A couple of days ago, the British Prime Minister gave a speech about radical Islam and outlined a five year policy to deal with radicalisation. You can read the details and watch a video of the highlights on the Telegraph website if you are so inclined.
The speech hasn’t received great reviews; Cranmer, it typical robust form said:
He spoke of the United Kingdom as “a successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy”; not, it must be noted, as a successful multicultural one. But he was concerningly vacuous in his grasp (or lack thereof) of a basic understanding of religion. Either he eschews his spiritual advisers, or he never had any.
Peter Oborne, formerly of the Telegraph made the following comments in an excellent piece:
This message has been reinforced by David Cameron’s systemic failure to pay serious attention to mainstream Muslim voices. Incredible to relate, he has entered a mosque only once during the five years of his premiership. This is a wretched record from a prime minister who has repeatedly claimed that he cherishes British minorities.
Both Cranmer and Peter Oborne have good things to say about the rather unpleasant ramifications and lacunae in the Prime Minister’s speech. However, I’d like to focus on his lack of understanding of Islam. I came across this excellent quote in Summoned from the Margin the autobiography of Lamin Sanneh (I’ll review it in a day or two).
… Islam constitutes a radical intellectual challenge to the West, not by virtue of any overt offensive in particular, but by virtue of the West’s own blind spot on religion. If and when the challenge became overt, a naive West might think a muscular military response, modulated with economic inducement, would be all it would take to dispose of the problem, showing how the religious blind spot can induce obsessive behaviour.
You cannot respond sensibly to an issue if you do not understand it; British policy makers are spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with some of the most pressing challenges we face in today’s world.