Tim Farron MP writes…If we allow fear to win, then really we have lost

 

In the aftermath of the atrocities on Friday, my thoughts remain with the families of those killed and injured. As the world watches on in collective horror and mourning, the families and friends of those who are lost will be dealing with their own private grief, and among the discussions of international response and foreign policy consequences we must not forget that each of the 129 who have died is a personal tragedy as well as a global one.

As events unfolded over the weekend the political stage was crowded, in most cases with people simply responding to events, but also with those desperately using it to justify their own positions or forward their own agendas.

It is critical that political leaders here in the UK fight the temptation to do the same, and instead work together to understand the facts before attempting to state with confidence what should or shouldn’t be done, at home and abroad, in response to the attacks.

I hope all parties will be united in their belief that fear cannot be allowed to win. Whether that fear manifests itself in the people of Paris no longer taking part in the activities they love- like music, football and eating. Or whether it’s a more sinister form of fear which leads people to attack Islam, blame genuine refugees and judge vengeance as the number of bombs dropped instead of the number of further lives saved in the so called war on terror.

If we, as leaders, allow fear to win, then really we have lost. ISIS and everything they stand for is the antithesis of our open, liberal society. So as we develop responses and policies to ensure that this does not happen again, we must also be vigilant in our protection of the very values that are being targeted.

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Agriculture and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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74 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Nov '15 - 1:02pm

    This makes out that enemy number one is the so-called backlash. Enemy number one is the likes of ISIS and we should take the approach of the French government who today have said:

    “The one who targets the Republic, the Republic will catch him, (it) will be implacable with him and his accomplices “.”

    Regards

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Nov '15 - 1:04pm

    PS, of course, the backlash is important, but I don’t like the way the left prioritises the backlash over catching the perpetrators.

  • We do not have an open liberal society. Those of us who warned about fundamental Islam in our midst and the dangers of uncontrolled migration were called racist, xenophobic or even Nazis. Any society that promotes inequality and barbaric practises should not be condoned or allowed to spread their evil. Stop the white guilt trip. We are not responsible for Daesh slaughtering and raping Moslems in horrific ways. We are not responsible for those poor young girls of 9 taken to Syrian hospitals with blood dripping from their genitals. That is all down to teachings of the Quran.

  • Eddie,
    The French Government is of the Left as are many of Kurds fighting ISIS.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Nov '15 - 1:51pm

    Sorry Glenn, good point. I need to stop the generalisations on here, but my point was that Tim’s sentiments are broadly the same as those being pushed by the influential Guardian and it even admitted that its approach “can be unpopular” in its Paris attack editorial, which I think it realised after receiving thousands of very negative comments from readers after prioritising the backlash over catching the perpetrators on the same night of the attack.

  • Great article, Tim, thank you

  • Mick Taylor 16th Nov '15 - 3:00pm

    I strongly support the measured response by Tim Farron to the events in and around Paris. I strongly oppose those who in the name of revenge will ratchet up the so-called war on terror and act as recruiting sergeants for ISIS. Only sitting down with all sides, without preconditions, and talking until a peace process is agreed will ever solve the problems in the Middle East

  • Malcolm Todd 16th Nov '15 - 3:29pm

    Sometimes I feel I might be in the right party after all. Well said, Tim.

  • I appreciate what you say, Mick Taylor – the question we all must face though is how do we talk to a ‘state’ that simply will never do so. We can and must talk with regional powers to devise a means of uniting against them, but bar the entire destruction of our entire way of life there is IS nothing want. As much as I regret the view, I just don’t see how the final end/removal of IS can be done without some form of military action.

  • Helen Tedcastle 16th Nov '15 - 5:43pm

    @ Anne,

    Da’esh represent a political ideology of establishing a world caliphate aligned to Salafism, a particularly puritanical and exclusivist version of Islam.

    Da’esh cannot be taken as a group representing Islam or as directly connecting accurately to the teachings of the Qur’an without bypassing nearly a billion others who do not subscribe to this ideology.

    Let’s not forget that Da’esh are not only murdering Christians and Yazidis but Muslims.

  • Mick Taylor 16th Nov '15 - 6:19pm

    @ATF. All military action in the Middle East has achieved is the destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria (not to mention Afghanistan) so far and the rise of ISIL. Does it not seem unlikely that more of the same will stop it? Do you really believe that more bombing – with the resultant loss of more innocent lives and pumping more and more arms into the war zones will persuade people not to go and join ISIL?
    Peace talks are the only answer and the sooner people and politicians realise it the better.

  • “Or whether it’s a more sinister form of fear which leads people to attack Islam”

    It’s probably impossible to be a true liberal and not attack (or at least, constructively criticise) Islam from time to time. Islam should be no more immune from scrutiny than any other idea anybody ever had. The fact that this upsets some people so much is all the more reason why it needs to be discussed.

    @Helen Tedcastle
    “Da’esh cannot be taken as a group representing Islam or as directly connecting accurately to the teachings of the Qur’an without bypassing nearly a billion others who do not subscribe to this ideology.”

    I hope you have your numbers wrong there, because with 1.6bn Muslims in the world, you’re postulating an awful lot of subscribers to the IS ideology.

    Religion plays its part in the outrages of last week, as do numerous other factors, political and social. We’ll never make any progress on any of this if we pretend that isn’t the case. It’s not being hurtful to peaceful Muslims to point out that Islam has a violent tendency that needs to be tackled, for Islam is no different to other religions in this regard.

  • Well said, Tim Farron.

    Force, on its own, is pointless and almost certainly counter-productive. Thankfully Miliband prevented Cameron and Clegg aiding and abetting ISIS in that regard.

    To achieve peace it is only necessary to convince the Sunni population of Iraq and Syria that the West will protect their families and their way of life. We simply need to persuade them that we can do that better than ISIS. They turned to ISIS because of the sectarian conflict in Iraq that they blame on the US-led invasion. We’re not going to realise that for another 20 years though, so we will have self-perpetuating bloodshed.

    The right-wing mindset always seems to advocate punishment as a form of modifying behaviour despite the fact that it never works. If we actually want to solve this particular problem we need the type of policies that followed victory in the second world war, not the policies that followed the end of the first world war. We will need to use force but it will only be effective if we have a plan to provide a better future for those who currently turn to ISIS for security.

  • Dave Orbison 16th Nov '15 - 7:52pm

    Helen – they are murdering people. Their victims religion or non religion is neither here nor there. They don’t care. I don’t think we should get drawn into Christians as victims. This just helps them add a vaneer as to some sort of cause. It is indiscriminate murder and every time we talk about Muslims, Christians, immigration we fuel the division they seek to promote.

  • Tim Farron’s words take us nowhere. IS don’t talk. The idea of politicians sitting talking while IS continue their murderous activities is hardly reassuring.” Responses and policies to make sure this doesn’t happen again? ” That is meaningless, devoid of content, and impossible to achieve. Meanwhile, in the real world? Backlash is hugely significant. It is the breeding ground for more radicalisation, so he is right to that extent. But what can be done to counter this brutal murderous activity? It’s not a new problem, this is just the most recent atrocity, yet political parties do not have proposals in place. Ten years time it will still be happening if something radical and possibly unpalatable isn’t tried now. Just no idea what that could be. Just like Tim.

  • @Mick Taylor

    I’m certainly not saying that bombing is the answer, I don’t think it is. But the central problem does remains that IS will simply never talk to anyone. An organisation that sells children into sexual slavery, burns, beheads and crucifies people in the street, throw sgay people from the tallest buildings, stones women and teaches children to behead those who have a different point of view are unlikely to agree to talks or want a peaceful solution. Their ideology includes a belief that there are helping to create the end of the world, we have nothing to offer them.

    How then do you end the existence of a so-called state through talks alone. I have no answer whatsoever about how this does end, but I suggest that military of some kind may be necessary. The history of failure you list is, of course, valid and I agree with each point, but I am geuinely interested in understanding the perspective of those whp say IS can with talks, as I currently don’t see how it would happen.

    Very best to you,

    ATF

  • Da’esh are practising a particularly strict and nasty version of Islam, but no make no mistake it is based entirely on Islam nevertheless. I doubt it can ever be stopped other than by military means, you cannot have a dialogue with fanatics of that type. There should be no backlash against individual muslims in the UK but equally it’s about time that liberals started having the courage to criticise the illiberal aspects of Islamic belief as robustly as they would if it were espoused by any other group in the UK, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist in case it offends anyone. I don’t think holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” is going to cut it anymore.

  • “It’s probably impossible to be a true liberal and not attack Islam from time to time.”

    This is nonsense. Liberalism has nothing to do with attacking any religion — the liberal position is that liberals do not examine other people’s consciences, and that what they privately believe is none of anybody else’s business. If you think liberalism is about attacking other people’s beliefs  then you are much mistaken. Islam should be treated no differently from Christianity or Judaism or any other religion, or lack of religion, in this regard.

    The public manifestations of religion may be a matter of public discussion, but only insofar as they impact other people’s lives. If your religion, or your interpretation of your religion, demands that you kill people, and you actually do or try to do this, then the public must take notice. But it is the murderousness, and not the religion that is relevant here. Religion is just a post facto justification for the murderousness, and one could claim any other sort of ideology as justification: even liberalism.

    If some mutant descendant of liberalism went around claiming that liberals must pre-emptively kill their illiberal enemies before their freedoms were taken from them, and some people actually acted on this, then we would condemn the actions and condemn the malign interpretations that gave rise to them — but we would have no reason to condemn liberalism itself.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Nov '15 - 9:15pm

    I’m losing patience with the whole thing. ISIS and Assad must go. We can’t just wait for Turkey and Russia to agree with each other – how many more have to die and be maimed?

    Assad has indiscriminately bombed his own people. He need to go. The war is increasingly coming to Europe too.

    If I knew in 2013 what I know now I probably would have supported bombing Assad in 2013, but people seemed to struggle to make a clear case for it. In my opinion.

    What are we activists for too? We aren’t activists for so-called “benevolent dictatorships”, of which Assad definitely isn’t. We are activists for self-determination and human rights and should make it happen.

  • Eddie Sammon,

    But Various dictators are keeping a lid on their more extreme factions. Sadam Hussein did not let Al Quaeda into Iraq, it was a secular state. Wasn’t that better than the chaos and extreme Wahhabi fundamentalism we are seeing now?

    And as for Saudi Arabia….

  • @David-1
    “Liberalism has nothing to do with attacking any religion — the liberal position is that liberals do not examine other people’s consciences, and that what they privately believe is none of anybody else’s business.”

    No. You are – perhaps deliberately? – confusing criticism of an individual’s beliefs with criticism of a religion. I said nothing about judging other people’s consciences. Islam, as a set of ideas, should be as fair game for criticism as any other set of ideas, and many of those ideas are about as illiberal as it’s possible to get.

    “Religion is just a post facto justification for the murderousness”

    If the Qu’ran did not contain passages like Sura 9:5, you might have some kind of point. Of course, as you say, it’s possible for twisted minds to invent justification from any source. The trouble with the Qu’ran is that they don’t actually have to do any inventing, do they?

    The fact that the vast majority of Muslims lead exemplary, peaceful lives despite this is more to do with humanity than religion. You can say the same thing about Christianity and other faiths.

  • @ATF
    “I have no answer whatsoever about how this does end, but I suggest that military of some kind may be necessary.”

    I have very reluctantly come to the same conclusion. Those who say “more war is not the answer” are kind of overlooking the fact that Syria is an utterly hellish warzone already, and will continue to be so until somebody “wins”, so “more war” is what is going to happen whether we are involved or not. The question then becomes one of whether our involvement can bring this grotesque war to an end in a less catastrophic way than would come about if we just stand aside. I never thought I’d say this after the catastrophe that was Iraq, but the situation in Syria is now so dire that I’m finding it very hard to accept the idea of the world turning its back.

    On the general question of how we solve this in the long run, what I think is really important is for Muslims here and elsewhere in the west to be heard much more than they are now. I don’t think they have a voice. The political parties hardly represent them at all. Few are heard on radio or TV except the usual half dozen rent-a-pundits, none of whom seem much like the many ordinary Muslims I know. This has to change – we’ll never make any headway whatsoever until the views and ideas of typical Muslims are given much more prominence.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Nov '15 - 10:28pm

    Hi Phyllis, the problem is if you bomb ISIS people will scream “you are siding with butcherer Assad” – so we need to make it clear we are not. It’s just not worth it. He’s not worth it.

    I’m not saying we need a big proxy war with Russia, I’m just saying we need to abandon any ideas that he is a potential source of stability for Syria. The idea of it is almost laughable.

    I could just sit back and leave it to the experts, but they don’t agree with each other and sometimes don’t make sense. All this is the product of the inevitable fear that people feel.

  • To be honest, I think our involvement in the regions politics and religious conflicts has been pretty much a disaster from start to finish. We should learn from the recent past, withdraw completely and simply restrict movement to and from the countries involved. I don’t t6hink we should be putting our troops and our civilians at risk in a futile bid to solve religious infighting. If this means holding people in queues for longer and denying some people the right to travel then that’s a more practical solution. This is not a war it’s a bunch of stateless criminals roaming about causing problems. Calling it a war and thinking you can solve it with diplomacy simply flatters the trouble makers.

  • @Phyllis – I think this is the lesson our political leaders might be beginning to understand; Putin already understood this (and had first-hand experience of the need for strong dictatorial style of government in some former eastern European countries) hence why Russia has been supporting Assad.
    However, from this evening’s news, it would seem that private discussions have been had between David Cameron and Putin, and we might be slowly moving towards some form of working alliance – just as we did in WWII. We can expect initial progress to be slow because politicians won’t want to be seen as being weak and backtracking on things they’ve previously said…

  • nigel hunter 16th Nov '15 - 11:46pm

    ISIS beliefs go back to the clashes between Christian and Islam wishing to conquer the world 1000 years ago. The world has moved on since then. Their theology is antiquated, out of date and irrelevant to the modern world. However, it plays on human weakness, fear. Islam is a peaceful religion being cheapened by todays events. All peoples of all creeds must unite today to develop a better world for all.

  • Whatever the answer is to this religiously inspired violence dating from the muderous Christian crusades of the past to the terrible events of last Friday I am pretty sure it’s not more religion!

  • Stephen Howse 17th Nov '15 - 9:19am

    “We should learn from the recent past, withdraw completely and simply restrict movement to and from the countries involved.”

    No, no, no.

    If Liberal values are to mean anything then they must be universal, with people living in war-torn Syria as deserving of enjoying them as those of us living in the wealthy, peaceful West. We cannot simply abandon our fellow human beings to a fiery fate. There are (to understate it rather) serious lessons to learn from our activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, but given that this mess is of our making it would be wrong of us to say “we’ve done enough, you’re on your own” to those fighting against tyranny and repression.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Nov '15 - 9:52am

    John Marriott 17th Nov ’15 – 9:12am This has the advantage of brevity. As a policy it is incorrect as New York has shown.
    What we are really talking about here is the speed of response of an effective police force. In cities it can be quick. In rural areas in large states in large countries the travel time can be substantial. This is compounded by a perception among residents that the policy makers are geographically remote and intellectually remote. Bill Clinton said that he would only be taking guns away from people if they had an Uzi or a Kalashnikov. Hillary Clinton needs to go further for effective remedies, including more effective enforcement of exisiting laws on the sale of weapons and ammunition.

  • Steven Howse
    Every weekend we march football fans from train stations to stadiums. We in effect treat every football fan as a p-potential hooligan. Under the current “war on terror” we have all had our freedoms dangerously curtailed. Why not just admit that the problem is actually very specific and is really better dealt with in a way that acknowledges this. That way we can stop acting like the threat is bigger than it is and thus relax security measures from areas where there is little justification from imposing them .

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Nov '15 - 10:21am

    Stuart

    If you read my comment again carefully, you will see that I did not actually write that Da’esh had nothing to do with Islam. Salafism is a small fundamentalist grouping within the world religion of Islam. It is not representative of the whole by any means.

    What I didn’t do was make a sweeping generalised comment about the whole of Islam or religion.

    Da’esh is extreme and in no way represents or indicates mainstream Muslim belief or practice. I do not subscribe to the view that some hold (mainly at the prompting of a couple of polemical atheist writers) that moderate Muslims are one heartbeat away from the extremes.

    Those who look to join extreme groups are normally not brought up in particularly religious households – they are drifters, cultural or nominal Muslims, not religious, involved in petty criminality and are most susceptible to radicalisation. Mostly they have nothing to do with their local mosques and in fact disdain them. As a result, they have no real understanding of the faith they purport to represent and are vulnerable to distorted ideologies.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Nov '15 - 10:41am

    Those on this this thread who think that all conflicts and wars would be ended if only there was no religion seem to miss out a crucial fact. The people who are being murdered and crucified in Syria and Iraq are Christians, Yazidis and Muslims. They are being murdered by people who are not just Salafist but hold a deeply political ideology of conquest and expansion. They kill because they want to form a state and those who are not with them are against them.

    In France, the young men who murdered 129 of their fellow citizens were petty criminals, on the margins and vulnerable to radicalisation, because they did not have a thorough understanding of Islam, or a connection to their local mosque.

    If we want to tackle this problem at root, we have to stop blaming all Muslims or all religious people and start tackling cultural and social alienation of minorities in western society, particularly in France and Belgium.

    @Dave Orbison

    Christians are in fact being murdered and driven out of their homes by Da’esh. It is the case that Christians are the most persecuted religious minority in the world at the moment, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. So yes, Christians, mostly Eastern Orthodox and eastern Catholics but also Latin-rite Catholics, are being victimised because they are perceived by the extremists as being part of the West.

    How tragically ironic then that some people in the West see these Christians as part of the problem, because they are ‘religious.’

  • Helen,
    There’s a lot of generalisation in your response to the atheist perspective. We do not know the histories of all the perpetuators of the Paris attacks. So there is no proof that they are all marginalised, which is a little bit of a sketchy concept anyway. Past experience from other attacks have also revealed of the involvement students, doctors, military personnel and a host of people from various backgrounds. And the fact is they kill because they want to form a religious state so religion is whether you like it or not at the heart of these attacks. The statement from ISIL also indicates a desire to punish the citizens of the what they see as the godless west. This is not about marginalisation it’s about a philosophy of religious, cultural and moral supremacy.. What ISIL proposes is not so very different from what the gulf states practice as a form of governance.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Nov '15 - 11:29am

    Glenn

    I have not written on this thread that there is no religious element to Da’esh. They practice an extreme form of Islam called Salafism. My whole point is to underline the fact that a. this is not representative of Islam b. that other factors and forces have to be tackled at root to prevent people from joining them.

    It is quite possible to be a trained doctor or an engineer and be a social and cultural drifter. These individuals may not be petty criminals, granted but their susceptibility to radicalisation stems from a lack of thorough grounding in Islam and personal circumstances such as lack of identity or perceived lack of acceptance, causing them to fall victim to extremists on the internet.

  • Helen’
    So according to you it okay to stigmatise people on based your perceived belief that they must in some sense be .marginalised but it’s not okay to take what ISIL and make sweeping assumption about their religious grounding, susceptibility the internet, etc. But suggesting that religion but us atheists can’t point at religion and say this plainly the biggest factor.
    Anyway. I’m not getting into a big argument with you because past experience says we just profoundly disagree and it ends up going circles.

  • Helen sorry
    my response got mangled because I was on the phone.

    Anyway the gist of what I’m saying is why not accept that people who claim their actions are inspired by a religion are in fact inspired by a religion, rather than trying to find convoluted excuses for it. I’ve read a couple of translations of the Koran. It’s a complicated read with a lot of different strands that could be construed in all sorts of ways and there are verses and sayings that refer quite explicitly to how to practice war, slavery, the treatment of concubines and such as like. I would never say that this means that interpretation of the Koran is clear cut or that it is only this, that or the other.

  • Katerina Porter 17th Nov '15 - 3:59pm

    Excellent article from Tim.
    We should have set up a No Fly Zone years ago. We protected The Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. with one. That was before invading Iraq.
    Is it too late?
    It might have stopped Syrians having. to flee

  • @Helen Tedcastle
    “Those on this this thread who think that all conflicts and wars would be ended if only there was no religion seem to miss out a crucial fact.”

    Helen, nobody has said anything remotely like that. You are an intelligent person, so why do you always feel the need to misrepresent the views of others when religion is discussed here? I, for instance, have been very careful to point out that religion is only one of many causes to the troubles we face here.

    Did you watch Panorama last night? A young couple who survived the horror of the Bataclan told how they could hear the gunmen praying during the quiet interludes as they reloaded their weapons. No doubt there were many factors over many years that led those gunmen to that place, but the role of religion in whipping them up to the kind of frenzy where they were prepared to spray a room full of young music fans with automatic gunfire needs to be acknowledged. We’ll never have a hope of solving this unless we respond carefully to ALL the reasons – and extremist religion has to be on the list.

  • @ Helen Tedcastle,

    “My whole point is to underline the fact that a. this is not representative of Islam”

    The ideology of the Caliphate is totally representative of the Islam of the seventh century. if you study it you will find that that is exactly what ISIS it is aiming to recreate. If you are saying that most muslims do not subscribe to such an ideology then I would be inclined to agree with you but what ISIS are up to is entirely steeped in Islam.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Nov '15 - 7:51pm

    Stuart

    As I wrote in my first and second comment, Da’esh are Salafists. They are also jihadis – they are not just religious but deeply political. They follow a fundamentalist and very puritanical version of Islam. So the fact that they pray does not add to my point or to the argument.

    The point is that Salafism is a small but notorious jihadi group within world Islam. I can’t see what problem you have with the description. If you are trying to equate this tiny jihadi group with world Islam then that would be like comparing the BNP with all political parties in the UK and saying they are all the same. We know that is not the case.

  • While there is no universal agreement on the, the debate here has been far more measured and informed than on many other forums discussing the tragic events of Friday.
    This reflects the measured response from Tim as expressed in the article.
    It is a great pity that the BBC prefers to give air time to alarmist, scaremongering politicians like Nigel Farage than to people like Tim Farron who are calling for sober reflection. Why are the BBC so obsessed with Farage and his UKIP cronies?

  • H the name in the title of the last comment
    should be Howard.

  • Helen, do you openly critisise ‘world Islam’ for segregating their women and treating them as second class? If not why not? The problem we have now with Islam is that because of being afraid to criticise their repressive teachings for fear of causing offence we have allowed fundamentalism to flourish. Can you tell me any Muslim ruled country that is liberal and allows freedom of thought? Now Saudi Arabia, the cause of so much terrorism has passed a law saying all atheists are terrorists. Why are liberals supporting such an ideology? It is not racist or xenophobic to say it is wrong. Why the hell have we fought for our human rights when we allow parts of our community to flagrantly abuse them? Why the hell do people think that Sharia law should be allowed in any form and why are there Sharia courts in the UK? The law should be the same for everyone and everyone should have the full protection of it. The reason FGM was never tackled is because of fear of offence, never mind the suffering of the girls. However I feel that ignoring it was actually racist, after all it did not affect white girls did it.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Nov '15 - 10:35pm

    Olly T

    There is a big difference between seventh century Islam is expansion and the antics of Da’esh. First and foremost Islamic attitudes towards the conquered Christians was far more tolerant. They allowed them to work alongside the new ruling elites. It wasn’t perfect, afterall the conquerors imposed a tax on all Christians but in terms of freedom of worship and movement, they were pretty tolerant.

    Compare with Da’esh: when they go into a Christian town the Christians have to either convert or die.

    @Anne

    Turkey is an example of an Islamic country with a multi-party system. It’s not perfect but it is a democracy. FGM is not an Islamic precept. It is a tribal and cultural practice. Finally, depending on the country and the Islamic school, Sharia is interpreted very differently. In the British press we hear mostly about the most draconian implementations. I question the way that Islam and Muslims are portrayed in the press – it’s not balanced coverage.

  • A Social Liberal 17th Nov '15 - 10:38pm

    Anne said

    ” Can you tell me any Muslim ruled country that is liberal and allows freedom of thought?”

    Yes – Bosnia

  • A Social Liberal 17th Nov '15 - 10:42pm

    Anne

    Now hat both Helen and I have answered your question, perhaps you can answer one of mine. Can you name a Christian country which is truly gender blind, whose elected officials mirror their electorate in makeup?

  • @ Helen Tescastle & Social Liberal

    Interesting that you 2 come up with only Turkey and Bosnia as the best (only?) examples of liberal Islamic states on the very morning when it is reported that fans of both these countries booed the minutes silence for the French victims and shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar” were heard.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 12:18pm

    Olly T

    I pointed out that Turkey is a democratic, multi-party state. In fact it is officially secular. Most citizens are Muslims and the cities are liberal. Women do not wear the Hijab unless by choice and mix more freely with men. The rural areas are more socially and culturally conservative.

    If you look at Muslim countries, most of them were run as colonies by European powers such as France and the UK and in the case of Iraq, created by the UK. Many are poor and have been subject to war and multiple conflicts. One might ask what did the colonial powers do to further democracy in those colonial states?

    As for the football stadium, yes there were sections of fans who behaved very badly but I note that it was not the entire stadium. Plus Turkey is hardly the only country with unruly fans. I seem to remember England fans booing the national anthems of other countries and shouting during a moment’s silence. That’s one reason there is a new trend in the UK to clap rather than stand to attention.

    As ever, it’s about seeing these things in proportion rather than leaping to general conclusions about an entire people or religion.

  • @ Helen Tedcaster,

    I agree that you cannot claim that all followers of Islam are terrorist sympathisers just because significant numbers are. However it is entirely reasonable to generalise about Islam when it comes to illiberal attitudes to women, gays, jews, apostates, atheists etc etc. In relation to Islam you think people shouldn’t “leap to general conclusions” , I think people are being incredibly naive and should take their rose tinted spectacles off. Time will tell which of us is correct.

  • Helen,
    Helen colonialism cut both ways. The reason why many Muslim countries exist is the colonialism of and expansion under various Middle. Eastern rulers. Is it not possible that one of the reasons for groups like ISIS exist is that too many people fuel historical grudges and make the leap that because European Colonialism was bad this means other colonialism was better or even good. What we should be attacking is not just ISIS but the mind-set that produced ISIS and the moral compliancy that treats military action so lightly.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 1:26pm

    Olly T

    To claim that a ‘significant number’ of Muslims are terrorist sympathisers is a just that, a claim. Also, one can be angry at the behaviour of the West in its persistent interference with and invasions of middle eastern countries over the past 100 years, and not back Da’esh. I seem to remember the Liberal Democrats condemning the last foray of the UK into Iraq. So perhaps it’s best to look at history and context before judging.

    Also, why should we expect that every country in the world follow the secular-liberal model in the West of the last forty or so years? It was still illegal to be openly homosexual in Britain in the 1960s – should we be quick to judge more socially conservative societies for being less ‘enlightened’ than us, because we liberalised our cultural attitudes a few years ago and they still haven’t? Should we to impose our worldview on others ‘for their own good’?

    As I have said, Da’esh are not typical – they represent a tiny but very violent mob who do not practice Islam as understood by 99% of Muslims. The French jihadis who died in Paris were not mosque-attending Muslims before their radicalisation anyway but petty delinquents with a very sketchy understanding of their Muslim identity. So do they represent Islam? No.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 1:37pm

    Glenn
    ISIS grew out of al-Qaeda and both are linked to pan-Arab nationalism and salafist-wahabism, a particularly puritanical philosophy. If we are going to attack the mindset then we need to tackle the underlying causes of discontent and alienation in middle eastern countries – poverty and powerlessness. That way, the most extreme ideologies wouldn’t get a foothold. The reason Bin Laden could gain a foothold in Afghanistan for example, was because that country was impoverished, failed as a state and racked by ongoing conflict involving Russia.

    The answer to terrorism is complex and there are no easy solutions or obvious single causes.

  • “If you look at Muslim countries, most of them were run as colonies by European powers such as France and the UK and in the case of Iraq, created by the UK. Many are poor and have been subject to war and multiple conflicts. One might ask what did the colonial powers do to further democracy in those colonial states? ”

    The richest and most important Sunni Muslim Arab State is Saudi Arabia, which was ruled colonially by Turkey. And it is the Saudis that have been exporting fundamentalist Wahabi-Salfism to the rest of the Muslim world.

    By contrast the French protectorate of Lebanon was a relatively tolerant multi-religious and ethnic secular state until it was destabilised by the spillover from the Israeli/Palestine conflict.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 2:40pm

    ” The richest and most important Sunni Muslim Arab State is Saudi Arabia, which was ruled colonially by Turkey. And it is the Saudis that have been exporting fundamentalist Wahabi-Salfism to the rest of the Muslim world.”

    Let’s accept that point while glossing over the history of co-operation and help for the Saudi Kingdom and its expansion led by Britain over the last century.

    Yes Lebanon is a good though troubled example of a relatively successful colonial state. Let’s gloss over others like Algeria and Morocco, former colonies which Belgian and French jihadis claim as their heritage.

  • @ Helen Tadcaster

    You cannot dismiss the statement that “a significant number of muslims are terrorist sympathisers” as just “a claim”. Whilst I cannot put a figure on it there are mountains of evidence to suggest that the number is significant. Google any research into muslim attitudes to incidents like the murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. Believing that someone should be murdered for drawing a cartoon of the “prophet” is a pretty extreme religious viewpoint in my book but perhaps you don’t see the harm in it.

    No offence but you seem desperate to argue that Islamic State etc has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, I have no idea why you are doing so when it is patently obvious to most people that it does.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 5:24pm

    Olly T

    ‘No offence but you seem desperate to argue that Islamic State etc has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, I have no idea why you are doing so…’

    Please read my comments and you will find that I am not arguing what you claim I am arguing at all.

    Many French Muslims were offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. That does not mean they agree with the mass shootings. Indeed, one of the policemen who tried to stop the terrorists and was shot dead, was a French Muslim.

  • @ Helen Tadcastle

    Brief internet search:-

    NOP Research: 25% British muslims said the 7/7 London bombings were justified
    ICM Poll: 50% of British Muslims supported the establishment of Islamic State
    Pew Research: 35% of young Muslims in UK believe suicide bombings are justified..

    I could go on to outline dozens of polls, and it goes way beyond Muslims being “offended”. We have a huge problem on our hands with religious extremists, pretending it isn’t happening is not going to make it go away.

  • @Helen
    “The French jihadis who died in Paris were not mosque-attending Muslims before their radicalisation anyway but petty delinquents with a very sketchy understanding of their Muslim identity.”

    Where are you getting your information? It is very different to the reports I’ve been reading, for example :-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11996120/Paris-attack-what-we-know-about-the-suspects.html

    The Paris attackers seem like the usual mixed bunch. Not all were “delinquents” as you put it – some were running successful businesses and had grown up in decent areas. Some had been normal football-obsessed teens until recently. Some were mosque attenders. A couple, it is claimed, had been radicalised by extremist Imams. One thing these people had in common was their faith.

    I suggest you refresh your memory with the profile of Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the 7/7 bombers. Pillar of his local community, respected teaching assistant, devoted family man, regular at his local mosque.

    There are other things jihadis tend to have in common, but none so universal as their faith. It’s only part of the picture but if we ignore it, as you seem to want to do, we’ll never fully understand what’s going on.

    OllyT is right – countless polls in countries all over the world have come up with very similar results in the years since 9/11. A significant minority of Muslims do seem to hold these troubling views. We will never have a hope of dealing with this unless we understand the reasons, and as I said earlier this means engaging in open dialogue with alienated Muslims and finding out exactly what sort of societies they wish to live in. For instance, one of the other things most jihadis have in common is that they are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants, but feel alienated from the countries where they live. Why? It’s crucial we solve that particular problem. The reasons might not be quite so obvious as we think. You can’t simply say it’s down to living on rough estates – there is more to it than that, because not all jihadis come from rough estates, whereas 99.9% of people who do would never commit these kinds of crimes.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 8:41pm

    Stuart
    Here’s a good article which makes clear who jihadis tend to be:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/01/what-draws-jihadis-to-isis-identity-alienation

    To be specific, the French jihadis who killed in Paris last week had a history of petty criminality. It has been widely reported in the media. I am perfectly aware of the fact that many jihadis have degrees. What they have in common is a lack of social and cultural identity for whatever reason. There is no typical jihadi but there are traits.

    An example from the article:
    ‘ Sahra Ali Mehenni is a schoolgirl from a middle-class family in the south of France. Her father, an industrial chemist, is a non-practising Muslim, her mother an atheist. “I never heard her talk about Syria, jihad,” said her mother. One day last March, to the shock of her family, she took not her usual train to school but a flight from Marseilles to Istanbul to join Isis. When she finally phoned home it was to say: “I’ve married Farid, a fighter from Tunisia.”’

    I disagree that the common denominator is the Islamic faith – as if that is the starting point of their problems. The starting point is the alienation and sense of drift which leads to the vulnerability to radicalisation. We know this because, as the article stipulates, many jihadis are not practising muslims prior to radicalisation. If we are going to eradicate the vulnerability to extremist ideologies then it would be a good idea for governments to avoid stigmatising whole communities, who might be able to help us reach the culturally muslim drifters who disengage from the mainstream.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Nov '15 - 8:50pm

    Olly T

    Yet another poll shows that Muslims tend to be more patriotic than the average Briton. Maybe the response depends on how the questions are asked and what the actual questions are.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/12000042/How-patriotic-are-British-Muslims-Much-more-than-you-think-actually.html

  • @Helen – your recent comments concerning who, amongst our resident population, might become a jihadi, remind me of my teens. I suspect that many of those who today rush off to join a ‘fashionable’ jihadi group, would of in my day joined the Moonies, Scientology or other cult.

  • @ Helen Tedcastle

    You state ” I disagree that the common denominator is the Islamic faith – as if that is the starting point of their problems. The starting point is the alienation and sense of drift which leads to the vulnerability to radicalisation. We know this because, as the article stipulates, many jihadis are not practising muslims prior to radicalisation”

    You have hit the nail right on the head. Millions of people world wide feel alienated but do not resort to terrorism. It is the religion of Islam that is turning alienated people into terrorists. Without Islam they would remain as relatively harmless as all the other alienated people in the world. Without the Imams, the Mosques, the Madrassas and the Islamic clerics they would not become terrorists. If you re-read what you have written you are actually admitting that it is the religion of Islam that is the catalyst that turns alienated people into terrorists. That is exactly what I have been trying to say. I am glad we finally agree!

  • @Helen
    You are asking the wrong question. The mystery here is not why jihadis feel alienated from Western society. Such feelings are commonplace amongst all ethnic and religious/non-religious groups. The real mystery is why these people are not even more alienated by the revolting antics of IS – and like it or not, the answer to that has at least something to do with religion.

    “I disagree that the common denominator is the Islamic faith”

    It’s the only common denominator.

    I don’t want to go on much longer about this because I don’t want to over-emphasise the importance of religion here – I made it clear from the outset that I see religion as only one factor among many, but your refusal to admit it is any factor at all despite all the evidence has led to it taking over the discussion. It really matters because there isn’t a problem in the world that can be solved by wilfully ignoring the causes.

  • Helen Tedcastle 19th Nov '15 - 1:02pm

    Olly T

    We are not agreeing because I do not accept that Islam is the root cause of the problem. That is because it is a hugely diverse and disparate religious tradition. it would be more accurate to talk about the variety of Islamic traditions rather than lump them all together into a monolith. Yes, that makes it much simpler but it is not accurate. The extremists do not represent Islam at all, rather like the BNP or Britain First do not represent politics in the UK.

    Stuart

    It’s not a question of me admitting anything. It is a question of accuracy.

  • Helen.

    Lets try again. In your previous comment you argued that the terrorists were not practising muslims until they were radicalised. Lets say, for the sake of argument , that that is the case – now please go on to tell then who or what radicalises them?

  • @Helen
    “Turkey is an example of an Islamic country with a multi-party system. It’s not perfect but it is a democracy.”

    It’s certainly not perfect – the World Economic Forum’s new Global Gender Gap report ranks it 130th out of 145th for gender equality.

    The bottom 10 :-

    Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Chad, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Mali and Egypt.

  • Helen Tedcastle 20th Nov '15 - 12:07am

    Stuart
    Because Yemen, the poorest country in the middle east and other countries listed, ravaged by war and conflict for generations, are directly comparable with rich northern European industrial countries…

    And before we put ourselves on the back for being so enlightened on women, let’s remind ourselves that the equal pay act has been official policy for forty years but the gender pay gap is a grim reality in 2015.

    Each country is on it’s own journey and it’s not for us to sneer at other countries who are economically less advanced than us.

  • @Helen

    I am still awaiting an answer to my question above. Can I assume that you don’t have an answer, or possibly, that you can’t bring yourself to say it. I’ll do it for you then – it is quite clearly the Imams, the Mosques, the Islamic madrassas, the Islamic websites that turn disaffected individuals into terrorists. Disaffected people that are not exposed to these Islamic sources tend to remain harmless.

  • With another hostage crisis taking place at this moment – with 170 being held by 2 jihadists in Mali – isn’t it time to recognise that there is a significant danger that the Islamic world is going to be divorced from the rest of the world because it now seems certain that these attacks are going to continue indefinitely.

    Surely, one of the few issues that might unite these two huge groups [there are 1.6 billion Muslims world wide] is global warming – with this Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change

    http://islamicclimatedeclaration.org/islamic-declaration-on-global-climate-change/

    Also – if there is any hope for Islam to survive in a democracy such as the UK – isn’t it necessary for the postal voting system to be heavily restricted so that the imams cannot have such a huge influence on the muslim vote in constituencies where they represent a significant proportion of the voters?

  • Helen Tedcastle 20th Nov '15 - 3:16pm

    Olly T

    I have given you my response several times. I do not share your viewpoint on Islam as I have stated repeatedly. We’ll have to agree to differ. Thank you for the discussion.

  • @Helen
    “Because Yemen, the poorest country in the middle east and other countries listed, ravaged by war and conflict for generations, are directly comparable with rich northern European industrial countries…”

    Rwanda has suffered much from poverty and conflict, yet still makes it in to the top ten. I wonder what those bottom ten countries might have in common, that Rwanda does not? There are some other countries in the top ten that don’t fit with your description, either.

    “Each country is on it’s own journey and it’s not for us to sneer at other countries who are economically less advanced than us.”

    I’m not sneering at anybody – I find the situations in those countries desperately sad. You might want to consider that the causal relationship you suggest works in both directions. If a country treats its women badly, what chance does it have of achieving its economic potential? I would suggest none.

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