Islamic extremism is a great and growing threat against the British society–demonstrated clearly by the bomb blast that rocked London last month.
It is not a coincidence that these attacks occurred in the U.K., and it is not the Iraq War that is the motivation behind them. Islamic fundamentalism is widespread among British Muslims and a significant percentage is willing to support acts of terror and violence.
This is demonstrated by a November 2001 BBC poll, where 24% of British Muslims approved of “British Muslims going to fight America and its allies in Afghanistan”. An estimated 10,000 British Muslims attended an extremist conference in 2003. Sir John Stevens, former chief of the Metropolitan Police, estimates that “up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people have passed through Osama bin Laden’s training camps.”
When we discuss Islamic terrorism in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan or Iraq, we remind ourselves that the terrorists come from impoverished circumstances. Perhaps poverty and desperation have driven them to acts of extremism? But what can we say when suicide bombings are performed by British citizens, living in a free and affluent society? What drives 3,000 British Muslims to go through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan?
I have myself grown up in Iran and seen the indoctrination into Islamic fundamentalism that is widespread in the Middle East and Islamic minorities abroad. I went to an ordinary public school; a school that was named after a young suicide bomber and where we were both thought a fundamentalist version of Islam and forced to chant “death to America,” “death to Israel” and “death to the West” in the school yard. Sounds bad? This indoctrination is mild compared to that in the mosques or the truly religious schools.
Islamic fundamentalism is an ideology that is based on indoctrination of children through many years of “education.” It is not a coincidence that the word “Taliban” means students in Arabic. The Taliban movement was created by forming extremists Islamic schools in Pakistan and indoctrinating tens of thousands of children into becoming the foot soldiers of bin Laden and the Taliban army.
The same forms of religious schooling are present elsewhere that Islamic fundamentalism is visible, including the U.K. The words of hatred in extremist mosques fill many children with deep hatred towards democracy, western civilization, atheism, Christianity and Judaism. They are thought that the world should be ruled by a single Islamic caliphate, that civilians of the wrong faith may be killed in the name of Islam and that suicide bombers will go to heaven. These children are the terrorists of the future.
As long as foreign Islamic clerics can preach violence and hatred in British mosques, Britain will never be safe from Islamic extremism. We must respect all religions, but no democratic society should allow young children to be systematically brainwashed into believing that acts of murder and terror will lead them to paradise.
In Europe, we can no longer impose a soft policy against the greatest threat to our civilization. Unless we implement a zero tolerance policy against those preaching violent Islamic radicalism, our democracies will never be safe.