The continuing movement of young Muslims from the UK to ISIS in Syria and Iraq has David Cameron concerned to the point of demanding more action from Muslim communities to fight radicalization. In a speech today, Cameron accused British Muslim leaders of “quietly condoning” the radical theology of ISIS and other Islamist terror groups. In response, leaders from those communities said that radicalization has been amplified by “rampant Islamophobia” in British society, and that Cameron needs to stop lecturing them on citizenship:
Speaking at a security conference in Slovakia, Cameron urged British Muslims to do more to stop the group from recruiting young Britons. He said disaffected youths are being drawn to an ideology that believes “the West is bad and democracy is wrong, that women are inferior, that homosexuality is evil.”
Saying this ideology “is quietly condoned” among some Muslims, Cameron blamed radicalization in part on “people who hold some of these views who don’t go as far as advocating violence, but who do buy into some of these prejudices, giving the extreme Islamist narrative weight.” …
Some Muslim groups reacted to Cameron’s comments with anger. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of Muslim think-tank the Ramadhan Foundation, called them “deeply offensive.”
“We do not need a lecture about being good citizens from a government that thinks the way to build alliances with the Muslim community is to trash us,” he said.
Not all of the Muslim leaders in the UK agree. The head of an anti-radicalization group Inspire, Kalsoom Bashir, says Cameron’s correct. Some of the Muslim leaders in the UK do sympathize with and even envy those who are slinking off to join the terrorist army. This isn’t a fringe of the community any longer, Bashir warns. Another anti-radical think tank leader says anger in the Muslim community towards Cameron is misplaced anyway:
Haras Rafiq, managing director of anti-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation, said he didn’t see the speech as anti-Islam.
“He is not saying that all Muslims are the problem,” Rafiq said. “He is saying the Islamist ideology needs to be tackled.”
This has an odd but interesting parallel to the debate currently surrounding the Charleston shooting. Several commentators have claimed that people are quick to point the finger at Muslims for any act of terror, but in the case of the kind of racial hatred displayed by Dylann Roof, that gets treated as a one-off. The problem with that argument is that it ignores the difference between a single deranged individual acting on his own, and a movement that is recruiting thousands from around the world to either come to the battleground in Syria/Iraq or commit violence in the name of a self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate. Timothy McVeigh would actually be a closer parallel to the latter, with his repeated efforts to find like-minded individuals to commit violent action against the US. But even McVeigh belonged to no mainstream political movement or even any a few degrees off plumb; he was in essence a nut with only a few accomplices.
Getting back to the issue in the UK, it seems unlikely that the main driver of radicalization is “Islamophobia.” Thanks to the nature of the former British empire, there have been substantial numbers of Muslims in Great Britain for many years. Only when radicalization and global terrorism began to impact the West did fears of radicalization occur — and it’s hardly a “phobia” (which means an irrational fear) to worry about the expansion and impact of that radicalization. If that has become a “rampant” concern, then perhaps the communities where this recruitment takes place should look to themselves first rather than demand that everyone stop being concerned on the basis of assumed victimhood.