Guest post By J. Spooner & Jono Stubbins
Alex Morton holds the keys to defeating “Islamism”. He’s been gracious enough to share them in Conservative Home. Presumably, Alex knows what he is talking about. After all, he was an advisor to Prime Minister Cameron when the UK supported an Islamist jihad in Libya. First he must set up the false premises on which his policy suggestions will be based.
Islamism is a threat both inside and outside the Islamic world on a scale comparable with fascism and communism in the 20th century
This is absurd. The West is largely allied with the major players in the Muslim world. There is no existential threat from without, least of all from within from any imagined fifth-column. Comparing the so-called Islamic State with the capabilities of the militarised Third Reich and the expansionist and nuclear armed Soviet Union is alarmist nonsense.
It needs a comparable response.
This response includes a new World War. Sixty-million people were killed in our most recent World War.
There is an ongoing conflict within Islam, and we are not neutral in this struggle.
The conflict is not “within Islam”. It is conflicts between rival powers with the Muslim World. When Al Qaeda are shooting back at Daesh it has no more to do with Islamic doctrine than the Gambinos fighting the Castellanos has to do with Catholicism.
However, Morton is correct on the following point, “we are not neutral in this struggle” – Wildly inconsistent but never neutral. Examples include: Supporting the anti-Soviet Sunni Jihad in Afghanistan in the 80’s, siding with the secularist PLO in their coup against Sunni Hamas, empowering Shia Iran by invading and occupying Iraq in the 2000s, financing and training Sunni jihadists to overthrow the Secular Gadaffi regime, supporting the Sunni Rebels in Syria and enabling the Wahabbi Saudi Arabian bombing of the Houthis in Yemen.
Not all versions of Islam are compatible with our society. There is no other way of saying this. Islamism believes that government must enforce (almost always a strict version of) Islam, and crucially rejects freedom of religion, thought, and secularism based on its readings of the Quran and the hadiths. It is incompatible with a secular liberal democracy, and is by nature extremist on the Government definition of “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.
Ironically, by the Government’s definition Morton is also an “extremist”.
Not all versions of Islamism are compatible with our society. This much is true, However, disingenuously conflating all Islamist movements with Daesh as Morton does, only muddies the water. Consider that not all versions of Zionism (such as Kahanism) are compatible with our society yet all three major British political parties have significant and influential ”friends of Israel” sub-groups.
The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood predates al-Baghdadi’s monstrosity in Iraq and Syria by almost a century. Contrary to Morton’s vapid claims they have embraced democracy, denounced violence and remain committed to the non-violent protest of the removal of their democratically elected President Morsi in a fascist coup.
This is not to say that Islam, the religion, is incompatible with a secular liberal democracy. There are various more tolerant versions of Islam and some Muslims focus on other parts of the Quran, such as those stating there is no compulsion in religion or action (e.g. verses 2:256 and 18:29). There are good and bad versions of Islam – and most Muslims believe in a mixture of the good and bad elements. But Islamism believes in use of government power and brute force in enforcing its version of Islam on others, and attacks the moderate or tolerant strains.
This is a roundabout way of saying I will reluctantly tolerate an existence with Muslims as long as their faith doesn’t influence their politics i.e. the ethnics don’t get any ideas above their station. This is anti-democratic. Morton is again qualifying under the ”extremist” definition he provided.
True to form he is justifying his own advocacy of oppression through the lie that all Islamists are de-facto violent and anti-democracy. Islamist groups have denounced violence and embraced democracy (despite having already been betrayed by the promise of democracy and suffered terrible atrocities).
Islamists try to demand special treatment for Islam and, once they have it, use it to force their more aggressive version of Islam forward, arguing those who disagree are blasphemous or not respecting Islam. Countries which have tried to placate Islamist extremists became trapped in a cycle in which Islamists are given freedom to bully others, and have used this freedom to drive their version of Islam forward. This is why for Islamists and quasi-Islamist states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan there is no crime worse than blasphemy – because enforcing their version of Islam is the foundation of their power.
This is a bizarre and predictably disingenuous passage which wouldn’t find itself out of place in Anders Breivik’s Manifesto. Morton buttresses his Muslims as a fifth-column conspiracy with his fabricated fantasies of these undetermined nations who are allowing themselves to be bullied by ”Islamist extremists”. These under-the-boot-of-Muslims tropes are what drives the anti-state and anti-Muslim militants. He then proceeds to connect this imagined fifth-column to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
When I worked in Number Ten, the people who grasped most clearly Islamism’s threat were my Muslim co-workers, because they knew Islamists were determined to destroy more tolerant and decent versions of Islam and replace it with their own cancerous version – using a mixture of theology, guilt and brute force to theorise and terrorise those who oppose them, both non-Muslims and Muslims.
The ambivalence (not shared by David Cameron) in government came from guilt ridden non-Muslims and those Muslims who buy into one of the main Islamist narratives – that no version of Islam is a problem, and only ‘Islamophobia’ is the problem. This ignores the widespread abuse of human rights by Islamist states or states that want to placate Islamism.
Thankfully, Morton worked as a housing advisor to David Cameron and not in counter-terrorism. Morton presents the tired and patently ridiculous strawman of the leftist say “no version of Islam is the problem”. Literally nobody (outside of ISIS supporters) has ever said that ISIS isn’t a problem. This is proceeded by alluding to the ”white guilt” of leftists and the “ISIS or Islamophobia” false dichotomy. His claimed anecdotal evidence is suspect given either his inability to understand the ”Islamist threat” or perhaps more likely his dishonesty in addressing it.
The Left has largely capitulated to Islamism
With honourable and principled exceptions such as Nick Cohen, much of the Left has long since abandoned those who are women, LGBT, minority faiths or nonreligious, and others unfortunate enough to be born where Islamism is strongest. They will speak out against Saudi Arabia, but only in the same breath as condemning the USA’s support for it – because for them this is all about the West. They see themselves as educated multiculturalists but they are, ironically, deeply ignorant about what Islamism is and how it works.
Morton creates the perfect strawman to knock down. That of the self-hating western liberal who for reasons unknown has a secret affinity for Islamism – Which in Morton’s world is al-Baghdadi himself.
Their use of the weasel word “Islamophobia” and attempt to blame every failure in the Middle East on western intervention is deeply harmful.
So there we have it, simply using the word Islamophobia and not Islamophobia itself is ’deeply harmful.
Western intervention has made things worse, but Islamism and the Middle East’s difficulties are part of an internal struggle with modernity that the Muslim world is going through. Islamophobia – as opposed to discrimination against Muslims as individuals, and which should never be tolerated – is a word that Islamists love because they can twist it. Cartoons of Mohammed – Islamophobia. Stopping Islamist indoctrination in state schools – Islamophobia. Concerns about basic human rights in Islamic countries – Islamophobia.
Morton disingenuously lists off a series of non-Islamophobic scenarios to debunk the entire existence of Islamophobia. It’s pure sophistry.
Yet if the Left has capitulated, the Centre and Right have failed to understand what is necessary. In fighting Islamism, there are various key policies – fortunately few of which require legislation:
- Islam is not to be given special treatment and sensitivity will not prevent enforcement of the law or the same treatment being given to Islam as other religions.
- Islamists (as opposed to Muslims) are to be excluded from every government funding source, platform, and other official interaction and publicly criticised.
- We will work with anti-Islamist Muslims wherever possible.
So these are Morton’s supposed solutions? Measures which are already in place? Excluding peaceful Islamists from the democratic process pushes towards the fringes. Closing doors on the democratically elected “taghut” Morsi opens doors for Baghdadi. Morton’s dishonest and coded zero-sum war on Muslims is typically short-sighted and counterproductive. His “Clash of Civilizations” is from the same cloth as the Islamic State’s.