Britain has had twenty five years, since the domestic protests in support of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, to develop a viable strategy towards Islamism. We still seem to be stumbling from crisis to crisis, forever apologising and scared of giving offense. It is all very British, and it is all a big balls-up. There is time to take a better route, but that moment will not be around for ever. Here is my letter to The Standard:
David Cameron has adopted a curious approach to ISIS. Firstly we have a British Prime Minister informing people establishing what they consider a pure Islamic state, they are not really Muslims at all. Does he think they are going to agree and give up their hostages?
Such pointless words are in fact solely for domestic consumption, and an electorate fatigued by Islamist extremism, yet fully aware of earlier, flawed interventions in the Middle East.
Next he repeats the canard Islam is a religion of peace. Far from being a pacifist, Muhammad is one of histories most impressive and innovative military commanders, fighting nine battles in ten years, whilst his companions led 47 military campaigns (see Islamweb.net). It is from this turbulent period of Muhammad and his companions, and their establishment of sharia, that Salafis (those who seek a return to the original path) such as ISIS and their British members receive inspiration.
Rather than verbiage, the PM would be better advised ensuring evidence of war crimes by British jihadis is being carefully collated, dual citizens lose their UK nationality, and our NATO ‘ally’ Turkey controls its border with Syria.
Paul Stott, University of East Anglia
I am not in London yet, so have not seen if it has been printed, or if it has been printed and edited down. There is more that could have been said. For example on the differences between the Islamic State and post 2001 Al Qaeda, or the need to stop encouraging Islamist actors in the UK by ceding ground to them. I can think of few things sillier than fatally raising expectations on issues such as 'voluntary' sharia councils in the UK - but that debate will do another time.