The Prime Minister is determined to redefine the debate on radicalisationby John Ware / July 22, 2015 / Leave a comment
David Cameron’s speech on extremism this week was a clear attempt to redefine the terms of the debate over radicalisation in Britain. He called upon the entire public sector (especially schools and universities, the police, prisons, and broadcasters) to join what he calls the “struggle of our generation”—to identify and confront what it is that attracts young British Muslims to extremist ideology.
Cameron’s speech defined non-violent extremism as a combination of a hostility towards mainstream Britain’s liberal values such as gender and sexual equality, a disdain for parliamentary democracy and a simmering animosity towards the west. It’s a mindset among Muslims in this country that he believes is more prevalent than society cares to admit.
It was “an exercise in futility to deny there was no connection” between the almost daily acts of violence carried out around the world in the name of Islam and the Islamic faith, said Cameron. Not with mainstream, or classical Islam perhaps, but with the religion’s increasingly popular offshoot, Islamism—a fusion of politics and religion.
Cameron is the first British Prime Minister to state that cultural sensitivities shouldn’t stand in the way of trying to take control of the conversation—contrasting the regressive right wing values of Islamists against British liberal values of tolerance, equality, and democracy. Islamists divide the world into “Them” and “Us”. Cameron wants to encourage civic society to decide where that line is drawn, taking the power away from the Islamists.
Hailed as the most significant of his speeches on the subject of non-violent extremism, it had some eyebrow-raising moments such as the warning that people who go to join Islamic State will be “cannon fodder”—a stark change in tone which illustrates the Prime Minister’s determination to make his message heard.
Those of us, such as myself, who have spent the last decade identifying and confronting the individuals and the organisations who feature on the Prime Minister’s non-violent extremist spectrum are aware of the degree to which their perspective has dominated the debate in…