CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 19, 2015 – At least one Western leader is taking positive measures to reduce Islamic extremism in his country, leading to hope that success in the U.K. will breed success in other countries as well.
At an international gathering of world leaders a couple of weeks ago, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom informed President Barack Obama in no uncertain terms the he would institute a strong policy against jihadists.
Addressing his remarks directly to Obama, Cameron said, “Barack, you said it and you’re right — every religion has its extremists. But we have to be frank that the biggest problem we have today is the Islamist extremist violence that has given birth to ISIL, to al-Shabab, to al-Nusra, al Qaeda and so many other groups.”
It was a major rebuke of Obama by a U.S. ally because the American president continues to deny the existence of Islamic extremism.
Later Cameron followed up by speaking emphatically to the citizens of Great Britain, saying that Western governments must “root out the extremist preachers that are poisoning the minds of young Muslims in our countries. We need to make sure we don’t allow the incubation of an extremist worldview even before it gets to justifying violence. We’ve got to get it out of our schools, get it out of our prisons, get it out of our universities. I believe in freedom of speech, but freedom to hate is not the same thing.”
Now Cameron is putting his words into actions by issuing a “Counter-Extremism Strategy” designed to prevent British youth from joining the Islamic State or other terrorist organizations.
Among the steps in the program:
- Parents can have the passports of their teenage children canceled if they are at risk of becoming Islamic extremists.
- Radical preachers will be prevented from posting materials online.
- Anyone convicted of terrorist or extremist activity will be barred from working with children or other impressionable people.
A “national coalition” fund was established to provide “credible alternative narratives to the dangerous views propagated by extremists.”
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), along with other Islamic groups, immediately played the “victimization card” describing the plan as a “war on Muslims” with “McCarthyist” undertones.
The MCB, the U.K.’s largest umbrella Islamic organization, agreed that terrorism is a threat, but also said the government’s strategy was “based on poor analysis and risked alienating those who supported it.”
The secretary general of the MCS, Shuja Shafi, responded, “Whether it is in mosques, education or charities, the strategy will reinforce perceptions that all aspects of Muslim life must undergo a ‘compliance’ test to prove our loyalty to this country.”
Muslims were not alone in their skepticism. Some members of Cameron’s own party are squeamish about the program.
The key however, is the effectiveness of the plan.
While Cameron’s solution may or may not provide the necessary answers, at least he is doing something to counter terrorism other than simply sitting back and making verbal condemnations without consequences.
Last year British police arrested a record number of potential terrorists and claim they have halted a significant number of plots that were at various levels of implementation by young Britons.
Without greater in-depth reporting by the mainstream media, it is difficult to know just how effective the anti-terrorist measures have been.
As Cameron pointed out to Obama,
The boy who straps a bomb to his chest and blows up an Iraqi town, the guy that stands in the desert with a knife, having just beheaded a British hostage or whoever, they don’t get there from a standing start. They have extremist views and an extremist mindset before they make that final decision to be an extremist terrorist. We have to stop this process at the start, not at the end. We also need to challenge the extremist worldview right at the very start.
Right or wrong, David Cameron is at least making an effort to halt the spread of Islamic jihad in his country. Compare that to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who surprised nearly everyone by announcing that Germany will accept thousands of Syrian refugees, or Obama, who does virtually nothing; at least Cameron is making an effort to solve the problem.
The bottom line is that, if Muslims do not like the measures, no one is forcing them to remain in Great Britain. Hopefully, America will follow suit.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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