Muslims who oppose the war have come under severe scrutiny and are subject to abuse both in government and in the public for airing such views. Take for example, ex-soldier Joe Glenton who refused to return to Afghanistan and fought a 12-month battle for simply airing his concerns on what he saw while serving in the country.

I’m not suggesting that the government funds an anti-war movement for those opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we need an open discussion on foreign policy where no one should be silenced for disagreeing or agreeing with mainstream political views. Will Afghans be better off when the troops withdraw? Was going into Iraq a mistake? Who is being held accountable for the killing of civilians? The majority of Muslims want answers to these questions. They want to know what is happening on the ground, who is being held accountable for civilians deaths and most importantly, why is there still large-scale suffering.

We need to start putting forward these questions and opening up the debate on these answers. Open discussions could be key from preventing Muslims who want answers to go looking elsewhere.

Taskforce needs to consult with real British Muslims

Since the 7/7 London attacks, over £200million have been spent on policies, programmes and projects aimed at combating home-grown terrorism. And while we have seen some successes in some areas, what is clear is there is a lot more work that needs to be done. This is the perfect opportunity for this government to learn the lessons of the previous Prevent policy.

I urge this new taskforce to avoid making the same mistakes as the Blair government by rushing to produce initiatives targeted at Muslim communities without thorough consultation with all sections of the community. I urge this new taskforce to engage and seek advice from those who represent Muslim communities, who know Muslim youth, who engage with them and not think tanks who have no credibility within Muslim communities. Don’t silence British Muslims. Don’t emphasise the need for British Muslims to integrate. Engage and listen to them and follow this up with programmes addressing the issues put forward. It is only then we can see real progress on preventing future home-grown terrorists.

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9 thoughts on “UK foreign policy key to tackling extremism

  1. Reyhana Patel rightly points out that:
    “Since the 7/7 London attacks, over £200million have been spent on policies, programmes and projects aimed at combating home-grown terrorism.”
    And indeed, all those years of the “Prevent” strategy have utterly failed to reduce the problem (which has been increasing instead). And that’s because policies cannot succeed if they are based on suppressing the truth rather than recognising it.

    The article further declares that the “Taskforce needs to consult with real British Muslims”. But who are these “real” Muslims? A whole range of distinguished people emphatically claim they are the “genuine” Muslims in contrast to the supposedly “perverted” Al-Qaida, Taliban, and other militants. These include Saeeda Warsi, Sadiq Khan, Salma Yaqoob, Dr Naseem of the Central Mosque, Rianne ten Veen, and Ziauddin Sardar. And yet not one of these high-profile Muslims has been able to provide the slightest substantiation for their assertions of being the “genuine” Muslims or that the terrorists are for some reason not.

    On Any Questions this week, Sadiq Khan cited (or rather mis-cited) the same mis-citation by Nick Clegg of the Quran verse 5:32 as supposedly proving the peacefulness of Islam. The full verse not chopped out of context proves the opposite. The words supposedly showing the peacefulness of Islam were actually a command to “the Children of Israel”, that is to the Jews and is indeed a quotation from the Jewish Talmud.
    The full verse 5:32 (in the respected Shakir translation) is:
    “For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our apostles came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.”
    So those words quoted by Sadiq Kahn are a directive to Jews rather than to Muslims. What Muslims are to do is stated in the very next verse 5:33, giving directions to kill or crucify or cut off hands and feet on opposite sides. (And there’s a lot more like that in the Qur’an.)

    “Don’t silence British Muslims.”

    But why silence anyone? It is very conspicuous that enthusiasts for the “religion of peace” theory go out of their way to avoid any quotations of the Qur’an other than that misquote there and the other favorite about “there is no compulsion in religion” which is certainly abrogated by the later chapter 9 including lots of use of the Arabic words for fight and kill.

    Open your eyes Dear Reader. Look around the world and see in every country that Islam goes to, nasty violence against the kaffirim ensues. For just one instance teachers in Thailand being assassinated just for being teachers. How can that be due to uk foreign policy? Then look at the whole horrible history of Islamic aggression spanning 13 centuries and beginning with its founder as well-documented in the Qur’an itself.
    It would take too long a paragraph just to list the founder’s military activities let alone those of subsequent centuries – but you can find their proof on the internet and elsewhere.

    To see the real Islam you have merely to take the trouble to actually read the Qur’an for yourself rather than just parrot the assertions that are constantly made about it. It was allegedly written by Allah who is all-powerful (Qur’an 2:148; 4:149,158,165;5:38 etc) so surely his words can’t be encumbered by any communication handicap requiring some terribly complicated “interpretation”?

    The main reason why people leave Islam (despite the death risk) is that they read and think about that most revered of books, and biography of that most revered of men, and then the scales drop from their eyes and the penny drops. And THAT is where the solution lies. And not just the solution to a bit of terrorism in the uk, but an end to 14 centuries of international hatred and terrorisation against those who merely refuse submission (or in Qur’an language “make mischief in the land”). (And the Arabic word for submission is of course — Islam.)

    • Fundamentalists of all shades of race, religion and creed are dangerous people.

      Taking issue with wording translated over the centuries and then choosing the most fancied meaning is an exercise that can be carried out on, probably, all religious tracts either to denigrate or praise that which is contained.

      • Not at all. Fundamentalist Christians would be absolute pacifists as anyone who has bothered to study the Gospels and Acts will perfectly well understand. The civilisation in which we live only exists thanks to those founding fundamentalists, so much for being “dangerous”.

        And it is not a matter of “choosing the most fancied meaning”, rather a huge proportion of so-called Muslims believe their own misinformation and haven’t a clue what the Qur’an really says perfectly clearly. Chop off arms and legs, or wage war until they submit, and feel free to own captured property and slaves and rape the captured women cannot by any “interpretation” be “interpreted” into religion of peace or even of neutrality. And that’s before you look at the actual facts of violent Islamic Jihad over 14 centuries in every country it has got into.
        You haven’t bothered to READ THE QURAN either. Till you have you are just drivelling your (very dangerous) ignorance here.

          • People do so love to make exhibitions of their ignorance.
            “Love your enemies”.
            “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.”
            “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
            “Turn the other cheek.”
            “Peter put away your sword -for those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
            These are all in the Gospels (along with the whole **personal examples** of Christ and the Apostles), and most definitely not anywhere in any of Islam’s definitional ancient texts or its founder’s conduct.

  2. The British Government and opposition parties, mainstream media etc are very keen to close down any links between last week’s attack and British foreign policy.
    Yet one of the alleged killers of Lee Rigby made it very clear that this was a major motivation behind the act, apologising to ‘your women’ for having to see this, but ‘our women’ have to see it everyday…before adding; Change your government, they don’t care about you. Clearly, this was not an act of mindless terrorism, but a targeted politically-motivated murder. The suspects could have attacked passers-by, but chose instead to use them as a conduit to convey their message.
    The 7/7 bombers left videos citing British foreign policy for their actions as well.
    Meanwhile, in the last week or so we have seen President Obama responding (inadequately in my opinion) to complaints about indiscriminate use of drone strikes (as discused in Richard Lutz’s recent posting on this website), further complaints from campaign groups about Briitsh involvement in same, a report criticisng the British Government’s response to alleged torture of detainees in Iraq and just today claims that the British Government is operating a ‘mini’-Guantanamo-style detention camp in Afghanistan. That’s before we even get to the numerous botched air raids and other military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Libya that resulted in civilian deaths, the reclassification of ‘terrorists/insurgents’ in Afghanistan/Pakistan to mean all adult males killed or injured in ISAF attacks unless their status can be proved otherwise, Foreign Secretary William Hague’s 2-year long campaign to win support to arm rebels in Syria despite incontrovertable evidence that the weapons could fall into th ehands of militants, and the Government’s continuing refusal to condemn Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and ongoing expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
    These are the issues that need to be debated, not whether to give the police and intelligence services more powers to pry into our lives, not whether mosques and the wider muslim community are doing sufficient to prevent members of that community from becoming radicalised by political decisions that these communities had no part in.

    • Steve, you miss the point because you’ve already been misled. The mainstream media did a great job of editing out the hatchet-man’s clear references to him being following many directives of the Qur’an. As my longer comment below explains, that is what it is all *really* about, it’s the Jihad Denial which is the real big elephant the Westminster liar-ocracy regime is most intent on covering up with their endless “religion of peace” baseless assertions of certainty.

      • But most muslims would not countenance the intrepretations of the Qur’an that you cite, as is witnessed by their living quiet peaceful lives. But continued examples of reckless Western foreign policy iniatiives do drive a small section of Muslims towards the more radical interpretation, or even just to a feeling that a political (rather than merely religeous) wrong needs rigthing, just as would be the case if Pakistani drone strikes or other air raids were being launched in the UK/US.

  3. Rant but don’t get personal or abusive. Do, and you will be deleted.

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