Monday, 5 June 2017

Salafist influence

Since a media release from Tom Brake, there have been two bombings in Kabul costing at least 100 lives and an atrocity in London, which took seven. Innocents, including women and children, were the targets of terrorists driven by an extreme view of Islam which has its roots in the Arabian desert. Mrs May had a chance to make a statesmanlike statement in response, without breaching the voluntary moratorium on national political campaigning. She failed both tests and also failed to acknowledge the source of our troubles, as Tim Farron has pointed out.

Some history:
The then Prime Minister David Cameron announced a review of foreign funding of extremism in the UK in December 2015, following calls for a review by Liberal Democrats in exchange for support of airstrikes against Daesh in Syria. ("As part of this, I can announce today that we will establish a comprehensive review to root out any remaining funding of extremism within the UK. This will examine specifically the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, including any overseas sources. It will report to myself and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary next spring." David Cameron, House of Commons, 2 December 2015).

Amber Rudd last week suggested that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are good for British industry during the BBC Debate in Cambridge. When challenged over arms sales to the Saudi regime, she responded: “I will make no apology for being a government that wants to defend this country. We will make sure that our defence budget is well-funded and we will do that by having a strong economy and make sure we can do that by having a strong industry.” (BBC Debate, 31st May 2017).

Tim reacted with an open letter to the prime minister, of which these are the main paragraphs:

As you will no doubt remember, in December 2015, David Cameron promised an enquiry into foreign funding of extremism in the UK. As Home Secretary at the time, your department was one of those leading on the report.

Eighteen months later, and following two horrific terrorist attacks by British-born citizens, that report still remains incomplete and unpublished. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hard-line Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.

Now is not the time to brush this under the carpet once more.

You will agree with me that the protection of our country, of the British people, is the most important job of any government. Certainly, more important than potential trade deals with questionable regimes, which appear to be the only explanation for your reticence.

When will this report be finished and published? And what steps do​ you propose to take to address one of the root causes of violent extremism in the UK?

But the malign Salafist influence spreads wider than the UK. The self-destructive Syrian uprising which led to Da'esh and the virtual destruction of the ancient Syriac Christian and Yazidi communities came on the back of Saudi money. Terror groups have sprung up wherever Islam has spread, attacking preferentially Shi'a Muslim and Christians. The unholy deals which were struck between US interests and the kingdom of Saud back in the 1930s and 1940s have had terrible repercussions.

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