Many Islams exist in the world — this death cult is one of them

Andrew Norfolk

published in Sunday Times 28/5/17

To say jihadist murders have nothing to do with their religion ignores a less comfortable truth

At first glance, it might seem difficult to imagine two groups of Muslims with so little in common.

Build a prison. In one wing, incarcerate those who serially abuse young girls in the back streets of English towns. In another, lock up the jihadist ideologues who plot mass slaughter in the name of God.

They all claim to be Muslim but while the adulterous, alcohol-swilling lowlifes of Rotherham and Rochdale betray multiple Islamic precepts on a daily basis, their fellow inmates view themselves as soldiers of the faith in its purest form.

Most Muslims would not rush to pay a prison visit. They routinely condemn both groups as despicable criminals whose conduct has nothing to do with Islam.

For Britons whose desire is for all who live on this island to somehow find a way to muddle along together, this is a reassuring thought, so comforting that it has almost become a commonplace. In recent years, no press conference after a sex-grooming trial has been complete without a police officer’s pronouncement that the perpetrators’ ethnicity and religion was utterly irrelevant to their crimes.

 

Islamist terror strikes are likewise met by politicians and community leaders with statements condemning the attack while stressing the falsity of perpetrators’ claim to have acted in the name of Allah. Monday’s Manchester atrocity was no exception.

Salman Abedi’s bomb brought carnage to a concert whose audience was predominantly young teenage girls. That anyone might view innocent children as legitimate targets intensified the need to distance the act from the teaching of one of the world’s great religions.

In the prison, different attitudes prevail. If they have nothing else in common, Pakistani child-sex groomers and Isis terrorists share at least one attribute. For them, no 13-year-old non-Muslim girl is innocent. Nor is she a child.

One group fails every test of what it means to be a good Muslim; the other finds such certainty in its literalist vision of the righteous path that it condemns most fellow Muslims as apostates. They unite in their contempt for white girls. One eyes an easy outlet for cheap lust. To jihadists, as a symbol of western decadence and immorality there could be no more suitable target than a venue packed with British girls worshipping a scantily clad young American singer.

 

Targeting children for sex or death is doubtless abhorrent to the vast majority of British Muslims, for whom a truer reflection of Islam was the kindness of fellow believers who came to the aid of the victims and who stood, in defiance of terrorism, in solidarity with fellow Mancunians.

Who, though, gets to define what is or is not Islam, who is or is not a Muslim? Who makes the rules?

How to pray, how to wash, what to wear; there seems barely any element of the faith that is not subject to furious debate long before bigger issues — such as the meaning of jihad and when it is permissible to wage war for the sake of Allah — are confronted.

Consider patriarchal attitudes towards women, however, within different Islamic sects and nations and in different centuries, and you will find a path well trodden. In all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, girls become women — and eligible for marriage — at puberty. Women are either modest, housebound wives and mothers or Jezebel temptresses, shameless objects of sexual desire, born to lure men astray.

One need not travel far from Manchester to understand why some men, schooled in medieval theology or the conservative culture of homelands in south Asia, the Middle East or north Africa, struggle to treat western women with respect.

Near Bury, Greater Manchester, is a former sanatorium that since 1975 has been home to Britain’s leading Islamic boys’ seminary. In 2014, Ofsted hailed its production of “exemplary British citizens”. Its 21st-century perspective is instructive.

A website promoting the seminary’s teaching states that Satan uses women “as his avenue to create evil in society”. She should always remain in the home. If she must venture out, her clothing should conceal her entire body. Unless hidden from view, she will inevitably “attract men like swamps of flies are attracted to uncovered sweets”.

Befriending a non-Muslim invites corruption. To marry a Christian or Jewish woman risks the filtering of “their repulsive qualities into Muslim homes”. Singing and dancing is banned. The music industry is a Jewish-influenced means of “spreading the Satanic web”. We allow such values to be taught in 21st-century Britain.

Girls. Music. Danger. Pollution. In the early 1950s, Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian writer who played a pivotal role in the birth of supremacist Islamist ideology, studied briefly at a college in Colorado. His verdict on western women spat contempt. “The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, in the expressive eyes and thirsty lips. [It] lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs — and she shows all this and does not hide it.”

American dance music was for Qutb, a hero of the Muslim Brotherhood, what “savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires”. He described his visit to a church dance: “They danced to the tunes of the gramophone and the dancefloor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire.”

Sexuality and freedom, in women, are to be stamped upon. An errant daughter or sister shames her entire family. Cue acid attacks and honour killings.

These are not fringe opinions. In 2013, a study of 38,000 Muslims by the Pew Research Centre found that 46 per cent of Pakistanis and 59 per cent of Bangladeshis believed it was sometimes justified for family members to kill women as a punishment for pre-marital sex or adultery.

More than 80 per cent of Muslims in Jordan, Egypt, and Pakistan said that a wife must always obey her husband. In Iraq, Morocco and Tunisia it was more than 90 per cent.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban outlawed music and the education of girls. There, child marriage flourishes as in so many Muslim nations including Iran, where women are banned from dancing and performing music on stage.

Religious laws that dictate the treatment of women in many Islamic states reached new levels of barbarity in 2014 when Islamic State seized huge swathes of Iraq and Syria and declared its own caliphate.

Its interpretation of God’s rules led to mass public beheadings and to the enslavement of more than 3,000 Yazidi girls and young women.

Rules published by Isis in December 2014 codified lawful conduct with slaves. They included a declaration that “it is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty, if she is fit for intercourse”.

For millions of Muslims worldwide who believe they follow a religion of peace, such crazed bloodlust is a monstrous perversion of Islam.

As the historian Tom Holland has noted, the truth is less comfortable. Isis argues that its killings and use of concubines is “sanctioned by the Koran and by the sayings and example of Muhammad”.

“To dismiss them as psychopaths is to ignore what is most truly terrifying about them — that their thuggery and greed coexist with a profound strain of religiosity. [Isis] propagandists present it as charged by God with restoring to the world the pristine Islam that existed back in the days of Muhammad and his immediate successors.”

Dewsbury is far from Sinjar but it was no surprise when Baroness Warsi suggested that in her West Yorkshire home town, some Pakistani men “see woman as second-class citizens and white women as third-class citizens”.

They “believe white girls are fair game”, she said. Shabir Ahmed, leader of the Rochdale grooming gang, would have agreed. The 59-year-old kebab shop worker told a 15-year-old girl that it was not wrong of him to deliver her to numerous Pakistani men for sex because in his homeland “you’re allowed to have sex with girls from the age of 11”.

Ahmed enjoyed having sex with children but worried they would make him impure. He forced girls to wash before he abused them. Afterwards he would “go home, have a shower, say two units of prayer and ask Allah for forgiveness”.

Muslim girls are saints or sinners who must be punished. Western girls are corrupt sluts. This is not an uncommon perspective in the Islamic world.

Ariana Grande, a 23-year-old singer from Florida, is a former children’s TV star whose global Dangerous Woman tour reached Manchester, 12 miles from Rochdale, on Monday. A year ago, she told Twitter critics that “expressing sexuality in art” was no more an invitation for disrespect than “wearing a short skirt is asking for assault”.

Girls the same age as those serially abused by Ahmed and his friends went to the city in their thousands to watch a mini-skirted, cat-eared woman dance and sing on stage in black thigh boots.

When it gleefully claimed responsibility for the slaughter of 22 “crusaders” by its “soldier of the caliphate”, Isis condemned the Arena event as “shameless”. It said that the bomb plot succeeded “with Allah’s grace and support”. There are many Islams in this world. This death cult is one of them.

Our weakness makes the Islamists stronger – Melanie Phillips

 

Extremism is penetrating ever further in our national life as the authorities refuse to face reality

published in the Times 23/8/16

As the Islamist demagogue Anjem Choudary awaits sentencing for inviting support for Islamic State, the government is facing a crisis of its own making over the radicalisation of Muslim prisoners.

Choudary, who is said to have radicalised thousands of British Muslims over the years, is reportedly to be segregated from other prisoners when he is sent to jail next month.

The review by Ian Acheson of Islamist extremism in prisons, whose summary was published yesterday while the rest remains classified, suggests that a small number of the most dangerous Islamist prisoners be segregated to prevent them from accelerating still further the growing problem of inmate radicalisation.

Neither Choudary’s conviction nor Acheson’s report does more than scratch the surface of this long-standing and dangerous problem. Acheson confirmed fears that British jails have become universities of jihad. Islamists were threatening prison staff and other inmates, aggressively promoting conversion to Islam and pressuring staff to leave the prayer room during periods of unsupervised collective worship.

Prison staff didn’t confront such extremism for fear of being labelled racist. The new justice secretary, Liz Truss, promised yesterday to crack down on this extremism behind bars.

 

The signs, however, are not promising. Five books inciting jihad remained in prison circulation a full seven months after Acheson’s inspection team alerted the Ministry of Justice to them last November. Moreover, government and security circles are still failing to analyse the problem correctly.

Some say Choudary escaped justice for so long by operating on just the right side of the law. Others insist he was allowed to continue to spread his poison because the powers-that-be didn’t accept there was a link between his ravings and the radicalisation of young British Muslims.

I discovered for myself precisely that denial of the obvious among the establishment more than ten years ago when researching my book Londonistan, which warned that Britain was sleepwalking into Islamisation. Now at least the government has come to acknowledge a continuum of extremism that can lead young Muslims into terrorism.

The problem, however, is that it is still unable or unwilling accurately to define Islamist extremism. Its counter-extremism strategy defines it as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”, a definition so vague it could draw into its net many who aren’t even Muslims.

The reason for this lack of precision is the government’s extreme reluctance to accept that the threat is uniquely centred upon Islamic religious fanaticism.

Its 2013 Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism defined Islamist extremism as an ideology based on a “distorted” interpretation of Islam, which betrayed its “peaceful principles” and “should not be confused with traditional religious practice”.

Acheson follows suit by stating that “Islamism — a politicised, expansionist version of Islam — is more ideology than faith, and is driven by intolerance and anti-western sentiment”. This all fails to grasp that Islam is both faith and political ideology, and that expansionist jihad is based on the most traditional, purist interpretation of the religion. Certainly, millions of Muslims not only reject this interpretation but are themselves its victims. It is, however, as authentically grounded in Islam as the Inquisition was in Christianity.

This fundamental mistake also leads Acheson to gloss over the fact that the Deobandi sect, to which some 70 per cent of prison imams belong, is hardline fundamentalist and gave rise to the Taliban.

Young Muslims don’t need to know anything about Islam to become radicalised

While some Deobandi are pluralists, mainstream Deobandi thinking in Britain denounces integration, demonises Christians and Jews and supports terrorism abroad. Yet the head of the National Offender Management Service, Michael Spurr, has said the Deobandi prison imams promote tolerance of different faiths. Acheson’s summary manages merely the limp wrist-slap that they display “a weak understanding and effective approach to Islamist extremism”.

Deobandis control 45 per cent of Britain’s mosques and nearly all the UK-based training of Islamic scholars. It may be that the penetration of Deobandi thinking among Britain’s Muslims is now so extensive it is simply unthinkable for any government report to acknowledge that it is indeed a form of Islamist extremism.

The steady penetration of such extremism in Britain is an abject history of one administration after another putting its head in the sand. The reason the government is constantly shocked that so many young Muslims are being radicalised is that it still can’t or won’t acknowledge the reality of Islam itself.

Unlike Christianity, it is not merely a set of spiritual beliefs but creates a strong sense of peoplehood. Since Islam represents divine perfection, it also follows that any thwarting of its religious expansionism means that many Muslims believe their whole community to be under attack.

Which is why young Muslims don’t need to know anything about Islam to become radicalised. All that’s needed is to incite them to a false but utterly incendiary belief that their people have to be defended against a cruel and evil enemy. Britain and the West refuse to acknowledge this reality. Instead they attack those who identify it as Islamophobic in order to silence them. Those who thus refuse even to name the enemy they face will surely be defeated by it.

Many Muslims Want Help to Look Outwards – Maajid Nawaaz

Another great piece by one of our most insightful commentators on the challenges of Muslim integration in the West. (published in the Times on 25/7/16)

The case of the ‘Trojan horse’ school shows that Britain was wrong not to expect minorities to embrace liberal values

For years in Britain there has been a pernicious trend to shy away from making a case for our liberal values among minority communities. As these values continued their march unabated among the mainstream, certain multiculturalists assumed that to assert them among minorities would be deemed offensive, perhaps racist, and in the Muslim context even Islamophobic.

The successful turnaround of the “Trojan horse” school Park View — now Rockwood Academy — couldn’t have proved this view more wrong. Two years after the scandal, the school has surpassed expectations, with cadet recruitment, after-school drama classes, counterextremism workshops and trips to Wimbledon. Those who worried about a more active integration policy alienating the Birmingham school’s predominantly Muslim students really needn’t have. So why did they?

Our 1990s-era multiculturalism was intended to bring about diverse communities. Instead, it brought about monocultural ghettos that gave rise to state schools such as Park View broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from their loudspeakers. Two complementary trends arose together that culturally disintegrated Britain. Within my own Muslim communities, Islamism, a theocratic ideology, which sought to impose a version of Islam over society, emerged practically unchallenged to insist that we were Muslims to the exclusion of every other identity. Meanwhile, among mainstream liberals, multiculturalism came to mean diversity between, rather than within, groups.

Due to these two trends, as a country we celebrated our cities as they self-segregated into isolated cultural ghettos. Division in areas such as Dewsbury and parts of Bradford was hailed as diversity. Self-segregation was supported as cultural tolerance. Disintegration was championed as integration. Those of my fellow liberals who promoted such policies believed they were doing so to help us Muslims. Yet this “help” couldn’t have been more disempowering.

Failing to advocate for liberal values within groups and not merely between groups led to a stifling of creativity and a lack of diversity among Muslims. Rebel voices who needed our support inside these communities suffered the most, and feel betrayed by liberals to this day. I call these the minority within the minority: feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, ex-Muslims, secular Muslims and anyone else deemed to be heretical or not Muslim enough.

 

With progressive Muslim voices being abandoned by wider society, while simultaneously being stifled within by the Muslim “community leaders”, it is no wonder that by 2015 a BBC survey of British Muslims found that 11 per cent expressed sympathy with fighting against the West. Twenty per cent said that a western liberal society could never be compatible with Islam, and a quarter sympathised with the Charlie Hebdo “blasphemy” attacks.

Self-segregation was championed as cultural tolerance

Meanwhile, Muslims in today’s Britain find it difficult to gain employment, are falling behind educationally, are disproportionately represented in prisons and among terrorist groups, while also remaining behind the rest of the country in our attitudes to civil liberties. Instead of integrating with wider society, many Muslims in Britain turned in on themselves, integrating more with their co-religionists globally while pulling away from the society into which they were born. British Muslim attitudes on key cultural milestones such as homosexuality, blasphemy and religion in politics now have more in common with global Muslim opinion than with liberal Britain.

As a country we ended up living together, apart. By allowing minorities to isolate themselves, the very people my fellow liberals wanted to help were suffering the most. It is no surprise then that such disintegration created a breeding ground for Isis recruiters. The liberal values that we came to expect from everyone else we shied away from advocating among Muslims. It is as if we Muslims were simply incapable of embracing secularism. And as we weren’t even expected to be liberal, or in many cases as our illiberalism was celebrated, we naturally grew further and further apart from wider society. I call this the bigotry of low expectations.

If mainstream society had woken up to this earlier, much more could have been done to prevent this polarised and incohesive state in our communities. And though I emphasise that it is not only Muslims who may be isolated in today’s Britain, and obviously not all British Muslims live like this, too many do. Culture is never homogenous, and has always been a hybrid. Any artificial desire to preserve the past was not only bound to fail but was destined to fail minorities primarily. Instead of defining communities primarily by their religious identity, we must support policies that encourage diversity not only between groups but within and among groups too.

The success at Rockwood Academy highlights that it never had to be this way. Identities are by definition multiple. So yes I am a Muslim, but I am also English, a secular liberal democrat of Pakistani descent, I was born in Essex and I am British.

When a chance was given instead of denied, when aspiration was encouraged instead of withheld, when integration was expected instead of disparaged, and when social mobility was promised instead of rubbished, the children and parents at Rockwood Academy rushed to it, and excelled. They embraced it all. Indeed, why wouldn’t they? There was finally an expectation that they could be just like anyone else.

Maajid Nawaz is an author and the founding chairman of Quilliam

More common sense from Maajid Nawaz:

 We need to pull up Islamism by its roots

Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz

Published in the Times on 24/3/16

Police and security services have their role but we have to stop radicalisation in the first place

There is little room for doubt that Europe is in the midst of something akin to a jihadist guerrilla war. Up to 100 fighters have left for Iraq and Syria from Brussels alone. Belgium is in danger of becoming the new “Londonistan”.

The political climate that is unfolding has long been demanded by al-Qaeda ideologues. A leading al-Qaeda strategist, Abu Musab al-Suri, who used to live in London, called for this insurgency in Europe more than a decade ago. In his book Call for an International Islamic Resistance al-Suri outlined the benefits of provoking civil war between Muslims and non-Muslims so that communities begin to self-segregate for their own protection. Jihadists believed that by stirring up religious tension people would retreat into their own safe spaces as they inevitably started to identify other citizens primarily by their religion to test where their loyalties lie.

The inevitable backlash in the West against terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims — the mutual religious mistrust that this would breed, the war-weary isolationism from the Middle East that it would create among policymakers and the retreat into populist identity politics across society — could only ever serve those who wished to divide the world into Muslim and non-Muslim zones. As we Muslims are a minority in the West al-Qaeda sought to force us to flee any populist backlash. Jihadists wanted the world to be so angry with Muslims that whether we intended it or not we would come to be seen primarily as Muslims first. Islamist propaganda ensured that many Muslims had already adopted this medieval mode of identification. Once the seeds of division were sown the only sanctuary left to Muslims would be the jihadists’ “caliphate”.

Bin Laden foresaw all this. The only snag in al-Qaeda’s plan has been Islamic State, which audaciously snatched the mantle of the caliphate after Bin Laden’s death. Everything else has so far gone according to the jihadist grand strategy.

More attacks this year are highly likely. Intelligence agencies are overwhelmed across Europe. In the UK the security services are inundated with work. They fear the inevitable: multiple terrorist attacks on British soil. Not if but when this happens it will trigger political pressure and a nationalist backlash against Muslims and our membership of the European Union and against immigration more generally. Politicians will start to take tougher measures to show that they are doing something or they will lose elections to those who promise to take a harder line. We must not allow fear to affect or sway the way we intend to vote.

This struggle is first and foremost an ideological one before it is a military one. Many on the liberal left used to deny that Islamist extremism existed. Then they took to limiting the problem to “violent extremism” only, using nauseating and insipid phrases such as “al-Qaeda-inspired extremism” to refer to what was clearly an ideology. No, it was not al-Qaeda that “inspired extremism”; it was extremism that inspired al-Qaeda.

Vague platitudes that this has nothing to do with Islam are as unhelpful as saying that this is what Islam is all about. Extremism certainly has something to do with Islam. We must accept that the world is in the midst of a generational struggle to distinguish the faith from Islamism, a political ideology that seeks to impose itself on society and its violent arm of jihadism. The task ahead of us is to name this ideology, isolate it and then discredit it while supporting those who seek to reform Islam today.

We must reassert our hard-earned enlightenment values as the antidote to rising theocratic dogma within our communities. For if Islamists are to fail in their strategy it is paramount that we reach across religious and cultural differences and build alliances around our common values. It is Islamists who seek to convince us Muslims to identify by our religion first. But we must be citizens first and foremost, standing for secularism.

Just as one need not be gay to challenge homophobia one need not be Muslim to challenge theocracy. Despite its obvious imperfections, the UK Prevent strategy aspires to bring communities together in this way, though it is clearly struggling. The Dutch model also recognises the importance of an approach rooted in unifying communities along secular lines to challenge theocratic thinking. This approach reframes the debate, pulling the rug from under the Islamists’ feet as well as undermining identity-obsessed populists riding the current wave of fear, who are also dividing us all along religious lines.

The world is not divided between Muslims and non-Muslims but between those who believe in open societies and those who believe in closed ones. Muslims and non-Muslims sit on both sides of this fence. All of us together are responsible for challenging intolerant, theocratic thinking before it spills over to violence. All of us together are responsible for refusing to allow religion to become the primary bond that divides us from “the other”. Religious spheres of influence is a notion the world rightly left behind in the medieval era.

Maajid Nawaz is founding chairman of Quilliam and author of Radical: My Journey from Islamic Extremism to a Democratic Awakening

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – A Voice That Should Be Heard

ayaan-hirsi-ali-005

I have been following the work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali for over a decade. She has been writing about Islam and the rise of Islamic Extremism extremely eloquently and forcefully since 9/11. The excellent collection of essays ‘The Caged Virgin – An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam’ 2006 and her autobiography ‘Infidel – My Life’ 2007 has recently been joined by her searing analysis of Islam, extremism and the western misunderstanding of it: ‘Heretic – Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now’ 2015.

She is one of a growing number of modern, rational commentators on these issues that, crucially, have a muslim background and heritage and as such have immensely more traction in the muslim world than the numerous analysts from the West. It is crucial that she, and others such as  Maajid Nawaz here in the UK, are given support and visibility from the media and political class to increase the profile of the modern muslim worldview. It is wonderful that she has an occasional column in the Sunday Times and her latest article is reproduced below. She has thrown her weight behind David Cameron’s unfolding rhetoric on the issue but, like many of us, is awaiting with bated breath to see whether the follow through on policy has any real substance and is able to stand up to what will be a withering campaign of moral outrage from the postmodern/left wing intelligentsia.

(Note: For a complimentary analysis from another modern muslim it is recommended that the article below should be read in conjunction with the analysis of ISIS posted here)

A few more ingredients and the PM’s recipe for beating Islamism is ready

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Published: 11 October 2015

TWO wonderful things happened last week to advance the cause to which I have dedicated the past 14 years of my life. First, I heard a British Muslim woman — Nadiya Hussain — say these words after winning The Great British Bake Off: “I am never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I am never going to say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can. And I will.”

Then I heard David Cameron say in his party conference speech that he would “confront — and I mean really confront — extremism . . . [a] diseased view of the world [which] has become an epidemic — infecting minds from the mosques of Mogadishu to the bedrooms of Birmingham”.

Two breaths of fresh air. For, make no mistake, if the extremists had their way, a Muslim woman such as Hussain would never be allowed to appear on television and to express herself in the terms she used. Her face would be covered. She would be behind closed doors. She certainly wouldn’t be hugging her fellow competitors and crying for joy. For such behaviour is seen by extremists as bringing dishonour on her family and her faith.

Since 2001 I have followed the spread of this kind of extremism in Europe. I have followed with almost as much concern the lacklustre response of governments to this lethal threat.

Although things seem calm on the surface, when one walks through the streets of big cities such as London, Berlin and Paris one can sense that something is terribly off. There’s a palpable tension. The growth of Muslim populations has been gradual, as has their penetration by extremist organisations. The difficulties of integrating immigrants into European economies and societies have only slowly become apparent. But this year Europe’s political elites feel suddenly overwhelmed by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants — most of them young Muslim men — when they were already struggling to keep a lid on the rise of extreme right-wing political movements and parties.

Many European voters, and not only on the right of the political spectrum, feel let down by their leaders. This despondency is largely due to the reluctance — in some cases adamant refusal — of leaders to address honestly the challenges of Muslim immigration and integration into the host societies. Platitudes on the benefits of multiculturalism and accusations of xenophobia have done nothing to mitigate what has now become one of the burning issues of our time.

It will probably take some time before we witness a reversal in the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet there is at last a sign of hope that things may change for the better. This sign of hope comes from Britain. Not only do we have a new national heroine in a Muslim woman who refuses to be constrained by antiquated rules designed to make women subservient; we also have, in David Cameron, the first western leader willing to take the risk of tackling Islamic extremism head-on.

Shortly before the election, Cameron called Islamic extremism “a poisonous ideology” that justified “the most sickening barbarism and brutality”, and pledged to come down hard on organisations that “stay just within the law but still spread poisonous hatred”. By contrast Ed Miliband promised to make “Islamophobia” an “aggravated crime” — as if that were the more serious problem.

The fact that Cameron won the general election, even if the issue was not a dominant one in the campaign, suggests that when an establishment leader addresses Islamic extremism with courage and clarity, voters respond favourably.

Five months after his election victory, Cameron and his cabinet appear close to delivering. In his speech to the Tory party conference last week he promised to “tear up the narrative that says Muslims are persecuted and the West deserves what it gets”; to take on extremism “in all its forms, the violent and non-violent”; to tackle segregation; to zoom in on schools that incubate extremism, even shutting them down; and to clamp down on the terrible practices of forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), promising to prosecute those who perpetrate them.

This is the right way to go and I applaud it. But let me now add the principles that Cameron should put at the heart of his strategy.

First, it’s important to give the problem its real name. Islamic extremism concerns specific beliefs, attitudes and behaviours embedded in the political system of Islam. In his speech Cameron did not refer to Islamic extremism as such, even though he discussed extremist madrasahs, the terrorist group Isis and jihad. Yet leading political figures in the United Arab Emirates now publicly refer to “Islamic extremism” as “the most destabilising and dangerous global force since fascism”.

Second, by focusing on the problematic aspects of Islam, one can learn to distinguish between those aspects of Islam that are compatible with a liberal society and those that are not. It is then possible to form genuine partnerships with Muslims who as individuals and as groups have values that are aligned with British values, British laws and British norms.

Third, if the links between Islam and extremism are made clear, one can develop tools to help identify, predict and prevent extremism. Take a Muslim-majority neighbourhood where men and women mix freely and where they have friendly relations with people of other religions or no religion. If one were suddenly to see women veiled from head to toe and men wearing long beards, demanding that the genders be segregated and pushing for a ban on alcohol, one could readily infer that extremist elements were at work there.

Fourth, good civic values need to be inculcated at school. If combating Islamic extremism is our goal, then Muslim children will have to be taught that armed jihad is bad, and why; that sharia as it exists in Saudi Arabia and used to in Afghanistan is unjust; that obeying one book and one man without question is unwise; that the principles of tolerance, freedom, democracy and equality before the law are sacrosanct; and that it is perfectly legitimate for people to have faiths other than Islam or no faith at all.

When Cameron stated in his speech that we should not just be saying what is wrong with forced marriage or FGM, but should also be emphasising what is right about Britain, I took it to mean that he is prepared to have these values inculcated into every single Briton, including Muslims.

The prime minister spoke boldly last week, and we should all welcome his words — especially British Muslims such as Nadiya Hussain who sincerely want to be both Muslim and British.

What is needed now is appropriate follow-through. To tackle this challenge effectively, many years of strong public policy measures will be necessary. Islamic extremism will not disappear spontaneously.