Tag Archives: extremism

PREVENT and Religion


The UK government has announced, as part of its Prevent strategy, that even toddlers at nursery need to be watched out for in case they are groomed by others towards Islamic extremism that would make them susceptible to terrorism.

The boy went to school, and the teachers noticed something different about him. He did not sing at school assembly, not even join in happy birthday, and would not bow his head during school prayer. But he would pause before he ate anything. Eagle eyes would have picked up he was praying.

He had been in town telling people that this evil impure world was going to end, and that only faith in the one true God was going to save them. Death was certain for the unbelievers, and deserved. Asked whether that would require the faithful killing other people, he replied that God had ordered unbelievers to be killed before by man, and his judgment was beyond the question of anyone. His divine law was the thing to pray and live for. No one would want to witness the end of this system of things. Better to be dead before seeing that horror.

World governments were but puppets of their master, Satan. Politics were the machinations of the evil one. It should be no surprise that the faithful would be oppressed and despised. For they obeyed God first, and death held no fear compared to that devotion to him. The world was nothing to be a part of, it offered trifles compared to what God could.

Yet no calls were made to alert the security services. That if God commanded he would kill, as had holy men before, was not cause enough to concern anyone. For it was common knowledge the stories he referenced of death and destruction.

He slipped under the radar, even leaving school for some years.

However, he ended up writing a blog about religion and fundamentalism. Including what it was like as a child being indoctrinated in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

You have just read his post.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

1 Comment

Filed under British Politics, British Society, Culture, Religion, secular

Islamism and Anti-Muslim Hate – We Must Tackle Both

For secularists to stand up for secular principles, Islamism and also anti-Muslim hate must be tackled. Religious identity is used by both to undermine the concept of individual human rights, justice, and liberty for all.

Beware the binary approach that says you should only ever be critical, or focused, on one side. That you are a traitor for not being solely focused on the enemy, that you must be without concern for collateral damage. In this “for me or against me”, nuance becomes obfuscation and cowardice. You are on one side or the other in this battle for civilization, where the means will justify the ends to save it.

Bethany Blankley articulates the Christian far right view of this in her piece: As Christianity exits Europe, ‘Criminal Muslims’ fill void with rabid violence in The Washington Times

She states empty pulpits impact fertility rates and good works. Nothing apparently to do with the resin soaking through your pants. Feeling the gospel just makes you want to breed for Jesus:

Heterosexual marriage and procreation cannot be forced. But both are the natural heartfelt response to hearing the Gospel. And if there is no one preaching, teaching, or encouraging the development of family and community life, both will cease to exist.

No place for gays in the community with this theology – they are the unnatural. However, having given us this anti-gay point her attention becomes focused on “The rise of secularism, multiculturalism, and failed immigration policies created the perfect storm for crime in epic proportions to plague Europe.” She explains this a bit more in a tweet.

She claims (with no sources cited) Muslim immigration and secularism have combined to create a Muslim crime wave in Europe. The deportation of Muslims is advocated, with Dutch politician de Graaf quoted as saying “The Dutch government must commit itself to repatriation of Muslims back to Muslim countries so we will not be plagued with honor killings, cousin marriages, anti-Semitism, homophobia, animal abuse, rampant crime, rape.” This is not just about immigration, it is the criminalising of an entire people based on religious identity.

In her own words, she claims 80% Muslims as religiously inspired on welfare (really only think 20% are in employment?), that all Muslims are Islamists (notice how she interchanges in the next quote) who will kill more than the fifty million people the Nazis were responsible for:

What the EU fails to acknowledge and each country is realizing is that Muslim immigrants have no intention of integrating. Eighty percent are on welfare, following Islamic teaching to take money from the non-Muslim “Kuffar.” Both Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland advocate complete extinction of Jews.

Both countries have the largest population of Muslims at 6 percent, (behind France’s 7.5 percent), with over 25 percent living in major metropolitan areas. These percentages are no small matter, represent imminent threat to European civilization.

Three generations prior, in 1936, nearly 6 million Germans were members of the Nazi Party, representing 7 percent of Germany’s population. Those 7 percent caused over 50 million deaths in less than 10 years.

The 6 and 7.5 percent of Islamists in Europe will cause even more death unless they are stopped. Unless others like de Graaf speak truth, name and fight evil, which is Islam, these countries will implode. Swedish ministers Bjorkborg and Vikstrom both identified what their people need.

The question remains, will leaders rise up and heed minister Charles Finney, who warned: “If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

Believing such a raving narrative, it is no wonder 17,000 people may protest at Muslim immigration in Germany – organised by the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” (Pegida).

Most PEGIDA followers insisted they had no connection to Nazis, calling themselves “patriots” concerned by the “watering down” of Germany’s Christian-rooted culture and traditions. They often accuse mainstream political parties of betraying them, and the media of lying.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), called Monday for citizens to launch a “rebellion of the decent” against the anti-foreigner movement, telling a weekly magazine “that’s the kind of public reaction we need now.” [DW]

Chancellor Merkel had a message for those demonstrating “I say to all those who go to such demonstrations: do not follow those who have called the rallies because all too often they have prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts”

Xenophobia and racism find cover by saying they are attacking Islam, not a race. Yet when you read the thinking and claims behind it, it is white christian supremacist nonsense directed at all Muslims. Advocating unjust mass action against all Muslims as self defense.

Those that claim to be secularists should see how dangerous and craven the narrative is. It is not one to copy or emulate.


Islamists want Islam to pervade throughout society, via the state, the courts, the mosque and the household. There is no freedom to form your own opinion about God, or to be free from religion. Your conscience could be your death sentence. Sharia is the legal enforcement of religious interpretation – that God rather than legislators makes the laws. The segregation of women, their marital status, how they dress, and rights are reduced. While the benefits of childbearing to reduce fasting, and menstruating to avoid daily prayers, are talked up as an advantage over men. Apostates, atheists, LGBT and those of other faiths face legal discrimination. Free speech is curtailed from the arts to literature, let alone freethought.

Secularism rejects that theology is a basis for how a community or state should be run, because it denies a citizen their freedom of religion. It denies equality of citizens when religious identity promotes differential treatment by the state and law. Nor should a religious view allow the rights of any other citizen to be diminished.

Any theocrat must therefore be opposed. As Marc Schneier mentions  “Islamist extremism is a genuine threat to world peace. But those who lump all Muslims together, and dismiss as meaningless the courageous stand of the moderate majority against extremism, aren’t helping to win that battle.”

We cannot ignore religion, and what people claim to be true about it. As Shadi Hamid and Will McCants observe:

While religion isn’t always the best way to understand the motivations of ISIS and its followers, it is, at the very least, relevant. We may not think the followers of the Islamic State are motivated by true Islam (whatever that might be). But it matters that they are motivated by what they think is true Islam.

The Islamic State has something to do with Islam. It’s only a question of what that something is.

That is why criticism of religion is essential. To point out that it is not just atheists quoting koranic verses about unbelievers being killed. There are Muslims claiming to be inspired by these verses as they kill. Naturally, the other Muslims they kill are claimed by them to be unbelievers too, so they can kill them with a clear conscience. How many Ahmadi have to be killed, while people still claim they are not Muslims?

The claim to truth is one that extremists use to justify violence against those that disagree with it. When ISIS destroy shrines they do so believing they are emulating the prophet when he destroyed idols in Mecca. When they crucify and behead they cite the koran which mentions them as punishments. Context, interpretation, the bigger picture, are used to say these things are not permissible now. Yet it exists in the verse, and ISIS are carrying it out.

Religion has something to do with it. Literalism, the infallibility and timelessness of a text have to be questioned. We can point at the book written in the Seventh Century as the problem. We can also look at the people who in the 21st century are interpreting it, their motives and reasons for enacting the way they do.

Yet the difference between criticism of religion and anti-muslim hate should be clear enough:

Moderate Muslims

Where are the moderate Muslims standing up against fundamentalists and Islamists? A good place to start is Karima Bennoune’s “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.” As Nancy Graham Holm says in her book review:

Her stories have impact. They’ll force you to re-evaluate the opinions of fashionable western cultural relativists, who sometimes justify veiling and FGM as authentic and unassailable cultural practices. She wants us to see women’s rights as human rights, and cultural relativists as misguided individuals simply purveying another kind of racism.

Bennoune’s stories will awaken you to the clash within civilizations, not just between them. Most of all, her stories will make you re-evaluate whom you consider to be Muslim moderates, followed by the question: So what? Bennoune cuts Muslim moderates no slack, if they cannot recognize the human rights of women. She warns us about cooperating with so-called Muslim moderates just because they are not jihadists.

Karima Bennoune mentioned at the Secular Conference last October in London that within a religious paradigm people are challenging theocrats and fundamentalists on the front line. Atheists here must not play into the hands of the far right, which strengthens Islamists in turn. Targeting the funding of extremism from abroad is a key factor in beating the import of fundamentalism.

Just be warned, when you do challenge extremists and the bigoted hate of muslims, you will get hateful comments. They are nothing compared to what is at stake, in the battle against religious extremists and the far right.

Silence is not an option. Islamism and anti-Muslim hate both need to be tackled. They feed off each other. In their death grip on each other as they spiral downwards to the depths of dehumanising, the liberal and secular values that have given Europe it’s freedom will fall with them unless we stand against both of them.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under Religion, secular, World

The Sun: United Against IS (A Review)

Where The Sun front page, and editorial fail, my initial skepticism is reassured by Sara Khan who delivers on how to challenge extremists.

Right now Britain and about 60 countries are committed to undermining ISIS. Fascists that use religious nationalism to bring Sunni Muslims together under a caliphate. It includes flag waving, and demanding that all muslims of various sects unite.

With that in mind The Sun front page stood out:


A right wing tabloid uses religious nationalism to bring all people of faith together as one nation. It includes a cut out flag (Page 3), and demanding that all people of faith unite.

Strength through unity. Unity through faith.

The blood runs cold, that the answer to fanatical religious nationalism is religious nationalism lite. That such an image concept, that has caused such misery in the world, might serve to combat extremism is insulting to those that think about it’s execution. Those of no faith appear to have nothing to say about fighting religious extremism, according to the blurb.

However, open the paper and a different story emerges. The editorial begins:

THE Sun today calls on Britain to unite against the murderers of Islamic State.

Whatever your faith — or if you have none — you can help crush the greatest evil of modern times.

The arrest of a suspected IS terror cell in the UK and the slaughter of aid worker Alan Henning show why we must stand together.

We must help snuff out the warped ideology of IS and stem the flow of Britons to its ranks.

Britain is a beacon of tolerance, a mainly Christian country that embraces all religions. IS seeks to destroy that unity by sowing the hatred that acts as its recruiting sergeant. We mustn’t let it happen.

Cheers for remembering us of no faith this time. But then the faux pas that we are mainly a Christian country. That does not bare scrutiny. A Christian Country destroying an Islamic State. That will make borderline radical Islamists stop in their tracks. Not.

We are mainly a no faith country, that embraces religious freedom for all including those of no faith. Equal citizenship is not a matter of religion, or your politics, or even whether you think we should be fighting this war or not. Here we celebrate freedom of speech, and freedom of expression.

The young woman on the front page could choose to wear the hijab. Under ISIS, the Niqab is mandatory with armed thugs demanding women keep their faces covered. The celebration in the UK is not our faith, but our ability to live voluntarily by our conscience in matters of belief. We may manifest our right to religious expression and identity. As equally, we may denounce religion. Free speech – it lets you speak out against hate.

Thank goodness for Sarah Khan, director of Inspire, saving the day in the paper:

People of a non-Muslim faith can help in this fight against IS by stamping out hate as a whole. IS plays into the fears that some people have about the Muslim faith and burn the bridges within our society.

If we respond by promoting hate to each other we are letting them win. They want Muslims to feel marginalised so they will want to join their twisted cause.

We need to say we’re not going to allow you to destroy us and we say that by not tolerating hatred or violence to anyone.

The common theme here is to make a stand against any hatred or extremism. It’s not what it means to be British.

Exactly what this blog stands for.

The aim of #makingastand are worth supporting:

Through #makingastand we commit ourselves to rejecting terrorism and violence practised in the name of Islam. Together we will:

Challenge hatred and extremism wherever we find it.

Exert influence in our Mosques and communities.

Create local support networks and partner with statutory agencies.

Equip our communities with counter-narratives and help families identify the signs of radicalisation.

Spread the word with the use of the #makingastand campaign.

If you follow the link above you will see a familiar image. The blurb next to it this time brings out a positive image of challenging extermisim.


Sara Khan and Inspire have been given a huge platform. Please help to support, and take action.

Ok I still hate The Sun, and considering it’s past headlines this may strike some as insincere. But Iram Ramzan is right when she says the front page does grab your attention despite it’s flaws. The counter narrative just went public in the best selling tabloid newspaper against religious extremists and the far right.

That in itself is cause for some optimism, in the tabloids wobbled first steps on the issue.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Leave a comment

Filed under British Society, Culture, politics, secular, World

Alan Henning and Violence In The Name of God


Alan Henning was moved to try and make a difference. He gave up Christmas with his family that he might take supplies to help people suffering in Syria. Yesterday it was reported that ISIS carried out their threat to execute him.

On Eid Mubarak they sacrificed a man that had dedicated himself to humanitarianism. He is not the first, nor it seems will he be the last. Militarily this is a tactic to reduce aid to besieged people. ISIS make great play that they can provide for people in their terroritry. How much easier to make cities fall to them, because aid agencies dare not operate?

That we are being taunted, manipulated and terrorised by ISIS is unmistakable. Their desire to have the international community turn on them to rally people to their cause is not the only thing. They want Muslims and non Muslims to turn on each other. The reason for a caliphate to be made stronger by us turning on the wrong people.

I will not let such evil people treat me like a puppet on a string. Yet when discussing such matters on twitter it was clear people wanted to say Islam was bad. Unlike Christianity. The Koran promoted violence against infidels. The bible does not.

Well …

We then have such articles like the review of Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong, book review: Neo-cons, prepare to get angry

The review in The Telegraph had this quote I mentioned in a tweet, which missed what Jesus is supposed to have said:

Related article: The Truth About Religion and Extremism

The problem is the reader taking from “their Book” the permission to do violence, slavery, and rape. While these verses remain, evil people will use them as stated, out of context or not in relation to other commandments and commentary, to carry out religious zealotry.

The Spanish Inquisition was religious. The belief that they were saving souls by consuming the flesh with fire, or purifying via torture was not a cover for psychopaths and sadists. They believed it. For the sufferings on earth were nothing compared to the eternal torment of everlasting hellfire. (I have not read Aaronovitch’s review but suspect he makes a similar point from his tweet).

Just as Karen Armstrong makes light of the religious aspect then, she and others are doing so with ISIS now. Some will be doing this to prevent the hatred and persecution they fear Muslims would suffer in the UK. Others that religion is always peaceful, and violence when committed has nothing to do with it. That it is a smokescreen for other motives.

A nuanced position recognises that the chicken or the egg debate to the scripture/violence link misses that both feed into each other in their own ways. Breaking the cycle matters more than blame games, apologetics, and false statements as I debunked above.

ISIS really do believe they are fulfilling a religious edict to create a caliphate and that their means are sanctioned by defensive Jihad. A counter narrative is useful, but do not for one second think they are insincere about this. They are in deadly earnest.

What helps is seeing the bigger picture. Religious extremism is on the rise. Together we have to tackle it. Let us start by being accurate about the problem.

Do not give in to terror. In memory of Alan Henning remember that compassion can also move humanity.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion, World

The Extremists Of God


“We must rebel. Blood and bullets are the only two things that will change this world, short of divine action.”

Regarding religion as the truth leaves no room for doubt and uncertainty. An open minded believer will say it is a matter of faith, and that makes it right for them but it is a personal choice. Regard as truth for everyone, in the world, throughout the cosmos and the thing is what stops you imposing it on others.

Take it further. You see yourself as an agent of God to impose his will on others. With a mission: to change the world. By force of arms.

“ looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God.”

Is a madman above using religion to achieve their political rather than theological ends by death, or does belief pushed to its limit make people believe they are the right hand of Allah?


Accept the quotes above are not from an Islamic terrorist using social media. Welcome instead to the rantings of Talbot, a white male 38 year old Christian, investigated by the FBI

Christian? Going by how he identifies himself and his motives. Which incidentally is applying the same standard to judge ISIS by. Imposing theocracy on others by bloody force and vengeance.

Talbot posted on Facebook that he had gone to four Bank of America branches to “play observation.” Talbot allegedly urged “anyone who robs these banks to kill everyone working for the ‘banking Cartels’ during the heist.”

Talbot’s Facebook post continued: “That is exactly what I will have my men do during the heist. Same goes with the Muslims. Mosques are to be a blast! With three of my guys with FA [full automatic] AK’s [AK-47 semi-automatic rifles], we will send that white house worthless piece of dirt and his Muslim brotherhood a message they will never forget.”[Southern Poverty Law Center]

The story (from March) came up on twitter today as an example that non Islamic extremism did not hit the headlines the same way Islamic extremism does.

As Robert James Talbot Jr. mentioned in one of his last Facebook posts before his arrest:

“In a few weeks me and my team are going active for Operation Liberty. I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nationwide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.”

Free thinking must be about promoting the civic virtues of free speech, free religion and freedom from religion. That democracy requires the free association of people to function without threat or hindrance.

These values are needed to challenge extremisim. Mr Amin, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dudley North in the UK, was quoted on Islamic extremism. It applies however to all society:

“We must not be afraid to ask the difficult questions and to thoroughly cleanse our ghettoised communities from feeling so distant from the ideals of what it means to live in a free society where you can choose to practise faith or not to, where you can live alongside every faith and none, where your rights are protected under law and you are an equal citizen. These are noble values, yet in Muslim communities I have almost never heard these being discussed with young people in inner-city areas.”

These nobel values need to be the air we breathe. On the street, each mosque, every home, all schools, everywhere. For a living breathing civil society.

Extremism in all it’s forms – whether the far right or theocratic – must concern us all if we value freedom. It cannot exist if it does not apply to all.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Leave a comment

Filed under America, British Society, Religion, secular, World