Cameron campaign against Islamic extremism is long overdue
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced new measures to crack down on Islamic extremism at home and abroad. For far too long, political correctness has allowed this wicked ideology to flourish. Cameron's remarks may seem late in the day to some, but he's on the right track at last
Today, in front of British Muslims in Birmingham, David Cameron made his first major domestic speech on how to tackle Islamist extremism in our country.
It is poignant that Cameron chose to give his speech in Birmingham, the place where the schools were infiltrated as part of the Trojan Horse plot, where extremists sought to indoctrinate the minds of innocent children.
He described extremism as, 'the struggle of our generation' and explained that 'the root cause of the threat we face is the extremist ideology itself'. Cameron is right to make this announcement, but it is long overdue.
For many years, I and many other commentators, political activists and counter-terrorism experts have been recommending and asking for measures that the government can tangibly apply to combat Islamic extremism in Britain and abroad. The warning signs have been clearly visible in our country for many years.
Yet we have failed to act because extremists have exploited our freedom of speech laws to preach hatred on our streets. Our tolerance towards intolerance has for many years ensured preachers like Abu Hamza can preach anti-British ideology without fear of arrest.
Finally, Hamza was extradited, but he had already inflicted damage on the minds of many thousands of young British Muslims.
In many ways, we have been the architects of our own misfortune and have allowed extremism to gain a foothold across our society.
When migrants come to Britain, they are usually filled with hope, optimism and aspiration and want to build a better life for themselves. Successful integration is fundamental to our free, liberal society and migrants who accomplish this interact fully with the indigenous population and gain an in-depth understanding of their local surroundings.
In some local communities, integration is not successful which is why I welcome the element of the counter-extremism policy to review integration.
David Cameron is right to focus on the reasons why British Muslims become radicalised and it is essential that we work with Muslim communities across Britain to ensure that they become more proactive in rooting out extremism.
Often, when an atrocity has been committed, many British Muslims feel it is easier to stay quiet than it is to speak up and condemn it, for fear of unnecessary and unfair association.
However, in a modern, free and liberal Britain the moderate Muslims should speak out against extremists and the public should support them completely.
Cameron called upon internet providers and broadcasters to do more to root out Islamic extremism, ideas and conspiracy theories that that are hostile to the West and our liberal values that we hold dear. It will be interesting to see whether we can get the BBC onside in this regard.
The best, and most important, part of his speech was when he finally came round to the notion that violent extremism exists at the apex of a broader Islamist narrative:
"It may begin with hearing about the so-called Jewish conspiracy, and then develop into hostility to the West and fundamental liberal values before finally becoming a cultish attachment to death. Put another way, the extremist worldview is the gateway, and then violence is the ultimate destination," the prime minister said.
Not so many years ago, such (obviously correct and pertinent) remarks would have drawn charges of "Islamophobia" in some quarters. Cameron deserves praise for moving the debate in the right direction, however late in the day it may now be.
Other highlights included granting parents concerned that their children might leave the country to join up with Islamic State the right to cancel their passports, stronger controls over foreign television channels broadcasting hate, and better integration policies for schools and social housing.
In sum, we should all embrace what Cameron started today as it is crucial that we all come together to stand up for our British values of tolerance, freedom and liberalism, and do so with confidence and pride.
Working together, I believe Britain will overcome and rid itself of Islamic extremism. But we must be realistic: our failure adequately to tackle this serious issue previously means that it may take decades instead of years.
Clare George-Hilley writes about how to tackle Islamic extremism at home and abroad regularly. She recently published a chapter on the subject for the think-tank Parliament Street that can be read here
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