What to do about Islamic Terrorism

(This excerpt was published in The Spectator 16th July 2005. The full letter is below)

After the bombs

Words of condemnation are not enough. Here are a couple of suggestions about how to act after the bombings of last week.

First, we must fight back by stepping up the war in Iraq. If the insurgents win, it will embolden terrorists throughout the Middle East, since it will demonstrate that the most powerful nations on earth cannot stop a relatively small number of radical Muslims. But if we win, it will cause the Middle East itself to turn towards representative government and Western values. Nothing is more important for future world security.

Second, we must encourage Muslims in this country to stand up for freedom. What about a new wristband campaign — Make Terrorism History — that would cost them little to join and would isolate dissenters? The proceeds could go to a new satellite channel which would broadcast British Muslims’ ideas about Western values to the Middle East.

This week’s arrests will not guarantee our freedom. This is a battle of ideology, of freedom versus fundamentalism, which we can only win by championing our ideas, and by showing freedom-haters the logical consequence of theirs — the ultimate loss of freedom: death.

Henry Afton

London SW11


What to do about Terrorism

Sir,

Words of condemnation are not enough. Here are my suggestions for how to act after the bombings of last week.

1. Fight back. Step up the war in Iraq. If the insurgents win it will embolden terrorists throughout the Middle East since it will demonstrate that the most powerful nations on earth cannot stop a relatively small number of radical Muslims. But if we win, it will cause the Middle East itself to turn towards representative government and Western values. Nothing is more important for future world security.

2. State our values clearly. "Let's carry on our way of life" is not a rallying cry. Unqualified it could apply to any country, even Nazi Germany. We need to state what essential aspect of our way of life is worth fighting for: freedom. The freedom to choose how to live our lives, including how we work, dress, worship and love, all of which the terrorists would like controlled by a Muslim state. That fact that people make different choices in their lives does not equate to moral relativism. Rather freedom to choose is the prerequisite for any moral action.

3. Encourage Muslims in this country to stand up for Freedom. Suggest they close their Mosques one day in protest at the association of the terrorists with Islam. And what about a new wristband campaign that would cost them little to join and would isolate dissenters: Make Terrorism History. The proceeds could go to a new satellite channel which broadcasts British Muslim's ideas on Western values to the Middle East.

4. Stop supporting our enemies. Giving money to Palestinian terrorists will only pay for more bombs and bullets to destroy us and our ally Israel. Becoming a secular freedom loving state costs nothing, only a change of ideas, and bribery does not really change anyone's mind.

5. Confront the regimes that encourage Islamic fundamentalism. These are where the terrorists gain their ideas and justification, particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia. State endorsed education and media condemn the West and demand attacks against it. Let's silence these fountains of evil with whatever measures are necessary, from sanctions to air raids. If any civilians detract from their state's position and wish to avoid our wrath, give them time to flee or to show us their support.

6. Tell us about the thwarted attempts on our lives. Rather than keep us in the dark about the number of threats to London, the authorities here should publish who has been trying to kill us so that we may be better warned and also full of the indignation necessary to support effective action. Otherwise it's as if in World War Two, the people were given no news of our victories, only our defeats.

Catching the Islamic-inspired murderers of last week will not guarantee our freedom. This is a battle of ideology, of Freedom versus Fundamentalism, which we can only win by championing our ideas, and by showing Freedom-haters the logical consequence of theirs - the ultimate loss of freedom: death.

Sincerely,

Henry Afton