And the real cause of Islamic radicalism is…?

Popular opinion agrees that Islamism is evil with the problem rooted in an “ideology”. While this is true as far as it goes, Baroness Sayedda Warsi points to a twist. In her new book – ‘The Enemy Within – a tale of Muslim Britain’ – Lady Warsi says the root-cause lies elsewhere – so how are those roots feeding people into the evil ideology? 

I first met 46 year-old Sayedda Warsi at a Westminster gathering where we were both speaking at the same gathering of politicians. We got on well and I found her to be a down-to-earth, fair-minded and straightforward Yorkshire lady. Born into a Bradford family of Pakistani Muslim background, she became a defence lawyer, willing to say publically how much she appreciates what the “good” Christians are doing in many places, including to Muslims.

With regard to ‘home-grown’ terrorism, Sayedda Warsi argues we are living with a ‘dangerous misunderstanding’ about ‘who and what is threatening us’ – that our fears are misplaced. She sees recent government thinking (especially that influenced by Michael Gove) as influencing David Cameron to a more strident position about Muslims which has done more harm than good.

Warsi is angry at the way Muslims have been systematically targeted and blamed for atrocities carried out by “terrorists” claiming to act in the name of Islam. She says: ‘Just because you use something to justify your violent position doesn’t mean that’s what [actually] motivates you.’

For example, the attack at the Paris Orly Airport where Ziyad Ben Belgacem was shot dead after grabbing a soldier’s gun shouting: “I’m here to die for Allah!” But contrary to appearances he was found to be ‘high’ on drugs and drink; ‘not exactly a very devout Muslim’ says Warsi; and this is the point. Warsi points out that: ‘Since the 7/7 atrocity on the London transport system, no other attacks in Britain have been carried out by someone born into the Muslim faith’.

Warsi points to the hidden reality that people who “convert” to Islam seem to do so to gain credibility and thereby to become eligible to be admitted to the radicalised ideology. Such people often have ‘personal issues’ and are ‘people who are a bit of a loser and feel they have little going for them, and so they think to themselves ‘I’ll go off and join a big gang’.

This seems to be confirmed by behavioural scientists at MI5 who found that the radicalised who go on to commit acts of violence, are more likely to be mentally ill and/or criminal types with previous convictions; they are unable to get (or keep) a job. To such people the groups with ideologies such as ISIS offer money and status and a cause.

Warsi believes the government’s controversial Prevent Strategy is flawed due to being ‘bizarrely’ misguided when it tends to target young Muslims; while so many terrorists actually come from other backgrounds and are “convert” to the jihadist understanding of Islam. A prime example was Khalid Masood, the Westminster car driver who had a life-long chip on his shoulder about his ethnicity.

The bottom line for Warsi is the need to remember that:

‘All religions are a broad church and all faiths have their fair share of crazies.  We need a genuine look at what it is that drives radicalisation, rather than the catch-all [and sometimes convenient] category of “ideology”.’

Warsi is clear that it is only a minority of British Muslims who hold to the “rejectionist Islamist view”. Speaking about politicians such as Michael Gove she said: “Islamophobia is a bigotry blind-spot for us”. By this I understand her to mean that bigotry can make us lazy in our search for how something works that is distasteful to us.

So we can identify the unseen dark spiritual forces as being at the heart of Islamist ideology, but we must not miss the tributaries which feed into the moral and spiritual sewer. If we do so we could simply tip us into a more subtle form of “Islamophobia”, rather than arriving at a considered analysis of the issue.

After describing the demonic subterranean seam of “Islamism”, perhaps it’s time to think again about how people (often not Muslim-born) are slipping into it.

Source: Article My fears of jihadism and Gove, by Rob Hastings, The Times, Tue 3 April, p34-35

Steve Bell is the Director of Ministries at Interserve GB & Ireland. A mission leader, analyst, trainer and author, Steve is a recognised cross-cultural communicator with 35 years’ experience in 100 countries. Steve is author of Friendship First, Grace for Muslims and Gospel for Muslims and co-edited Between Naivety & Hostility. Steve is married to Julia, a senior teacher and they are “owned” by a mentally deranged Siamese cat called Izzy.