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Daily Telegraph
12 March 2009

Stop pandering to enemies of our way of life

Radical Muslims get special treatment, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

The Government's neurotic placating of Islamists has not yet led to the censorship of tabloids for giving vent to occasional outrage. "Hate for Heroes: Muslims in vile demo", declared yesterday's Sun, rightly furious that in Luton 15 or so youths had screamed "terrorists" at a homecoming parade of the Royal Anglia's 2nd Battalion and waved banners calling the soldiers baby-killers and butchers. Other newspapers showed a group of watching women enveloped in abayas and niqabs.

In some ways the silent women were the more potent image of what disturbs readers of broadsheets as well as tabloids, their dress providing an in-your-face statement that they consider themselves proudly separate from the rest of us.

That the police arrested only counter-demonstrators will increase the average Joe's belief that radical Muslims have reason to think of themselves as not only separate but privileged. "I am worried at how Bedfordshire police allowed this type of protest with offensive banners to take place," said Margaret Moran, the Labour MP for Luton South. "It seems to me that this amounted to huge provocation and was potentially racially divisive."

She's right, of course, but she must know that in agreeing in advance to what was bound to be an offensive protest, the police were only following what they believe to be government policy: don't upset radical Muslims in case they blow us up. Luton has around 20,000 Muslims and is a black spot for jihadism. The police conciliate the vociferous in the hope they won't get so cross that they bomb the airport.

Fear is the only reason that Muslim groups receive special treatment. Why else would the representatives of around two million people have money and time lavished on them in such an obscenely disproportionate way, while no one much bothers about the peaceable Hindus? And why else would the Government throw £90 million at PVE (Preventing Violent Extremism) – an unaccountable, contradictory, bureaucratically convoluted counter-terrorism initiative that has the authorities snuggle up to homophobic, misogynistic West-haters, just so long as they don't actually use violence?

The whole mess was highlighted this week in the Policy Exchange report Choosing Our Friends Wisely, which catalogues how the Government has empowered reactionaries, marginalised moderates and driven councils and police into bed with enemies of our way of life. Due diligence has been even more lacking here than for Lloyds TSB and HBOS.

"A new generation is being radicalised, sometimes with the very funds that are supposed to be countering radicalisation," say the report's authors, Shiraz Maher, himself a former radical, and Martyn Frampton. For example, Tower Hamlets council awarded a substantial grant to the Cordoba Foundation, an Islamist pressure group, which in turn offered a platform to the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which promotes the message that democracy is forbidden in Islam.

As Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly came to realise that government policy towards Muslims was counter-productive. What is necessary, she says in the foreword to this report, is to stop pandering, to give incentives for good behaviour and disincentives for bad, and to defend the Western values shared by many British Muslims. She has a special commendation for Hazel Blears, who almost alone in the Cabinet is standing up to Jack Straw in the interests of national unity, common sense and morality. Moderate Muslims, embarrassed daily by their so-called community leaders, deserve a total change of direction in government policy.

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Ruth Dudley Edwards


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