At last, a couple of senior British Church leaders have spoken out against Islamic extremism. Up until this point, such people have barely even dared to utter the words “Islamic extremism”, let alone speak out against it.
And hasn’t it been the case that many – or nearly all – British Church leaders have attempted to argue that the words “Islamic extremism” are effectively a contradiction in terms (or an oxymoron)? In any case, Prime Minister David Cameron has certainly more or less said that (as we shall see later).
The most obvious point to make here is that this isn’t just about the treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims in Iraq. It’s about the treatment of Christians and non-Muslims in literally every Muslim state on the planet. And if that’s the case (which it is), then surely it must follow that the persecution and killing of non-Muslims by Muslims is in many ways actually written into Islam itself. Well, it is.
To be fair, the Right Rev Nicholas Baines, in a letter to David Cameron (which is also published on his website), did write about “Islamic extremism as it is developing across the globe”, not just in Iraq.
Rev Baines also had strong words to say about the “increasing silence” from his own Church and from politicians about the persecution and murder of Christians throughout the Muslim world.
It seems that the more committed Churches and Church leaders are to the interfaith movement, the more silent they have been about the anti-Christian actions of Muslims and Muslim states. After all, those heavily engaged in what could be called the Church of Interfaith (as many Christians and Christian leaders are), the more likely they’ll be interacting with Muslims on a weekly – sometimes daily – basis. Thus it has become almost impossible for them to say anything negative about Muslims and even about Muslim states. And it’s certainly the case the criticism of Islam itself – or even even criticism of a single Islamic doctrine – is quite simply verboten. And that’s primarily the case lest Community Cohesion is threatened, accusations of racism are thrown around and Muslim outrage/violence and Guardian articles ensue. (Thus proving the point being made here.)
The Right Rev David Walker (the Bishop of Manchester) has also contributed to this sudden chorus against global and systematic Islamic extremism. Of course it’s the case that some Christian Christian groups (though not senior Christian leaders) have already spoken out. However, since the Rev David Walker and Rev Baines have themselves said that there’s been widespread silence on Islamic extremism, then those who point out this sudden turnaround (because of Iraq) can’t be accused of being cynical.
The Bishop of Manchester said (on Radio 4′s Sunday) that the UK government has a “moral obligation that it is repeatedly failing to rise to”. However, as I said, this hasn’t only been the government’s fault. It’s also the fault of the Church itself, the interfaith circuit and the anti-racism industry. All of these institutions have consistently portrayed any and all criticism of individual Muslims or Islam itself as being tantamount to racism.
As many people will know, David Cameron has also spoken out against Islamic extremism in the last few days. Yet what he has said may turn out to be counterproductive and even suicidal in the long run.
Mr Cameron, for example, hasn’t got the right or the authority to come out with his recent categorical statement that there’s
"Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other".
Cameron simply doesn’t know enough about Islam to make such a statement. And even if he did know at least something about Islam, that statement still wouldn’t be justified. Indeed even when Muslims make such statements, they are unjustified in doing so. Why is that? Simply because there is no central authority in Islam. What’s more, the so-called “Islamic extremists” are just as theologically sound (actually more so!) than those Muslims involved in, say, the interfaith circuit.
Even the British Labour Party has begun to realise what many other people have known for a very long time. For example, the Shadow foreign secretary (Douglas Alexander) has spoken about the Tories’ lack of action on the issue of Islamic extremism. Though, of course, this is Mr Alexander scoring party-political points against the Conservative Party and nothing much more. And let’s not forget here that these words are coming from a Labour Party which has done more than any political party in British history to enable - both in the UK and abroad – Islamic extremism.
There’s also been some party-politicking from Lord Ashdown. He said that Cameron’s comments about defending “our values” are “ill-judged”.
So here’s yet another politician who has virtually ignored domestic and foreign Islamic extremism until the recent events in Iraq. Or, more correctly, until he saw an opportunity to score party-political points against David Cameron. After all, Lord Ashdown – even more than many other British politicians – appears to have a deep faith in the Orwellian myth that “Islam is peace”.
In any case, if talk of “our values” is deemed by Lord Ashdown to be “ill-judged”, then what, exactly, are we fighting for? And what are we fighting against? Indeed how can we defend or fight at all without shared values?
Yet Ashdown, on his own admission, does believe in shared values: it’s just that these values “included those in Islam”.
And therein lies the heart of the problem: naïve, gullible and ultimately suicidal Islamophilia.