United Kingdom: How to curb Islamist extremism

Britain is at war, said Carole Malone in the Daily Mirror, “and we have to start fighting like we want to win.” After off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby was brutally hacked to death in the street in the London neighborhood of Woolwich last week, we all saw the footage of one of his killers railing about how they were taking an “eye for an eye.” Such barbarism has no defense. Yet the BBC and other broadcasters actually invited “hate preacher” Anjem Choudary—the very man who radicalized these British Muslims—on television to justify the act of terror and “peddle his vile views.” Choudary shouldn’t be on TV; he should be in jail. We must lock up the jihadist preachers and keep strict surveillance on their radical followers. British Muslim leaders condemned the attack, as they should, but they must do more. They know who the radicals in this country are, “and they have to give those people up.”

As a Muslim, I’m tired of hearing that demand to denounce terrorism, said Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent. It is bigoted to assume that all of us are guilty of complicity unless we stand up and attack the perpetrators. “I don’t recall the Irish in mainland Britain being forced into collective denunciations following IRA bomb attacks.” After the 2005 London bombings, the government tried a “very Stalinist” program called Prevent, “coercing Muslims to spy on each other.” It didn’t work. Now Prime Minister David Cameron wants to crack down on Islamist propaganda on the Internet so young Muslims can’t self-radicalize. “I agree with him but can’t see how that can be done.” More state intrusion into private lives would “be counterproductive and unacceptable in a free country.”

Cameron is right about one thing, said Rachel Sylvester in The Times. These lone-wolf terrorists should be addressed not with a global war on Islamism, but as a crime problem. Just look at how the two main suspects in the Woolwich attacks got started: “Both Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale joined London gangs and got involved in the drug-related criminal underworld, before converting to Islam and being sucked into the Islamist tribe.” Only then did Adebolajo travel to Kenya, where he was arrested for trying to join a Somali affiliate of al Qaida.

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Yet we can’t entirely ignore the broader political picture, said Joe Glenton in The Guardian. Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the passerby who engaged Adebolajo in conversation for a good 15 minutes after the murder, heroically keeping him occupied until police arrived, said that he explicitly told her he killed Rigby in retaliation for Muslims killed by British soldiers. I am a former British soldier, and I know he’s right that our troops have killed many civilians. While I deplore Adebolajo’s despicable crime, I share his “opposition to the toxic wars” our leaders are waging in Muslim lands. And so do many Britons, Muslim and Christian alike. Want to end homegrown terror? “Put an end to Britain’s involvement in the vicious foreign occupations that have again created bloodshed in London.”

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