Don’t penalise all Britons – just Muslims

“Americans are at last waking up to the threat posed by British-born Islamists…. The fact that Americans are worried is gratifying. This column was among the first to warn about the radicalization of the British Muslim community. But there is a risk that, having ignored the danger hitherto, Americans may now overreact by penalizing all Britons, not just the minority who really do threaten security.

“It is true that opinion polls show that a significant proportion of British Muslims have at least some sympathy for jihadist extremism, and that even their leaders are unwise or unscrupulous enough to use the threat of terrorism to put pressure on Tony Blair to abandon his support for America and Israel. It is also true, however, that the overwhelming majority of non-Muslim Britons are just as hostile to Islamist terrorism as Americans.

“Even more significantly, the British – like the Americans – are now much more concerned about Islam than was the case five years ago. They no longer believe the assurances of ‘moderate’ Muslim leaders or their non-Muslim apologists that Islam is a religion of peace. People are much better informed and understand that there is a real problem about Islamic theology, which is constantly used to justify jihad against America, Britain and Israel, while suicide ‘martyrs’ are glorified.

“About half of all Britons now see Islam as such, not merely its most extreme versions, as a potential threat to their way of life – not before time. It is not only the war on terror that has to be won; there is a culture war, too. This involves resisting the encroachments of aggressive multiculturalism, which acts as a Trojan horse for Muslim demands to live under Shariah law or to censor legitimate criticism or comment.”

Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun, 31 August 2006