17 February 2009

Countering terrorism?

According to the BBC (here), the government is planning a major shift in its counter-terrorism strategy:

Conservative Muslims who teach that Islam is incompatible with Western democracy will be challenged as part of a new approach . . . A senior Whitehall source said that Muslim leaders who urge separation will be isolated and publicly rejected. He also said this would occur even if their comments fell within the law. This will include those who argue that Muslims should not vote and that homosexuals should be condemned on religious grounds.

I must admit this intriguing snippet from the BBC report rings alarm bells for me. Is it about defending Western democracy or Western liberal values? (In the space of three sentences the former has elided into the latter.) Will the strategy target Muslims alone or will it also target others who dare to criticize Western liberal values (such as orthodox Jews, traditionalist Christians, ultra right-wing politicians and academics, or for that matter unreconstructed communists)? What price freedom of speech if the government is going to encourage the isolation and public rejection of individuals whose criticisms fall within the law rather than answer those criticisms in robust public debate? I do hope the strategy is thought through carefully before implementation.

1 comment:

Eamonn said...

This is deeply worrying. I don't know whether such thinking informed government security policy in Northern Ireland, but if it had, it would have meant that anyone who advocated a united Ireland would have been targeted, even if they had repudiated the methods of the IRA.