Whenever an article about Islamic extremism in the UK appears at Pajamas Media, American readers invariably post comments that range from the sympathetic to contemptuous, most of which include the observation that Britain is “screwed,” or words to that effect. We Brits tend to take issue with such remarks, arguing that reports of our incorporation into a re-established caliphate are greatly exaggerated.
But then along comes another of those documentaries featuring secretly-filmed footage of Muslim clerics in British mosques preaching hatred against the Christians, Jews, and the West, and exhorting their followers to take up jihad. We’re reminded then that we do indeed have a bit of a problem.
The latest such documentary is Undercover Mosque: The Return, part of Channel 4’s Dispatches series. The program was itself a follow-up to an investigation last year in which preachers in a number of British mosques were filmed making anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks, and extolling the virtues of terrorism.
The police were quick to respond to those allegations: spurred on by the “moderate” Muslim Council of Britain and other Islamic groups, the West Midlands force tried to prosecute the program makers for inciting religious hatred. However, no charges were brought, and a complaint about the program lodged by the force was dismissed by broadcasting regulators.
The new investigation focused on one of the mosques featured in the 2007 program, the Regent’s Park Mosque in central London. It found that, despite promises by the mosque authorities to take action against the extremists, nothing much had changed. An undercover reporter — herself a Muslim — filmed female preachers calling on worshippers to kill non-believers and Jews, and ordering them not to associate with people from other religions. The mosque’s bookshop, meanwhile, was continuing to sell DVDs featuring extremist clerics calling on Muslims to wage jihad. There’s more about the program here, and you can watch it here.
It’s one thing listening to male preachers spouting hatred — those raving madmen with their Rasputin beards, missing eyes, and hook hands have become as synonymous with Britain as warm beer and cricket matches. It’s something else to hear soft-spoken teenage girls with London accents debating whether a homosexual should simply be stoned to death, or be thrown off a cliff and then stoned to death. And, while I wouldn’t for one moment want to suggest that women aren’t every bit as capable of waging jihad as their male counterparts — seeing as how big the Islamists are on women’s lib and all — if this is what’s going on in the ladies’ wing, you have to wonder what the men are getting up to.
The program revealed that the religious authorities in Saudi Arabia were responsible for training the extremist preachers, and for supplying books and other teaching material. The Saudis have been spending tens of millions of pounds exporting their Wahabist brand of Islam around the world, and, outside of Pakistan, it’s hard to imagine there’s a country in which they’ve enjoyed the kind of success they’re having in Britain.
Confronted by the makers of the program, the mosque authorities wheeled out the usual lame excuses about not being responsible for everything that went on under their roof. It was all depressingly familiar stuff, and while these latest revelations about attempts to radicalize British Muslims are troubling, more worrying is the continuing lack of will on the part of the government to tackle the problem.
The fact that several major terror plots have been thwarted since the 2005 bombings in London suggests the security services are managing to keep tabs on many of the most dangerous extremists (Although in a number of instances only a combination of luck and ineptitude on the part of the terrorists have prevented potentially horrific loss of life.)
But while the authorities may be working hard behind the scenes, the government publicly continues to play down the threat from Islamist terrorism, driven in part by a desire not to offend their Saudi sponsors (which might endanger British business interests in that country), but also by the culture of political correctness that Labor has fostered since coming to power more than a decade ago. The obsession with multiculturalism ensures that the tens of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants entering the UK each year from countries riven with Islamic extremism feel under no obligation to assimilate.
The fact that terrorists haven’t carried out a successful attack in the past three years is also, perversely, part of the problem: in the same way that the Bush administration’s success in keeping America safe since 9/11 has served to undermine the idea that the country is at war, the absence of further bombings in Britain has helped to create an atmosphere of complacency that enables troublemakers within the Islamic community and their apologists outside it to claim the threat is being exaggerated.
If it wasn’t for this combination of deference towards the Saudis, failed social policies, and public apathy, the problem of Islamic extremism could be dealt with handily in perhaps a couple of years. The terrorists and the preachers of hate would be locked up, the funding cut off, and moderate Muslims empowered. Instead the genuine moderates are sidelined, while the government deals with the Saudis, the Muslim Council of Britain, and other grievance mongers who condemn terrorism out of one side of their mouths, while complaining about British foreign policy and discrimination against Muslims out of the other.
The government could begin a crackdown on the extremists tomorrow, by moving to stop the flow of Saudi cash to the mosques, schools, and other institutions where radicalization occurs. It’s an unpleasant fact of life that sometimes it’s necessary to do business with unsavory regimes, but remaining silent while the Saudi religious establishment openly foments hatred among British Muslims is taking diplomatic niceties a little too far. It could also threaten to shut down mosques that fail to act against extremists.
Unfortunately, with Labor ministers busy plotting against Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a desperate bid to save their skins at the next election, countering Islamic extremism is hardly a top priority (although you’d think the news that three Asian men had been arrested for plotting to kill Brown, rather than simply usher him from office, might help to focus a few minds). Meanwhile the odious political-cultural establishment that Labor has spawned continues to signal to the Islamists that Britain is there for the taking. In the latest act of preemptive submission, employees of a leftist-dominated London council have been banned from eating during meetings and ordered to take prayer breaks as a show of solidarity with Muslim colleagues during Ramadan.
Britain is a long way from being “screwed,” but the unwillingness of our government to act against barefaced extremism has ensured that we’ll be living with the threat of Islamist terror for a long time to come. If we’re lucky, the security services will continue to thwart attacks, and the terrorists will continue to make bombs that fail to detonate.
But rather than trusting to luck the authorities might want to consider going after the preachers of hate exposed by Undercover Mosque, rather than the journalists who did their job for them.