‘The real moral of poor Mrs Gibbons’s ordeal’

Michael Burleigh“Doubtless the safe return of Ms Gibbons from a sinister and genocidal rogue regime, which from 1992-1996 hosted Osama bin Laden, will be spun as a great triumph for multicultural diplomacy…. The true moral of the affair is that we are dealing with a concerted onslaught on our values by people whose barbarism is evident to anyone with eyes to see it but which has effectively been ruled out of polite usage by government and the security services who witter on abstractly about ‘ideas’ and ‘ideology’ as if they have no apparent connection with one religion.

“Certainly political Islamism owes something to secular political ideologies, notably those sects which claim sole monopoly of the truth and which believe in purifying violence but it is also embedded within the religion whose concepts and language it uses…. If there is any hope, it is that the small voices of a moderate Islam will multiply against the self-appointed bullying fanatics who draw their inspiration from the most extreme exemplars in Islam’s history. But we can’t easily establish what ‘distorts’ or ‘misrepresents’ Islam since any discussion is liable to have lethal consequences – beyond the chill draught that Islamism exudes wherever it establishes a presence.”

Michael Burleigh in the Evening Standard, 4 December 2007