Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, April 03, 2004
KEEPING RELIGION AND POLITICS out of the same bed is a very good idea, but how far should be we pretend it's not happening, even though the bed's a-rockin'?

Four days before nine alleged Islamic terrorists were arrested this week, Britain's Muslim leadership held a private summit to decide on a strategy for dealing with a Madrid-style strike in London.

There emerged a common complaint: that Muslims across Europe are tired of having to defend their faith and say sorry every time a supposed Islamic terrorist is arrested.

This could be called a pre-emptive victim strike. But it doesn't quite ring true.

Those eight young Britons arrested as they were planning to slaughter a few hundred of their fellow-citizens were acting in the name of their religion, which happens to be Islam.

No-one is asking non-murderous Muslims to apologise for what their co-relgionist fanatics get up to, or for their religion. Here are a few things the peaceful majority can reasonably be asked to do:

1. make it clear that they oppose the acts of violence whenever they occur. Simple political prudence.

2. make it clear they oppose the preaching of violence against opponents, even opponents of Islam.

3. stop excusing violence, especially terrorist violence, on the grounds that it's an understandable response to what they think is wrong with the policies of Israel, or the US and its allies.

4. cease appointing advocates of violent jihad to representative positions within Islam and its political organisations.

I don't want to get pernickety here, but perhaps they might also make it clear that you can be a good Muslim without sharing their views on mid-East politics.

In return, should non-Muslims forswear the use of the term "Islamic terrorism" and its relatives? Should we refuse to see the different motives of terrorists and the particular global structure of Islamist terrorism?

That's the kind of dishonesty through politeness that would go down a treat at the ABC. Auntie already practices something worse.

"Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad are NOT included in the UN's list of terrorist organisations and therefore must not be described as such" is the fatwa from Auntie's head of international operations, Ian Tulloh.

The trouble with that excuse is: there's no such list.

The trouble is, it means turning a blind eye to the ideology of Islamism which has motivated most of the terrorists we are dealing with.

If you stop seeing it, and ask HREOC to stop us talking about it, it's pretty hard to act effectively against it.

It would be like describing the Crusades without mentioning Christianity.

I wonder if that's official policy of the Federation of Australian Islamic Councils, sponsor of Australia's murder-preaching Mufti al Hilaly?