Liberalism might be our strongest weapon in the battle against Jihadismby Sameer Rahim / December 10, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Since the rise of IS and its attacks in Europe, the British government has augmented its counter-terrorism policies with plans to counter Islamist ideology. This battle of ideas, reminiscent of the anti-Communist campaigns of the Cold War, emphasises loyalty to “fundamental British values.” The focus on national identity is new. For many years, the official British attitude towards ethnic and religious minorities was one of live and let live. As long as you obeyed the law, you could believe and express pretty much what you wanted. This was in sharp contrast to the French, who try to restrict cultural practices that do not conform to secular republican principles—banning the face veil, for example.
But the government now favours a more muscular, French-style project of cultural assimilation. In June 2015, the Prime Minister David Cameron warned that some British Muslims were “silently condoning” IS and that non-violent extremism needed to be tackled. From last September, it has been compulsory for schools actively to promote British values. This year the government will publish a report into preventing “extremist entryism” in public institutions including schools, colleges, the civil service and local authorities. There will be an official investigation into Islamic mediation tribunals and faith-based supplementary schools. In 2016 Ofcom will be strengthened to regulate religious television and radio stations. Legislation will be presented to Parliament proposing disruption orders for non-violent radical preachers—a kind of “extremism asbo.” All these measures are supposed…