Preaching Extremism with Impunity

Happenings in France:

A mosque in the eastern suburbs of Paris was ordered closed on Tuesday because authorities deemed it “a threat to security”.
The mosque, located in Torcy in the Seine-et-Marne department, was deemed by authorities to be “a threat to public order”.
Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said the mosque had “become a place where radical ideology was advocated”.
“Some of the preaching was openly hostile to France’s laws and was inciting hate to other religious communities, primarily Shia Muslims and Jews.”
He added that there was a risk of “a breeding ground that threatened security and public order” in France.
In the official police order for closure, Imams were said to have “legitimized armed jihad” over the past two years, “calling on members to pray for jihadists to destroy the enemies of Islam in France and around the world”.

I have a Muslim friend living in a European capital, and I occasionally meet him and speak about the issue of extremism being preached in mosques across Europe. He hails from an Arabic-speaking country where mosques are carefully watched by the authorities and Imams are licensed by the state.

He told me he once went to a mosque in the city where he now lives and was amazed, absolutely staggered, to find extremism being openly preached and leaflets being handed out in support of jihadists in Syria and Iraq. He said back in his home country this wouldn’t have been tolerated for one second: the mosque would have been shut down and the Imam thrown in jail. He said that this particular mosque was hardly unusual.

What he could not for the life of him understand was why the authorities in the west allow these places to remain open, preaching extremism. He says western governments, rather than hassling moderate Muslims and the general population, should simply start rounding up the obvious extremists who preach their poisonous creed with impunity. He said if they are local they should be jailed and if they are foreign they should be deported immediately.

Although I am fully wedded to the ideas of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and due process I could not help but think my friend did have something of a valid point. It’s all very well us telling moderate Muslims that they should do more, but they might well turn around and ask when we intend to do start doing something about it. As I have said before, why should moderate Muslims put their heads above the parapet and tackle the extremists in their midst when the host governments can’t even bring themselves to admit there is a problem?

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4 thoughts on “Preaching Extremism with Impunity

  1. I suspect (on no evidence) that there are two forces at work and interacting. One is the allergic reaction governments have to anything that looks like it could be called racist. That is pretty much a given. The other is that there are probably people in the hate-mosques who are basically double agents – always shouting the loudest at demos etc while being secretly on MI5’s payroll (or Special Branch, or the local equivalents elsewhere). I suspect MI5 et al don’t want to close these places down as they are sources of intelligence (and it is really remarkable that since 9/11 we’ve had only one really big Islamist terror attack in London), and those sources would become harder to maintain if the hate-mosques went underground. This issue wouldn’t apply nearly so strongly in (say) Egypt, where spooks can infiltrate directly.
    If that’s true, it’s a dodgy way to operate, though probably we’re stuck with it given the legal and political constraints of the day. It isn’t a stable situation long-term, but then what is?

  2. Freedom of speech requires the ability to mock those with bad, evil and stupid ideas. If you have a class of people who can freely speak, but are protected from mockery, then you do run the risk of this extremism, and that is exactly where we have ended up.

    Imams preaching hate, often funded by the state, protected from criticism except in the most tepid terms.

  3. I had a Moslem acquaintance some years ago, an intelligent, educated chap. His hope was to settle in a European country where he’d feel secure enough to give up even lip service to Islam, of which he entertained a very dim view.

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