The radicalisation of Muslims is the bastard child of Islam. The elephant in the room we refuse to talk about. The product of decades of neglect by politicians too scared to address the issue, and Islamic leaders too weak to accept it even exists.
Islamic fundamentalists will now use anything at their disposal to maximise harm against the kaffir, the infidel. The kaffir being the 22 concert goers. The kaffir being seven Londoners, tourists – and one Australian nurse – enjoying a night out or the poor receptionist working the night shift at the wrong place and time. The kaffir being me, for not practicing Islam as they do. They are importing the tactics of the Middle Eastern battlefields. What we once viewed in the prism of CNN and BBC half a world away, is not at our doorstep. It’s already inside.
Reactionaries will point to the obvious and simplistic answer. Halt Islamic migration. Ban Mosques. Surveil Muslims. The irony is we do not fight those attacking our values, by throwing our values away. Our shared values of freedom of religion and the rule of law, is what makes us successful.
We fix this problem by speaking openly, without fear and without hesitation. We fix this problem by uniting our community by honestly speaking about what is wrong with it. There will be arguments and disagreements, and will be uncomfortable for some.
Criticising mediaeval cultural values that have poisoned Islam shouldn’t just be defended by proponents of free speech. It should be encouraged by the fastest growing and soon, largest religion. The Islamic world was once a beacon of free thought, this is not impossible to return to.
Fixing the problem starts at home. I am lucky to have been raised by open minded, enlightened, hard-working and educated parents. I am lucky to have been raised by a mother and father who have sacrificed most of their adult life in ensuring the success of my adult life. However some Muslim Westerners don’t always have this privilege.
Parents will always be the first line of defence against these attacks. The disconnect between children who have known no life but a Western one, and parents who may not even speak English, let alone understand Western culture, is catastrophic. The real ‘clash of civilisations’ starts at home.
Children who learn their faith through Facebook and Twitter, through underground prayer rooms, led by two bit Imams who were failures at secular education, are more exposed to radical ideas.
The breakdown of communication in the family unit has led to a generation of disenfranchised and isolated teenagers and young adults. Add to that a perception of institutionalised racism, some real, some imagined, and a radicalised narrative preying on the weak. And you have a radicalised Muslim.
The basis of our society is a strong family structure. Our immigration and integration policies must reflect this. Having two generations in the same household, worlds apart is disastrous. Parents and migrants should no longer be able to defend archaic practices in the name of cultural sensitivity and political correctness.
Child marriages are never okay, nor are polygamist marriages. Neither is female genital mutilation, nor the ability to tell women she cannot work or study, for fear of her engaging in forbidden contact by men that are not blood relatives. Giving fundamentalists an inch will inevitably stretch to a mile. Our values are much more important to defend than ever.
The Muslim community need to accept the special role we have in this fight against barbarity. The deafening silence by the ‘Grand Imams’ does more to harm our community. The clear majority of Muslims in the West accept pluralist democracy. Their successes in business, politics, sports and entertainment reflect that one can be a Westerner and Muslim. However, the obvious lack of theological leadership needs to change.
Blaming foreign policy for the failures of the Islamic leadership in the West abdicates responsibility and ownership of these atrocities from those who commit them. It continues to feed into the narrative of both the Islamic extremists and the far Right that there is a war against Islam.
Islamic State is on the back foot overseas. It is overwhelmingly losing the war on the battlefields in Iraq. At first inspection this appears to be a win, but what will we do when the large number of foreign fighters return to their countries of citizenship. What will happen to their children who have been dragged into jihad, put unnecessarily in harm’s way? Governments across the world are preparing for this, but the IS social media army, will always find ways to get into the bedrooms and smartphones of the vulnerable.
What is clear from these attacks is that Islamic State is hurting. Campaigns from Western governments, their armed forces and moderate Muslims have and will continue to damage their narrative.
The attacks in Manchester, Paris, Istanbul, London and Kabul targeted what Islamic State views as the biggest threat to their social agenda. The liberalisation of society, the freedom to enjoy what one does, as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else. The foundation of our liberal democracy.
As IS loses ground these attacks may, God forbid, be more frequent. We must not allow them to divide us, nor change us. If that happens, we have well and truly lost.
Mohamed Rumman is the President of the University of Technology, Sydney Liberal Club.
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