Tackle the jihadis the right way
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.