Join me here as I express my concern that our political and intellectual establishment is still denying the truth about Islamic extremism, or Islamism. A transcript of my remarks follows underneath the video.
In both Europe and America, the problem of Islamist aggression is matched by the inability or refusal of the governing and intellectual classes to acknowledge the nature and scale of this threat to the west.
In Germany, the huge influx of mainly Muslim young men has brought in its wake so much aggression, sexual violence and other social problems that even the Chancellor Angela Merkel, who opened Germany’s doors to these migrants, has acknowledged grave difficulties. Similar problems and more are being experienced in the Netherlands, France, Sweden and elsewhere.
Hardly surprising, then, that a poll by the international think-tank Chatham House found that in eight out of ten countries surveyed, the majority of respondents wanted all further migration from mainly Muslim countries stopped.
Such a view is of course damned in progressive circles as Islamophobic. But then anyone who says there’s anything wrong or dangerous about certain groups of Muslims or certain types of Islamic thinking is said to be Islamophobic.
This is ridiculous. Of course, most Muslims are not aggressive religious fanatics who want to conquer the west. But the overwhelming majority of aggressive religious fanatics who want to conquer the west happen to be Muslim.
It’s not a form of bigotry to try to protect ourselves against that threat. It’s essential to do so. But we can only protect ourselves if we correctly identity the nature of this threat, and specifically its roots in Islamic religious belief.
For sure, many Muslims do not subscribe to this particular interpretation of their religion. But enough do subscribe to make it a desperately serious threat. And it is a legitimate interpretation of Islam. Only one interpretation, sure; but it’s rooted securely in the theology, and has been expressed throughout the centuries in Islam’s colonialist and warlike history.
In Britain, the official class has consistently refused overall to accept this crucial point. It refuses to acknowledge the Islamic bit in Islamic extremism. It prefers to believe instead that it’s a perversion of religion rather than the real thing. As a result, time and again it’s ignored the evidence of religiously-driven, non-violent Islamist aggression against British society.
Around three years ago a plot was exposed known as “Trojan Horse”. This aimed to impose the most extreme version of Islam on some mainstream schools in Birmingham. An inquiry was carried out by the former head of counter-terrorism policing, Peter Clarke. He concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.”
Subsequently, Mr Clarke warned that what he had found in Birmingham’s schools was likely to be merely the tip of the iceberg. “There is a huge amount of material which I didn’t put in”, he said. “There were problems elsewhere which I couldn’t evidence sufficiently in the time available.”
The government ignored Mr Clarke’s warning to look elsewhere. His report was bad enough, from the government’s point of view, in provoking the usual uproar about Islamophobia, demonising all Muslims and similar nonsense. The last thing the government wanted was to confront the appalling vista of similar attempts to Islamise British schools going on up and down the country.
But it’s no surprise that this problem has indeed now emerged elsewhere. It’s been reported that the head-teacher of Clarksfield primary school in Oldham, Trish O’Donnell, is the victim of a campaign against her by Muslim parents. A confidential report by Oldham council says she has been subjected to “death threats”, “threats to blow up her car”, “aggressive verbal abuse” and a physical attack. Officials believed that a particular parent-governor and his wife were trying to “intimidate school staff”, “undermine the head teacher” and “secure changes at the school to reflect their interpretation of Islam”. And this head has written that she has “very strong reasons to believe that… a ‘Trojan Horse’ agenda [is] being played out”.
Oldham council has brushed this claim aside and dismissed the suggestion of any conspiracy. Yet two other Oldham schools are reportedly causing concern by hosting a speaker who had previously justified killing British troops and donating to an organisation linked to extremists. A second Oldham head has claimed that a “Trojan Horse playbook” was used to drive him from his post. And last year, it was reported that a number of Muslim schools were still open, despite the fact that official inspections had found they were failing to protect children from extremism or radicalisation and that pupils there were “unsafe”.
More disturbing even than this is that elements in the government have tried to suppress evidence of the problem. Peter Clarke has said that parts of Whitehall attempted to “intimidate” him out of undertaking the Birmingham inquiry in the first place. He also accused the government of “betrayal” after it decided to give five alleged Birmingham plot leaders, who are up before an education department disciplinary tribunal, the names and testimonies of witnesses whose confidentiality Clarke had guaranteed. These terrified witnesses are now being intimidated by abuse and threats as the tribunal itself becomes bogged down by legal manoeuvring.
Ever since 9/11, Whitehall has been dominated by those who want to take the path of least resistance over the problem of Islamic extremism. In 2014 Theresa May, now Prime Minister but who was then the Home Secretary, and Michael Gove, the then Education Secretary who commissioned the Clarke inquiry, spectacularly fell out over mutual accusations that the other had failed adequately to combat Islamist extremism. At the heart of that row lay the dominant Whitehall thinking, espoused by Mrs May but strongly opposed by Gove, that the problem was not extremist attitudes but merely extremist violence. Mrs May won that bout.
Since then, government thinking has shifted in the right direction. It now acknowledges that it’s not just violent extremism that’s the problem but non-violent extremism – the attitudes that create hatred and fanaticism and swell the seas in which violence swims.
But it still refuses to acknowledge that non-violent extremism is driven by Islamic religious fanaticism. As a result, the government’s anti-extremism policy is paralysed because it can’t agree what extremism is. There are other signs that Theresa May still doesn’t get it. The inquiry she set up into sharia courts, for example, has been designed merely to tinker with marginal improvements rather than address the fundamental problem of having a parallel legal system inimical to British values.
This refusal to acknowledge the religious driver of Islamist extremism was of course a signature motif of the Obama administration. So it is extremely troubling to read that the new National Security Adviser, General HR McMaster, has reportedly said that the term radical Islamic terrorism is “counter-productive” and even that Islamic terrorists are “unIslamic.”
If the people we entrust to protect us against the threat posed by religious fanaticism cannot even bring themselves to agree that it is indeed religious fanaticism, they will not protect us at all but will assist our enemies instead.