Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Extremist Worm In The Bud

Dispatches, From Jail to Jihad, was more than a brave attempt to expose the alleged radicalisation of young Muslim men in prisons and London's urban gangs. It exposed the worm in the bud. 

The Channel 4 programme, screened last night, raised fundemental questions about what has gone wrong in our society and how to tackle this problem in the country as a whole.

Radical Islam is a political ideology with God attached. It has been around for centuries but only emerged in the UK in the last ten years or so. It has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with race and everything to do with political power. 

It has been allowed to thrive in this country because of misguided government policies and because people are just scared to speak out. Not because of any reprisals but because of the culture that's been created. 

The culture, obsessed with political correctness, misguided human rights issues, abuses of true asylum and misunderstood multiculturalism, has just made things worse. 

And people do not speak out, in case they are hauled up by the authorities for causing offence, stifling even genuine debate. 

Who or what are they supposed to be offending? There is no excuse for offending someone's religion or race, whether they are Christian, Jew or Muslim. 

But this is about political power and influence. Here, the freedom to speak out against a political view used to be a cherished right. It's what made this country healthy. 

Meanwhile, lurking in the background behind the veils and beards are the political activists - the 'preacher men' and recruiters and an army of human rights lawyers who've been allowed to flourish, skilled at getting round the mish-mash of legislation and appeals procedures. 

The authorities need a political and legal will to act, something which is sadly lacking at the moment.

It is time to take the worm in the bud and nip it in the bud. And that means making deportation quicker, easier and removing some of the legal barriers and loopholes which prevent deportation. 

In addition it should be recognised that extremists are very skilled at playing the system, a cat and mouse game and at present they can use the law and appeals procedure to wriggle out of deportation for as long as they can. 

This involves only a small minority of foreign nationals and people who have sneaked into the UK and craftily gained UK citizenship. Those radical foreign nationals who have gained UK citizenship should also have their citizenship revoked. Radicals at present locked up for minor crimes should also be deported. 

No doubt, they and their followers will try to whip up support, claim it's an outrage, continue their campaign of hatred and try to play the islamaphobic card. But anyone deported can still appeal, but that would have to be made from their country of residence. And they could still apply for short term visas to visit. 

To do this, the law and appeal process needs to be changed drastically, particularly regarding the Human Rights Act, Asylum and EU rules. 

This is difficult for the government because it would mean New Labour would have to admit that its ten years of half-baked laws and policies have only added to the problem and is beginning to affect a generation of people born and bred in this country. 

Meanwhile the agency responsible for deportation, the Home Office's Borders and Immigration Agency remains bogged down with red-tape, poorly resourced and staffed.

The last time Channel 4's Dispatches tried to raise this issue in mosques it was jumped on by West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Both the police and the CPS had to admit later that they got it wrong and apologised. 

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