Charles Moore tells the truth in The Telegraph: “Where is the Gandhi of Islam?,” with thanks to Daryl:
…Yet there seems to me to be a radical disjunction between our heroic capacity to deal with the immediate effects of terrorism and our collective refusal to confront what lies behind it. The effects of this disjunction are, literally, fatal.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, was in Singapore on Thursday, having helped London’s successful Olympic bid. His stricken face showed his shock, and of course he condemned the attacks. Then he analysed them.
They were not, he said, attacks “against the mighty and the powerful”, but against “working-class Londoners”. Would they have been all right, one wondered, if they had been against the mighty and powerful, or if they had cleverly found a way of killing only middle-class Londoners?
Then Mr Livingstone said: “This is not an ideology or even a perverted faith.” Why did he want to say that? How – if, as the authorities tell us, the attacks were carried out by Islamist extremists – could this be true?
The main spokesman for the Metropolitan Police on Thursday was Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick. He also complained about attacks on “purely innocent members of the public”, thereby making one think that there might be other people (police? soldiers? politicians?), who are not purely innocent and should have been attacked instead. Asked about the nature of the terrorists, Mr Paddick said: “Islam and terrorism don’t go together.”
It is true that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, or involved in terrorism, and this needs to be said strongly if people assert otherwise. But if the Metropolitan Police really believe what Brian Paddick says, if they really, truly think that the words “Islam” and “terrorism” must not be linked, then we have little hope of catching the killers, of understanding how the terrorism works, or of preventing new atrocities.
You can show this with a simple comparison. When Britain was afflicted by Irish republican terrorism, most Irish people repudiated that terrorism. It was nevertheless the case that the great majority of the terrorists – more than 95 per cent – were Irish, or of Irish origin, and they drew overwhelmingly on Irish people to help and hide them.
This was not a funny coincidence. It was because the IRA preached a doctrine about Ireland and called on the loyalty of a perverted version of Irishness. Therefore, the words “Irish” and “terrorist” went together, hard though this was on the majority of Irish people. The Brian Paddicks of the day would have been appallingly negligent if they had not concentrated their investigations among the Irish. And the vigilance of the public, which the police then and now rightly call for, inevitably directed itself towards Irish neighbours, Irish accents, Irish pubs.
So it must be with Muslims in Britain. In fact, the situation is more serious because we are dealing with a religion, not merely a national aspiration, and the demands of a religion are more absolute than anything else. If fanatics can persuade people that their religion insists that they kill others (and often themselves) in its service, then they will obey. And whereas the IRA, though utterly sadistic and fanatical, kept in mind a political aim which, once achieved, would mean that they need kill no longer, the religious fanatic lacks even this check on his behaviour….
What strikes one again and again about the reaction of the public authorities, of commentators, of the media, is the terrible lethargy about studying what it is we are up against. We are dealing with an extreme interpretation of one of the great religions of the world.
The theology that forms the basis of the terrorists’ self-justification is not actually all that extreme in Islam.
We flap around, looking for moderates and giving them knighthoods, making placatory noises, putting bits of Islam on to the multi-faith menu in schools, banishing Bibles from hospital beds, trying to criminalise the expression of “religious hatred”, blaming George Bush and Tony Blair. But if we do not know the way the faith in question works, its history, its quarrels, its laws and demands, we will not have the faintest chance of distinguishing the true moderate from the fellow-traveller or of bearing down on the fanaticism.
If you look at the Koran, you will find many glorifications of violence. In Sura No 8, for example, God is quoted as saying: “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!” This punishment comes to them for having “defied God and His apostle”. It seems reasonable to ask Muslims what this sort of remark means in the modern world.
Read it all. I don’t agree with all of its assessment, but it is sound in the main.