The Guardian has details of the code from a new anti terror strategy being proposed in Government referred to as Contest 2. According to the draft anyone holding the following views would be regarded as an extremist:
• They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.
• They promote Sharia law.
• They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.
• They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah.
• They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
If this is adopted and becomes policy, the Government will have 2 million Muslim extremists on its hands in this country and perhaps many non Muslims as well.
Most of the above are thought crimes and some are directly contrary to the fundamental beliefs of Islam that Muslims hold. For example, Islam says that homosexuality is a sin – and every Muslim is aware of this. But the vast majority of Muslims living in this country do not discriminate against homosexuals or treat them any differently to anyone else. If they do then legislation is in place to prosecute them.
Most Muslims happily accept that they are living in a liberal democracy and a secular society where there is no state religion which everyone has to adhere to. Most simply do not care what a person does behind closed doors in the privacy of his home and how he chooses to live his life. Muslims view homosexuality being a sin in the the same way they view other sins such as people living together as an unmarried couple or having a child out of wedlock or drinking alcohol or eating pork. Why not add these to the list of extremists beliefs as well?
If promoting Sharia is an act of an extremist then the Government should go in the dock first. It has facilitated the introduction of Sharia based financial products now readily available from mainstream banks, permitted halal meat in schools, hospitals and elsewhere, given permission for Mosques and madressas to be built, funded Muslim only organisations, allowed and funded Muslim schools etc etc etc. All Muslims are promoting Sharia Law when they worship, follow moral guidance, marry in accordance with Islamic rules, fast in Ramadan, give charity and go on pilgrimage. This list is endless and shows how little thought has been given to the definition of Sharia Law.
The failure to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan would also lead to extremism. A million people marched against the war in Iraq and there were many who saw that as a war of aggression and occupation where people had a right to self defence and refused to condemn people who they thought were fighting in self defence who subsequently killed coalition soldiers. I suspect many non Muslims would get in trouble under this category too but is non condemnation sufficient justification to make someone an extremist? And how do you police this – would there be a register which people signed to condemn the killings of our soldiers and if you didn’t you’d be an extremist? What should be an offence is any celebration of the killing of any British soldier killed anywhere in combat regardless of whether a person agrees with the political decision to go to war or engage in combat.
The craziest one of all is this definition: ‘They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.’
Jihad is a fundamental belief in Islam. A Muslim state is given permission by Islam to defend itself against an aggressor or be aggressive where it fears an imminent attack. This is similar to the Just War Theory developed in Christianity. To say that anyone who believes this is an extremist is to hold an extremist view! It would be better to say that anyone who plans and engages in violent acts of terror and kills innocent people is an extremist regardless of whether he believes that he is engaged in Jihad.
Advocating a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries is not a crime. Actively pursuing it and engaging in acts of terror to achieve this would be. Advocating a Caliphate state in the UK is an oxymoron. When the population of Muslims in a country is 7% advocating a Caliphate is a call that isn’t even worth responding to, let alone giving it such significance that it makes someone an extremist.
As mentioned here and here, the Government seems to have no idea what it is doing in its strategy in dealing with radicalisation and extremism in this country. The Contest 2 seems consistent with its previous actions.