By Tom Harris
6 November 2020
There are some very good reasons why UK ministers should have shown a far greater degree of solidarity and support for Emmanuel Macron, the president of French, when he robustly defended his country’s liberal culture against ferocious attacks from Islamist terrorists.
Photo by David Shankbone Via CC 2.0
First, it would have been the right thing to do. The very notion that law-abiding citizens should not take full advantage of their freedoms, that to tread, however cautiously, over a line that has been drawn by violent religious fanatics is somehow unacceptable even if it is legal, should be anathema to all of us. Those who claim that Samuel Paty, the Paris teacher who dared to show his pupils cartoons of Mohammed as part of a lesson on freedom of expression was in any way responsible for his dreadful fate, that his murderer somehow had less agency because of the faith he chose to follow, are adopting a dangerously regressive moral outlook.
Second, less importantly and at the risk of displaying a degree of cynicism and opportunism, it would have done Britain a great deal of good in the current Brexit negotiations to have been at the front of the queue applauding President Macron’s brave and principled words of condemnation of the terrorists and in defence of French freedoms.
And lastly (to continue the cynicism part), it would have done Boris Johnson a great deal of good domestically for him to be seen and heard condemning Islamism (note: not Islam) unequivocally. We are told that the great majority of British Muslims share the president’s antipathy to Islamism and that any such condemnation from Number 10 would be welcomed. But let’s be clear: such agreement is unnecessary. What’s right is right, however many of our citizens are made to feel uncomfortable or angry.
If anyone needed any convincing about the capacity of the woke Left to inflict real harm, if proof were needed that this obnoxious of all US imports was more than just an amusing excuse to create hilarious GIFs to distribute via social media, then the latest terrorist attacks in France have exposed its true nature.
Under the headline “Is France Fuelling Muslim Terrorism By Trying To Prevent It?”, the New York Times, that great mouthpiece of wokeness, chose to place the blame for the attack on Paty on the teacher himself, not on his attacker, quoting one academic (of course) as describing Paty’s decision to show the Mohammed cartons to his class as not conforming “to his obligation to be neutral.”
The legitimacy of Islamic signs in public space: headscarves, mosques, and minarets are increasingly seen as a rejection of western democratic values, or even worse, as a direct threat to the West. Pictured: Walter Wobmann, president of the committee "Yes for a ban of Minarets", in Egerkingen, Switzerland
In another NYT article headlined ”Muslim Countries Denounce French Response to Killing of Teacher, Urge Boycott”, Macron’s defence of secularism is described as having “opened France to criticism [in the Muslim world] that the nation’s complicated, post-colonial relationship with its six million Muslim citizens has taken an ugly turn.” I would have thought that 200 French citizens killed by Islamist terrorists in the last eight years would have been the thing to focus on, but maybe that’s just me. And if this is all about colonialism, why the spate of attacks in the last decade?
Over on the Politico website last weekend, an article by an academic (of course) headlined, “France’s dangerous religion of secularism” sought to draw some obnoxious form of moral equivalence between the Islamists and secularism, the latter of which “has its own priests (government ministers), pontiff (the president of the republic), acolytes (intellectuals) and heretics (anyone who calls for a less antagonistic attitude is rejected and described as Islamo-Leftists).”
The article, which was subsequently removed from the website after an outcry, contained the chilling line, “They should have thought more carefully about their words.” In other words, if you’re going to wear a skirt that short, love, what did you think was going to happen?
(Incidentally, it’s interesting to note how far we’ve come from the days when Leftists claimed that Britain was being targeted by Islamists because of its involvement in the invasion of Iraq, an adventure in which France refused to involve itself. We are left with the conclusion that, after all, it is western principles and morals that the terrorists despise, not just our foreign policy.)
In 2013, after two Islamist terrorists murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby and tried to decapitate him, the House of Commons went to great lengths, not to condemn Islamism in the strongest terms, but to demand measures to combat the rise of Islamophobia. This inversion of national priorities is itself a paradox: the Left spend half their time claiming that Islamist terrorism is nothing to do with mainstream Islam and the other half fretting that robust condemnation of Islamism and defence of secularism is somehow offensive and threatening to mainstream Muslims.
There can and should be no compromise on the principle of secularism and the right to freedom of expression, including the right to offend without the fear of physical reprisals. President Macron is one of the few national leaders to state this in such unequivocal terms. He deserves our thanks and our absolute support for taking a stand. Why hasn’t he received it?
Original Headline: The upswell of liberal apologism for violent Islamism is sickening
Source: The Telegraph
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