It is important to counter extremist ideas including those that are fascist, Stalinist or racist but we all know that Prevent’s real job is to tackle Islamist radicalism. Ideologies should not be banned or outlawed but they should be countered effectively, especially when they lead to criminality or terrorism.
The main terrorism that we face today is related to Islam. And the problem behind Islamist terrorism is the difficulty of certain forms of Islam in compromising with modernity, and the failure of many Muslims to come to terms with being a minority in a world that largely regards religious belief and piety as a purely private matter.
But many Muslim leaders seem surprised when questions about terrorism are put to them. These terrorists are killers and Islam bans killing therefore, they reason, the terrorists cannot be Muslims. But that is to duck the problem.
If Muslims do not tackle the issue of how terrorism arises out of the Muslim community and is fed by certain crucial theological ideas, then the ideology will never be effectively challenged. There is a sort of collective brushing under the carpet in the Muslim community that is deeply unhelpful to all of us.
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