Wednesday, September 20, 2006

John Reid's Speech on Islam

Given the circumstances, with new terrorist plots emerging on a weekly basis, for John Reid, the Home Secretary, to give a speech advising Muslim parents to watch for signs of radicalisation in their children seems almost excessively moderate. After all of these plots are uncovered the stories almost inevitably contain quotes from parents shocked at discovering their children had anything to do with militant Islam. However, the speech was shouted down repeatedly while it was being given and has met significant opposition since.

Ahmed Versi's contention that this is requiring parents to spy on their children is ridiculous. Trying to keep a track on whether your offspring are falling in with a bad crowd is a fairly normal parental occupation.

Suggestions that this amounts to 'demonisation' or a labelling of the Muslim community as potential terrorists are also misguided. Every time another Islamist terrorist plot is discovered or executed that is a far greater contribution to the label of 'terrorist' being placed on British Muslims. If those who see themselves as spokespeople for the Muslim community really wish to defend its interests and image they would do well to commend Reid's message.

The violent threat posed by extremists within the British Muslim community will not be wished away. Measures in the UK's struggle against Islamist terror can be divided into actions by the Muslim community or actions by non-Muslims. The more the British Muslim community does to assist in preventing terrorist outrage the less there will be a need for harsher polices to be imposed upon them. Those, like Mr. Versi, who dislike measures taken by the British state in its struggle to control terror should reflect on whether their opposition to calls for parental "spying" will mean that they wind up leaving the British state to do far more of the work in confronting terror; this is not something they will enjoy.

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