BY ASGHAR KHAN
There are some in the British Muslim community and some on the Left who have been angered by the Defence Secretary’s statement to the Daily Mail this week. Gavin Williamson said: “A dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain.” He told the newspaper: “I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back to this country. We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat.”
Williamson’s hard-line approach is at odds with the view of terror watchdog, Max Hill QC, who has said some jihadis should be allowed to return home.
I am a British Muslim. What do I think?
I do not deny that ISIS is hateful and dangerous to anyone who does not share their narrow vision for society. Nor do I deny that there are genuine Muslims who take their inspiration from the Koran.
However, I know Muslims who read that same Koran and live very differently. These Muslims, members of my community, have as much to fear from ISIS as I do. And I believe that Gavin Williamson was speaking for the vast majority of British Muslims when he said that he’d prefer returning ISIS terrorists killed outside of the UK rather than letting them home to cause violence among us.
It’s all too easy to claim, like Britain First or other angry mobs, that all British Muslims are the same. That when it boils down to it, we’re with Muslims however bad they are rather than with the British state.
This is wrong.
Are all Christians the same?
The KKK is the best known and perhaps the most vicious of the white supremacist organisations that are again becoming prominent in America today. I understand that many of them think of themselves as Christian and take their inspiration from the Bible. I do not deny that they are genuine Christians. I deny that they represent what the religion, Christianity, is all about. Christians do not have to abandon their religion because of this group’s perverse reading of the scriptures.
Should I abandon my religion because of ISIS’ perverse reading of Islamic scriptures?
Imagine how a Muslim feels when Donald Trump lumps all Muslims together with ISIS in one undifferentiated mass. The “truth about Islam” is that this religion, like Christianity and Buddhism, or even Communism for that matter, has splintered into numerous subgroups, some of which are deeply antagonistic to each other. Very few Muslims are political Muslims. Faith for them is a private matter and not one worth proselytising for or annoying others with.
ISIS would like nothing better than for us to frame our struggle with them as a war against Islam. Really, it is not.
ISIS expect Western countries’ laws to give them an easy ride when they come home. This is a trap that Western countries must not fall into when legislating against what are humans who became inhuman when they became – and instructed kids to become – human bombs.
Gavin Williamson should be supported in his statement by all Muslims in Britain today. Those who feel unable to support his statement should consider whether they are living in the right country. Williamson should demand that Max Hill’s policy of allowing returning ISIS fighters to not be prosecuted not be followed.
ISIS need to be wiped out. For all our sakes.
Guest Writer Asghar Khan was educated at the University of London and works in the City of London as a bond trader. He grew up in Coventry and lives with his family in East London.