Nick Clegg: Terrorism has no religion

The BBC reports that Nick Clegg has been speaking at an interfaith event in London set up after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday. He told representatives of a number of faiths:

Terrorism has no religion because there is no religious conviction that can justify the kind of arbitrary, savage random violence that we saw on the streets of  Woolwich.

He concluded his remarks by quoting a verse from the Koran:

If anyone slays a human being, it shall be as though he killed all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he saved the whole of mankind.

We will have more coverage of this event and an article from Don Foster later this afternoon.

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  • “Terrorism has no religion because there is no religious conviction that can justify the kind of arbitrary, savage random violence that we saw on the streets of Woolwich.”

    Really. What about Wahhabi Islam then?

  • Melanie Harvey 24th May '13 - 2:56pm

    The reason we are now getting home grown terrorists is due to our corrupt and unfair system/establishment,, so they dont need propaganda to feel so desperate, they know it only to well… Until our unjust and hypocritical society is brought to book these things will sadly continue.

  • The most important thing about analysing terrorist motivation is surely to listen to what the terrorists themselves say are the reasons for their actions. It is not useful to argue that neither Islam nor foreign policy justifies such mayhem, because – put simply – they think that some mixture of the two does indeed serve as justification. They have their own premises , their own anlysis, so they come to different conclusions.

    Islam does not necessarily, or even frequently, engender terrorism, just as Christianity does not automatically or frequently lead to muderous attacks on abortion clinics. Yet the groups responsible for these actions use a reading of their religion (and of various government policies) to feed into their decisions. They have been indoctrinated differently from the mass, though some non-violent people in the community may have sympathy for them, making it more difficult to detect and combat the violence.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 24th May '13 - 5:27pm

    I was at the event today, which was very well attended, with people from all backgrounds and faiths. It was a very positive event with Muslim parliamentarians, Sadiq Khan MP, and Conservative Lord Tariq Ahmad, a government minister. There was generally a strong presence from those of us from a Muslim background. A strong message went out that Muslims with all communities and faiths stand firm and together, and we will not be divided by those who seek to high jack a religion like Islam for hate filled and murderous purposes. The media will also need to play a responsible role and stop giving discredited hate preaching individuals like Anjem Choudary a platform, as we saw last night on both Channel 4 News, and then Newsnight. He is an abomination, and NOT a Muslim. Spreading hate and terror is not part of any religion. Certainly not Islam.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '13 - 5:59pm

    Meral, giving hate speech a platform is good because if you repress speech it produces more violence in the future. Only by giving it a platform can it be discredited, which it has been by most.

    The media have pretty much no responsibility besides making money and following the laws. They will have general ethical responsibilities, but this is for the individuals in the media to decide, not for some higher power politician to tell them how to run a media business and what is right and wrong in life.

    I sound like I am being a bit harsh and that is because too many politicians and political activists try to morally judge others and repress their freedom because they don’t think that others are as ethical as themselves. I feel compelled to fight this mindset.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 24th May '13 - 11:34pm

    Eddie Salmon: I’m sorry, I disagree that extremist preachers of hate should receive so much publicity. It’s what they need and thrive on. I’m not saying they be banned from the airwaves, but they are unrepresentative, and receive a disproportionate level of coverage. What’s needed are more mainstream voices of tolerance.

  • Stuart Mitchell 25th May '13 - 8:49am

    @Ed Wilson
    Totally agree. It serves nobody to pretend that Islam plays no part at all in the explanation for the kind of atrocity we saw the other day. It serves decent Muslims least of all. Nick Clegg means well but his quoting of the Koran will not impress any radical Islamists, who won’t be interested in anything he says, and anyway prefer other, less benevolent passages. We need a frank debate about the role Islam itself plays in all this (corrupted though the radicals may be) – simply sweeping it under the carpet is not in the interests of the vast majority of Muslims, for whom this is a problem that they need to confront.

    Totally agree with you too. The media is obsessed with giving a platform to Islamists (BBC1’s “The Big Questions” being a particularly annoying weekly example), which gives a wholly false impression of their prevalence. The vast majority of Muslims are decent peace-loving people just like those from other religions (and none), and it’s time the media reflected this more.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '13 - 10:20am

    Meral, that’s fine. Thanks for the reply.

  • Simon Oliver 25th May '13 - 11:57am

    As an atheist I find this statement offensive – terrorism starts with religion. If there were no religions, the depth of barbarism required to commit acts of terrorism would be a thing of the past. Once you start down the road of rational thought and evidence-based action, it cannot end in acts of extreme violence . That is always the result of faulty reasoning.

  • @Simon Oliver
    “That is always the result of faulty reasoning.”

    You seem not to have studied human behaviour. Violence against a group almost always arises from one group stating that the other group has faulty reasoning, whether they are attacks by atheists against Jews (see Hitler), atheists against atheists or religionists against atheists or religionists against religionists.

  • Helen Tedcastle 25th May '13 - 9:54pm

    @ Simon Oliver:
    “As an atheist I find this statement offensive – terrorism starts with religion. ”

    This is an assertion not factual. Evil people use ideology and warped versions of belief to suit their own ends. I’m not sure atheists are in a position to cast judgement on this one – Stalin?

    “Once you start down the road of rational thought and evidence-based action, it cannot end in acts of
    extreme violence ”

    Most dictators and their acolytes think they are perfectly rational and produce endless quantities of evidence to support their policies.

    Plenty of religious people abhor violence and evil committed in their name – they use reason to justify good and peaceful acts, informed by faith.

  • I wonder if he (or you) Have read the full verse and if he agrees with verse 33.

  • Melanie Harvey 26th May '13 - 11:45am

    Correct terrorism does not need religion just bad government policy :

  • I’m sure radicalised Islamists will be grateful to Nick for pointing out that single verse they must have bee missing all this time.

  • Helen Dudden 28th May '13 - 10:21am

    @ Helen Tadcastle. Religion can bring great caring into the world. There are very good examples of this. The Pope, Mother Teresa, this is just a small example.

    In one of my Jewish books of prayers for women, there is a passage written, Isaiah 45 : 7, as follows.

    I am the One who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil, I am the one maker of all these things.

    Those men broke the law, it has little to do with religion.

    @peter.tyzack, we need little reforms, except to learn we all have a place in this world, even I do with my Kosher attitude to food.

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