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Jun 06

London Bridge: Mrs May missing the mark

Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane were two of the three London Bridge attackers

Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane were two of the three London Bridge attackers

Saturday night’s attack at London Bridge has been followed this morning by a statement from Theresa May.  But yet again, despite her ‘enough is enough’, her response is inadequate.

Mrs May is now vulnerable to Labour on security.  Mr Corbyn’s denunciation of 20,000 police cuts, and his call for no more foreign interventions are striking chords with voters.  But it is the Prime Minister’s inability to recognise obvious truths after the London Bridge terrorism which is causing concern for us.

London Bridge aftermath speech

Mrs May’s speech is reproduced here in full in the Independent.  To be fair, she did at least name Islam:

‘First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.’

But then:  ‘It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.’

Mrs May is no Islamic theologian.  It follows that her claim that Islamic violence is a ‘perversion’ rather than a fulfillment of Islam is just a bit of spin.  Furthermore, of course our Western values are incompatible with Islam.  Firstly, they notice homosexuals parading through our cities.  That, they reckon, is our version of ‘freedom’.  Secondly, they see us using ‘democracy’ as an excuse to trample over Islamic lands in order to impose it.  Thirdly, they find us turning ‘human rights’ into a carte blanche for every kind of destructive behaviour

British military intervention

The Prime Minister went on:  ‘Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time, but it cannot be defeated by military intervention alone.’  Indeed it is British military intervention which has fueled and empowered it.  If Mrs May cannot recognise that, we are in deep trouble.

Then she said: ‘It will not be defeated by the maintenance of a permanent defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners.’  That is why we need national repentance.  We need the Lord to keep the United Kingdom and bless our security services with success:

Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Mrs May continued:  ‘It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values – pluralistic British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.’  Muslims are people whose whole lives are defined by their religion.  She seriously wants them to ‘understand’ that gay marriage, transgenderism, pornography, abortion on demand, drunkenness and a popular music culture defined by indecency and sexualised lyrics is superior to their Islamic values?  Our Prime Minister just does not grasp the nature of the enemy at all.

Archbishop of Canterbury gets it

Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby gets the religious aspect perfectly.  As reported in the Independent, he said there was a type of theology behind the attacks at London Bridge, Westminster and Manchester

The Archbishop of Canterbury went on to say religious scriptures have ‘been twisted and misused’ throughout history.  He included Christianity in that.  He went on: ‘We have got to say that if something happens within our own faith tradition we need to take responsibility for countering that’.  But the problem in Islam, he said, is that there is no central authority to speak to.

He criticised politicians (like Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham) who say ‘this is nothing to do with Islam’.  Archbishop Welby also lambasted those who ‘focus on the security or political aspects of it’ and cannot see ‘it is also an ideological problem’.

Theresa May does see Islamic terror as ideological.  Nevertheless, she and Jeremy Corbyn, in Justin Welby’s words, do not seem to understand ‘the basic tenets of the faith they are dealing with’.

Unable to understand

The Archbishop explained: ‘They are often people who are unable to put themselves in the shoes of religious believers and understand a way of looking at the world that says that this defines your whole life, every single aspect of who you are and what you are’.

I get that.  Most Rev Justin gets it, which is rather good in an archbishop.  I hope you, dear reader, are also someone whose faith defines your whole life.  Preferably a Christian.  If so, you too will understand.

‘If we treat religiously motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it’, Justin Welby said.

His Most Reverence called on the whole of Europe to look to the ‘Judeo-Christian roots’ of their culture.  There, he said, they will ‘find solutions to the mass disenchantment’ which he says has led to the rise of extremism.  I hope that means massive evangelism.  In truth, Jesus is the only way to address disenchantment and find a better way for oneself and for society.

Was that the best Theresa May could do?

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, had this to say about Mrs May’s London Bridge speech.:

‘Was that really the best Theresa May could do? It was the same old tosh about “values” and “democracy” and “evil ideology”, without the slightest reference to the nation to whom she fawns – Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabist “ideology” has seeped into the bloodstream of Isis, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

‘Tony Blair used the same garbage language when he claimed – untruthfully, of course – that the 7/7 London bombings had nothing to do with Iraq. He, too, like George Bush, claimed that they were perpetrated because the bombers hated our values and our democracy, even though Isis would have no idea what these values were if they woke up in bed next to them.’

Well, we are going to suggest this is not an ‘either/or’ zero-sum game.  Mr Fisk is right that our foreign incursions have made us all less safe.  Salman Abedi’s sister said the Manchester Arena bomber wanted revenge for children killed by the US in Syria.

Furthermore, Abedi travelled to destabilised Libya for training and encouragement.  So in two ways, Western intervention was at least partly to blame for the 22 deaths in Manchester.  Jeremy Corbyn, too, understands that at least.  He voted ‘No’ to military action against Libya in 2011.  He was one of only thirteen MPs in the House of Commons to do so.

Western values at odds with Islam

But going back to ‘our values’, they are completely at odds with Islam.  Some of them, such as the rule of law, the right to a fair trial, derived from Christianity.  But too many of them are now completely at odds with the faith.

One of the more obvious is the absence of a robust family structure in most of Britain.  It is odd that Robert Fisk should talk about Islamists waking ‘up in bed next to’ our values.  In Rochdale, Rotherham and now Keithley, Muslim men have raped indigenous girls precisely because our society’s values made them available.

Then there is our drinking culture.  Alcohol is forbidden in Islam.  The sight of Westerners drinking is a sure sign of decadence for Muslims.  They cannot have failed to notice the drunkenness into which our city centres descend on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.  Again, family breakdown and the absence of fathers in children’s lives is at the root of much of it.  But letting families break up and telling teachers to encourage teenagers into illicit sex has been government policy for a generation.

Also, In the 1960’s, Parliament abolished the death penalty and passed the Abortion Act.  Our politicians took away the death penalty from the guilty, by the state, where it belongs, and imposed it on the innocent within in the family, where it does not.  The womb should be the safest place on God’s earth.  In the UK it is now the most dangerous.  In that way we devalued innocent human life, and the Bible says mankind is made in the image of God.

Hosea 8:7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind:

The ‘politics of division’

Muslims think Westerners are depraved.  They also believe our culture is Christian.  But that just makes it worse.  They see Christians as polytheists because Mohammed didn’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity.  He thought it included Mary, didn’t get Jesus as divine and said we were infidels with three gods.

Tariq Ramadan

Tariq Ramadan

Tariq Ramadan, in an opinion piece in the Guardian, warns against ‘stigmatising’ Muslims in Britain.  He says the ‘root causes’ of the terrorism at London Bridge lie in British foreign policy.  He is right that our foreign adventures are part of what turns Muslims into terrorists against the UK.  But he is wrong to say there is nothing more.  Indeed, it is offensive for him to to use the opportunity provided by recent terrorist acts to go on the rampage about British wars in the Middle East.  We can say that, but not him.

Tariq Ramadan is professor, no less, of ‘Contemporary Islamic Studies’ at Oxford University.  Interestingly, he warns against ‘division’, ‘ divisive rhetoric,’ and ‘the politics of division.’  A young woman in Muslim dress was stressing the importance of togetherness after the Manchester Arena bombing.  But irritatingly for Prof Tariq and for her, it is Muslims themselves who practice division with their enclaves.  Parts of Oldham, Rochdale, Cardiff Bay and Birmingham’s Alum Rock are virtually no-go areas for infidels.  That said, we held an amazing outreach in Alum Rock in 2008.  It was reported here in the Birmingham Mail and on the Christian Voice website.  Muslims are hungry to hear to Gospel, or the Injil, of Isa (that’s Jesus in Arabic).

Difficult conversations

So can we draw any lessons after the London Bridge atrocity about what needs to be done?

Robert Fisk says: ‘May needs to talk to us about the “difficult conversations” she must have with the Saudis and their Gulf allies, not to Muslim British citizens. But she is too gutless, too cowardly, to deal with the Gulf Arab autocrats to whom she sells weapons, whose principal Arabian dictator, the head-chopper-in-chief, is so worthy of our mourning that May’s predecessor lowered the British flag to half-mast on his death.

‘Yes, to confront this Salafist-Wahhabi state and Gulf citizens’ financial contributions to Isis would be a “difficult conversation” indeed for Theresa May. Instead, she’s going to have her “embarrassing conversations” with Britain’s Muslims who have no power to switch off the “evil ideology” which Wahhabism represents.

‘She does have that power. But she won’t use it.’

According to the Guardian, both Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron are urging Theresa May to complete and release a report into the finding of UK Jihadist groups.  They both believe it will name a Gulf state or two funding extremists in the UK.  It is literally vital to dry up the money trail.  Mrs May must promise that if re-elected she will get the report out fast.

Are the police using their intelligence?

One cannot quite get over how quickly the police start to round up all the associates of Muslim terrorists as soon as they commit an act of violence.  They have a dozen people in custody within minutes.  They must already have intelligence on them all.  Why do they not round them all up together with the potential perpetrator before an atrocity is committed?  Someone with operation police experience please tell us why in a comment.

Mrs May also went on in the wake of the London Bridge attack about the Internet.  How to balance security against personal freedom will be difficult to get right.   But important as the internet is to the radicalisation process, two researchers reported by the BBC have stressed the value of the personal touch:

‘However, our research suggests that the decisive factor in moving people from being extremists in terms of their thoughts and beliefs to becoming terrorists is not online propaganda but offline social networks.

‘It now seems likely that at least one of the attackers had been part of the extremist network al-Muhajiroun – based around the notorious British extremist Anjem Choudary…’  Choudary also radicalised the killers of Lee Rigby.

Prison provides many opportunities for ‘offline social networks’.  At last the Government has begun to place Islamic radicals in separate units, but they are still leaving those Muslims they decide are non-radical in prison with everyone else.  That leaves disaffected non-Muslims open to conversion.  We know newly-converted Muslims are even easier to radicalise than those born into that religion.

First duty of government

The first duty of government is to keep the people safe.  The Apostle Paul makes it clear they raise taxes to maintain peace and security in a realm:

Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. … 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. … 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

We are not starting from a good place.  Khuram Butt was one of 3,000 men on the MI5 central watchlist.  Salman Abedi and Khalid Masood, the Westminster attacker, were on a list of a further 20,000.  These are known to security but are not considered a danger.  Let us pray that whoever is elected on Thursday is prepared to be honest with us and do what is needed.  Political correctness, financial resources and foreign trade appear to be the enemies of security just now.

The General Election is in the hands of Almighty God.  Plead with him to have mercy on our land and grant humility and repentance in the hearts of our leaders.

Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. 

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  1. Rox

    This is a carefully written piece of journalism worthy of careful study.

    When Stephen and the Archbishop of Canterbury explain that for them, and for Muslims, religion is “a way of looking at the world that says that this defines your whole life, every single aspect of who you are and what you are”, this does present an insoluble problem.

    If two groups of people really do hold steadfastly to different scriptures allegedly originating from ONE God who is different to each, and giving rigid instructions which are different, including the need to convert the rest of the world, it can only lead to conflict.

    Fortunately, a large percentage of people in these groups realise that it’s impossible for both religions to be absolutely correct (not to mention Hinduism and others). For centuries, they have been encouraging their societies to take a “moderate” view of what is expected of them, to live to a “wishy-washy” version of the religion if you like, and not engage in conflicts.

    How else would you want it to be ?

    So, however fictitious the multi-cultural British values might be, it is a valuable fiction, and one which has served us well for many years now, very visibly working in its strong appeal to “Londoners” regardless of origin and theoretical creed. For this reason, I think it’s ethically wrong for the Archbishop to delve deeply into theology and ultimately into his own soul and in effect sympathise with the motives of the terrorists. However technically wrong it is , when the Mayor of Manchester says “This is not Islam”, he is echoing most of the Muslims in Manchester and London, and that is the way to go. Would you want to encourage more Islamic terrorism by insisting on their differences ?

    1. Stephen

      The Mayor of Manchester is clueless as to what Islam is. But you are right, the ultimate, radical versions of Islam and Christianity are incompatible, both with each other and with Secularism. But then the ultimate, radical version of Secularism demands that religion be just something you do on your holy day, and possibly at home.
      It must not be something which defines who and what you are. Then it could spill over into your work and your politics. So Secularism is at odds both with radical Islam, which sees a world under Allah, and Christianity, which places the world under Jesus Christ – hence the Orb from the Crown Jewels, by the way.
      I am not a great fan of the ‘Zero Game’ way of looking at things, but I think we have one here.
      As to the Archbishop, understanding is not sympathising, and as for delving into theology, I think you’ll find that’s in the job description.

      1. Rox

        Every schoolboy knows what the orb represents, but it goes back to ancient times, and this is curious, because is presupposes a knowledge that the Earth is spherical !

        I felt that your sentence “Most Rev Justin gets it, which is rather good in an archbishop” was a bit of a departure from your usual policy of being nice to bishops, so it’s nice to see business back to usual. However, theology is not the entire job of the Archbishop of Canterbury by any means. He is supposed to hold the country together, as a sort of ethical leader and politician with no political party. You could say the he and the Queen together act as a sort of President of the Res Publica, or as Lords Protector of the Realm. At the very least, he is an Establishment figure who is not expected to upset too many apple-carts.

        Not all bishops are like this, and what Islam in this country could use is a sort of Imam of Woolwich, or an Imam of Durham. Muslims living in the West understandably have some conflicting ideas. You have probably read:
        https://www.amazon.co.uk/West-Meets-Islam-2nd-Edn/dp/1515348245/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496860723&sr=1-1&keywords=West+Meets+Islam
        An Islamic Reformation would be very welcome, see :
        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heretic-Why-Islam-Needs-Reformation/dp/0062333941/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1496861166&sr=8-1

        We seem uncannily in agreement, though. “You are right” indeed !

  2. georgia

    Islam is a faith which claims authority from its god Allah, and anything said to be from God, cannot be reformed.

    Such as We send down for those who make division, Those who break the Quran into parts. Therefore, by the Lord, We will, of a surety, call them to account,(Q.15: 90-92)

    there is none that can alter the words of Allah.(Q. Q. 6:34 )

    There is no changing the Words of Allah that is the Supreme Triumph. (Q.10:64)

    And recite that which hath been revealed unto you of the scripture of your Lord. There is none who can change His words, and you will find no refuge beside Him. (Q. 18:27)

    Those who have tried to reform Islam in the past are no longer living on the planet, as they were designated blasphemers/apostates, who deserve death in this life, and the hell fire in the next.

    The following link is written by an ex Muslim, who came to the conclusion long ago that the Islamic Allah cannot be what its claims to be, making Islam a false religion, invented by a false prophet,decieving countless millions in the process.

    His argument that Islam cannot be reformed is well reasoned, together with much credibility.

    http://alisina.org/?p=773

    1. Rox

      Georgia, Alisina, Mark Jones, and others, would have us believe that there are no moderate Muslims, because Islam is in itself an extremist ideology.

      Compare this with the Queen’s Speech :
      ” A commission for countering extremism will be established to support the government in stamping out extremist ideology in all its forms, both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to spread. ”
      From The Queen’s Speech, 21 June 2017 .

      If Theresa May really intends to stamp out Islam completely, she has trouble on her hands. But of course she doesn’t. These statements that all Islam is extremist can only serve to provoke reactions from right-wing extremists against moderate Muslims, and are most unfortunate even if sincerely believed.

      1. georgia

        Rox.

        Whether there are so called moderate Muslims or not, does not negate the fact that the book, and the actions of the man all Muslims are obliged to follow are held as eternally binding upon them, and both incite violence, hatred and intolerance towards anyone who is not a Muslim.

        Anything which gives support to violence must, and should be open to question and criticism, and Islam is a faith which does this, and therefore should be exposed.

        Islam is also a counterfeit faith, clinging to the false premise of coming from Abrahamic origins,which is a provably false claim, which should be of great concern to Jews and Christians alike, and robustly argued against.

        “Extremist ideology” is what gives Islam its raison d’etre , pointing this fact out, puts you on the side of truth, not against it.

  3. Rox

    This is a familiar view from Georgia, and similar sentiments are shared by the ex-Muslim she refers us to.

    Like ISIS themselves, she picks out texts which (if followed by all Muslims) would lead to universal disaster. Of course, they aren’t followed by all Muslims, but the response from people like Georgia to this is that they OUGHT to be . You may feel that this is not very helpful.

    It’s interesting to read about how moderate Muslims in the West actually view things (or you could even try talking to some : the lady on the till in Marks & Spencers has no interest whatsoever in endangering the welfare of her grandchildren, you will find).
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/West-Meets-Islam-2nd-Edn/dp/1515348245/ref=la_B012E9E2IA_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497781837&sr=1-2

    It is true that the word “reformation” applied to Islam and compared to the Reformation (of Roman Catholicism) may be misleading to experts, although it seems apt for the public at large. Technically the Reformers did want to reform the Church by sweeping away novelties and returning to the unaltered Bible, as Alisina says. What we have now (in many quarters) is a much more liberal and less literal approach, so probably the word Modernisation or Liberalisation would be a better word than Reformation.

    But Alisina is not going to woo harmless devout Muslims with these words (taken from the link which Georgia provides):
    ” Islam belongs to the toilet of history. Dump it and flush. Get rid of it and don’t fool yourself with this nonsense. Accept the truth. Yes truth matters. Islam is a lie. Muhammad was a mentally sick conman. Get over with it and stop this ridiculous farce of reformation.”
    I stress that these are the words of a former Muslim who seems to have undergone a damascene conversion. They are NOT my words or the words of Christian Voice, and I do NOT recommend this approach.

    What Plantagenet Richardson (in West Meets Islam) means by a reformation of Islam is a modernisation, following a sort of Council of Nicaea, which excludes huge quantities of material which is (to most people) unacceptable, or simply redundant. Referring to a hadith which forbids using (dried ?) animal dung as toilet paper (stones are better !), Richardson writes :
    “It seems bizarre that anybody would , but the reason is even more bizarre. It seems that animal dung is the food of Jinns. This sort of stuff needs to be quietly forgotten, and if it has been so already, then a reformed Islam needs to make it absolutely clear what it is permissible to take seriously, both in this and in much more important matters.” [ The book is referring to controversies like cutting off hands, about which opinion currently varies amongst different Imams in different places ].

    Few people have had more experience of different forms of Islam in different places than Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of “Heretic: Why Islam needs a Reformation now”, also available from Amazon (and elsewhere).
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Heretic-Islam-Needs-Reformation-Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali/0062333941/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497783872&sr=1-1&keywords=heretic+why+islam+needs+a+reformation+now
    She has lived in Somalia, and even in Mecca itself, as well as in Kenya, the Netherlands, etc. I won’t attempt to summarise her book here, or even to draw relevant points from it, but clearly she does believe that some kind of “reformation” is possible and desirable.

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