Yesterday, in response to the Rouen murder of a Christian priest by 2 men claiming allegiance to ISIS or Da'esh, Paul Weston, leader of far right political party Liberty GB posted a blog piece titled " Can multicultural Europe avoid World War 3?" He concluded:
"Civil war, world war, will not start tomorrow. But it will start within a decade or two. And we are only in 2016…..what will Europe look like in 2050? 2075? 2100? A faithless, decadent, demographically dying people who believe in nothing but tolerance and diversity is up against a fanatically faithful, demographically exploding, austere, supremacist people who believe the West must submit before them…."
i disagree with him totally, as I made clear in a Twitter post to which Weston and others have responded in significant volume.
Lets be clear. Weston and many others of what is sometimes called the counter-jihad community are not just concerned at civil war or worse, but are as actively committed to stir it as are the terrorists claiming to represent Islam. They need calling out on that, and their narrative must be challenged at every turn.
Weston's thoughts are not new. He and his fellow travellers including EDL Founder Stephen Lennon had plans to use an exhibition of cartoons of the prophet exposed almost exactly a year ago by Hope not Hate. The exhibition mercifully didn't come off, but their overarching narrative clearly remains, and their commitment to it as strong as ever.
The counter jihad movement anticipate an inevitable clash of civilisations, especially expecting war between Muslims and Christian cultures and faiths. The Clash of Civilizations theory was proposed in 1993 by Samuel Huntigdon. (See the article in Wikipedia here or read the 1993 paper by Samuel Huntingdon.). Huntingdon suggested that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. It became not only a theory but the game plan of many of the neo-conservatives that guided the foreign policy during George W Bush’s US presidency (2000-2008), and especially the thinking behind the “war on terror.”
The consistent message of the counter-jihadists is that Islam is inconsistent with Western culture, or its Christian foundations. That the type of Islam reresented by ISIS Da'esh is the true Islam. That violent Jihad is the only legitimate interaction of Islam with the west. That Christians together with the secular western culture, need to open their eyes, wake up and get real. That the only legitimate response is war with all Islam. That to do anything else is to give away all that is legitimately ours. (All ideas represented by Weston and friends twitter responses to me in the 24 hours after my tweet.)
i disagree with their understanding of Islam. It is not the faith of the Muslims I encounter day by day in Luton. I've met a few -who would echo those views, but they were members of the banned group al-Muhajiroun when a number of them used to frequent our streets. Their presence, and their understanding has been consistently opposed by the Luton Muslim community and the rest of us for many many years. No, the overwhelming majority of Muslims here, or anywhere else for that matter oppose hatred and violence in the name of their faith as much as I do. I find it odd that the counter-jihadist expect me to believe their understanding of Islam and the Qu'ran more than that of Muslims. I go to a person of faith to learn of their faith!. I'd expect that of People wanting to understand Christianity, and I see no reason to expect differently of Muslims. **
But actually, while that is all important, I disagree with them primarily because as a Christiam I'm not told to go out to fight and kill those who disagree with me. I wrote of that a little yesterday, in a transcript of my reflections at a service of peace and reconciliation at St Mary's Luton where I'm based. I talk about a way of living and working I've been working at here for the past seven and more years. All I can say is it works. It wins me friends, not because I've sold out my faith, but precisely because I'm living my faith! Acts of kindness to my Muslim friends are responded to by acts of kindness from them to me. We are drawn closer together. And as others do the same things change.
As the violence and death sponsored by ISIS Da'esh and their followers increases we face a choice. Will we allow the narrative of the inevitable conflict of Islam and Christianity, of the western lifestyle with Islam, push us further and further apart? Or will we respond as Jesus told us to, and seek to find the grace and strength to love our enemies?
My choice is clear. I oppose Paul Westons model of unavoidable civil.war. Totally.
** The typical argument here us to claim that Islam allows unfettered taqiyya , lying in order to promote their faith. This is regularly paraded as a reason not to believe anything they say. However the idea of taqiyya is very limited in Islam and unknown by most.