Tackle the ji­hadis the right way

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News -

NOW that ter­ror­ism is such a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence there’s a risk of re­spond­ing to it in one of two ways, and nei­ther of them would be right.

The first is com­pla­cency. That this is evil we must live with and ac­cept that some will die be­cause of it. That is un­ac­cept­able.

The sec­ond is dra­co­nian. In­tern­ment for in­stance. That failed with the IRA and would be no more suc­cess­ful with ji­hadists.

MI5 has iden­ti­fied 23,000 of them and that’s just the ones it knows about. They can’t all be locked up. It would be straight from the Don­ald Trump play­book and un­ac­cept­able, too.

But there is much we can do. And much we should not have done.

We should not have top­pled regimes in Iraq and Libya only to leave power vac­u­ums which Is­lamic State could fill.

In Libya it opened a gate­way for mi­grant boat peo­ple to flood into Europe. In North Korea it en­cour­aged Kim Jong-un to speed up his nu­clear pro­gramme fear­ing he will meet the same fate as Sad­dam Hus­sein and Muam­mar Gaddafi if he does not.

The Pre­vent strat­egy was well-mean­ing, but fails when it alien­ates Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. Ev­ery Bri­tish Mus­lim should feel they are play­ing a full part in Bri­tish life, not sep­a­rated from it.

A way of life which means tol­er­ance, free­dom of ex­pres­sion and re­li­gious in­clu­sive­ness. A way of life guided by a com­mon moral com­pass that can be shared by those of all re­li­gions or none.

It is Bri­tish Mus­lims who should be most af­fronted by Is­lamists who hi­jack their re­li­gion as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for ran­dom mur­der.

Pre­vent­ing that should be less about de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and more about stop­ping young peo­ple be­ing rad­i­calised in the first place. Af­ter all, the sus­pect in the Par­sons Green bomb­ing is only 18.

That’s why re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion in schools must be mod­ernised. To teach chil­dren the ver­sion of Is­lam com­pat­i­ble with 21st cen­tury Bri­tain – not the per­ver­sion of it preached by Is­lamic State. That goes for all re­li­gions. A Church of Eng­land that de­nies gay peo­ple their rights and quib­bles about equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for women is also in­com­pat­i­ble with 21st cen­tury Bri­tain.

But in the short-term we must con­cen­trate on stop­ping ter­ror­ists killing us. That means more armed of­fi­cers, and no more po­lice cuts. It means bet­ter in­tel­li­gence so an­other hike in MI5’s bud­get.

Mea­sures that are nei­ther dra­co­nian nor com­pla­cent – but pro­por­tion­ate.

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