British Home Secretary Theresa May has unveiled a series of new proposals aimed at combating Islamic extremism “in all its forms.”
The plan is part of the Tory election manifesto, a declaration of policies and programs to be implemented if Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party stays in power after the general election on May 7.
The home secretary has pledged that a future Tory government would — among other measures — ban Islamic hate preachers, shut down extremist mosques and review whether Sharia courts in England and Wales are compatible with British values.
May has also promised to crack down on Islamic extremism in British prisons, to monitor how police are responding to so-called honor crimes, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and to change the citizenship law to ensure that successful applicants respect British values.
May announced the crackdown during a hard-hitting speech in London on March 23, when she defined extremism as “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
Speaking with a clarity not seen in most public discourse about Islam today, May singled out Islamic extremism as posing the foremost threat to contemporary Britain. She said:
“There is increasing evidence that a small but significant number of people living in Britain — almost all of whom are British citizens — reject our values. We have seen the Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools in Birmingham. Some concerns about religious supplementary schools. Widespread allegations of corruption, cronyism, extremism, homophobia and anti-Semitism in Tower Hamlets. Hate speakers invited to speak at British colleges and universities. Segregation by gender allowed at universities and even endorsed by Universities UK [a lobbying group representing British universities]. Charities and the generosity of the giving public abused by extremists. Examples of Sharia law being used to discriminate against women. Thousands of ‘honor’ crimes committed every year. And hundreds of British citizens who have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.
“It’s clear from these examples that extremism can take many forms. It can be ideological, or it can be driven by social and cultural norms that are contrary to British values and quite simply unacceptable. We have been clear all along that the Government’s counter-extremism strategy must seek to defeat extremism in all its forms, but it’s obvious from the evidence that the most serious and widespread form of extremism we need to confront is Islamist extremism.
“Islamist extremists believe in a clash of civilizations. They promote a fundamental incompatibility between Islamic and Western values, an inevitable divide between ‘them and us.’ They demand a caliphate, or a new Islamic state, governed by a harsh interpretation of Sharia law. They utterly reject British and Western values, including democracy, the rule of law, and equality between citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. They believe that it’s impossible to be a good Muslim and a good British citizen. And they dismiss anybody who disagrees with them — including other Muslims — as ‘kafirs,’ or non-believers.
“Extremism is not something that can just be ignored. It cannot be wished away. It must be tackled head on. Because where extremism takes root the consequences are clear. Women’s rights are eroded. There is discrimination on the basis of race and sexuality. There is no longer equal access to the labor market, to the law, or to wider society. Communities become segregated and cut off from one another. Intolerance, hatred and bigotry become normalized. Trust is replaced by fear, reciprocity by envy, and solidarity by division.
“But tackling extremism is also important because of its link to terrorism. Not all extremism leads to violence and not all extremists are violent, but there is without doubt a thread that binds the kind of extremism that promotes hatred and a sense of superiority over others to the actions of those who want to impose their beliefs on us through violence.
“I know there are some people who disagree with me. They say what I describe as Islamist extremism is simply social conservatism. But if anybody else discriminated against women, denounced people on the basis of their religious beliefs, rejected the democratic process, attacked people on the basis of their sexuality, or gave a nod and a wink in favor of violence and terrorism, we wouldn’t hesitate to challenge them or — if the law was broken — call for their prosecution and punishment.
Full article: British Home Secretary to Islamic Extremists: “The Game is Up” (Gatestone Institute)